#FF How to create a successful #arc for your character #plotting #writing

Hello folks and happy Friday!

The other day I blogged about conflict, and the all and ever familiar (or not so familiar) concepts of internal and external conflicts. Today, we attack the character’s arc.

Every character has to be as realistic as possible to be believable. The psychology of a character plays a really huge role in the plot and the overall quality of the story. Many timeless tales have shed light on a character’s evolution throughout a perilous journey by diving into the character’s mind. His/her internal conflict, coupled with the external conflict, gives depth to the plot, and more room to play to create a beautiful arc.

The arc is your beginning and ending point. Each character has its own arc. The story itself has an arc too. The arc can be huge, if your protagonist is the main player, or it can be very small for secondary and tertiary characters. The size of the arc doesn’t matter. ;) The arc will act as a measuring stick for the character’s evolution throughout the story.

Let’s take an example: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. There are many characters in this book with many arcs. Let’s focus on two of them, Javert and Jean Valjean.

Beginning of the arc for Jean Valjean. A good man, trying to do the next right thing by stealing bread for his sister’s children during a time of economic depression, Valjean is sentenced to spend years in prison. He becomes this despicable character in the eyes of society. The world sees him as a bad person, unworthy of trust and love. Picture his arc growing from the ground up.

Javert is depicted as the ultra self-righteous police officer who doesn’t believe in forgiveness, and redemption. His arc actually starts high and gradually goes down.

Valjean will mature, and evolve, to become this man everyone loves and respects, even when he tells the truth about his past acts and demands to be brought to justice.

Javert will turn into a bitter individual, bloodthirsty for revenge, becoming the super villain everyone will hate. Javert will realize that his sense of justice was wrong, and Valjean, despite being a criminal, was a better man than him all along. He ends up taking his own life because he cannot accept that truth.

Valjean and Javert represent the sides of the same coin, and their arcs certainly bear similarities. But as Valjean’s arc goes toward good/order, Javert’s arc goes toward bad/chaos, his sense of justice morphing into abuse of power and personal vendetta.

Readers will root for Valjean. Who doesn’t want the underdog to win? Javert could have earned some stripes if Hugo had decided to shift his arc upward toward good again. But he didn’t do that.

A well executed arc will manage to draw the readers in and keep them glued to the pages like it’s cocaine (it’s actually an expression I heard from fellow authors when talking about books they devoured in one sitting).

The arc offers thousands of possibilities, shapes and directions. There can be a million plot twists, which will shape the arc with multiple peaks and valleys. The arc can never be a straight line (because a straight line doesn’t show evolution). That’s why an arc is called an arc, and not something else. ;) Ultimately, the arc will reach its high or bottom. However you want the character to evolve, a powerful arc will resonate with readers and make them addicted to the story and the character. Bear in mind that a character can evolve while not radically changing his/her point of view. The storytelling will guide the character to a cross-roads (climax of the plot): change or remain the same but there must be evolution.

I’m pasting a link to a great article about the character’s arc, and a few diagrams with links to other very helpful blogs below. Please feel free to share!

That’s it for today. Have a lovely weekend folks!

#WW #Conflict in a Story #plotting

Happy Wednesday!

This post is a small cheat sheet dedicated to conflict.

Every plot is built on:

1) The internal conflict: the character’s emotional, mental, spiritual, physical evolution/struggle throughout the story;

2) The external conflict: events happen in the world where the story is taking place and the character reacts to them. The external conflict creates the story goal;

3) The interaction between the internal and external conflicts, which will give rise to a climax, and the plot will come to a resolution.

Here’s an example everyone will relate to: Snow White.

Snow White’s internal conflict: she’s the princess and like all princesses in fairy tales, she wants love.

The external conflict: the Queen wants her dead, so she has to hide. It’s Snow White vs. the Queen. Good vs. Evil. Who will win?

Well the issue here is that love will be difficult to find if Snow White stays hidden forever. But how will she escape the evil Queen?

The death of Snow White after eating the apple is the climax in the fairy tale. When the prince finds her and the glass coffin breaks, she wakes up and tada, finds her true love! The plot resolution is good wins and evil loses.

Conflict is the structure. The interaction between the internal and external conflicts creates the meat and potatoes of the story, and each character’s arc. More on the arc in a another post…

I’m pasting a link to a very good article on internal and external conflict – definitely very helpful for every writer out there. The whole website is actually dedicated to writing so feel free to explore.

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Alright, that’s it for today! Thanks as always for reading!

#GuestPost – A.F. Stewart Presents Killers and Demons, Book 2

It’s been a while since I had a guest showcase their work on this blog, and I’m very happy to welcome A.F. Stewart on the Manicheans! I got to know her through the #CoffinHop blog tour that happens every year around Halloween. She is a prolific author, writes fantasy spiced up with horror, and her books can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N and iTunes.

For those who don’t know her yet, here’s a little biography:

A. F. Stewart is from Nova Scotia, Canada, is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby. Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories. To date she has authored and published several short novels, collections of poetry and short fiction and non-fiction entertainment guides. Her most well-known books are Killers and Demons, Ruined City and Chronicles of the Undead.

Killers and Demons is available for purchase as of Oct 4.c0b63a8dc382b4e8c28f8ea17a45c2780c2b902f

Evil is back, with a greater appetite for death.
Killers.
Demons.
They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.
Killers and Demons II: They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.

The Villainous Roster:

Wade, every parent’s nightmare
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his “cookie” of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes
Emmeline, burned as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help
Nightmare Demons, bent on driving a town insane

And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…

Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators. 

The first volume of her Killers and Demons series can also be found on Smashwords, iTunes, B&N and Amazon. 9a7ad52909464cd23924771de74957133dc66609

And now without further ado, I will let Ms. Stewart steer the rest of this post.

Turning the Sweet, Sour, by A.F. Stewart

Like all writers, I have a bag of preferred tricks and tropes, and one of my favourite themes when writing horror is a little innocent corruption. I love to take a normal situation or ingenuous person and turn them into something terrifying, to rip away the pretty veneer, and let the maggots crawl out. To me, there is something especially chilling about sweet innocence transformed into a horrific nightmare. It’s a theme I use frequently, in both my fantasy writing and my horror stories, and one that seems to strike a primordial response with readers. I think having your ordinary perceptions suddenly turned askew, even fictionally, generates an inherent reaction in people.

Perhaps that’s because we all have preconceptions, and fall easily into the traditional tropes of fiction. We assume that children will be sweet and innocent, toys are harmless enjoyment, and all fairy tales end happily ever after. I love to play with those notions, and in the past I’ve created killer clown dolls, skewed those fairy tales deadly, and once turned a simple conversation into a deal with the devil. It’s all about spicing up the story with that unexpected, malevolent glare, that jaw-dropping matter-of-fact statement of murder, or having the easy-going protagonist do something absolutely vile.

My new book, Killers and Demons II: They Return, expands on my favourite concept, containing such themes such as marriage, relationships, family, the innocence of children, all turned bitter and creepy. To find the horror in the every day, I warp societal norms and coax out the evil lurking under the surface. That seemingly perfect marriage now holds dark secrets, an average, dissatisfied teen starts listening to a bad, supernatural influence, and a lonely woman looking to belong discovers a very strange heritage. Two stories in particular from the book, The Dollmaker and Alice in the Basement, unearth the evil lurking under the innocence. In The Dollmaker, I subvert the natural instinct to assist a seemingly lost little girl, distorting a good deed so it ends with horrific and gruesome consequences. And as for Alice, well, I’ll let you meet her for yourself. I wouldn’t want to spoil the nasty surprise.

And that’s what I think makes the best horror, those disquieting, sudden surprises. So join me while I throw a bit of corruption into my stories, and take my victims, I mean characters, down the dark road.

Please participate in the rafflecopter to win prizes!! Click here.

If you’d like to purchase A.F. Stewart’s latest book, please visit these links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466078

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MRKCFWM

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/killers-and-demons-ii-a-f-stewart/1120170387

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/killers-demons-ii-they-return/id908095199?mt=11

Thanks as always for reading!!

#32Seconds #Official #Blurb

Hi all!

As 32 Seconds reaches the latest completion stages, I wanted to share with you the official book blurb. I’ll confirm on this platform the official release date, which I’m not sure about as of yet.

***

32 Seconds by Johanna K. Pitcairn

To the average onlooker, the city of Los Angeles represents glitz, glamour, and the celebrity lifestyle. But to seventeen-year-old Julie Jones, the city is a vast host of problems she’s longing to get away from. The latest? An unfortunate disagreement with her ex-boyfriend Mark—one that could land her in some serious hot water.

So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren’t on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.

With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?

What Julie doesn’t know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.

A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.

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#TT Tuesday Teaser #32Seconds

And here we go! Julie Jones makes an appearance on this blog today (because as you know 32 Seconds is coming out this November ooooooooooooooh yeah!). And the book is looking better than ever!

Without further ado, please welcome Julie Jones!

***

As the players scattered, my eyes followed Dan. He grabbed a Gatorade from the cooler and chatted to the water guy and the other players standing nearby.

I couldn’t stop watching, feeling like a spy. Drink half full in hand, Dan waved at me. The black streaks under his eyes had smudged onto his cheeks because of the sweat. Boy, he looked so handsome. I suppressed a jolt of pure excitement as he walked in my direction.

“What’s up with you, nerd?” he said with a raspy voice I found super-duper sexy. Kill me now!

“Nuthin’,” I replied with a shrug. “Nothing exciting, at least.”

His face welcomed my comment with raised eyebrows. “Oh really, so…” And he proceeded to brush the side of my arm with his fingers. I couldn’t contain myself, and an army of butterflies was unleashed inside my stomach.

“You really like football, don’t ya?” he said, giving me a dreamy smile.

I nodded. “Yeah, football’s awesome.”

What was with the sudden conversation? I only did his homework. We never chatted about football!

“I heard you’re leaving soon.”

Ah, so that was it.

“Yeah. Newsflash, huh?”

“Yeah, news gets around pretty quickly.”

I looked away. “Good. I mean, okay.”

He laughed. “Mike’s planning a big party for his birthday at the end of the month. You wanna join?”

Hold on to your horses.

I shrugged to pretend I didn’t care much. Just because… I didn’t. I really didn’t.

“Ah, yes.” I cleared my throat. “I have much packing to do. No clue if I’ll attend. Plus, I’m not a drinker. So…”

He brushed my arm again. Lordie have mercy, did he know the effect he had on me?

“But… it’d be a way to celebrate your departure, and your upcoming birthday too, am I right?”

He grinned, and I was dying to land a kiss on his beautiful mouth. I really didn’t know how to kiss a boy properly, but with him, I’d surely learn real fast.

“You should come.”

My turn to raise eyebrows. “Really?”

He nodded. “Really.”

He took a sip of the Gatorade. Whatever he did looked so darn killer. I was on the verge of dissolving into a puddle of pure lust.

Stupid hormones.

“Well, I’ll see. I…” my voice trailed off.

As he leaned toward me, I recoiled. But he kept going, to give me a slight kiss on the cheek.

Now my heart was dancing the salsa inside my chest.

And the puddle of lust? Yes, it was coming too.

Boy. Oh boy. I was in trouble.

“You’ve been kind enough to do my homework. You know, it’s only my way of saying thank you.”

He winked.

The heart attack would happen in one, two…

I brushed the air with my hand. “Sure, of course. No problem.”

“So I’ll see you there?” he asked.

“Right, yeah, I’ll do my best to come.” As I answered, my voice climbed two octaves in the span of two seconds.

He smiled again. “Great. I’m gonna jump in the shower. I’ll catch you later. Probably in the library, huh, nerd?”

I chuckled. “Right. My favorite spot on earth.”

As he stared at me, my legs turned to jello.

“Gotta go. See ya, nerd.”

He ran back to the locker room. I was mesmerized by his stride. His back, his legs, his butt… How would I justify going to this party to Mom? Nonsense. I’d find a way.

The joy I felt inside made me want to fly.

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My page… your words #amwriting

writers-quotes-story-writing-34823004-320-320When the characters take over and tell the story, and I become a mere slave to their whims and feelings, my duty as a writer has been fulfilled. I will do my best to transcribe everything, the way they see it, and live it, so that when I read the words I just wrote, I hear their voice, not mine.

I will feel their sadness, their joy, their anger and their fear. I will overcome obstacles, conquer new worlds, fall in love a million times and experience heartbreaks. Life will play like a movie on the screen, and I will be a spectator. They will travel, take me to foreign lands, meet monsters and superheroes. They will grow and learn, cry and laugh, live and die. When the book is done, and their story has been told, I won’t forget them. They will remain with me at all times.

I will write relentlessly until they tell me to stop. And once I know they’re satisfied with the end result, I will put my pen down, and smile. Because writing is my life, and their words the only truth I know. I will pull my hair but I won’t quit. They will comfort me, reassure me I’m on the right path even when I doubt myself. It is their journey I undertake, their goals I reach, and through their eyes, I escape to a better world.

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#FF #Leap of #Faith

d63d4f47acf242499d5a3dc8e9ebbe9dThere’s dream, and there’s reality. And between the two, there’s faith, and there’s fear. I’m afraid of failure, but I dream of success. To make success my reality, I need to have faith. I need to show patience, and determination, in order to make my dream a reality, and transform my fear into faith. Bottom line is, over thinking everything is garbage, and action is the solution.

With action, will come failure. I can’t avoid that. My determination will be tested, and force me back on the saddle. All I have to do is keep doing what I’m doing, remain teachable, and slowly, everything will fall into place.

I am bound by practical necessities. That’s my reality. There’s stuff I don’t want to do, people I don’t want to talk to, places I don’t wanna be. How will I grow if I don’t go through the motions, and stay humble? The most grateful individuals I’ve met were those who went through hell and came back. They knew what pain and hardship felt like, and they enjoyed every moment without that pain. The simplest routine brought joy in their daily lives. I must follow their example, in order to reach my goals.

And the only way to keep going is to have faith. I took a leap of faith when I started writing. I took a leap of faith when I decided to be in a relationship. I took a leap of faith by coming to America. I took a leap of faith by waking up this morning and welcoming a new day.

When I have faith, everything works out. It just does. It’s when I doubt that the world looks bleak to me, and all hope vanishes. Faith isn’t weakness. Faith is strength.

If you feel like today is just another day, without excitement, love and anything to look forward to, just close your eyes, and think of something to be grateful for. Then, restart your day, remain positive and follow your heart. Your leap of faith will take you far without you even realizing it.

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