Doorway to Act II

open doorsI was reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and it talks about the three structure act. It talks about moving from Act I to Act II through a doorway.

The key question to ask yourself is this: Can my Lead walk away from the plot right now and go on as he has before? If the answer is yes, you haven’t gone through the first doorway yet.

Further, the book says this should happen at or before at the 1/5 point of the book. This is an interesting way to look at transitioning from the beginning to the middle, IMO. I hadn’t considered the transition like that before, but more like the number of pages from the beginning of the book.

And, you know, if it feels like middle. But that’s not a quantifiable feeling. How would you quantify it anyway?

I have never really paid attention to when I feel like I’m in the middle of a book as opposed to the beginning. But according to this definition, it should happen when the plot feels inevitable. Like, something has happened and nothing will ever be the same.

Do you agree? Do you this doorway separates the beginning from the middle? And does it usual happen at or before the 1/5 mark?

I suspect this is something I’ll be a lot more aware of when reading now. I was rereading Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K.

guilty-pleasures-by-lkh-book-coverHamilton and you know what? It is true. In Guilty Pleasures, this doorway happens when a close friend of the main character is harmed/threatened by the vampires. This happened pretty much when 1/5 of the book was done. So it works in one book.

But Guilty Pleasures is structured like a thriller. Question is, does it work for other thriller style books? And other non-thriller style books?

 

Friday Flash: Blooded Scars

Stuff like this comes out of my keyboard when I don’t feel like writing. ;)

 

She leaned close to the mirror and examined the tattoo. It covered up the scar very well, distracted the eye with intricate whorls and angles of black ink.
 
Her man appeared in the mirror, right behind her shoulder. His tattoo was white, bright against the inky darkness of his skin. It made a pretty pattern of slashes and dots on his throat and arms.
 
He put both hands on her shoulders. “Ready?”
 
She turned, met his red eyes. The eyes of a hunter; the eyes she would soon have. “Yes.” This had been decades in the coming, but she was ready now.
 
 
 
The room was prepared, clean, the knives sharp and the drains cleared.
 
She stripped and lay down; the paper crinkled under her.
 
Her maker ran his fingers over her throat. She tracked the movement of his hands when he stroked his knuckles down her arm.
 
She gasped when he slashed her wrists open. The wound hurt. He held her down, pinned her arms to the table so she wouldn’t move. She flexed her fingers against the steel of the table, trying to block the pain. But soft whimpers escaped from her.
 
Warm blood gushed down the drains. Her vision went black at the edges. Her last sight was of her man being led in and lying down in the table next to her.
 
They would be together.

Procrastinate

procrastinate-productively-work-hacks-03
Funny Procrastination Image!

What do you do to procrastinate?

I’ve been doing it most of the day.

1) Web Browsing

The web is a giant pile of quick sand. First, I was reading responses to Junot Diaz’s essay on how white the MFA program is. (I was a little shocked at how dismissive some of the comments.) Than I found myself reading other things, like stuff on spring allergies.

2) Candy Crush, and its close cousin: Pet Rescue

This could be worse. I could lose hours and hours playing this instead of only an hour or two. That’s because it comes with five lives, and once those are gone, you have to wait a while to gain more. Though I also have 2048 Puzzle now, so we shall see.

3) YouTube.

Music videos and other stuff.

Then I thought enough is enough. Time to write. There is still time to post a blog post today.

How do you procrastinate?

Friday Flash: Dreams

This just came to me. I am not entirely sure about it figured I would post anyway.

Color smeared the sky like a child’s finger-painting.
 
The colors were reflected in the glass and concrete buildings around. He sighed and sat on the edge of the roof, legs dangling in empty air.
 
Four stories below, people walked or biked past. Some strolled and many ran as though they were in the middle of a marathon. Poor things. Why did they bother? Nothing was going to happen tonight. Dreams shattered and it didn’t matter how hard you tried. No one cared.
 
Too bad his building wasn’t taller. He raised his eyes to the too-pretty buildings around him. Like sitting in his micro car and being surrounded by a dozen trucks. He should stay away.
 
But he couldn’t help but think of ways to sneak to the top of one. Maybe the bridge would be easier.

X is for X Placeholder

X_GI use X as a placeholder. His friend X, Uncle X, baby X, pet X, and event X and so on.

Lots of times I don’t know what the character’s name is and I don’t have time to go searching baby name websites for a good name. So the picture-placeholder-femalecharacter becomes X on the page. It’s a silent reminder to find a name later.

It’s the same thing for scenes. Sometimes I’ll be writing and I need a scene to show something somewhere in the middle of the story. I’ll insert Scene X in big bold letters wherever the scene needs to be.

As for why X and not A or – or some other symbol as a placeholder? I don’t really know. I suppose X represents the unknown to me. No doubt this is a result of spending years in the classroom being told to Find X.

How do you deal with unknown characters?

V

V danced for the crowd. The red folds of her dress swirled around her, sometimes obscuring her from the crowd, sometimes revealing her.

The crowd chanted her name: Red V. V. V. Red!

The music thrummed through, a counter point to her own nature, named for her. Venom.

The crowd swayed with her.

She twirled over the stage, her bare feet pounding the floorboards. Thump. Step. Thump. Leap.

With each step the venom in her music spread. One by one the people in the crowd crashed like felled trees.

Only one man was left standing. The reason she was here. The reason for these destroyed lives.

He grinned and jumped atop the nearest body. But the music didn’t stop and she didn’t stop moving.

Soon he, too, fell.

She was free! She turned one last somersault and landed on his chest.

O is Opinionated Characters

Sometimes, in order to get know a character, I pose issue questions to them and figure out where they stand.

This sounds bizarre, asking questions of people who do not exist outside of my head. You would think I already know where they stand. I mean, I made them up, didn’t I? But mostly I don’t.

By issue questions, I mean controversial issues, topics on religion and politics and whatever else causes arguments. They will differ by time and place and setting. Because characters need opinions, right? Things they will do and the lines they will not cross.

And today – today I was reading a post by John Scalzi about what he calls The Four Levels of Discrimination. He makes a good argument about ambient discrimination. (You should read it.) I used to think of this as unconscious biases. But ambient discrimination is a good way to describe it, too.

Anyway, the question I have never asked my characters and now I realize would a good question to ask: what ambient discrimination affects them? Against the character or against others, it hardly matter which.

It’s a kind of world building, too – figuring out what will cause the natives to turn into rioting mobs. That’s fun also. (Causing riots!)

The challenge here, I think, is to keep the opinions from turning them into willful characters, who insist on doing something, when I want the plot to go in another direction. (I sometimes fail at this challenge.)

That sounds mad, I know, because I came up with the characters and I damn well ought to be able to tell what to do. But sometimes that does a disservice to the character.

What do you think? How do you go finding out who your character is?

L is for Lies

L-12A couple years ago, while randomly browsing the internet, Iran across this title: Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block. (His books are good.)

It’s a book on writing and the title got me thinking. I never picked up the book, but the title stuck in my head.

A story is made up, a piece of fiction. It doesn’t exist. That, on one level, makes it a lie.Lies

But! Everyone knows a story can’t be real. Not everyone knows such a thing of other, more normal lies.

On the other hand, a story must have emotional / psychological truths. How would anyone relate to a character otherwise? And it must have at least some factual truths, else someone will cry: bad research!

The best lies are supposed to have truth, so that doesn’t mean the story can’t be called a lie. Even so, I cannot quite convince myself I write lies. Perhaps it would he easier if the word didn’t have negative meanings.

What do you think? Is aIl fiction some bizarre form of lying?

Has anyone read the book? Does it offer an explanation? Maybe the title is just an example of someone’s expertise at title creation something eye-catching and memorable.

Jinni

My J word jinni. My take on it is slightly different.

Only the tip of his nose, lower cheeks and jaw was spared. The rest of his face was covered in shadow as dark as night.

His stared at me with eyes like chips of the sun-drenched sky, given life. I had failed him, I and I alone. Seated on either side of me, the other village elders trembled like leaves in a gale. The villagers gathered around us, shocked speechless.

Oh, but for all the honor we did our dead, had either of us expected this?

I kept my gaze fixed on his face; I didn’t want to look at the rest of him. I knew what I had done too well. “Blessed jinni, what may we do for you this night?”

His mouth opened; broken, bloody teeth shone in the firelight.

I rubbed my knuckles under the table, massaging away remembered pain.

“Die.”

I jerked. He’d been blindfolded. He couldn’t have recognized me.

He turned his burning gaze next to me, on my twin, whose life I had chosen over the fruit of my own blood.

The jinnis’ words came again: “Die.”

The villagers gasped. I looked up to see my son staring at me. His head whipped between me and the jinni of his own dead son. Understanding appeared on his face like a storm,  with soft rain and gentle breezes, than with the force of winds powerful enough to uproot whole trees.

He knew I’d betrayed him. I failed to protect his boy from the filth of my twin, as I’d failed to protect him decades earlier.

My son’s anger was a blade sharp enough to let free my lifeblood. And, this time, I didn’t fight him, didn’t try to protect my twin.

I is for Inspiration

Inspiration is what excites me. It is what gives me the beginning of an idea for a new story.

I find inspiration in pictures and music, and sometimes, random words. But mostly pictures.

Lately I’ve turned to 500 px for inspiration. It’s a site filled with the most amazing photographs. You can’t save them, but you can buy the pictures and share them via twitter and Facebook. That’s usually what I do – share.

deviantART is also a really good place to find pictures to inspire and amaze. deviantART has not just photographs, but drawings and paintings too. It has the most astonishing portraits. I share these, too. 
Sometimes I find inspiration in shadows and just the things you see every day – buildings, clouds, people doing what they do.

Sometimes I fine inspiration in the myths, legends and history of the world. History is fascinating. It’s a lot more than dates and deeds. There are stories behind the deeds and the dates are the timeline.

But most often it’s the other forms of art that most often inspires me – pictures and music. Is that strange?