Darkwood & the 7 Point Plot Structure… Reflecting on September (2017)…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optWhen it comes to writing, I’m a plotter. Actually, when it comes to most things I’m a plotter. I can’t understand how people write on the fly. How do you know where you’re going? I’ve always been a thinky person. Outside of writing I’m pretty sure I overthink, but behind the writing desk, there’s no such thing as overthinking. Thinking, for me, is the most time I spend on writing. I usually have a strong idea of what I want to happen in the story, and I build on it and build on it, while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, riding out a journey, half-watching something on the box, sometimes while talking to people (don’t tell people). Most of my writing happens in my head. All these ideas and beats are then gathered up and put in some order when I get some desk time.

When I sit down to put all these thoughts in order, my story structure is usually quite basic–establish the conflicts; work to a prologue, beginning, middle, end, epilogue; and ensuring characters progress or are in some way changed by the story. Then plot out each individual scene. I also write character bios and descriptions to refer to in the hope I won’t have sudden height changes, or changing eye colours! A while back though, at a convention, I heard some Star Trek writers talking about the 7 point story structure, and it struck me as being a much better framework to hang my plot on. It consists of a hook, 1st plot point, 1st pinch point, mid-point, 2nd plot point, 2nd pinch point, and conclusion. It doesn’t just apply to the whole overarching plot, but can apply to all the plot threads, and as many of the characters as you like that wind together to make the story whole.

 

1 Hook: the baited hook to keep the reader reading. Give incentive to read on. Make a thought-provoking statement. Pose an interesting question. Make a funny relatable comment.

See more, after the jump! (See what I did there?) 🙂 *hook*

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The Darkwood Mysteries Collection…

This Halloween something wicked this way comes… For the first time, all nine tales which begin The Darkwood Mysteries are collected in one volume.

FB Square Kindle Collection 1The Darkwood Mysteries is a series of short-stories and novels which can be enjoyed as individual tales or as part of a deeper mystery.

Emily Darkwood, guided by a mysterious stone, investigates the supernatural and the criminal in the gaslight and shadows of Victorian England. Assisted by her faithful young servant-companion, Jack Hobbs, she risks all in her search for answers to the mystery of the stone and the fates of her parents who left it to her.

Tales 1 – 9 of The Darkwood Mysteries collected in one volume:

The Thief of Faces: Why is Darkwood keeping vigil at her friend’s tomb? Darkwood hunts a serial killer with a gruesome signature execution. What does a murderer want his victims’ faces for?

The Posthumous Child: Darkwood receives messages from the other side whilst a family experiences a ghostly tormentor. What does a spirit child want to be known? What secret haunts the country estate of Cecil House?

The Luminous Marks: Glowing marks are left at the sites of petty thefts. What are they for? Darkwood and Hobbs search out the meaning of the marks in London’s fog shrouded night.

The Wrath of the Dragon: Just who or what is causing terrible fires in the slums of London’s East End? Superstitious fears on the street claim the Chinese are to blame—but could there really be a dragon in London?

The Peacock Cabal: Just what drained a young man of his vitality and left him dead? Men who love men are dying, as something takes advantage of the secrecy surrounding their hidden love. Darkwood’s investigation reveals a conspiracy and a sinister threat…

The Cult of the Scarab: How does a mummified body, missing from the British Museum, connect to Darkwood’s nightmare of beetles in a foreign red land? The answer is found at the end of a trail of bodies…

The Hag on the Heath: Is an acquaintance of Darkwood the victim of supernatural attack? Darkwood, Hobbs, the victim and her gypsy kin—her father and his companions—embark on a hunt for a witch, but all is not as it seems…

The Spindly-Snatcher: Why is a writer burning down bookshops? Darkwood and Hobbs investigate a creeping madness, but in doing so the hunters become the hunted…

The Conspiracies of Shadow & Fire: Conspiracies in the past unfold in the present and pitch Darkwood and Hobbs into a desperate struggle where they are uncertain of who they can trust, and drawn to a confrontation with the ultimate evil…

Available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Darkwood and Hobbs will be returning in a new run of nine stories in 2018. Get ahead now. Don’t be left in the shadows–they aren’t what they appear to be…

Change Your Mind & Change Your Experience Of Life…

CYMCYLThe title of this post sounds a little dramatic, but the way we think shapes how we feel, what we do, and what we experience in life. The way we think can bring unhappiness, anxiety and stress, and these can lead to unhelpful behaviours and difficult situations. So, while changing our minds won’t change the people around us, or change what has happened, or change the physical limitations the world places on us, changing unhelpful thoughts can help us process and deal with situations, make us feel better, help us cope, and ultimately lead to more satisfying life experiences. In this blog post–the fourth and final post introducing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy–I will be talking to you about three ways you can challenge and change the way you think to help you improve your life.

Think Outside The Box

We’re all explainers. We can’t help but try and categorise and label people, events and experiences. Understanding can be important to us, it helps us process our experiences, recognise when an event requires a response, and determine whether we can trust in the people around us. However, whether we want to admit it or not, we can be quick to judge when we don’t have possession of all the facts, our thinking can be prejudiced by previous experiences, we can have go to explanations we rely on too often, and the labels we use might well be unfair black or white generalisations that stick faster than if they were superglued. This wouldn’t be so much an issue if it wasn’t for how influential our thoughts can be on our feelings, actions and our relationships with others.

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Reflecting on July & August (2017)… Creating Gods and Monsters…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_opt

I recently finished a first draft of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (18): The Disaster Man’. In it, Darkwood encounters the Watchers, beings with God-like powers who seek to preserve the ‘natural order’ of the world–as they see it.

As I explained in my last post from behind the writing desk, I found myself with a race who should have an ‘in world’ persistent presence–more than they have and will have–and would have the power to break the world I have created and undo the actual ethos of my series revolving around mysteries investigated and undone by my very mortal characters, Darkwood and Hobbs. I thought I would do a follow-up post on how I got around this. Mild spoilers for the next run of Darkwood ahead…

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The Uncanny Valley of Fake Food…

DVDOMPSsmallIn switching from carnist to vegan, the easiest option to us seemed to just swap out the animal ingredient with a fake food equivalent. An easy way to transition, right? Eh. Not so much for us. Skimming through forums and blogs, we found plenty of vegans enthusing about certain alternative foods. I don’t know how long they were vegan, but it must have been quite a while for them to think that some of these foods are replacements for meat and dairy. Milk was fine, but meat and cheese would seem to be a greater challenge. It’s only when we tried something that claimed to be like a certain food, we appreciated how much goes into the identity of food–look, texture, smell, taste–and that just any one of these being amiss makes for an uneasy experience. It’s the food equivalent of the dead eyes of one of those robots made to look as close to a human as possible–and not quite succeeding.

Image result for creepy looking android

Here are some of our experiences, starting with the bad, the ugly, but thankfully ending on the few examples we’ve tried of the good stuff. Now, these are just our opinions, and you might LOVE some or all of these, so it’s always worth trying them yourselves. A lot of these are recommended and successful brands, so they’re certainly doing something right for their customers. We’re just sharing our experience of them because we found this process a little disheartening, and wanted to show that while it can be a trial, we found some things we liked for us, and it helped us to some conclusions around what type of vegan food we want to be eating…

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Why it’s ‘Doctor Who’, not ‘Nurse What’… Defending Doctor Who…

Doctor Who 8Doctor Who is getting another face. Which means that there are plans for at least another three years of Doctor Who. Two things to celebrate as a Doctor Who fan. Doctor Who is going to be played by a woman for the first time in over 50 years.

The scale of reaction to this last detail has ranged from celebratory, indifference, a reason to recycle jokes about women (that should be as dead as Adric on a spaceship), and the end of the f***ing world. It’s these last two disappointing reactions that have disappointed me so much I want to address them in this post.

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