The Three Act Structure

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In my last blog, I mentioned the typical three-act structure that is present in most stories. Today I want to talk a little bit more about this, as while it is not a complicated part of story craft is where most of the problems lie. What I mean by that is that whenever a story doesn’t quite ‘feel right’ or leaves the audience unhappy or unsatisfied, it’s usually because something in the three-act structure has gone wrong.

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Character motivations and why they are so important

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This week I went to the theatre again, you may already be aware that this is one of my favourite ways to pass an evening. I was very much looking forward to this show, however, I was disappointed, and I want to use today’s blog to talk about why.

Full disclosure I’m not naming the show at any point, I like to keep this a positive kind of place and this blog is not an effort to bash anyone. It is a constructive look at why certain stories regardless of the medium just don’t work.

We will be talking about a crucial part of any story, and how if you get this wrong it kills the story dead. It disengages the audience and destroys any narrative you have built. Fortunately, it’s easy not to screw up (which is why it’s so frustrating when it does get messed up).

I am, of course, talking about character motivation.

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Books V Film: The Shining

Gratitude

Stephen King’s the Shining is perhaps one of the most well-known horror films out in the world today. Many people will be familiar with the story, the memorable moments and the countless spoof versions roaming the land. The Simpsons one is my personal favourite, I love when the blood comes out of the elevator, Mr Burns is not freaked out but confused as the blood normally gets off on a different floor, oh and Homer scaring himself by looking in the mirror is awesome.

But spoofs aside, the book was pretty different, at least in places. To the point where there are rumours that King strongly disliked the film due to these changes.

Today I want to talk about the differences between Stephen King’s story and Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic version.

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Websites for Writers

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There absolutely tons of tools out there for writers, it can be difficult to know which ones you need. I have at times stared at virtual shelves upon shelves of books, tools, websites and thought “Holy crap, I need all this?!”

The short answer is no.

The long answer is still no, but, that’s not to say these tools are not useful. It’s all a matter of finding out what will be useful to you.

The easiest (hahaha) way of finding out what tools will be useful to you is to identify the parts of your writing that need work. Is your pacing the problem? Do you need to work on your character development? What about your settings? Is it something simple like your spelling and grammar?

Once you’ve identified your weaknesses it will be easier to identify what tools will be useful for you to use, and once you’ve got an idea of the tools you might need/be beneficial to you then it will mostly be a case of trial and error. Fortunately, a lot of the tools available will be available for free, or have free versions, or be available on trials for you to test out.

Keeping what I’ve just said in mind, there are some general tools that will be beneficial to most, if not all writers regardless of weaknesses, genres, styles or productivity levels. But before I launch into this I want to say that I will not be talking about Grammarly here. Grammarly is my absolute favourite writer’s tool out there, its bloody fantastic, but I have talked about Grammarly many times and would rather not repeat myself yet again.

So, let us crack on.

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Horrorzine Book of Ghost Stories

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This week has brought some good news!

I have had a short story accepted for publication in Horrorzine’s book of ghost stories!

Who is Horrorzine

The Horrorzine is an award-winning e-magazine that also produces a quarterly print magazine (That I was luckily enough to appear in before). They specialise in all tales ghoulish and ghastly and have a reputation for producing great content both on and offline. They have won Best Fiction and Poetry Magazine every year since 2010, they won magazine of the year in 2013.

What is the Anthology

Horrorzine recently partnered with Hellbound Books and together are publishing the Horrorzine’s Book of Ghost Stories.

As expected, from the title, this will be a collection of ghost stories will feature original stories by Joe R. Lansdale, Graham Masterton, Elizabeth Massie, Tim Waggoner and a Foreword from Lisa Morton

Suffice to say I’m thrilled to have had a short accepted for this collection and look forward to sharing with you all! I still get completely surprised and excited when I am lucky enough to get my pieces published. It’s hard to believe that people are willing to part with their cold hard cash in exchange for my words, hell, I just make these things up.

Dead Writer Day

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I have to admit, I find it a little funny that after writing a short blog about how I want to improve the quality of this blog and everything else I’m working on at the moment I suffer a flare-up of Torticollis (muscle spasms in the neck, ouch), which effectively puts me on my backside for a few days.

It’s kind of ironic? Or maybe that’s just the naproxen talking, I’m not sure.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is that there won’t be a ‘proper’ blog here today because it’s killing me just writing these few lines (movement = pain).

I’m going to lie down now.

Blog News

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I’ve been giving this blog, and my writing in general, a lot of thought lately.

I haven’t felt happy with what I’ve been putting out for a while now, and by a while I mean the last three months. I was struggling to put my finger on what it is exactly that I don’t like about what I’ve been doing lately and the best I’ve been able to come up with is that what I’ve been producing has no real depth. It’s all very ‘thin’, at least I think so.

It’s incredibly frustrating, as I know I can do better, I can produce better blogs, better chapters, and better editing. When I look back to the beginning of the year, I feel that I was putting out better content and better WIP work.

I’ve been trying to figure out the reason for the drop in quality and it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realise that I am rushing stuff. It’s that bloody simple, I’m rushing things to get them done by deadlines that I made up.

With the cause of the problem clearly identified I needed to figure out how to fix it.

The solution was obvious, but I didn’t like it, I still don’t.

But like all writers (I like to think all writers anyway) I want to produce good content. Even if that means producing slightly less of it.

So, in an experiment, I’m going down to one blog per week. We’ll see if the quality improves when the quantity decreases.

My current plan is to try this for a couple of months and see what happens. My very optimistic hope is that I pull my head out of my bum, increase the quality and then after a couple of months I can go back to posting twice a week consistently.

Finger crossed and any feedback you might like to give would always be appreciated 🙂

CreepyPasta: The Tunnel

creepypasta

Todays Creepy Pasta is The Tunnel! A different look at the typical CreepyPasta. This one reminds me, more than most, of the ye old campfire stories you’d tell as kids.

Plot

Our protagonist is Alex who has lived in his house for six months or so and failed (spectacularly) to notice a door. He stumbles across it, by accident, in the basement.  The door is situated behind the dryer (pulled out in an attempt to locate an errant detergent bottle cap).

After some consideration Alex contacts his landlord, landlord thinks its access to crawlspace. Alex hangs up and decides he’s going to take a hacksaw to this locked door. Curiosity is never a bad thing in these situations. The door (once the lock is destroyed) is a little stiff but it opens revealing a room of musty darkness, a flashlight is brought down to explore showing a tunnel ten feet by ten feet, easily enough for a man to stand in. The walls are stones, rough, not smooth, the floor dirt.

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Videogames: Layers of Fear

Videogames

Once again, we return to the realm of horror videogames, an awesome immersive experience designed to suck you in, chew you up and spit you out.

Today’s game is Layers of Fear.

Layers of Fear is an amazing horror game, its exploration of the human psyche is chilling and likely to leave you uncomfortable. I did some research before playing this game and wasn’t sure I would ever end up writing about it as it sounded like something that relied on jump scares in order to be scary, but while jumpscares are present its the slow burn story that is the truly terrifying aspect of the game.

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Famous Horror Writers: Edgar Allen Poe

Horror

One of the worlds most famous horror writers is Edgar Allen Poe. A name synonymous with Ravens, secret shadows, and dark deeds. He has inspired countless other writers, filmmakers and creators across the board. To sum up such an important figure for the horror genre in a simple blog is like trying to strike a match on jelly. But that’s not going to stop me from having a go.

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