The Eight point Arc

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So apparently every classic plot needs to pass through eight phases.

  1. Statis
  2. Trigger
  3. The Quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution 

I had an idea for a plot early on but it only really had a vague sort of middle and an end! 

My basic idea involves a bit of a mystery and a love story – the middle of the book.  I have the last few paragraphs in my head and know exactly how the book will end.  I have my character’s back story from as long ago as her childhood but I wasn’t sure where to start my narative.

Eventually I decided that my main story would cover a period of only about two years and I knew I would start in the present.  

I have now written four chapters during which I am trying to establish the statis.  If this is a picture of where my character is today, I need to describe both her current life and events in her past.

I also have a trigger of sorts although I am not sure if this is strong enough.  

I think I have a climax, reversal and resolution but getting from beginning to end and making it interesting for the reader is my current challenge.

Who is the man in the park?





What’s in a name?

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After I had decided on my location I set about drawing in some residents.  In a nod towards my last blog I decided my main characters should be old enough for me to remember what it was like to be their age!  I am now a little old to get into the head of a teenager.

As it happens I have seen some research recently that indicates most readers are middle-aged women so I hopefully have a head start.

I first thought I would call my main character Sophia but after and working with it for a few days I decided the name was too posh.  It set me thinking about the importance of choosing an appropriate name.  

As my characters are to be ordinary folk, I wanted fairly common names.  I had given each person a date of birth so I Googled the most popular names for that year and chose from the list.    After all I could make a terrible mistake by giving someone a name that didn’t come into vogue until 20 years after he was born.

So I built up a network of people by drawing a sort of mind map.  My main protagonist in the centre: her friends radiating out from that : their husbands/wives/children etc radiating out further.   I have included names, dates of birth (and their age at the time of my story), their relationship to the central character and each other. 

I find myself referring to this a lot to remind me who is married to whom and which kids belong to which couple – my memory is shocking.

Does any body else use a similar idea?

Who is the man in the park?

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Write about what you know

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We have all heard this advice but what does it really mean?   Looking out your window perhaps?   I see the same people walking past most days and if I studied them a little more closely they could become characters. 

What about your own friends and family?  Well I decided not to go down this route.  If,  by some chance, I ever get published, I wouldn’t want anyone to recognise themselves.  I might steal a few quirks though – do your own relatives recognise their own idiosyncrasies? 

My setting  is real but tweaked to suit my purposes.  I have moved it to another town because  I wanted a smaller community.  I have a place in mind to help me keep a sense of the size and atmosphere I am after. 

Some of my character’s traits will be my own – after all we know ourselves better than anyone else – but my book is in no sense autobiographical.

If you think about it, though, you can know anything if you put your mind to it.  

Writers Workshop advises spending several days and covering about five pages building each of your main characters.  By the time you have finished you will know this person inside out.   

Similarly you can research almost anything and learn enough to be able to say you know about it.

So write about what you know but always remember you can expand your knowledge.


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My birthday last week.  Ian and Irene gave me a lovely leather-bound notebook.  It was Irene who was the catalyst behind my novel, although she had actually suggested a diary.

I have written in the book already – it was calling out to me!  It isn’t going to be a diary exactly – more a journal: a mixture of memories, day-to-day life, my feelings and my opinions.  Perhaps a sort of aide-memoir as well as I find my powers of recall are limited.  Most of the stuff will not be the sort other people are interested in.  Let’s be honest reading about the common man’s (or woman’s) daily drudge isn’t often very inspiring – raining today – went to work – had chicken for tea etc. etc. 

Writing is now becoming a compulsion.  Whenever I have a spare moment – and sometimes when I don’t – I write.  Other things, like housework, are being neglected.  I am not sure where this has come from.  It’s like I have opened a tap in my brain and I can’t turn it off. 

It’s fair to say I have an obsession.

Right  – off to my other blog then!

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