Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Using subplots

Welcome back!



           While working on my story’s timeline, I began questioning myself regarding how I would present certain information to the readers. Sometimes it can be difficult to offer key details to the audience without interrupting the flow of the storyline. One effective way to solve this problem is with the inclusion of subplots, which is the subject of today’s writing article.  


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The basics of a story is a plotline which follows the exploits of the main characters as they attempt to resolve a conflict while making their way to their intended goal. So how exactly do subplots come into play?


A subplot is a string of events taking place within a storyline, but is not the principal focus of the story. They are linked to the primary plot in either time, place, characters, setting or in thematic significance. Though subplots may be smaller in scale or impact than the main plot, they support and drive the main story.


The purpose of the subplot is to enhance and strengthen the primary plot by adding dimension and complexity to it. There are several ways adding subsidiary plot lines can do this:
  • Help the plot progress in satisfying increments by controlling the pace of the action.
  • Further characterization by observing a character's transformation throughout the story.
  • Underline important elements of the main plot, such as theme or motif, by use of repetition or exploring different perspectives.
  • Reveal key information to your characters or to the reader.
  • Add variety to a story by alternating tone.
  • Link unrelated elements, such as events or characters, to the main plot.


The key to plotting a novel with several plot lines is to treat each plot as its own entity, before intertwining them. Begin by defining the main plot and dividing it into chapters, then repeat the process for each subplot. Finally, insert the subplots in a logical order as they would appear in timeline, and link them to the necessary points in the main plot. The most important point to remember, is that secondary story lines are there to support the main plot, and never compete with it.


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Ideally, subplots should flow naturally around the main story, otherwise they would feel  contrived. They are woven into the fabric of the story in order to bring various elements together, and are neatly resolved before the conclusion of the main plot. Here are ten techniques used to knit subplots into storylines.


  1. Bookend: As the name suggests, a bookend is a subplot which appears at the beginning and the ending of a novel. After its introduction early on in the plotline, it is then left unmentioned until its resolve and the end of the story.

  2. Bridge Character: These are secondary or even tertiary characters, whose roles have them connected to two or more plotlines in the story. As their name suggests, the purpose of the bridge character is to serve as a link connecting different plots together.
  3. Character: A character subplot is a small story exploring various aspects of a character outside of the main plot. It shows how their inner thoughts, feelings and actions connect to or affect the main plot.
  4. Clue: Clues play a particularly important role in crime, suspense or thriller novels, where the main plot revolves around the solving of a mystery. In these types of stories, subplots can either reveal  information the protagonist needs to solve the mystery, or lead them to a dead end.
  5. Isolated Chunk: Also referred to as a story-within-a-story. The isolated chunk is a short tale which takes place within a larger story. These subplots range from a few pages to a full chapter in length, usually beginning and ending within the same chapter before returning to the main narrative.

  6. Mirror: A mirror subplot shows characters, setting or events that have some sort of opposite aspect as those found in the main plot. The purpose of this type of subplot is to help contrast a certain element in the primary plotline, therefore showcasing its importance.
  7. Parallel Line: A parallel line never touches the main plot, progressing separately before they finally converge at the conclusion of the story. The point of view can switch back and forth between the two events, effectively giving the impression they are both occurring at the same time.

  8. Recurring: Subplots which pop in and out of the main plotline as needed. Recurring plots can take the form of a character, item or event, which appears to serve a special purpose before retreating to the background until further needed.

  9. Setting: These subplots explore where the storyline takes place and show how it affects the overall plot. Setting subplots cover elements such as the environment, political views, religious beliefs or the timeline of the story.  
  10. Swallowtail: Swallowtail stories are composed of one main plot, and another subplot which runs simultaneously to it. Though this subplot runs separately of the main plot for the majority for the story, they will converge on several occasions, sharing components such as characters, locations or events.



In closing, I learned through these various subplots that events in a story do not always need to be straightforward. Adding a few subplots gives a story a little complexity and depth, makes it more realistic and keeps the audience on their toes.


           Hope I managed to teach you something new! So until next time!


           Cheers!


Patrick Osborne

Monday, September 19, 2016

By the Book - Predator


Welcome back!


    This month's book review is my first time reading award-winning author, Patricia Cornwell. My wife is a big fan of the Scarpetta series and goes through these books like crazy. When Linda's mother gave us two large boxes full of books her family had already read, a few of them were from Patricia Cornwell. So I decided to see what this series was about.

Since I started reading on a regular basis again, my tastes in literature have expanded considerably. My interests no longer gravitate around sci-fi and fantasy, but have grown to include mystery, action, thrillers and comedy (I still have not warmed up to romance, though). I discovered just how engrossing a good mystery can be, so I try to read more of them in order to learn everything I can.


The book follows the investigation of Dr. Kay Scarpetta, head of the National Forensic Academy and her team, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli. The case they work on in this story stretches from steamy Florida to snowbound Massachusetts. It begins with the disappearance of two sisters in Florida, with strange clues linking a cunning religious fanatic and the spreading of a plant infection. The story also focuses on the personal lives, relationships, and especially the dependence upon and affection the characters have for each other.




Back of the book:

Scarpetta, now freelancing with the National Forensic Academy in Florida, digs into a case more bizarre than any she has ever faced, one that has produced not only unusual physical evidence, but also tantalizing clues about the inner workings of an extremely cunning and criminal mind.


She and her team --- Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and her niece, Lucy --- track the odd connections between several horrific crimes and the people who are the likely suspects. As one psychopath, safely behind bars and the subject of a classified scientific study at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital, teases Scarpetta with tips that could be fact --- or fantasy --- the number of killers on the loose seems to multiply. Are these events related or merely random? And what can the study of one man's brain tell them about the methods of a psychopath still lurking in the shadows?




What I learned (warning, spoilers alert):


  • Forensic Procedures: The author has shown such extensive knowledge in the field of forensics, that I could believe she actually worked in law enforcement. I have taken notes in the hopes use some of this information in my own stories. This information will be useful when having my main characters trying to decipher clues to a mystery.
  • Master of disguise: The main antagonist manages to escape detection through the majority of the story by concealing their appearance. This fact by itself is good for storytelling purposes, but the author takes it a step further by always showing the antagonist through the eyes of other protagonists. The reader has no clue that the several characters being interrogated are in fact the same person until the big reveal towards the end of the story.
  • Using multiple personality: One of the characters of the story suffers from schizophrenia. The fact this character has multiple personalities allows the author to tell the story from the point of view of the antagonist, without letting the audience know the antagonist is actually the one speaking. This is yet a different way of telling the story, without revealing key information to the reader.


For those interested in learning more about the author, Patricia Cornwell, please check out her websites (and others) here:



In closing, I would like to thank my wife Linda, my family and my friends for their tremendous amount of encouragement in this endeavor.


Until next time!


Cheers,

            Patrick Osborne

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Current Projects part 20.5

Hello again all!


      I’m super excited to talk to you about the latest Missing Worlds Media update on Kickstarter! This new article features one of my biggest and most detailed contributions to the project; a heroic faction named the bureau of Paranormal Investigation and Tracking (a.k.a. PIT).


    This lore update discusses who the PIT are, what they do in our setting, and a brief description of their history, without giving away any spoilers. I had tons of fun working on this group and it’s characters, and I hope you all enjoy it!




Here is a link to their Kickstarter page:




Cheers,


Patrick Osborne


Friday, September 9, 2016

Interview - Emily A. Steward


Welcome back!


Today we have an interview with newly published writer, Emily A. Steward. She contacted me after I posted a request in one of the Facebook pages I am part of. We began discussing the release of her first book, Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure, which gets released this month.


Though Emily came across as very organized and professional, she is also funny and young at heart. I am delighted for the opportunity to have her on my blog, before she gets bombarded with requests and responsibilities that come with being a new writer.


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Emily A. Steward


Short Bio: Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and reading good books.


Published Works: Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure


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Current Projects: My current projects include the second book in the Penelope Gilbert series, a middle grade Mystery/horror that is in the final stages of editing, and a middle grade story along the lines of a more contemporary Harriet the Spy.


Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Penelope-Gilbert-Children-Azure-Steward-ebook/dp/B01LTGUPC6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473377424&sr=8-1&keywords=penelope+gilbert


When did you begin writing?


I wrote my first book when I was in kindergarten. It was a blatant rip off of the Berenstain Bears, but I was pretty proud of it. I got a bit more creative after that. I wrote a short story in middle school about a shark attacking people. I called it “Fangs.” Ok… so it took a little while for me to become original, but I got there eventually!


Did you receive any special training or attend a school?


I took a few writing classes for fun at the local college near my home. It was really great for me. I was so encouraged by the teachers and other students there. The classes were great for my confidence, and a wonderful motivator.


Where do you get your inspiration from?


I get inspired by the interesting people I meet everyday. They make me want to infuse that level of depth and spirit into my own characters. I’m also really inspired by the works of Roald Dahl. His books are just so imaginative and I love all the quirky, fun characters he’s created.


Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)


No, I don't use anything very fancy. My resources include my handy pen shaped like a sword, a cup of hot tea, and my favorite notebook. These are my brainstorming tools. My writing tools are similar, but include my laptop and possibly some sour gummy worms or chocolate.


What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?


I have to remind myself that the first draft does not need to be perfect. It is more important to let the words flow, and get into a rhythm than get everything just so. That's what editing is for! Otherwise you can get so bogged down and that's when writer's block can set in. Also, if you don't like where the story is going, take the reins, and don't let those characters boss you around. You are in charge after all. Other writers may not have to be reminded of this, but my characters can be rather bossy.


What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?


The most challenging part to me, is just finding the time to actually do it. I've found that it helps to just fit in a little whenever I get a chance. I don't need a huge stretch of time. Sometimes I only have fifteen minutes, and that's okay, as long as I do something. Some days I write a chapter or even two. Other days I’m lucky to get a paragraph. I try not to worry about daily word counts. As long as I’m making progress, I consider the day a success.


Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)


I did look for an agent initially and I may still use one in the future, but for this book, it seemed small presses were more interested.


Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?


I did a lot of my own editing with the help of critiquing groups and beta readers before submitting my work to be published. The publisher I signed with also helped with editing. They have an amazing team at Clean Reads that helped me fine tune the story and make it the best it could be.


How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).


I found a great publishing house called Clean Reads Publishing through a Twitter contest called #Pit2Pub. Traditional querying can definitely be beneficial, but there is something to be said for contests where the agent or publisher actually contacts you and asks to see more. It's a great feeling, and it can help you stand out from the slush pile and actually get noticed.


Do you handle your own marketing?


I am primarily in charge of my own marketing, and that is going to be my next challenge for sure! Right now I'm actually in the process of exploring different avenues and methods for marketing to a middle grade audience. Luckily, the other authors at Clean Reads are fantastic resources and have great advice for a marketing newbie like me.


Do you have any advice for other writers?


Listen and learn from other people's feedback on your work, but ultimately trust your gut. Don’t get discouraged when you run up against harsh criticism. Use that criticism to fuel your fire. Edit like crazy and show them you do have a story worth sharing that only you can tell. And those rejections you have piling up in your inbox… they really are subjective. Somewhere, someone is looking for your book, it just needs to fall into the right hands at the right time.


We have a little something different this month. In addition to the standard interview, Emily has been generous enough to supply us with details of her newly released book, as well as an excerpt. So read on for more details.


Title: Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure


Back Cover Blurb: When 13 year-old Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.


Buy Links: Coming soon


Excerpt (509 words): A six-foot-tall arachnid hovered over them. One of the creature’s razor-sharp metal legs was raised to attack. The scream seemed to confuse it. It wasn’t much of a window, but it was long enough. She rolled to the side just as the beast’s leg smashed into the ground, leaving a deep hole behind. Crane turned to see what was happening. He let out a cry and fell back into Haldor.
“Guard your necks!” Penny shouted. A web shot out from another spider just behind the first, catching Crane around the ankle. It pulled him in faster than he could react. Another web shot toward Penny. She managed to deflect it with her sword. She could hear Chip hooting wildly from somewhere above, as if cheering them on.
“Haldor, these guys are metal, can’t you do something?” she cried.
“I’m trying, but I have to get closer.”
“Help!” Crane yelled from where he hung upside down from the spider’s back. Haldor jumped to his feet and ran at them, swinging his spear around. He let out a gasp as a spindly leg knocked him to the ground. Another rose up to make the kill. Penny leapt forward and chopped the leg in two with her sword before it could connect.
The metal shrapnel scattered onto the ground. Haldor took that moment to drive his spear into the soft underbelly of the animal. It let out a horrible shriek but only seemed to be angered more. It came at him again, foam dripping from his fangs, his glass eyes gleaming red like a hundred tiny traffic lights. Haldor fell back, losing his grip on the spear. The spider lunged just as Penny attacked it from behind, stabbing her blade deep within his thorax. She then swung around, looking for the spider who held Crane. She could see it skittering toward the forest.
“Come on!” she yelled to Haldor who was wriggling out from under the spider corpse. She ran to the spot where she saw the creature enter as Haldor hurried to catch up. She scrambled through the brush until she came to a stream. There she saw the spider. He was across the water under a large tree.
Above him were several objects swinging in the breeze. It took her a moment to realize that they were rotting bodies strung up by their necks. Their unseeing eyes stared eerily into the darkness. Upon closer inspection, she saw that there were at least thirty of them. She wretched silently as she tried to think of a way for Crane to not become one of them. The spider was already trying to wrap a strand of webbing around his neck.
A thought occurred to her. An outrageous, outlandish thought. I can do this, she assured herself. She tried to picture every last detail of her slain foe—every creepy crawling, hairy, shiny detail. Penny could feel the energy pulsing through her. Her hands were no longer her own. Her teeth had become fangs, and her eyes were the eyes of a killer.


In closing, I would like to thank Emily for doing this interview, and wish her well with the release of her first book. As someone who is still in the process of writing his first book, I found her positivity to be quite motivating. I look forward to hearing more about her in the future.


Until Next time,


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Current Projects part 20


Welcome back,


           This month’s update will be a short one. I still have so many projects on the go that I don’t know what to pay attention to first. Regardless, I managed to get some progress done on my writing, just nowhere near as much as I would have liked.


So without further ado, let’s take a look at what I have been doing this month.




           The first week of August was spent with the family, camping at our trailer at Lake Clear. During this time, I decided to not do any writing. Truth is, with all the work and responsibilities I had going on lately, I needed the break. Sometimes, taking a step back from a project can be more beneficial than constantly pounding away at it.


           That being said, I found other ways to work on ideas for my story. Before leaving for our vacation, I finally got myself a sculpting kit together. I had had an urge to start sculpting again for the past few months, so after fifteen years, I decided to take this opportunity to start up again.




Well, I can certainly say that my skills did not improve since college. My first attempt was a full figure of Torment, one of the henchmen working for the mastermind in my story. The result was too cartoonish for my taste, so I ended up scrapping him. However the process turned out to be a great learning experience! First, I learned that structure is key; if you don’t feel comfortable with the base frame, start over now. Because simply put, if the frame doesn’t work, no amount of clay will fix it. Get a good base or frame going, then proceed to the sculpting.


Which leads me to the second thing I learned about sculpting; it is both a good way of releasing creative energies and of forming ideas. Giving your ideas a physical form helps you better grasp some of the intricacies that compose them.




My second attempt was more successful. I decided to go smaller, so I did a bust rather than a full figure. I also decided to do a creature, so if it looks less than perfect it would be less of an issue than if I was trying to do a representation of a human being. It is still a work in progress, and is not a portrayal of any of my current characters, but I am already more satisfied with this attempt.


This side project has really helped me take a new approach to creating new material for my stories. I look forward to see what other ideas will come to me while sculpting.


But all good things must come to an end. After a well earned vacation, we came back home, and consequently back to our routine. Unfortunately, said routine is currently so overcharged, I can barely get any writing done. Between the renovations at home and colleagues at work taking their vacation, time to write has been short.


Regarding my story, I am still slowly chipping away at the character sheet for Vivian Winters. Though not much progress was made, I am happy with the direction the character is taking.  I should be able to complete her write up by the end of September at the latest.




As for work regarding Missing Worlds Media, a new update including lore content was released mid-August. It is a description about Scorpion, one of the main villain factions that will be found in the game. The article can be found on our Kickstarter page here:  




That is all I have for this month. Hard to believe this is my 20th progress update, meaning I have been at this for almost two years already. In closing, I want to thank my wife, my family and my friends for taking the time to visit my blog, and for being so supportive.


Until next time.


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne