Friday 25 November 2016

The Seven Basic Plots of storytelling...number one...Overcoming the Monster...comparing Jaws and Beowulf.

Hello there!

Image result for happy thanksgiving imagesHappy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate this feast!

But I'm not talking turkey today, I'm sharing stories with you.

I've always been fascinated by the idea that out of all the stories in the world, there are only seven basic plots, or so they say. I recently found an excellent book by Christopher Booker called exactly that.

He maintains these seven basic plots are:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage & Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

Okay I've seen these called by other names, and the Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell combines some, but Booker used interesting comparisons when he compared Steven Spielberg's Jaws with the ancient Beowulf tale...both examples of the Overcoming the Monster plot.

Here is a quick overview of the Jaws' plot (cue the Jaws theme...):

Image result for image jaws

The peace of a little Long Island seaside resort is shattered by the arrival of a monstrous shark of almost supernatural power. For weeks, citizens are frightened and confused by the shark's savage attacks on one victim after another. When it gets too much to bear, the hero, local police chief Brody, sets out with two companions to do battle with the monster. In the climactic fight there is much severing of limbs and threshing about underwater before the shark is slain. The community comes together in jubilation. The threat has been lifted. Life in Amity can begin again.
So, twentieth-century movie goers were gripped by this horror story as it unfolded on the screen. But how many noticed that the story had a lot in common with a smelly bunch of unkempt animal-skinned Saxon warriors gathered around the fire in a wattle-and-daub hall 1200 years earlier, listening to a minstrel chanting an epic poem.

Image result for image beowulf

This ancient poem has survived fire and humans and has been dissected by baffled students the world over. (I had to work my way through much bafflement as I taught this poem to my students.)

Image result for image beowulf
The first part of Beowulf tells of how the peace of a little seaside community of Heorot is shattered by the arrival of Grendel, a monster of almost supernatural power who lives in the depths of a nearby lake. The inhabitants of Heorot are frightened and confused as night after night, Grendel makes his mysterious attacks on the hall where they sleep, seizing one victim after another and tearing them to pieces. Finally, when the threat seems too much to bear, Beowulf sets out to do battle, first with Grendel, then with his even more terrifying monster mother. There is a tremendous climactic fight, with much severing of limbs and threshing about underwater, until both monsters are slain.
Spot the similarities? Pretty obvious.

In terms of bare outline of plot, they tell the same story. Did the author of the modern book, Peter Benchley, steal the Beowulf plot? Hardly. Yet the fact remains that the two stories share a remarkably similar pattern, as do many others down the centuries. Beowulf's plot is basic and we still follow the structure today. It's a prime example of Overcoming the Monster, as is Jaws as so many others.

"Legends of the slaughter of a destructive monster are to be found all over the world. The thought underlying them all is that the monster slain is preternatural and hostile to mankind."                                            
                                                                 E.S. Hartland, The Legend of Perseus (1896) 

  • Thanks for coming by! I appreciate the time.
  • Where does your genre fit into the seven basic plots?
  • And the winner of the WEP October Halloween/Constellations challenge was Pat Hatt. Today he's over at WEP  dishing out some writing advice. I'm sure you could learn something if you pop on over!
  • And on December 1st, WEP announces the December challenge--


Wednesday 16 November 2016

N R Williams on finding readers for her books. Marketing tips, anyone?

I saw a facebook post recently that warmed my heart. A blogger who was ready to self-publish her flash fiction collection in time for Halloween was let down by her cover artist. She bemoaned that fact on facebook. There were many encouraging replies to her post, but a fellow blogger did something about it--she offered to do a cover for free...and quickly, so said author could go ahead and post.

That author was N. R. Williams. The very generous author who provided the brilliant cover was Nicole McDonald. 

Greetings fellow bloggers. Thank you for coming to visit and read my post. Denise has graciously asked me to write about my Halloween series and if I intend to continue publishing a book each October. I can’t really answer that without talking about what led me to develop the series in the first place. It is my hope that this post will inspire some of you.


My life has been filled with challenges. As a child, I had to overcome being switched from my left hand to my right hand. This left me with a learning disability which made English grammar as formidable as a foreign language. I struggle with both. Wait, you say, aren’t you a writer? Yes, I am. I have overcome the grammar challenge.

As a child, I was an artist. Color has always been important to me. But I am also a perfectionist and so art in many forms began to frustrate me. I have transformed my gift of observation into a gift for description. Embracing the challenge.

As a writer, my first love is fantasy. I was bitten by the fantasy bug with Dr. Seuss first, then J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and much later J. K. Rowling. I worked for over twenty years on my first book, learning all the rules of writing and grammar. People said, put your first book aside and do something different. I couldn’t. My first epic fantasy, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, lived with me and wouldn’t leave me alone. I was turned down by a lot of agents and publishers and so I met that challenge by self-publishing in 2011. Later that year publishers came out with a new designation. Young Adult. That fits me to a ‘T.’ My voice is ‘YA,’ but my characters are twenty something. Should I have waited to publish? I don’t know.

Now we come to the present and my new challenge. How to find readers and transform my books into best sellers? This is as difficult for me as grammar was. I don’t have the finances to do a lot of advertising. That in mind, I read that the more books you have available the easier to sell. Well…writing epic fantasy takes time and my time is at a premium. I nearly died two years ago, so I struggle with my health. That said, it’s taking even longer to write my fantasies. But, I am determined.

Halloween series

Cover by Nicole McDonald
Now we come to my Halloween series. Initially I thought that readers would also buy my epic fantasy. That hasn’t happened. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to attract more readers and to grow as a writer. Flash fiction is a useful tool. It makes you a better writer and it allows you to put together a number of stories quickly. I include seven flash fiction stories in each Halloween Collection book. Is that enough? I have no idea but I hope so.

I released the first collection in 2015, and my second in 2016.

I plan to continue to add one Halloween Collection per year and in February 2017 I am putting together a Valentine Faerie Collection. This will also be seven stories of tiny flying beings falling in love.  

We will have to have an update.

My question to you--how do you challenge yourself in your life?

N. R. Williams

N. R. Williams’s journey as a writer began in her formative years. Along the way to becoming a writer she found a voice in herself that couldn’t be silenced. N. R. Williams’s is a writer, a dreamer, a person who sees beyond the here and now and hopes for something better. Her stories evolve along with her characters often changing like the Colorado weather.

N. R. Williams's lives in Colorado with her husband. She is a mother and grandmother.

Nancy blogs HERE
Her TREASURES OF CARMELIDRIUM, my personal favourite, is HERE

Halloween Collection (Halloween Collection Book Book 1) by [Williams, N. R.]

Thanks for coming by! Don't forget to answer Nancy's question in the comments!

  • And seeing Nancy is struggling with marketing, I'm pointing you to a post by Chrys Fey on 100 Marketing Tips.

  • Do you have some marketing tips to share? What's worked best for you?

Thursday 10 November 2016

My life is a movable feast--in pictures. From Brisbane to Peregian Beach. Full time beach living, here I come!

Hello there!

Well, I don't know if anyone out there is blogging at the moment after the BIG NEWS of the AMERICAN ELECTION, but I'll try for some normalcy here. I spent the day glued to CNN and need some light relief, so decided I'd share some pics with you, nothing too deep and meaningful.

Some of you may have picked up that I've been living a split life for several years -- half a week in Brisbane teaching at the State Library of Queensland, living in an 1880's heritage-listed property, and half a week up at the beach, 100 kilometers (62 miles away) to a house we built and moved into on the night of the New Millenium...gah! 16 years ago!

As I say goodbye to permanent living in Brisbane, I took a few photographs to mark the move, and rattled around in my files for some more...

I'm grateful for Brisbane, a beautiful, friendly, laid-back city (hello Lynda Young!)

The sun sets on my Brisbane sojourn!The State Library in the right hand corner.

Inside the State Library. My Library Cafe on right. Also a great bookshop.

View across the river to the city from my teaching room where I tutored students one-on-one.
Favourite muffin and coffee in the Library Cafe
Awesome walkways which are dripping with red bougainvilla each the South Bank

Each Remembrance Day, the Story Bridge is festooned with red poppies
My writers group working on characterisation at the Brisbane Markets
The Brisbane Writers Festival is held at the State Library. Author friend Charmaine Clancy and I liked to relax and have a drink after attending classes

Always media students acting out on the banks of the Brisbane River
Our Heritage Unit in West End. On the deck when Nas and Ragesh Dean came to stay

They built a huge artificial beach at South Bank many years ago. It's permanent. Well used on those balmy days and nights in summer

The beach house needed extensive renovations as we've had it vacant for a time, rented it out as a holiday home and used it as a bolt hole occasionally, so the wear and tear was showing. It's a big house, so the renos have taken awhile--2 brand-new kitchen makeovers (upstairs and downstairs -- where we have made a private apartment for one of our daughters and which will become a Writers Retreat when she moves out), a new ensuite in a large downstairs bedroom, and the most exciting part--cutting off a little of the huge lounge/dining room for my own private writing room.

View of the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean from my writing room every morning. Inspired? I should think so...
We've been doing the painting ourselves, and finally finished the upstairs a couple of days ago. That's all we'll get done before Christmas.

On the beach at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast
Fishing at Peregian Beach at sunset
Chilling on the beach at Noosa - hmm - melanoma territory!
Peregian Beach's Baked Poetry Cafe's special breed of iced coffee. They even make the ice cream in house. Never tasted better and that's saying something! 
The inside of our beach house before renovations. The walls are now grey. More pics in future as Michael di Gesu has been begging!
My favourite spot at the beach house--sofa bed on the deck to read and think while I watch the whales frolic. They've been awesome this season!

I hope you enjoyed my nostalgic journey through Brisbane and onto Peregian Beach. We'll be renting out the Brisbane unit. Can't bear to part with all that rustic gorgeousness yet! And I've kept a few students who I'll be tutoring online and occasionally meeting up with through 2017.

  • How about you? Are you a beach or a city person?
  • What's been your most momentous move/career change so far?
As always, thanks for visiting my blog. I'll just go have a good cry now! And not just because there's a brand new MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD. 

Wednesday 2 November 2016

#IWSG post. Lynda Young tells us why she's moving to Brisbane (and it's not just to be nearer to me!)

Ha! Don't we all love an adventure! I do. I'm always looking for the next thing! But sometimes adventures come on us unexpectedly and we have to find a way to jump in. An unexpected adventure can make us a tad insecure. This is what Lynda Young is talking to us about today...Let's go on an adventure with Lynda.

The awesome co-hosts for Nov 2 IWSG are Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

Now, back to my guest. As you may know, Lynda's on a hello-I've-published-a-book blog tour for her devotional, Cling to God. Today, Lynda is appearing at Crystal Collier's and mine. 

Brisbane: The Next Adventure
by Lynda R Young

For something completely different, Denise asked me about my interstate move from Sydney to Brisbane. From comfortable New South Wales to hot, sunny Queensland. (Hello, Lynda!! I'm waiting!!)

I’ve lived in Sydney all my life. Until my teens I lived in the Eastern suburbs which was built up, lots of concrete, but close to the CBD. Then I moved in with my Mum to a Southern suburb. With all the trees everywhere, it felt like I’d gone bush. I learned to love it there and, when Mum moved away for her ministerial work, I stayed in the house to look after it. Then I got married and we both loved the house still, so we bought it from my Mum. I’ve lived here for the majority of my life. Neither my husband nor I had any intentions of moving. Then life handed us an unexpected turn. A job opportunity opened up in Brisbane for my husband. We’d been up there visiting family and loved the lifestyle so, we who avoid change, decided to go for it. Bam!

Over the years we’d been slowly renovating the house in Sydney. We had one room left. The biggest. We did that, put the house on the market and sold it four weeks later. Yikes!

Am I insecure about the move? If you’d asked me when we first made the decision I would’ve said, “Heck, yes!” I love my beautiful house. I have friends in Sydney. I love the village atmosphere of the area I’m in. I finally found a hair dresser who could cut my hair without making me look like some freak out of the walking dead, or twenty years older than I am. I know hardly anyone in Brisbane. I know very little about Brisbane. I’ll need to find a new hairdresser! I’m crazy! But the funny thing about the selling and moving process is that it makes you ready. You don’t have time to wonder and fear and question. You just have to put your head down and get things done.

How do I know it’s right?
 As a Christian, I lean on my God an awful lot and He lets me know if I’m on the right path. With this move He has opened doors and cleared the way and made things possible. We pretty much found our new place to live in Brisbane within a week of looking. I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.

While this move remains terrifying and overwhelming in so many ways, there’s also a calm inside me. It’s our next adventure. Sure, it’s a lot hotter in Brisbane than Sydney, but I’ll find a way to cope. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, discovering the friendly laid-back city where people still smile at strangers and have a chat with you at the checkouts. And this will be my new view.

I think I’ll make it work!

Of course you will, Lynda! I can't wait to meet you and lead you to my hairdresser! And knowing you love your flowers, here's some poppies just for you!

Inline image 2Cling to God: A Daily Devotional. 
by Lynda R Young
Release date: October 18th, 2016
Published by Freedom Fox Press

Tagline: Cling to God in the chaos of life…

BlurbCling to God is a book of devotionals for every day of the year. The aim is to encourage Christians in their faith, to help them think about their beliefs and learn more about God. The devotions are short and inspirational so that people with busy lifestyles will still be able to spend time with the Lord each day. It will appeal to a wide Christian audience, to those new in their faith as well as those matured beyond milk and honey.

Author Bio: Lynda R Young, a Christian first, writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: Blog,TwitterFacebookGoodreads

Links in full:

I know you're itching to hit the BUY button. You have choices! Here's the links!

Buy Lynda's Book for Kindle 

Buy Lynda's Book on Amazon

Lynda's Book on Nook

Over to you, readers. We'd love to  hear your stories...

  • Have you lived in the same house for most/all of your life, or have you regularly embraced the moving adventure?
  • If you've moved house, did things go well...or badly?
  • What was your first reaction to your new house/town/city?
  • If you're a believer, did you feel God was with you?

Now, the WEP October challenge was Halloween or Constellations. The winners are announced today over at the Write...Edit...Publish site. A young man we know more for his poetic prowess than his prose ran off with the prize after showing us that he can spin a great flash, from the point of view of a crazy old bat.

Now that we've slayed all those Halloween monsters and finished gazing at the stars, we're dreaming of December and holidays, but not just any old holiday...stay tuned. 

Thanks for coming by. I hope you'll enjoy your time reading other IWSG posts which can be found HERE.

And can you believe it's NaNo already? Are you in? Write every day in November--50,000 words. Easy yeah?