Book Review: Seeking Unseen, by Kat Heckenbach

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this book was released. Released in 2012, that makes it seven years to be exact. I haven’t done justice to some of my writing friends by putting off reading their books, but I’ve recently made a commitment not only to read more, but to purpose to read more of those books I should have made time for long ago.

Finding AngelKat’s books are at the top of my list, as someone who has poured a lot into me professionally. I read and reviewed the first book in her Toch Island series, Finding Angel, way back in 2013. This morning, (having reread Angel over the summer) I finally finished the second book. I’ll have to put a book or two between this one and the third, but I’m determined to finish this series within the next few months.

I’ve also been notoriously critical in most of my reviews. Since 2013, I’ve sort of mellowed in this department. I reread my review of Angel and cringed a little. Maybe I was too critical. Upon my second reading, I’ll gladly take most of that back. Continue reading “Book Review: Seeking Unseen, by Kat Heckenbach”

My fanfiction journey

fanfiction3Today I’m kicking off a series of blog posts about the benefit of writing fanfiction. I have some amazing guest bloggers coming over the next month to share their experiences and thoughts on the matter. But before they do, I wanted to share with you my fanfiction journey.

I’ve been a published author for nearly ten years. My first novel was published in 2011, kicking off a four book series that I would complete in 2017. When the final book dropped in December of that year, I didn’t realize how much of an emotional drain it would be on me. Those books, that world…that character…had been a part of my life for more than just the eight years it took to publish the books, but an additional three years before that as I wrote and polished that first one. If you invest in anything for over a decade, you will invest in it emotionally.

Continue reading “My fanfiction journey”

Story Building Mastery 10 – Advanced Complexities

Advanced Complexities

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, you’ve made it this far, huh? You’ve taken all the basics of story building (The Tri-Core Substructure, the Five Act Structure, Genre, Genotype, Character Development), you’ve carefully designed your story (Five Stage Plot, The Hero’s Journey, Micro Stories, Episodic Reduction), but that’s not enough for you. You want some tricks and tools to make your story unique…to make it stand out. Most importantly, you don’t really want your reader to figure out what you’re up to. You want to grab the reader by the nose, lead them through your complex, masterful, story weaving, and deliver a climax that will leave them breathless. You want your story to be unforgettable.

Welcome to the club.

Here are a few common tricks and tools you can use to twist your story exactly the way you want. You’ve probably thought of a few of these things, but for the best effect you should make sure they are implemented properly. Each item has some peculiarities you should remember, otherwise your efforts may fall flat or go unnoticed by the reader.

Continue reading “Story Building Mastery 10 – Advanced Complexities”

Using a "Straw man" plot in fiction. What's your opinion?

I posted a status about this on Facebook yesterday, but I didn’t get the kind of response I was hoping for. So here’s my attempt at a larger audience…and an opportunity to explain myself better.

I want to know what you feel about the use of a “Straw man” plot in fiction. If you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. I’m not sure if this technique has an official term in literary circles…but “Straw man” is what I’m calling it. The term comes from the informal logical fallacy of the same name. Wikipedia describes the “Straw man” fallacy as:

“a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.”

How am I applying this to fiction? A “Straw man” plot is a fake plot used in the exposition to mislead the reader. When the real plot comes into play, the fake plot is completely discarded as irrelevant. A “Straw man” plot usually ends with a “WHAT THE!” moment, blowing the reader’s mind and perception of what’s happening, and skews the story in a totally unexpected direction. The “Straw man” plot is never mentioned again. This is not the same as having sub-plots or plot-twists. Sub-plots continue on, and usually have some significance to the overall story. A plot-twist is an unexpected change to the current plot. A “Straw man” plot is fake, insignificant, and tossed aside in favor of more important things.

I haven’t been able to think of any books or movies that have pulled this off. Please let me know if you can think of any, because I’d like some examples. But one of the best examples I can think of comes from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game for Wii. At the beginning of this game, Link is asked to deliver a special sword to Hyrule Castle. He goes through a few rudimentary training exercises, and a short adventure in preparation of this journey. And just before he leaves…a black portal opens up in the sky, everything is thrust into a dark twilight-dimension, and Link turns into a wolf. WHAT THE! Forget delivering the stupid sword to the castle. The world now has bigger problems. This “Straw man” plot is never mentioned again. In fact, the only connection to it is that Link later goes back to his home village and steals that sword so he’ll have something to beat up monsters with.

So what do you think of using the “Straw man” plot? Does it work for you or not? Can you think of a movie or book examples that have succeeded using it? Can you think of movie or book examples that have bombed using it? And would you consider using this in one of your own books? What’s your opinion?

-odk