Three Act Structure: Saving my plot

 

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I’m hard at work editing my second paranormal romance. I’m also on my second developmental edit. Why? Because I realized something fundamental while rewriting certain scenes and deleting overused words. My plot felt iffy, because my sub-plot felt iffy.

*smile* Yeah I know, I’m being as clear as mud right now.

I had a plot worked out that revolved around the hero and heroine—good. But the inciting incident that draws the two together, though believable since I’d taken it straight from current news headlines, seemed to the drag the romance in a direction I didn’t want it to go. For a novella with a maximum word count of 30K, the subject matter was too big and distracted from the romance. In fact, the growing romance between the couple seemed trivial in comparison. Why are you two making goofy eyes at each other when Rome is burning down? (Side note: the novella is not set in Rome 🙂 )

And I wanted them to make goofy eyes at each other. That’s the whole point of a romance book. In order to get myself back on track I went back to the fundamental Three Act Structure of a story. Not only should my story follow this structure but my scenes should too. I needed this refresher again to ground my romantic plot.

At its most basic, a Three Act Structure is simply:

Act I: Beginning

Act II: Middle

Act III: End

So let’s break it down more.

Act I:

The set up. First show your main character’s day to day life (this is necessary to measure the change they undergo through their journey). The inciting incident: the event that sets off a course of action, the reason why your main character goes on a journey.

The point of no return: they are committed to their goal and can’t turn back.

Act II:

The middle: here your main character tries to try to achieve their goals. Here, they can also either achieve it or find a new one.

They can even pursue their goal through the whole second act and face obstacle after obstacle. By the end of act II something should happen to make us think they will never reach their goal. All must seem lost.

Act III:

The resolution. What does your character learn, prove or discover? This is where we begin thinking about themes and what we are really trying to say.

 

This is just a simple, basic break down of the Three Act Structure. It kept me focused on my main plot and helped me to make the right decision for the romance in the story. The story flows now and each scene moves at a good pace.

Hope this helps you too!

#happywriting

Divorce isn’t the End

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That title just made some people who know me extremely nervous *smile*

“When did Inge get married?”

“And when did she divorce?”

“How did I not know this?!”

Uhm…I didn’t. I haven’t. And we are probably not as close as you think if the third question went through your head.

But how can I know this then? I’ve never been married.  How I can speak for divorcees?

I’m not.

I’m not speaking for them. There’s so many things said about people who go through divorce on the internet, either by themselves or professionals. Not so much the ‘bystanders’.

And no I’m not going to comment on divorce in general. What I am going to shine a light on are the children, the grownup ones, who have to either pick up the pieces and/or deal with the emotional aftermath. The ones who have to resign themselves to a life of, “What can I say in front of my mother/father about the other, that in no way harms my relationship with both?”

It is funny how even the most amicable separations can turn sour, because even if both parties are okay with leaving, if the other one seems to have a way “better” time at moving on. Some bitterness sweeps in. And that bitterness, no matter the amount, has an effect on the children.

You can be the most well adjusted, emotionally intelligent adult there is, but when your parents go through a divorce…it wrecks your world. The experience tears something inside of you. You won’t realize until you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe because it feels like the air had been sucked out of your lungs. And as an adult, someone who’s thirty-three years old, people expect you to have it together.

You’re not a child that you lean on your parents support for everything. The bulk of sympathy goes to kids who still haven’t finished school. And trust me, I feel for them. They have absolutely no control over their lives; adults are making decisions for them. At least when you’re a grownup you can tell your parents, “Look I don’t want to deal with your drama anymore.” You can cause them to be shamefaced for the way they are acting, for the way they are having you be the grownup, when they raised you. Not the other way around.

So definitely an up and down side to being an adult with recently divorced parents.

Nevertheless here’s why I believe divorce isn’t the end for adult children with divorced parents, especially if those parents chose to get a divorce, rather than the one cheating on the other or being emotionally and physically abusive, etc. But rather them realizing that they’ve grown apart and want different things from life.

You can still be a family. Two years ago I didn’t think that would be possible. (And I know everyone’s circumstances/families aren’t the same.)

But there is hope of peace. Hope of everyone getting on well together. You don’t have to choose sides adult child of divorced parents *smile*

As we all know, a couple breaking up, most of the time, doesn’t have a direct correlation to the children. It’s their issues with each other. So don’t think that at any point in the future you won’t be able to pick up the strands of the relationship again. Yes, it’s going to be different. There’s going to have to be forgiveness and healing. You’re going to have to openly talk about your issues (if you have any) with each other. Because your mother is still your mother and your father is still your father. That bond isn’t going to go away just because your dad is married to someone new, or your mom chooses to live in a commune with people who dress in white and murmur affirmations under their breath. Just saying.  Through your connection, they are still your family. And that makes something like divorce not final.

Death is final. And I have to say, people who compare the two with each other, might not have any plans of ever moving on from divorce. I still carry the death of my biological father with me, but I don’t carry my parents’ divorce with me. To me, the two can never be lumped under the same heading. I can make peace with a living breathing person, but I can’t with someone who’s no longer there.

So divorce is not the end. It’s the beginning of another different kind of life. But still life.

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Putting Yourself Out There

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Whether it’s in a romantic relationship or business partnership, you take a risk putting yourself out there.

All parties come with their set of skills and issues. Yes issues. The ones you collected from previous relationships and partnerships. You literally tell yourself to keep an open mind, to not judge people the same. This venture will be different; you won’t be picking up the slack. You won’t be the one left hanging after the phone call. But then you precariously find yourself doing a balancing act that would make an Olympic gymnast look like an amateur.

Putting yourself in a position where you have to rely on someone else is always scary. You have to trust that they’d have the best interest at heart for you or for the venture. You have to trust that you’ve made the right decision of entering with them into a relationship in the first place.

And I’m not someone who easily does that *pulls face* No I certainly don’t. And it doesn’t help that past experiences has basically taught me that I’m better of doing everything myself.

So of course, since I am self-aware I know my shortcomings. That I’d rather work on my own than do a group project (that has absolutely no bearing on my romantic status *straight face*). Because it takes a village to raise a child. That’s an African saying. And it holds true for taking on certain projects…true for having a healthy fulfilled life. Sometimes you need a little help from your friends.

That’s what the Africa Online Book Fair reminded me of again.

There’s a reason sites like Facebook got so big. Mark Zuckerburg understood the power of social networks, the power of people reaching out to each other, the power in connections and relationships. They can help you build things. The right people, with the right intentions and work ethic can build something solid.

Of course there is a flip-side to this coin. To this perfect picture I just sketched. Because people have personalities, come with their view points and sometimes misconceptions of what the objectives are.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across the latter. If people aren’t clear on what the end goal is it can impact how tasks are executed.

And once in awhile I’ve come across a rogue. You know what I mean, that one person who goes upstream while everyone’s going downstream. The one who deliberately swims against the current and you’re like why? That’s way too much effort and time consuming.

Here’s what I’ve learned when I’m working with someone and I’m required to be the number two (or four *grin*); I take a backseat. And not as a backseat driver. No. They should take the lead; I don’t try to make a grab for the wheel. If it looks like they are heading for a cliff I, politely, in a very reserved tone and with a modicum of caution, tell them that we are heading for a nosedive down a cliff. Usually that works. Because even though I’m an introvert with extrovert tendencies (I have a sneaky suspicion I might have developed into a full on self-aware extrovert over the years) I get on well with most people. Have been described as charming and likeable. And not just by people my age or ethnicity, class or cultural background. Across the board.

You know you’ve got people skills when eighteen and sixty year olds count you among their friends.

But in spite of this…in spite of the other side to the coin, I’d still say put yourself out there. Do it for your growth, do it for the experience, do it so you can write a blog post *laughs*, but mostly do it because it’s healthy. It’s good to come in contact with personalities that are not like yours. It’s good to see something come about from nothing. You learn new skills, make new contacts, and find out that the world is bigger than your experiences of it. That’s the reward.

No one can take away the lessons, the improvements away from you. You’ll know how to go about things next time in a similar setting, similar venture…another relationship.

So go on…take the plunge, put yourself out there.

#happynetworking

 

Saying Goodbye: Series Finale The Vampire Dairies

 

images vd season1 2Do you know where you were when you watched the pilot of The Vampire Dairies?

I do. I was studying my Honors degree at the University of Stellenbosch, living in one of the senior residences and a friend of mine had come over for a visit. We’d ended up getting our weekly dose of The Big Bang Theory and then decided (since we are both Twilight lovers) to give this new vampire TV series a try.

We watched it with mixed emotions. It was not Twilight. It was something different. But not bad different.

I didn’t know if I liked Elena Gilbert or not. She was the polar opposite of Bella Swan—confident, sassy, popular, had two best friends…and a tragedy. Let’s just speak truth for a minute here. I love Bella Swan, but until Edward Cullen showed up in her life, she didn’t have any level of depth that I could spy. The vampire gave her layers.

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Elena Gilbert (even though I was one of the character’s harshest critics) is introduced to us as someone who puts on the social mask that everyone expects of her, but deep down is still struggling with her parents death and the car accident she survived.

When Stefan Salvatore shows up and distracts her from what happened, it isn’t so much as he’s giving her layers but rather, as she so aptly puts in the last episode of the series, he brought her back to life.

I also from the onset became a big fan of Damien Salvatore, the very good-looking sometimes downright evil and reluctant hero and older brother of Stefan. You could already see just what he was going to bring to the table when he said with a smirk, “Hello little brother,” at the end of the pilot episode.

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And though the series was built on the love triangle between the two vampire brothers and a human girl, it ended up introducing us to the awesome witch Bonnie Bennet and organize freak who later also becomes a vampire Caroline Forbes, as well as Elena’s little brother Jeremy (in the books Elena has a sister), werewolf Taylor, Matt the human (yeah that’s how I thought of him lols at one point he was the only human amongst his friends), and his sister Vicki—whose death in season one threw us all. It was then that we all realized The Vampire Dairies meant business. This was going to be a show that’s going to grab you by the…uh nuts and take no prisoners. It was going to make itself stand out.

That was due to good casting and great storylines.

And let me not forget, they gave us the Mikaelsons; Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah…the Original vampire family. For that I will always hold a special place in my vampire-TV series-loving-heart for The Vampire Dairies.

I knew the end was coming after Nina Dobrev exited the series, but I held hope that it might go on to ten seasons *smile* I know, that’s pushing it. The love triangle, the tension between the three main characters that started us off, was gone. Because (oh I’m going to piss off a few people) I honestly don’t think Stefan was over Elena and vice versa. Yeah she chose Damien, but Damien can be so self-destructive that he would’ve ended up messing up their relationship (because as we’ve all learned in life, you can’t change for a person, you have to do that for yourself) and Damien’s whole premise of being good relies heavily on Elena. And we all knew Elena could be quite fickle sometimes. So there was still a chance, if Nina hadn’t left, that a relationship with Stefan would’ve been in the cards.

Hey, I love Damien, but I’m being realistic here. Damien was our foreshadowing of Klaus Mikaelson and anti-heroes are called anti-heroes for a reason.  

So Nina’s exit made it quite clear that The Vampire Dairies was coming to a definite end. Though we had time to prepare, it still took me by surprise at how emotional I was when I watched the last episode on Saturday. Yeah I know I’m a bit late to the party, but in my defense I’m thirty-three years old and was busy adulting, so put all my favorite shows on the backburner. (Yay Catch-up!)

 

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I was singing, “Please don’t leave quite yet!” and then The Fray’s Never Say Never. I hated that Bonnie didn’t get her happy ending with Enzo, but then again her ending was also fitting for the character. She’d always been this strong independent (black woman) witch who sweeps in and saves the day, sacrificing herself for the greater good and coming out on top, fiercer and wiser than ever. I loved how Caroline got what she’d always wanted, she married Stefan. Though she lost him again, she had that moment. She also got a family, because goodness, Caroline Forbes deserves to have a family dammit *sniffs* after what she’s been through. Oh and please plant her into The Originals. I’m still rooting for her and Klaus! *grin*

Matt became the Sheriff in Mystic Falls…yep uh kind of saw that coming a couple of seasons ago, but it’s also fitting. And Taylor, hot headed werewolf Taylor, is in the afterlife with Vicki and the rest of the cast who died.

There are so many other memorable characters like Rick, Aunt Jenna, etc. But I’ve just gone over nine hundred words, so I’m going to stop here.  

From 2009 till 2017 you’ve given us great television. You weren’t just a teen paranormal action/romance/drama but a solid show with a great cast and stories. I’ll probably re-watch my favorite seasons, so though this is goodbye, it does by no means, mean that you’ll be forgotten.

Yep I just had to go deep ala Elena Gilbert *teary smile*

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The ‘Why’ behind the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books

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It’s an understatement to say I am excited! The online book fair is a first for me and I am are ready to start.

But before I get into giving you the details of the where and the when, I’d like to explain the point behind #AfricaOnBookFair.

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, mostly at the end tail of the Struggle. In 1994 when we had our first democratic election I was still in primary school. Buying books, much less writing books weren’t something that was encouraged for any person of color. Yet authors of color prevailed.

They wrote books about the history of the country, books about their daily struggle. Wonderful Drum Magazine writers wrote some of the most memorable short stories that opened up worlds for me when I studied them in high school and university. Poetry like To Whom It May Concern by Sipho Sepamla still touches many around the world. But…yes there’s a but, I didn’t come across prolific romance stories set in my country and the rest of Africa, that didn’t have tinges of colonialism or was written for a specific audience that didn’t include readers outside of it.

The stories weren’t inherently diverse. Stereotypical roles for people of color littered these romantic texts and even till this day when I go to my local library and bookstores I have to hunt for romances written that’s multicultural or even interracial, romance that showcases the beauty and scope of the landscape as well as the people of this continent, and also the authors that come from it.

Romance authors in Africa don’t just write contemporary/historical novels in bush settings or urban settings, they write steamy reads about fairies and werewolves too. Local heroes and heroines making a life abroad. Nail biting suspense and mystery romance novels. Science fiction and fantasy. Young adult and new adult stories. They even interpret characters from different genders, races, cultural backgrounds and religions.

And I asked myself, where can you find these books and authors with so much diversity among them? Where is a place you can walk into and have a good fun old time getting book deals and meeting your next favorite author? You guess right. A book fair.

But because Africa is a really…really big continent, how do you get all of these terrific romance authors and their stories together in one spot for readers to discover them?

Thank God for the invention of the military programme that became the internet! Online is the easiest way to find things you’re searching for. Whether it’s the definition of a word (so guilty of that) or buying a pair of shoes, online shopping, buying and selling, and researching are things we consider common. Even in Africa.

Everyone owns a device they can use to access the internet.

And that’s how the #AfricaOnBookFair was created. It stemmed from this need to say, “If you’re looking for romance stories set in Africa or want to find out who your next favorite African author in every romance genre out there is, here they are. Online. Easy to access. You don’t have to pay to get in. You don’t have to stand in a queue. You don’t have to feel hot and sweaty. Or cold and tired. You sit in your home or wherever you might find yourself and check out what’s on offer.” Money you would’ve spent on gas, food and tickets to get in can go into buying extra books! As a bookworm, that makes me extremely happy.

And I know every little bookworm heart is giving a fist pump *laughs*

The Africa Online Book Fair aims to bring African romance authors and readers together. In a nutshell it is as simple as that. And I really hope you’ll come meet every single one of them.

Event date: Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June 2017.

Starts: 10:00 am ( Cape Town time)

Ends: 22:00 pm (Cape Town time)

 

So without further adieu, here they are:

Aziza Eden Walker

Bailey Quinn

Elaine Dodge

Inge Saunders

Jayne Bauling

Joanne Macgregor

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo

Marie Dry

Nana Prah

Sherita Singh

Theresa Beharrie

TM Clark

Link to the Event Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/372063406523550/

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

Books I’ve Read Recently

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I haven’t done this on my blog yet and thought, ‘hey why not?’ *smile*

I always talk about what I’m busy writing or what I’m going to focus on writing and post writing tips & motivations, and my own ramblings. But never about what I’m reading. And I do read. A lot *bug eyed*

I think it’s one of those writerly things. You read. Not just for enjoyment but also as a form of study.

So here’s a list of books/series I’ve read recently that stood out to me in no particular order:

  1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
  2. Joining by Johanna Lindsey
  3. Blood of Eve by Pam Godwin
  4.  Knight Security Series by Carole Mortimer
  5. Black Hills Wolves multi-author series by rebeccaroyce-5 & Heather Long

The Life and Death of Twilight

 

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I’m a fan. No seriously, I’m a fan of the Twilight series. Only I saw the first movie before I read the first book and wanted to throw the  book against a wall when I finally read it.

I remember arguing with a then friend of mine on just how ludicrous the idea of a 100 year old vampire falling for a seventeen year old was. There’s just no way. Of course there’s the ‘he can’t read her mind’, but then that just makes Edward one of the most emotionally unintelligent 100 year old vampires in literature. And I refused to believe R Patt’s Edward Cullen could possibly be so dense. So the argument raged on.

And then, Twilight Re-imagined happened. *crickets*

Edythe and Beau happened.

And every other character’s name except the parents was re-imagined. (Why do this? *wails*)

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Because I’m a fan of the series I went, I’m going to be required to have an opinion about this because I’ve been so open about my love of Bella, Edward and Jacob, why not give this re-imagining *cough* fan-fiction, a try.

I got as far as page 17 then skipped to the end but didn’t read all of it and don’t think I will return to the book anytime soon.

Nothing was reimagined here. The problems that were pointed out about Twilight are evident in Life and Death. But that’s not even the worse offense to me. It’s the fact that the author stopped being an author when she worked on this book. She stopped placing herself in her characters shoes. Because if she’d done that and she wanted to still keep Beau as awkward as Bella she could’ve done it by not giving him the same exact quirk as Bella, but actually thinking about what kind of quirk would make a teenage boy self-conscious.

Goodness, if she made Beau his own person, apart from Bella I would’ve been fine with that too. Because guess what? Men and women don’t actually think/act alike.

Maybe she should’ve read a few YA novels written by male authors to study how they write male protagonists. Or female authors for that matter since who can deny J.K Rowling brilliantly writing Harry Potter?

The Twilight series isn’t bad. However, this re-imagining is. It hurts to say it, but it does. I feel like Stephanie Meyer should write a couple of books under a pen name. Give herself a break from Twilight and its universe. Then after a few years, come back and give us Midnight Sun *smile*

 

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