fiction · Uncategorized

Archetypes: The Irresistible Novel

There is one more week left in The Irresistible Novel Giveaway and one more chapter after today to examine before the blog closes its 6 month journey through creating an irresistible novel.

What are some things you’ve learned from walking through the pages of this book with me? I’ll be summarizing some of my favorite lessons next week and would love to include some reader response. So comment and let me know your favorite chapter or an idea that has transformed your writing. Take a look at the details and enter the giveaway below if you are interested in a FREE copy of Gerke’s book for yourself.

Give Away Details

This give away is in response to a blog series that has received phenomenal feedback and readership throughout its course. If you are interested in writing, have written a novel in the past, or are simply curious about some of the finer points of writing please take the time to answer one simple question for a chance to win your very own FREE copy of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke

1. Complete this short survey. Be sure to answer all fields in order to qualify for the random drawing: https://goo.gl/forms/s9cvqiiuElCPdIq43

2. The survey will be open from Saturday 9/3 until Saturday 9/24 at 11:59pm.

3. The winner will be contacted and announced on Sunday 9/25.

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Archetypes

In the early 20th century, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung developed the idea of archetypes. An archetype is a type of person or character with which nearly every reader can identify. It doesn’t take much energy to produce and understand an archetype because these are all types of people that are familiar to us. In his theory about archetypes Jung came up with twelve titles with which a reader will easily identify. Some writers say there are more, but this is the original list:

  1. The Innocent-The person who is a child at heart. This person is oftentimes friendly, naive, simple, and honest. Their downfall is that they may be too trusting, childish, or dependent.
  2. The Orphan (or Every Man)-This character is the typical man or woman. Usually an archetype for a main character who comes from a life they believe to be mundane and unoriginal. They can play the “victim-of-circumstances” card, but also can become the hero of their story when they learn to live outside of the constraints of Every Man or Orphan.
  3. The Hero-This is the strong and heroic figure who slays the dragon and defeats the enemy.
  4. The Caregiver-The person who will sacrifice themselves for the good of the main character. These are people who put others first (usually for a living) through acts of service.
  5. The Explorer-Motivated by the unknown this person sets out on challenges and conquers new lands or feats.
  6. The Rebel-This is a revolutionary figure who stands in contrast to the society of your story. Their morals are often their driving force.
  7. The Lover-This is the person driven by emotions and passion. The pitfall here could be jealousy and the tunnel vision created by romance.
  8. The Creator-These are the innovative thinkers who spend their lives creating as a way of self expression. They search for the meaning of life and relationships through architecture, art, theater, and writing.
  9. The Jester-These are the comical characters that your brain craves in the thick of the conflict of the story. Their purpose is to bring some relief to an otherwise tense situation. They live in the moment and oftentimes make witty remarks and poor decision all for the good of the plot.
  10. The Sage-These are the scholarly characters who offer wisdom and advice to the main character in their quest to become a hero.
  11. The Magician-They may seem mysterious, but these characters harness the visions of the author and use their abilities and secret knowledge for good or bad.
  12. The Ruler-This person aspires to power through title, war, or many other means.

Your readers mind will readily identify with these twelve archetypes and many more. This is a good look at basic types, however, a simple Google search will bring up many many more.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

fiction · Uncategorized

The Monomyth: The Irresistible Novel

Before I get started reviewing chapter 26 from The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke I wanted to give you another opportunity to enter my book giveaway. With permission from Jeff Gerke I am giving away a FREE copy of The Irresistible Novel to a lucky reader as a way of thanking you for sticking with me through my weekly reviews of the book’s contents. So if you love to write, have interest in writing, or if you are looking for some expert advice on writing follow the instructions below and enter to win The Irresistible Novel.

Give Away Details

This give away is in response to a blog series that has received phenomenal feedback and readership throughout its course. If you are interested in writing, have written a novel in the past, or are simply curious about some of the finer points of writing please take the time to answer one simple question for a chance to win your very own FREE copy of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke

1. Complete this short survey. Be sure to answer all fields in order to qualify for the random drawing: https://goo.gl/forms/s9cvqiiuElCPdIq43

2. The survey will be open from Saturday 9/3 until Saturday 9/24 at 11:59pm.

3. The winner will be contacted and announced on Sunday 9/25.

*I will be posting this survey link on my blog periodically during the time that the survey is live.

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The Monomyth

In the last three chapters of Gerke’s book he investigates three formulas for fiction writing that have stood the test of time. The first he explores is Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Monomyth founded in 1949. The Monomyth is also sometimes called The Hero’s Journey.

“The hero’s journey is the classic coming-of-age story, which (most of us would attest) is the ultimate tale of struggle.” (Gerke 182)

The following are elements of the Monomyth: (*Not all are found in every Monomyth story)

  1. The Call to Adventure-the main character is met with some type of call or realization of the greater world outside of the mundane where they are found in the exposition.
  2. The Refusal of the Call– No matter how much they pined for something greater some characters will be reluctant to accept the call to adventure and may need some extra convincing.
  3. Supernatural Aid-Once the character is ready a mentor appears to offer aid and assistance to the main character (example: Dumbledore in Harry Potter)
  4. Crossing the First Threshold-In order for the character to move toward their adventure there is some type of literal or metaphoric boundary to be crossed that will cost something of themselves to be left behind.
  5. Belly of the Whale-an unwelcome turn of events which prepares the main character for what lies ahead.
  6. Road of Trials– A place of constant testing of the main character and where at some point your character will be met with failure. However, that character will be changed as a result of having failed and will emerge victorious.
  7. Meeting with the Goddess-somewhere in the journey the character is awakened for their desire for romantic intimacy by finding their perfect match. True love doesn’t come easy though and just like Ariel struggled to win Prince Eric because of her loss of voice the character must go through trials before they are able to win the affection of the god or goddess of their journey.
  8. Woman as the Temptress-The main character must fight to keep their main focus as their emotions and romance may tempt them to settle before the main battle is won.
  9. Atonement with the Father-This is the hero’s moment of enlightenment. When they are face to face with the ultimate being or father figure in the story and they are initiated with anger, cruelty, or some other sobering force.
  10. The Ultimate Boon-The climax of the external conflict, this moment is when the good guy wins. The hero is victorious.
  11. Refusal of the Return-After achieving victory the hero must return home to his village and his people. This would complete the there-and-back-home-again arc. Sometimes characters initially refuse to return to the mundane after such a remarkable journey, but in the end they must return to share their experiences and strength with those left behind.
  12. Magic Flight-Sometimes the journey home is quick and forcibly so. Even though the main action is concluded there may only be a few minutes til midnight and the character hasn’t much time to make his journey.
  13. Rescue From Without– When divine intervention helps a hero return home. (Not to be confused with dues ex machina when the author solves all the problems and the character does nothing but accept good news.)
  14. Crossing the Return Threshold-also known as “Returning with the Elixir” this portion of the story shows the character back in the setting where he was first found on page one but this time instead of being a worthless contributor to his community the hero is now equipped to save his homeland or people. Not everyone will welcome the hero with open arms, but he is home for those who will.
  15. Master of Two Worlds-The character learns the mundane world and the supernatural are one in the same. They may even have access to travel back and forth in the future. This reminds me of the ending of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when the four children return again and again to Narnia.
  16. Freedom to Live-The hero is free to live with confidence without fear of any kind because he has lived his fears and returned victorious.

This chapter is so insightful for the pacing and sequencing of a Monomyth. As I read each section I was reminded of exemplary stories or movies that so perfectly use the tactics outlined by Joseph Campbell. All of life is a Monomyth (or so we like to think) and ALL readers identify and lose themselves in a coming-of-age tale about a hero for we all long to be that hero.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

fiction · Uncategorized

What’s It All About, Alfie? And a Give Away

As promised, this week is your first chance to enter to win your very own FREE copy of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. Over the course of the past twenty-four weekends I have reviewed and summarized chapters from this book about writing your own novel. I have received permission from the author to offer my blog’s very first give away: a copy of his book.

Give Away Details

This give away is in response to a blog series that has received phenomenal feedback and readership throughout its course. If you are interested in writing, have written a novel in the past, or are simply curious about some of the finer points of writing please take the time to answer one simple question for a chance to win your very own FREE copy of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke

1. Complete this short survey. Be sure to answer all fields in order to qualify for the random drawing: https://goo.gl/forms/s9cvqiiuElCPdIq43

2. The survey will be open from Saturday 9/3 until Saturday 9/24 and 11:59pm.

3. The winner will be contacted and announced on Sunday 9/25.

*I will be posting this survey link on my blog periodically during the time that the survey is live.

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What’s It All About, Alfie?

“If a novel captivates a reader and keeps him enthralled until the final page, that is a novel with a chance…” (Gerke 178)

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

fiction · Uncategorized

A Brain Chemistry Story Map: The Irresistible Novel

Thanks for staying with me, readers, for the past 23 Saturdays as I’ve read and reviewed each chapter of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. We started out the first part of the book reviewing grammar and writing practices. Now in the second part of the book we are taking a look at the human mind and how studies on the mind can improve our novels. We have a month left before we finish the book and I’m excited to announce that starting next week you can enter to win your very own copy of The Irresistible Novel. I’ll be doing my blog’s first giveaway as a result of having spoken to the author and I’m so excited to give one lucky reader a chance to read through this book free of charge. Stay tuned for that giveaway!

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A Lesson in Brain Chemistry

This chapter opens with a brief discussion on the brain chemicals released during the course of reading a novel for most people. From start to finish, many readers will experience the release of dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, testosterone, glutamate, GABA, and serotonin. In this section he explains the feelings attached to each chemical such as the feeling of empathy that releases with the presence of oxytocin. It’s a lot of hypothesis and science talk so I’ll move on the next section.

The goal of a story’s beginning to is create a connection between the reader and the protagonist of your story. If you can get your reader to release oxytocin they will quickly form a bond with the character based on feeling of empathy and understanding. This is also sometimes called transportation. It is the ultimate goal of any story’s exposition.

The middle of the story is important for building anticipation. This is often done by a series of events that take the reader on an emotional roller coaster in preparation for the climax that lies ahead. During the middle of the story the reader can experience any of the following brain chemical reactions and oftentimes will feel more than one: dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin and testosterone.

By the end of the story your reader should feel some sort of calm relief as they come to terms with the way the character’s battles have turned out. The chemical associated with calm relief is known as GABA and if the calm is associated with happiness or excitement for the life that lies ahead for the character the reader may also experience a wave of serotonin.

The following is a glimpse into the story map developed by Gerke based on the scientific principles acquired through the brain studies performed by Dr. Zak:

  1. Attract the reader’s attention through the dangerous and new
  2. Show the protagonist in a struggle everyone can relate to
  3. Give the reader an opportunity to form a tight bond with your character
  4. Add some tension on the way to the climax (anticipation, curiosity, rests)
  5. Send the hero on a journey where they are able to experience change
  6. Create a rewarding ending

My Current Project…

As much as I struggled in school to comprehend science and anatomy I found this chapter on brain chemistry to be informative to me as an author. There is much to be learned from the study of neuroscience as it applies to reading and writing fiction and this chapter only scratches the surface.

After having read this chapter I can already think of ways to tweak the plot of my novel to help meet the neurological needs of my reader. I’m looking forward to inserting more tension and anticipation to the rising action and climax of my novel.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

fiction · Uncategorized

Character-Brain, Plot-Brain: The Irresistible Novel

Venturing into week 22 of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke requires a couple of short lessons on brain chemistry. In order to write a novel that is irresistible for readers one must understand the basic way a reader’s brain functions. In order to write this portion of his book, Gerke enlisted the advice and research of a man named Dr. Zak who is a  founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies.

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In the last chapter, Hacking Your Reader’s Brain, the author discusses the secret to hooking a reader. The secret he revealed is creating compelling characters and a plot rich in struggle. Characters are most compelling when their vulnerability is evident. Reader’s identify with protagonists who have major odds against them and who face situations with which many readers can sympathize. When a reader meets a character struggling with loss, need, or pain they quickly form a connection and investment in that particular character. Once you’ve built that connection the reader will continue to read your book to see whether or not the character will defy the odds against them.

When it comes to plot be sure to fill the pages of your book with struggle after struggle and vary between large scale and small scale struggle from the character’s perspective. If a reader senses that little conflict is taking place they check out emotionally. You want to create a plot that causes the reader’s heartbeat to race and oxytocin to release in their brains.

My Current Project

When it comes to compelling characters I feel that I’ve placed a lot of attention on the vulnerability of both of my main characters. Both have things they lack and want. Both are seeking to feel loved. Both have messed up in some major ways before the story even starts. From the point where each is introduced it is obvious that these characters’ lives are far from perfect and they are seeking the same things as the rest of humanity.

As far as my plot I have also tried to fill my manuscript pages with many struggles. This is an area I could continue to refine, but for now some major struggles include: addiction, loss, rejection, and love.

The Ameri Brit Mom

fiction · Uncategorized

Read Everything: The Irresistible Novel

Here we are eighteen weeks into examining The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. So far, we have examined rules for fiction writing from various perspectives in order to help each of us to develop our fiction voice. This week, Gerke is stepping away from traditional writing rules to investigate a reading rule. The focus of this chapter is that in order to write fiction one must also widely read fiction.

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Read Everything

Most novelists decide to become novelists because they love to read novels. However, there are writers out there who don’t actually read as often as one would think. There are many reasons why an author of fiction may choose not to read fiction often. For some, they may choose not to read because they don’t want the work of others to influence their own writing. They fear that subconsciously the voice of the author they are reading may come out in their own writing. For others, reading fiction is too much like work for them to choose to read as an act of leisure. And still others struggle to find the time to read and write so they choose to spend their time on the latter.

I relate with the other group of writers. I write because I love to read. My first love was reading and I’ve vowed to never let my writing overshadow my love for a good book. Yes, sometimes I’m hard pressed for time to read. Oftentimes I find myself having to choose how to spend my free time. I try my best to split that time between reading and writing, because I know that the more I read the stronger my writing will be. Because of this, I keep a book on my nightstand and at the very least I try to read for a few minutes before bed each night. I go through seasons where I read more than others, but to me to read is to strengthen my writing so I cannot imagine not being a wide reader.

My Current Project…

Instead of focusing on my current writing project today I want to look at my reading. I’m in the middle of a 24 Book Challenge. This was developed to help me read lots of different genres and to keep me consistently reading all year. In the process, I have fallen in love with The Selection series by Keira Cass and so have decided that every other book I read for the next couple of months will be one from that series. Currently, I am finishing up The Heir which is the fourth book in the series.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

fiction · Uncategorized

Outlining: The Irresistible Novel

Chapter eleven of Gerke’s book, The Irresistible Novel, is a little different than the previous ten. Up to this point each chapter has focused on a principle of writing (like POV, setting, characters, etc.) but chapter eleven is centered more on the discipline of writing. The main statement of debate being, “You must always outline your novel, or it will be doomed.” (Gerke 78)

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Outlining

As always, the statement above has no absolute answer. Each writer has their own style, discipline, and preference. In Gerke’s book he is aiming at helping writers to find their voice by causing them to evaluate important arguments in the art of writing. When it comes to outlining there are those wh0 do (plotters) and those who do not (pantsers.)

A plotter begins the writing process by first planning out major plot points. They may have a detailed outline completed before they ever start page one. They may also choose to outline in a less specific manner using working outlines that change throughout the writing process. A benefit to being a plotter is that the writer has a clear direction to their writing which helps them stay focused throughout the construction of their novel. A drawback to being a plotter is that some writers feel confined to their outline so much that it stifles their creativity. Those who over plan often feel that by the time they sit down to write their book that they have already done so. Many a book has died due to over planning and lack of interest.

A pantser sits down to write page one with no prior outline. Those who prefer this method enjoy following the characters and letting the characters rather than the plot take the lead as they write. They sit down to craft their novel with little to no planning, but the freedom of creativity guides them through the pages. A benefit to being a pantser is that the story truly speaks for itself and there is no need to feel suffocated by plot points drawn up on a map or word document. A drawback to being a pantser is that oftentimes starting a story without a clear direction can make such action obvious to your readers as they sense that the characters are just meandering through the plot.

My Current Project…

I’m sure this is no shocker, but when I sat down to write my first book I had a plan.

I had written a short story that I had fallen in love with. I had a main character, a problem, and somewhat of a solution. I read the short story to my husband and he enjoyed it as well. And from there I decided to expand the tale into novel form. (Little did I know just how long of a process that would be!)

I drafted a working outline on Google Docs. I knew fairly early in the process that I wanted my book to have alternating POV so I planned out the number and organization of chapters accordingly. I didn’t go too in depth because I wanted the book to write itself as much as possible. My first outline was half a page. It included major plot points for each chapter and highlighted the climax and possible resolutions.

The good thing about this being a working outline was that I never felt tied to what I had planned. Countless times throughout the process I added and subtracted from that original plan. I even got halfway through and decided I wanted another character to be more important than I had allowed them to be. All it took was about five minutes reworking the outline to give myself permission to go more in depth with that character.

I liked this process because it kept me focused on the direction of my story. It also kept me from forgetting to tie up loose ends. I was able to embrace creative liberties each time I sat down to write.

I know outlining isn’t for everybody, but if you are anything like me then it will save your sanity and possibly your story if you create at least a bare minimum plan.

fiction · Uncategorized

Show Versus Tell: The Irresistible Novel

I’m seven weeks into my journey through the book The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. Thus far, we have examined some major principles of writing under the microscope of what works with your individual writing voice and what publishers and agents look for in a manuscript. Today’s topic seems like a no brainer for many writers, but is actually a hot topic debated in many settings by writers across all genres. I’m just here to present the arguments according to Gerke and in the section below entitled, “My Current Project” you can see my personal opinions based on my writing (but not prescriptive for all writers.)

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Show Versus Tell

Let us begin with defining what it means to show versus what it means to tell.

Telling: “Jim was a jerk.”

Showing: “Jim came home, kicked the dog, stiff armed the toddler, dropped his muddy boots on the couch, put his feet up on the coffee table and shouted, ‘Woman, where’s my beer?'” (Gerke 51)

The rule that Gerke is attempting to illustrate in this chapter is that: “Telling is bad, and showing is better; telling will prevent your novel from being published.” (Gerke 51)

Most of our lives we communicate through the mode of telling. We use exposition, summary and direction to get our points across and for the most part (if we are word conscious) we are successful in this form of communication. Some authors also choose to write in this manner. It is reflective of the way we think and speak in our lives and so seems more natural when it comes to penning a story.

However, many writers are against the use of the previous technique in writing. In the first example above about Jim we first have the telling of Jim as a jerk. It gets the point across, but requires very little of the reader. In the second example instead of just giving a detail away the author requires reader engagement to establish that Jim is a jerk. The reader is able to visualize and feel what it is like to know that character and is able to jump to the conclusion that he is a jerk on their own. Most writers tend to be on the side of the argument that values showing in writing over telling because it creates an attachment to the story for the reader that may otherwise not be formed if the novel is simply written as though it was being narrated.

There are success stories out there, though. Occasionally scenes of telling may become necessary in the writing of a novel. Gerke offers a few instances when those scenes are likely to be overlooked based on reader engagement with the plot and the desire to know something quickly.

My Current Project…

I realize as I read through early drafts of my novel that I used quite a bit of the telling technique. From what I’ve gathered from this book and authors that isn’t unusual. The first time you sit down to craft a story is like an information dump. You know what you want to say as far as the what, but you aren’t completely sold on the how. So you sit down and you write. The editing process is where you catch all of these pockets of telling in the narrative. And trust me, my pockets pop up everywhere.

I understand the value of showing in my writing and part of my editing process means taking those information dumps and making them more illustrative. It prolongs the process and requires creativity and flexibility, but in the end it will be worth it. You will have built a world full of characters that your readers feel close and connected to. It’s all about those connections when it comes to publishers and agents as well.

It is with great effort that I’m trying to dispel all telling from my manuscripts.