Sep 252013
 

Here is the text of an interesting article on story telling. I’ll be using these concepts to craft arcs for videos in the near future, stay tuned!

-T

source: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-structure-a-story-the-eight-point-arc/

How to Structure A Story: The Eight-Point Arc

by Ali Hale

One of my favourite “how to write” books is Nigel Watts’ Writing A Novel and Getting Published.

My battered, torn and heavily-pencil-marked copy is a testament to how useful I’ve found it over the years. Although the cover appears to be on the verge of falling off altogether, I’ve risked opening the book once more to bring you Watts’ very useful “Eight-Point Story Arc” – a fool-proof, fail-safe and time-honoured way to structure a story.

(Even if you’re a short story writer or flash fiction writer rather than a novelist, this structure still applies, so don’t be put off by the title of Watts’ book.)

The eight points which Watts lists are, in order:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

He explains that every classic plot passes through these stages and that he doesn’t tend to use them to plan a story, but instead uses the points during the writing process:

I find [the eight-point arc] most useful as a checklist against which to measure a work in progress. If I sense a story is going wrong, I see if I’ve unwittingly missed out a stage of the eight-point arc. It may not guarantee you write a brilliant story, but it will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of a brilliant idea gone wrong.

So, what do the eight points mean?

Stasis

This is the “every day life” in which the story is set. Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) living in poverty with his mum and a cow, or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.

Trigger

Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. A fairy godmother appears, someone pays in magic beans not gold, a mysterious letter arrives … you get the picture.

The quest

The trigger results in a quest – an unpleasant trigger (e.g. a protagonist losing his job) might involve a quest to return to the status quo; a pleasant trigger (e.g. finding a treasure map) means a quest to maintain or increase the new pleasant state.

Surprise

This stage involves not one but several elements, and takes up most of the middle part of the story. “Surprise” includes pleasant events, but more often means obstacles, complications, conflict and trouble for the protagonist.

Watts emphasises that surprises shouldn’t be too random or too predictable – they need to be unexpected, but plausible. The reader has to think “I should have seen that coming!”

Critical choice

At some stage, your protagonist needs to make a crucial decision; a critical choice. This is often when we find out exactly who a character is, as real personalities are revealed at moments of high stress. Watts stresses that this has to be a decision by the character to take a particular path – not just something that happens by chance.

In many classic stories, the “critical choice” involves choosing between a good, but hard, path and a bad, but easy, one.

In tragedies, the unhappy ending often stems from a character making the wrong choice at this point – Romeo poisoning himself on seeing Juliet supposedly dead, for example.

Climax

The critical choice(s) made by your protagonist need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension, in your story.

For some stories, this could be the firing squad levelling their guns to shoot, a battle commencing, a high-speed chase or something equally dramatic. In other stories, the climax could be a huge argument between a husband and wife, or a playground fight between children, or Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters trying on the glass slipper.

Reversal

The reversal should be the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – especially your protagonist. For example, a downtrodden wife might leave her husband after a row; a bullied child might stand up for a fellow victim and realise that the bully no longer has any power over him; Cinderella might be recognised by the prince.

Your story reversals should be inevitable and probable. Nothing should happen for no reason, changes in status should not fall out of the sky. The story should unfold as life unfolds: relentlessly, implacably, and plausibly.

Resolution

The resolution is a return to a fresh stasis – one where the characters should be changed, wiser and enlightened, but where the story being told is complete.

(You can always start off a new story, a sequel, with another trigger…)

I’ve only covered Watts’ eight-point arc in brief here. In the book, he gives several examples of how the eight-point arc applies to various stories. He also explains how a longer story (such as a novel) should include arcs-within-arcs – subplots and scenes where the same eight-point structure is followed, but at a more minor level than for the arc of the entire story.

You can buy Writing a Novel from Amazon.com – and I highly recommend that you do, as it’s an excellent book for any writer of fiction, and deals with all aspects of the craft (not just eight-point arcs!)

Jan 232013
 

TALC – The Alphabet Lyric Checker

I did this quick program about a year ago, but I felt the need to share it, and I might improve it (read: make it embeddable) in the coming weeks. I also made a repository on GitHub ( https://github.com/RePeet13/talc ) that will have the source file and a jar that wraps it all up for desktop usage.

Idea: This game is built on the alphabet game you may have played on roadtrips: where each person competitively or collaboratively tries to spot every letter of the alphabet (in order) in words on signs or license plates. The twist of this program is that instead of signs, the words must be in the lyrics of the song that is playing, and each new song is a new game. This program allows for lyrics to be checked as to whether it even contains all the letters, in order, and in separate words.

Note: It’s built in java, so you need that installed on your computer to run this (most people already have this…)

 

tl;dr: https://github.com/RePeet13/talc project on github for alphabet game :)

Nov 132012
 

Hey guys, I just recently used the knurling tool on the lathe at the Invention Studio, and I wanted to put what I learned here so that it could be found again. The theory is that you want the displacing teeth to line up when they go around, so you should calculate the diameter and face it so that is very close. Use this site as a guide: http://www.proshoppublishing.com/articles_knurling.html I found it to be very helpful. It turns out that to get a pretty good knurl, face your diameter to .010″ wider than a multiple of .019″, and hand test it. If it looks good, use a low speed rotation, and a high (I suppose) speed feed rate to get a consistent knurl all the way up the part. I used a rotation speed of 115. This Youtube video suggests 150 rpm, and a feed rate of .014″/rev. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTmv_kYimrI

Happy knurling!