Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Managing Flow of Time in Your Story

How do manage the flow of time in a story with several POV characters doing different things? I touched on this in the post Multiple Perspectives.
Let's say we start with John's POV and then switch to Mary's, spending 2 days with her. Then, we shift to Cat's and spend 3 days with her. You need to keep in mind that when we return to John, 5 days have passed for him. It gets worse when you spend months with one character. How to keep track of this? First of all, don't worry too much about it in the first draft. You'll only make your head hurt. Since my characters spend a great deal of time traveling, I plan to make a schedule for them during my editing phase. It'll have where they're going, why, travel time and how long they'll be at their destination. While editing, make a "comment" or note about how long you spent with this character.  
This is a bit of a nightmare. I'm editing Chains of the Sciell Book 2 of The Merging Worlds Trilogy. The cast is much bigger than book 1. The timeline is longer. Book 1 only took place within a month. Book 2 spans about 3 years. To make it even worse, the characters travel a lot.

When you have a novel that spans a great deal of time, don't forget weather and seasons. I never thought of this until I started editing. It's one of those little things that can pull people out of the story. You're with a character for months and it never rains or gets hot or really cold. That's unlikely unless you've created a world where the weather is always perfect. You'll need to say that early on.

To keep track of time passing, I created a table in my favorite software Evernote. I'll keep adding to it as I continue editing my story. Creating a chart, helps you see how time flows between events and POV shifts. It also tells you if you need to adjust your timeline. As you know, in stories, events don't often happen one after the other. Two different events could be happening at the same time with two different characters.

Let's return to the example from the beginning of the post. You're with John in Chapter 1. Then switch to Mary in Chapter 2 and stay with her for two weeks. Chapter 3 returns to John and it's a month later. I did this with two of my characters but it wasn't purpose. I hadn't realized I made such a big jump in time between Chapter 2 and 3. It didn't fit with the flow of the story. I ended up changing the time in Chapter 2 from two weeks to one month.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Facebook's Limiting Page Reach?

You might have heard this already, but Facebook is limiting the organic reach of brand pages. From what I heard, only about 16% of page followers actually see the content. For those who don't know, organic reach is the "free" views you get for your posts.

16% sounds reasonable. Think of Twitter. All your followers don't see everything you tweet.

Recent studies have shown brand page reach is now less than 16%. Since I have a Facebook page and I've been putting money into boosting my posts, I decided to do a little research.

Why Is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing? More Competition And Limited Attention
The surplus of content and lack of space forces Facebook into the role of the ‘bad guy’ for filtering the feed in an attempt to show the most relevant posts (plus some ads).

 Brands' Organic Facebook Reach Has Crashed Since October: Study
"Increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach is zero."
Facebook Reportedly Slashing Organic Reach for Pages: Is social net trying to force bigger ad spends?

Organic reach will be reduced to 1 percent or 2 percent, according to Valleywag, citing an anonymous source “professionally familiar with Facebook’s marketing strategy.” Valleywag did not get a comment from the social net, but CNET said Facebook confirmed that marketers will see the organic reach of Page posts decline over time

Your Facebook Page's Organic Reach Is About to Plummet
Since Facebook pages for business launched in 2007, the organic page reach has been decreasing. By April of 2012, Facebook itself disclosed that Fan Pages reached only 16% of their audiences on average. Recently, a study revealed that Facebook page organic reach went from an average of 12.05% in October, 2013 to 6.15% in February, 2014.
 Last fall, Facebook cited “A lack of space in the newsfeed” as a reason for the decline in organic reach. It’s possible that shortly, there will be no room left for organic posts at all.

I can see how this could be annoying. You work your butt off getting all those likes only to find out Facebook is limiting who sees your content. But, it's hard for me to be too angry with them. Facebook is free to use. The challenge of being heard above all the noise is not new. Everyone is still struggling with discoverability.

 On the other hand, social media marketing is so hard. No one really knows what posts will become popular. Facebook has just made things even harder.

I think most of the outrage comes from users annoyed with Facebook for interfering with what appears in their feed. I will admit, my personal Facebook page has gotten kinda irritating. My feed isn't organized by post date but by popularity.

If the incident with Goodreads deleting reviews taught us anything it's that people don't like it when "the man" interferes with how they use social media.

It's still too early to start jumping ship. I'm sure, when people gather new Facebook data, there'll be tons of articles on how to increase your organic reach. It'll be interesting to see how brands adapt. I'm curious about why Facebook decided to interfere. People can manage their own feed. They don't need someone to unclutter it for them.

Here are more articles on the subject:
Busting Facebook’s Most Widespread Myth

Friday, April 25, 2014

Nightmare, Anyone?

This is beyond creepy. 

A wasp nest merged with this wooden statue to form... your darkest fears.
This was discovered by Redditor CountBubs. And here's the caption that follows this terrifying image: "An abandoned hornet's nest my dad found in his shed that he hadn't been in for a couple years. The head is apart of a wooden statue it fused with."
via io9

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 NY Auto Show

I love looking at gorgeous cars. The Auto Show has floors and floors of them. They're so shinning. I get to play with cars I can't afford and see some hottie concept.

I've been to the Jacob Javits Center many times and every time I'm blown over by how big it is. The Auto Show takes over the entire conference center. There are cars tucked into every hall big enough for them. It can get a little overwhelming since there are also a ton of people there.

Dodge had a fun exhibit. They turned the Challenger into a driving game. I didn't try it, but I watched.

Here are the hotties of the auto show.

Just for fun. I wanted to make some gifs.

For more pics and the names of these cars check out my Facebook page!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: New Horror Story

What haunts demons?

This is the cover for my new haunted house novella. Potential cover. I'm waiting for feedback from my publisher, Aubey LLC. She likes the cover. Now, she's seeing if it matches the story.

Here's the description so far. I'm still tweaking it.
Expelled from his birthplace for a power he couldn't control, Cyl Antun searches for a real home with his two siblings and longtime friend.
Darkness falls. Vicious nocturnal demons close in on them. A mansion appears. They rush inside to escape the nighttime terrors. Strange marking cover the walls. A black void now surrounds this house. They’re trapped. The mansion is empty. Yet, they are not alone. 
A different take on the haunted house trope. The characters are demons- they look human...sort of. The story is set in a world I created. The demons are the ones trapped in a haunted house.

It'll be available on Kindle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reddit: 2 Sentence Horror Stories

I learned, in one of my Publishing classes, that Reddit asked the question a couple of months ago, "What is the best horror story you can come up with in 2 sentences?"

People came up with some awesome sentences. These are some serious gut twisters and I don't get the willies easily. They gave me some great inspiration for my new horror story. Hope they inspire you.

"My daughter won't stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn't help" Skuppy
"I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, 'Daddy, check for monsters under my bed.' I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, 'Daddy, there's somebody on my bed.' "  justAnotherMuffledVo
"After working a hard day, I came home to see my girlfriend cradling our child. I didn't know which was more frightening, seeing my dead girlfriend and stillborn child, or knowing that someone broke into my apartment to place them there." cobaltcollapse
"The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open." jmperson
"It sat on my shelf, with thoughtless porcelain eyes and the prettiest pink doll dress I could find. Why did she have to be born still?" Horseseverywhere
"I wake up and everything feels wrong; it's too quiet outside. I look out the window and see everyone standing still, looking at my house." golfmade 
This actually a good marketing tool for writers. I've seen some authors tweet horror shorts. You can also turn your sentences into images and share them. I'm so used to writing horror stories, I can't imagine doing it in one or two sentences or 140 characters. It's good practice, though. I'll have to try it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bullied Characters

I was bullied growing up.  From sixth to eight grade I cried a lot because of what people did or said to me. When I went to high school, it died down to teasing and back-biting. Not every day, but it happened often enough that by the time I graduated, my self-esteem was in the tank and I didn't trust anyone.

While working on my new story, I realized I'm drawn to write characters who are physically and verbally tormented for things they have no control over. This was not on purpose. I didn't set out to pack all my stories with bullied characters. I don't do this necessarily to show how despicable bulling is. I like to see my characters become awesome despite the abuse.

For my novella called Devdan Manor, there's Cyl Antan- a demon from a family of fairly weak beings. "Somehow", he was born with more power than most demons in his family. Instead of being celebrated, Cyl is treated like an abomination by almost everyone, including his parents.

He has the unfortunate luck of being born in a wealthy territory that believes everyone has their place- no one should dream to be more than they deserve. He has suffered his entire life. He doesn't feel sorry for himself. He doesn't particularly hate the people who treat him badly. They mean nothing to him, now. He only cares about the opinions of those who really see him.

One of the POV characters in The Sciell is Shade Harrellite- the only half-breed in a village full of pure-blood beings. She grew up being tormented by almost everyone in the village for being half human. She went to school and both students and teachers tormented her. She'd get beaten on the way home. When she graduated, she wanted to live on her own like everyone else only no one would rent her an apartment.

The village's job system works through apprenticeships. They graduate school, then become someone's apprentice. Shade couldn't get a job because no one would take her on as their apprentice. Despite that, she still remains fairly optimistic. She rose above all this nonsense, with a lot of help from her "brother" Vayle, to become powerful.

Lil Aona lost her parents and older brother when she was a kid. She belongs to a race of beings who fight the demons that have taken over the world. Her family destroyed one of the demons' main place of operation. They died in the process. The only reason Lil didn't go with them was because she was too young.

Her people, however, didn't praise her family. Her parents and brother destroyed this demon base without permission. They disgraced their race. The heads of the race hung the dead bodies of her family in the village as a warning to everyone. Lil, by being related to them, was treated like a stain. She left the village when she was still too young to find work. She still grew up to be a strong capable fighter. With the help of her two friends, who are in similar situations, she let go of her hate and feels pride for being her parents' child.

I have go-to books/manga for when I'm feeling heavy, when I feel like I can't smile. The plots aren't rainbows and pink unicorns, the characters go through some stuff. But, for some reason, I feel better while reading them. That might be the only time during the day that I smile- and mean it. That is what I want my stories to do for other people. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing Inspiration: Cursed Objects

You always hear about haunted houses. You don't hear often about cursed objects. io9 wrote an interesting post about them.
7 Terrifying Cursed Objects That Actually Exist

"The Woman from Lemb Statue

 Originally made around 3500 B.C.E. in Cyprus and then found in 1878 in Eastern Europe, this statue has killed so many people its often referred to as "The Goddess of Death." Supposedly, the first owner was a Lord Elphont, whose seven-member family all died within six years of Elphont receiving the statue. The Woman from Lemb was then acquired by Ivor Manucci, who died along with his entire family within the next four years. Then it went to a Lord Thompson-Noel. He and his family died. The statue disappeared for a bit, but its next confirmed owner was Sir Alan Biverbrook, who wife and two daughters shortly croaked. With two sons left, Biverbrook wisely donated the damn thing to the Royal Scottish Museum.

Thomas Busby's Chair
Do you have a favorite chair in your home? Consider cursing it after you die so no one else can sit on it without dying. That's what Thomas Busby did in 1702, right before he was executed for strangling his father-in-law to death for — you got it — sitting in his chair. Supposedly 63 people who have sat on the chair met untimely deaths, sometimes mere hours after plopping their keister on Busby's beloved chair. In 1972, the Thirsk Museum actually had to suspend it from the ceiling to prevent people from committing suicide by chair." Read more here.
These can provide some amazing inspiration for your horror story. It's interesting to learn how people believe these object became cursed and what they do to people. You can write an awesome story with just one of these. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier 3D

Interesting story, fun characters, awesome action...why can't all movies have a good helping of this? Before Avengers, I'd gone to the movies simply looking for a fun ride. I wanted only to be entertained. If the movie did that, I didn't think it was a waste of money. Then Avengers came along and showed us what a superhero movie was supposed to be. Now, we have Captain America 2 and it didn't disappoint.

According to ICv2:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the big winner at the weekend box office as it kicked off the summer movie season a month early with an estimated $96.2 million, a new box office record for April. Overseas the film, which opened in a number of markets last weekend, has already earned $207. 1 million, which is more that the first Captain America movie made during its entire run outside of North America. In fact, The Winter Soldier, which powered the total of the top 12 box office films to a massive 26.5% gain over the same weekend last year when the Evil Dead remake bowed to $25.7 million, should end up surpassing the entire total of Captain America: The First Avenger($370.6 million) by this time next week. Read more here

Captain America: The Winter Soldier lived up to the hype. Summer movie season starts early! It was much better than the first one. They even added a little mystery to it. The action was epic, but it didn't take over the story. There was enough of it to keep to movie going at a nice pace. It didn't rely on action. It had the snappy dialogue of Avengers. In one scene, Black Widow had kicked someone off the roof. Seconds later, she was giving Captain America dating advice. Awesome. That opening scene between Rogers and Sam Wilson (Falcon) was too funny.

Rogers (Captain America) and Romanoff (Black Widow) spent most of the movie together. Most of the time, it was fun having them interact. Other times, they were looking deeply into each other's eyes. I was going, "Nonono." I haven't read the comic, so I have no idea what happens between Rogers and Romanoff, but I didn't want any mushy-ness in this movie. At least, not between them. Again, the movie didn't disappoint. It had a good balance of serious scenes for all the characters. We got some good character development.

It's nice to have kickass female characters in movies where the emphasis is not on how sexy they are. Yes, I know, Back Widow is wearing a skin tight one piece, but if I remember correctly, she only wore that once at the beginning of the movie. These Marvel movies have been good at portraying strong women.

Because Captain America is working for S.H.I.E.L.D, we got to see more of the inner workings of that organization. They have some cool toys. I love the tech in this movie.
The organization is like a character. It can come off as slightly diabolical, but there were some parts at the end where the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the ones that didn't have a big role in this movie, had some heroic moments. Still don't know what to make of Nick Fury. That is one complex character.

Speaking of shield, Captain America spent the entire movie battling all types of weapons with only a shield. It was believable...and epic. It was fun seeing him battle the Winter Soldier. Those were the only times his shield wasn't as effective. The Winter Soldier was a maniac. That guy made a mess out of Captain America. I like movies where the good guy gets beat up a bit. Makes them more believable. I won't tell you about the Winter Soldier. It'll ruin the movie, but I liked how Captain America handled him in the end. When characters are put into that situation, they can become annoying. Captain America wasn't.

Now for the new character, Falcon. No complains here. Like I said, I'm not familiar with the comic books. I can't say how well the movie portrayed him compared to the original. When I saw him in the trailer, I had no idea what he did. He was a fun addition. I liked his character. He had depth. He didn't have any super powers. He had a pair of awesome wings. It was fun watching him fly. He could hold his own in a battle against S.H.I.E.L.D agents and bad guys.

 It's amazing how this movie could have so many characters and not have one who stood well above the rest. Even those characters who didn't have a big role were memorable. Falcon had a major role by the way.

As you know, I have a thing for 3D movies. There are two type of 3D movies. The ones like Resident Evil where things are being thrown at you and the ones like Avatar which adds depth. With the second one, you don't feel like you're watching a movie, but rather you're in the movie watching the scenes play out. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the second kind. It added depth. It was well done. If you can afford to see it 3D, I say go for it. You won't be disappointed.

I'm wondering, how the events in this movie will play out in Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For those who don't know, that's a TV show about S.H.I.E.L.D. They did an episode about the clean-up after what happened in Thor: The Dark World. That was really cool. Sif was also in one the episodes. I can't wait to see how the TV show plays along with the movie. So far, characters from Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D haven't appeared in the movies... well besides Coulson, but he hasn't been in the movies since the show started. Wonder if he'll make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I can't wait for a big Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D /Marvel movie crossover. I hope they do it!
I like how Marvel is playing with storytelling. It's literally Marvel Universe on the big screen. I've read enough Marvel comic to know the stories don't happen in a vacuum. Event from one series can effect another series. Characters from one series are mentioned or show up in another series. It's cool to see this play out in the movies and on TV.

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Supernatural Horror Movie

I hadn't been going to the movies lately because there hasn't been anything I was excited about. That is about the least for the next week. Captain America: Winter Solider comes out today and I will be seeing it. Look forward to my review on Monday!

I just learned about a supernatural horror movie coming April 11. Oculus looks so scary. How did I not know about this earlier? First The Conjuring now this. I hope this means we'll have more subtle horror and less slasher flicks.

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