The clues and crumbs that make up a satisfactory mid-point climax

I’ve taken a little break over the last few days from blogging and social media in general. I’m at a place in my manuscript that has given me a lot of grief recently; my mid-point. This might not be a big deal to all writers, it depends on the story. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but my story in particular, has a pretty important mid-point.

There are stories that have a slow build-up to the climax at the end, and then there are stories that have like a “lesser” climax in the middle. I’m quite fond of both versions. Like I said, it depends on the story. As a writer, no matter the path we choose there’s pressure in one way or another to get it just right.

Personally, I like stories that leave little breadcrumbs for the reader. Sometimes, these crumbs are noticeable and help the reader figure out part of the mystery before the great reveal, but other times, the crumbs are completely invisible if you don’t already know what they mean and where they lead.

Growing up, I loved reading the Harry Potter books. I read and re-read them as often as I could, and every time, I found new things that I hadn’t noticed before. It could be a tiny detail that didn’t really make much of a difference, but the fact that it was there made me feel like I was experiencing the story in a new way. J.K. Rowling is a master at crafting breadcrumbs. Everything is connected, and even if it doesn’t appear that way at first, you can find the connection several books later.

So how did I get from mid-points to… well, here? I suppose it’s because I try to learn from Rowlings’ expertise on this subject, and apply it to my own writing to the best of my ability. That is why I think the mid-point is so important – because that is where the clues will lead (as well as the end, of course, but we’ll get to that later). There’s a fine line between making it too obvious and making it too… out of nowhere. As writers, we shouldn’t underestimate nor overestimate the reader. I suppose the only way to learn this is by experience, by letting other people read our work and get feedback.

Naturally, every single chapter of a novel is important in its own way. If it’s not, then it shouldn’t be there. But I think the three most important ones are the beginning, the middle and the end. Writing these always brings some added pressure, because for some reason, long after we’re done reading, we tend to remember these the best.

How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.

When a classic becomes a tv series

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Good evening, lovely people of the internet.

The second part of my The Ladies’ Paradise discussion is now up on Youtube. This week I’m discussing the BBC series, The Paradise, and comparing it to the book. It’s quite interesting how different the show is from the book – where the book is good, the show is lacking and vice versa. What I mean by this is that the book had a gritty realism that was prevalent throughout, whereas the show focuses more on the pretty side of things, giving it almost a dream-like quality.

I suppose that’s what you get for making it more family friendly, which I think is a bit of a shame. Although, I happen to be one of those people who rather enjoys the poetic satisfaction of a good tragedy, so no surprises there.

Did any of you read the book or watch the show? Let me know your thoughts!

New week, new goals!

It’s seriously troubling how fast the weeks go by. I had planned to have my book ready for beta reads around Christmas time/end of the year, but now I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to reach that goal. I’m still working on my second draft, and I wanted to give myself a third (or even fourth) before starting to look for beta readers. Some chapters are obviously more complicated than others and would, therefore, need a little extra love before the send-off.

Like I’ve said before, I’m that kind of person who likes to worry in advance. Trust me, I am painfully aware of this flaw/quirk/issue of mine. It’s because of this that I have to try and ignore some anxiety-inducing thoughts if I want to be able to do anything at all, instead of just worrying about it in en endless loop of what-ifs.

With that in mind, here’s what I hope to be able to achieve this week:

WRITING: I want to finish editing my mid-point, meaning chapter 13 and 14. It was only one chapter at first, but as I was editing it I realised it was far too cluttered and busy so I decided to split it. I’m already about half-way through chapter 13 so, hopefully, this won’t be too much.

YOUTUBE: I want to prepare, film and edit a video on my comparison between The Ladies’ Paradise – the novel – and The Paradise – the tv series. This will complete my video review of the book that I made last week. I’ve made some really interesting observations that I would like to share. After this however, it’s back to writing vlogs.

OTHER: I will try to stay on top of Instagram updates and some blogging, but I’m not pressuring myself too hard with that this week.

So – those were my goals for this week! It feels like quite a lot, I must say, and I might have to sacrifice some evenings as well. But I know it will be worth it in the end. In my point of view, there’s no greater satisfaction that the feeling of accomplishment.

Have a great Monday everyone!

The bravery and vulnerability of being a writer

Most writers that I talk to all seem to have one thing in common: we’re all incredibly self-conscious of anything that we create. We are our own worst critics, this is a hard truth indeed.

The reason behind this isn’t that we don’t enjoy our stories. We have, after all, crafted them carefully with the intent of them being good. We pour our hearts and souls into our work, and by doing so, it makes us all the more vulnerable. The mere thought of another person reading our work and finding it bad is the most terrifying thought.

Someone once said that it is only when facing our fears that we can truly be brave. I find that this resonates well with the idea of publishing a book. All authors, no matter their level of success, have gone through this act of bravery when publishing their books. And I dare say that all of them, again – no matter their level of success – must have found it utterly terrifying.

We have this intense hope within us that our books will speak to their readers. That we will be able to connect with other people through our stories. This is why we must open ourselves up to vulnerability, because if we don’t, then how are we supposed to achieve this? It’s a great risk for sure. There is no guarantee that success will follow just because you write with your heart and soul.

I haven’t published any books yet, but in my case, making the decision to self-publish was still quite scary. I know which road to take. It’s up to me now to continue down this road, to eventually take that leap of bravery – but without the affirmation of a traditional publisher in my corner. It’s amazing how you can both look forward to something as well as dread it. I suppose only time will tell what happens at the end of it.

My review/discussion video is now up!

My review/discussion on The Ladies’ Paradise is officially up. So far it is the longest video I’ve made (23 minutes), and it took a lot longer than usual to film and edit. But it was worth it though, it was nice to have to much time to express my thoughts on the subject. I’m rather pleased with the result as well – it’s a bit of a rant, I’ll admit that – but I did find a lot of things that bothered me so I couldn’t stop myself.

Feel free to have a look! Remember to drop a like if you enjoyed it! 🙂

What writers can learn from the classics

I recently finished reading The Ladies’ Paradise, written by Émile Zola, first published in 1883. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of this book before so I’m not sure how much of a cult classic it is, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I found it interesting, to say the least. There were a lot of issues of course, especially regarding the characters, and I will go through this in more detail in my upcoming review/discussion vlog that I’m filming today. I also had some issues with the pacing and such, but what I’d like to talk about here is that special little je ne sais quoi that this book has.

Firstly, it gives the reader an incredible insight into the inner workings of the 19th century Parisian department store. From a business perspective, it’s very interesting indeed. In a time before computers and digital currency, a business of this scale was like a clockwork of processes all depending on human diligence to function. I was very much intrigued by this.

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I always say that I don’t like it when historical fiction portrays a romanticised picture of the past – which brings me to my next point. As this is a Naturalist work of fiction, it is rather the opposite. The harsh reality of the 1800s is ever-present in this book. Most of the side characters, if not all of them, get unhappy or even tragic endings. The main character goes through some awful circumstances as well such as poverty and starvation. Never, not even once, is this portrayed as something romantic. It’s gritty and gruelling, and I absolutely love it.

Therefore, I find it difficult to say for sure what I thought about this book. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I find that the plot and the characters are the most important elements of any good book – and in this case, it didn’t really have any of that. What it did have though was an amazing setting and some interesting prose (unless it went completely nuts, which happened quite a lot).

All in all, I would say that anyone who’s interested in learning more about the developments of business and capitalism in 1800s Paris will have a fairly nice read, whereas if you want a nice period love story, you might get disappointed. I suppose that’s where my biggest problem was; I went in expecting something entirely different than what I ended up getting.

New vlog on motivation & dialogue

I’ve finally uploaded another vlog! I’ve struggled quite a bit lately, both with my lack of motivation as well as (once I got my motivation back) writing dialogue. I couldn’t decide which one of them to talk about so the solution was simple; I included them both!

This whole vlogging and youtube business is a bit like fumbling about in darkness until you think you’ve found your way. Sometimes, you end up taking the wrong path and have to go back a few steps and try and new one. It’s both exciting and a little scary. I’m really enjoying my vlogs though, and I’m looking forward to getting better and better at recording them.

New camera!

It was time to decide on whether or not to take the whole Youtube thing seriously, and well, the decision was yes. I ordered and have just received my new camera, which will hopefully help me make videos of better quality. It’s not a super flashy camera, as that is not within my budget, but it’s probably still better than my smartphone, which has awful limitations when it comes to recording video.

So – I hope to start using it today and film another writing vlog! I’m just waiting for the battery to charge. Seriously, I’d completely forgotten about that. I had the strange idea that I would just be able to unpack it and start using it right away. Silly me.

Here it is, my brand new Canon Powershot SX730 HS

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As far as camera stuff goes, I found this one rather pretty, and naturally Oskar made fun of me for thinking that was an important part in deciding which camera to buy.

Monday, lovely Monday

I am determined to get back on track this week. I’ve already made a light start by tackling chapter 11, and hopefully I will finish editing it either today or tomorrow. I’m slightly apprehensive though, because I know what’s waiting around the corner…

The mid-climax.

I had so much trouble here when writing the first draft, it’s the only chapter in the manuscript that still has placeholders – I simply couldn’t figure it out the first time around! That’s usually a clear sign that it needs a lot of work. Perhaps even a complete renovation. We’ll see when I get there though, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Apart from moving along with my chapters, I will also try my best to get another writing vlog out this week. I’m sad that I couldn’t manage to film last week, but I know that the end result would have been terrible, so there was no point in even trying. Goodness, that sounded really bad. What I mean is that it wouldn’t have been entertaining enough for a fruit fly, much less my small yet distinguished audience.

I suppose I should get back to it then, if I actually want to reach my goals. I wish everyone a happy and productive week!