Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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A Creative Workshop Story

November 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


 

I attended a creative workshop a couple of Saturday’s ago held by my writer’s group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. The topics were POV and plot lines. We had several warm up exercises and an explanation of the various POV types and the variety of plot structure methods. Then with a timed exercise of twenty minutes, we had to write a short story using those techniques but with a title and a genre picked from a bowl. My title was Clue of the Painted Hand in a children’s book style. Although the last couple of paragraphs were added later, I think I did pretty well to have characters, plot, and a beginning, middle and finally an end!

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Clue of the Painted Hand

Daisy pulled at her mother’s hand as they entered the library. It was her favorite place. Books let her escape to other worlds and made her feel less lonely. An only child, Daisy looked like a mini replica of her mother – blonde, brown eyes and slim -the only difference was the flower shaped birthmark on her right cheek. The reason she was called Daisy.

As usual there were lots of people in the library browsing book shelves and she saw a small huddle of younger children were listening to story time. Daisy felt too old for the short picture book stories and felt proud her reading age was ten years old, more than her real age of seven. She surpassed most of her school class mates in reading.

She looked over to see her mother talking to a friend so made her way to the book shelves in her favorite section – mystery adventure. Daisy loved jigsaw puzzle when she was younger, solving the patterns to create a whole picture. Now it was the same with stories. She would figure out the answer to the clues in the narrative before the end, most of the time.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Daisy ran her fingers across the book spines reading the titles. If one interested her, she took it out and read the explanation on the back. One by one she piled up books beside her. She could take out ten books and always finished them before the next Saturday. One book pulled another off the shelf and Daisy dropped them on the floor. As she lay down to grab one from under the shelf her fingers encountered another book shoved under the wooden base. After several tries she prised a dusty old book from under the shelf. It was an old book, its cover tattered and dusty. Daisy used her sleeve to wipe the dust off the cover. The title was immediately interesting – Clue of the Painted Hand. Oh this looks good, she thought. Turning the book over and opening it, she realized there was no library stamp of barcode. How long has it been there? Looking side to side, Daisy felt a real thrill – a book I can keep! A shiver of excitement and guilt went through her young body. No-one would know, she could put it in her coat pocket without anyone seeing. Her curiosity could wait no longer; opening the first page a map covered the first two pages. As she traced her finger over the markings and named streets, she recognized one – Hampton Avenue, where she lived. How could a book hidden under a shelf have a map of her town?

“Daisy, are you ready to go?”

Her mother’s voice startled Daisy and she quickly put the book in her pocket before picking up her selected library books. With the books scanned, they returned to the car. Daisy kept her excitement to herself but raced upstairs as soon as they arrived home. Now I can read the clues and find whatever treasure there is. It only took an hour to read the book. It told the story of an old Jack in the Box made by a master toymaker, who lived in the town many years before. His shop sign was a painted hand. This particular Jack in the Box had a musical mechanism and a doll instead of a jack, which popped up. Daisy read the clue, traced the map’s tracks and realized the location of the box was in the play ground behind her house.

She walked through the back garden, through the gate and counted steps just like the map said – one, two, three – until she reached twenty-five steps. Standing beside an overgrown old fountain, she pulled ivy and weeds away. The instructions said there was a secret detail to push in sequence. Daisy brushed away dirt and old leaves to find the stone carved like a bunch of daisies. She pressed the first petal it did not move, then another. Gradually, she discovered the petals that did move and marked them with a thumbprint. Now how do I press them in the right order? She sat down cross-legged and looked at the stone decoration. It was a posy of daisies, the stems long and disappearing into the weeds. Maybe I should pull these weeds out as well. Her thought propelled her into action. The flower stems were encased in a stone vase decoration with faint lettering on it. After rubbing the grime off with her sleeve, the words were clearer. A riddle! How exciting.

I’m at the peak

Then to the right

Follow me to the base

And reach to the left

A final center will release

Daisy read the riddle three times then pressed the loose petals, top, right, left, bottom and center. A grating sound alerted her to something moving. The vase shape pushed forward to reveal a void. Sitting in it was a dusty square box. With nervous excitement, Daisy pulled it out of its hiding place and wiped it clean. She knew her mother would be upset with all the dirt on her clothes but the treasure was worth it. Gently, she wound the handle on the side of the box until the lid burst open to reveal a beautiful blonde doll, head to one side holding a book and smiling. Music started to play and the doll’s head moved side to side just like if she was reading. This is so beautiful, she looks a little like me. Blowing gently she rid the doll and its book of a layer of dust. That’s when she saw the title of the book – Daisy the Adventurer. It is me! How can that be? Another mystery for me to solve but maybe I will need mother’s help. With great care, Daisy pushed the stone vase back into place, pulled the ivy and weeds back over the fountain and walked home cradling her treasure.

I hope you liked it. 

Which plot method do you think I used? Story map, Story Flow Chart or Story Mountain?

 

Ask A Question Thursday

February 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question is:

When your narrative is set in a real location do you research it or do you visit it?

What are the pros & cons of utilizing the internet to find out about a location versus actually staying there?

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Feel free to answer the question in the comments.

Last week’s responses to the question:

Have you been asked to ‘explain’ a character trait?

Were you happy to explain it or do/did you feel it took something away from the narrative?

Interesting question. When readers take the time to express loathing for your antagonist, you know that you’ve done your job.

I have an adult thriller/suspense I wrote that focuses on a forensic team trying to bring down a sociopath serial killer. He showed absolutely no remorse for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. When he was sentenced, he vowed revenge on the entire forensic team. He is a drug abuser and blames everyone from his past, and those currently who are his targets, for the path that he’s on. I wrote this novel from the POV of the Forensic Psychologist then added a short chapter here and there to see the killer from his own view. Although I’ve never been asked to give an empathetic view of this character, my sharing his POV sort of gives a bit of background to answer the ‘why’s’ of his state of mind and his anger. I’m not sure he deserves empathy, but at the very least he shows his own logic for his actions. 😉

If you would like to contribute to last week’s question please reply to that post’s comments. Thank you

Which POV Should You Use in Your Narrative..?

August 11, 2014
mandyevebarnett


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When we create a narrative, our first priority is to decide on which point of view we want to use, the narrative perspective or mode. First person, second or third. Each has it’s own guidelines and enables us to manipulate the reader into the mindset of the character or characters we wish them to sympathize with. As the author we are the omnipresent voice, the one who directs the action and reveals the plot. Whose thoughts, feelings and decisions we reveal to our readers can make a great deal of difference in how the story flows and if you want more mystery to the outcome or highlight your characters internal struggle.

Nathan Bransford wrote about the comparison between the third person omniscient versus third person limited here: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/11/third-person-omniscient-vs-third-person.html

Another good link, which assists with choosing your narrative style is here: http://www.thewriteturn.com/whats-your-point-of-view-how-to-choose-the-right-narrative-perspective-for-your-fiction/

And this link has some great worksheets – https://www.ereadingworksheets.com/point-of-view/

No matter which mode you use, you decide on the direction of the tale and what to reveal and what to hide throughout the story.

Which mode do you use or prefer to use?

Have you tried all narrative modes?

Flow Chart

 

 

Who’s Your Favorite Rebel..?

September 3, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Contumacious – definition: stubbornly defiant or rebellious; disobedient

I share with you an excerpt from my novel, Life in Slake Patch. Evan is my POV character and he has been charged with bringing the rebellious Tribe to justice. This scene has Evan and the Tribe leader, Aiden meeting for the first time.

Life in Slake

***

As the riders moved toward u,s it was plain that all were young men. Just before they reached our barricade a rallying cry rung out

              “Brothers fight for supremacy.”                                                                                       

             Gripping my dagger even tighter in readiness, I shouted orders to my men.

            “Stand firm behind the wagons, let them come to us.”

           The clash of metal against metal and wood against wood filled the valley air. Cries of pain rung out as wounds were inflicted and cries abruptly silenced. A shadow blocked the sunlight above me; I looked over to see a horse’s belly level with my head. Swiftly I turned to look up and face the rider. He was no older than me and swinging a baton toward Peter’s head. I let out a cry and dug my dagger deep into the rider’s thigh and pulled with all my might. The rider’s scream of pain seared through the air as he fell from his mount. I held him fast with a foot against his chest and my dagger’s tip pushed into his neck.

            It was then I noticed the deafening silence around me. Looking up, all faces were turned toward me as if everyone had become frozen. One by one the Tribe riders weapons began to drop to the ground, my men took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed their opponents. As the Tribe members were secured my victim groaned.

           “Don’t fail me brothers’ fight.”

           But he could see all heads hanging down in defeat turning away from his stare.

          In truth I was shocked. It had not occurred to me or any one of us before, that there might have been a leader to the Tribe. We had thought it was a few disgruntled young men wandering the plains, surviving by stealing. This man must have recruited his followers. I looked down at my captive.

            “What’s your name?”

           “I am, Aiden, leader of the Tribe and proud of it, you down trodden oaf.”

            At the insult I could feel my muscles tense and pressed the dagger tip deeper into his neck. He cried out again and I released the pressure.

            “Secure this man with the others. Medic Jones, please tend to the more seriously injured first.”

            I made my way to the south side of the camp searching the valley for any sign of horsemen. The tell tale dust plumes far below would show me their progress. We would have to guard these men well and trust there were no more members hidden in the small copses of trees along the range of hills. My group had fought well and from Medic’s report none were too seriously hurt. His only real concern was the rider named Aiden, whose deeply sliced thigh required treatment he was not qualified enough or sufficiently equipped to give.

            “His blood loss has been significant and without timely treatment he may die, Merchant Evan. I do not have sufficient bindings to close the wound tightly enough.”

            “Follow me, Jones; I have something you can use.”

***

Evan’s opinion of Aiden’s beliefs changes gradually from this point in the novel. Although Evan stands firm with the matriarchal law there is a shift in how he views the separated compounds.

Who is you favorite rebel? 

There is of course James Dean forever cast as a troubled teen and Paul Newman in Hud and Cool Hand Luke. Rebels have a fascination for movie watchers. Is it the bad guy made good? Or just the excitement of their struggle?

A Character’s Tribulation…

July 14, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Tribulation – definition: a severe trial or period of suffering

Obstacles

To thoroughly engage our readers our characters have to face or overcome trials of one sort or another. This is the core of our stories.

In my novel, Life in Slake Patch, my POV character, Evan had a difficult dilemma. Whether to choose between upholding the matriarchy laws and suffer separation from his lover, side with the rebellious Tribe or somehow find a compromise.

With my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop, my 18th century character, Gabriella wanted to escape from her cruel but wealthy husband. She would have to  risk destitution with her young son or follow her heart with her husband’s younger brother, Arthur. Within the modern era of the same novel, Melissa could suffer years of neglect from her conniving husband as he spent her inheritance or forge a new life for herself in Italy.

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And my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, sees a troubadour become instrumental in the battle against a vengeful witch, along side a beautiful but mysterious young woman, who has her own agenda.

Care to share some of your stories core tribulations?

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