Tag Archive: masterplot

Story Twinkies: Do You Need One?

Story TwinkieSorry for our brief absence. Did you miss us? Heather and I needed some down time. We logged an insane number of blogging hours during April and our work, writing, health and family lives were starting to suffer. The vacation did its job brilliantly. We’re excited to get back to work and have some fantastic new adventures in store for our readers, including our first blog hop. But more about that in a few weeks. For now, let’s get to the post…

I’m willing to bet most of the writers reading this have no idea what a story Twinkie is. This is a slang term used in the video game industry. It’s named in honor of a super sweet, spongy cream-filled American snack cake. For gamers the term stands for the unexpected surprises and treats a good game designer will throw into the story to keep the player on the hook.  They include them in places where the game gets tough to encourage the player onwards. And they add them after a big boss battle to make the player feel like all their hard work was worth the effort.

Heather and I both have had jobs in the games biz; she’s still in it working for LongStory, while I have long since moved on. However, the wisdom of the Twinkie lingers. This is a super smart story tool and many of the best writers of novels, movies and games use it.

A Twinkie is small:
The best Twinkies are almost inconsequential touches, yet they pack an emotional jolt. A good way to visualize this device is as a split second in time that is totally memorable. Consider the movie HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. Remember when Hermione, Ron and Harry are arguing with Draco Malfoy over the death sentence of Buckbeak. The trio of heroes start to walk away and yet at the last second Hermione spins back around and slugs Draco in the face. That is a serous Twinkie moment. It’s a blow so justified that it makes everyone shout “YES!” with enthusiasm. It will not change the outcome of Buckbeak’s fate, but it still gives us some hope that our plucky heroine is not giving up. It also serves as a foreshadowing that Hermione will be the one to take drastic action and save the day.

Use a Twinkie to channel emotions:
Twinkies often show up at a huge victory moment. You will see it when the crowd carries the star player off the field and delivers them into the arms of the talent scout everyone thought wasn’t there to see the big win. Used this way, a Twinkie will intensify the feel good moment. The extra sweet punch of the Twinkie moment is often the last nudge needed to make the reader or viewer cry.

Twinkies can foreshadow:
After a character has a major set back, a Twinkie can give them hope for the future. It can also work as an ah-ha moment by giving the character a clue. A perfect example is a character finally getting a long-awaited smile, right after coming to grips with the idea that they will never get the girl or guy to notice them.

Timing is critical with a Twinkie:
Horror movies love Twinkies; they are almost always included in a moment of tension release or comic relief. When everyone in the story has convinced themselves a serial killer hides in the shed, out pops the beloved family pet. Hopefully some of you had a chance to watch SHAWN OF THE DEAD; Heather’s example pick for last month’s Masterplot X meets Y (Genre Mashups). If you did you may already have realized that every time Shawn stumbles into his ex-girlfriend, that’s a Twinkie.

A Twinkie is always positive:
From the protagonist’s prospective, the Twinkie is good, possibly great! From the standpoint of the antagonist, the Twinkie is not good, or could be down right nasty. However, it’s never a major disaster from anyone’s perceptive. If Hermione’s punch got her expelled it would be too significant of an event to quality as a Twinkie. Twinkies are, by nature, fluff! You should be able to pull them out and have the story read almost exactly the same way.

Do you have a favorite story Twinkie? Or have you ever included a Twinkie in your own work?  Please share in the comments because I love a good Twinkie.

I also want to take this moment to thank everyone who dropped by to read and comment on our Masterplots Theater posts. It was a labor of love and we hope everyone enjoyed the theme. We still have a few more Masterplots up our sleeves, but we plan to spring them on you when you least expect it.

Next, we have a huge shout-out to Sarah at The Old Shelter and Diane at Squirrels in the Doohickey. Both these amazing ladies just nominated us for blogging awards. We love these two blogs. Please drop by and pay them a visit. You will find some 1920’s historical fun at Sarah’s blog and some side splitting giggles at Diane’s blog. Blog awards are something Heather and I really enjoy. It gives us a chance to get some much valued real-time feedback and to share in the joy of being part of the blogging community. Thank you so much ladies!

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/story-twinkies/

Masterplots Theater: Z is for Zoomorphic

Z Masterplots Theater-6Welcome back to Masterplots Theater on this the very last day of the A-Z Challenge! Yippee! We made it! And as happens every year, we get to Z and go, “What the heck are we going to write for this letter?” Of course, now that I think of it, we could have picked zombies, but I already talked enough about zombies in X is for X Meets Y. So the word of the day is *drum roll* ZOOMORPHIC!

What the heck does that mean?

Zoomorphic: “Having the form of an animal.” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Great! I get to talk about all my favorite animated movies where the characters are animals. And then I read this:

Zoomorphism: “Art that imagines humans as non-human animals.” — Wikipedia

Oh wait, that’s the opposite of this:

Anthropomorphism: “The attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities.” — Wikipedia

Right. So that means most animated animal films, such as FINDING NEMO, ICE AGE, THE LION KING and RATATOUILLE are actually anthropomorphic. Darn.

So I went back to the drawing board, aka Google, to research stories where humans take the form of animals, but then remembered that Robin already wrote about the Metamorphosis masterplot. So you know what? We’re just going to go with the basic definition of zoomorphic (“having the form of an animal”) and talk about movies with animal characters that act so much like humans that we can pretend they’re humans in animal form. Okay? Because Z is a difficult letter and we can cheat a little.

Zoomorphic Plot Notes: 

The defining element of this somewhat made-up masterplot is that the characters are animals that act human, so much so that they talk like us, walk on two legs, and wear clothing. In this way, FINDING NEMO does not fit in this category, but FANTASTIC MR. FOX does.

The setting resembles human civilization, with the animal characters living in houses and cities, getting married, having jobs, and even establishing organized leadership such as royalty or government.

Probably the most significant characteristic of this plot is the moral issues it addresses. The animal society mirrors human society, including all the problems and -isms (racism, sexism, classism) that we deal with.

Common masterplots that zoomorphic stories fit into are Rite of Passage, Quest, Adventure, and The Fool Triumphant.

Example to Study:

ZOOTOPIA! Because it’s my new favourite film and a perfect fit for this masterplot:

Zootopia-Poster· CHARACTERS: They are all animals who talk, have human-style relationships, and work people jobs. They also wear clothes, and there is a hilarious scene in a nudist yoga centre that makes light of this.

· SETTING: Zootopia is a modern city with houses, businesses, roads, transit, technology and government. Heck, the bunny protagonist even has a smart phone that she uses to call, text, listen to music and take photos. It doesn’t get more human than that! 

· MORAL ISSUE: Racism. Because what better way to send a “we should all live in harmony, no matter our differences and our history” than to put a bunch of very divergent animals together in the same city, some of whom used to be “prey” to the others.

· MASTERPLOT: Zootopia falls under the Fool Triumphant category because 1) the protagonist (Judy Hopps) is a bunny that nobody expects to succeed because bunnies aren’t supposed to be police officers, 2) she’s up against the Establishment (police force) who discriminates against bunnies, 3) she gets a name change when she passes cop training and becomes Officer Hopps, 4) the film sheds light on a serious moral issue through comedy, and 5) the disregarded protagonist exposes the establishment as the true fool, and everyone lives happily ever after. 

Future Research:

Stories that fit my Zoomorphic Masterplot criteria: FANTASTIC MR. FOX, MICKEY MOUSE and DONALD DUCK films, THE SECRET OF N.I.H.M., and REDWALL.

And that’s it! The April Blogging A-Z Challenge is finished! Thanks for being part of Masterplots Theater. We sincerely hope you enjoyed the show.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/a-z-challenge/masterplots-theater-z-is-for-zoomorphic/

Masterplots Theater: X is for X Meets Y (Genre Mashups)

X meets Y Mashups Masterplots TheaterWelcome back to Masterplots Theater! All month we’ve been talking about writing individual masterplots, but what if you’re deliberately writing a story in two genres? What the heck is that? Well, I’d call that a “mashup”, or for the purposes of the A-Z Challenge, an “X Meets Y” masterplot.

But the real question is: should you write a mashup? Or should you stick to one genre? After all, mashups are either breakout hits or dismal failures. Done wrong and they can mess with your whole story and make you wonder why you ever committed to such a frankenstein-like project. However, done right and you’ll wow the masses. 

X Meets Y Plot Notes: 

The defining element of an X Meets Y masterplot is that it not only uses but embraces two or more genres equally. This means that each genre gets the same level of screen time and importance. For example, adding a bit of comedy to your horror flick doesn’t make it a mashup. That’s just a horror film with some funny lines. Same with a romantic comedy. If it’s a romance with a couple funny situations, it’s still just a romance. But if it’s a fully flushed out Love Story with comic throughlines and laughs throughout the entire tale, that’s what we now call a Rom-Com — a mashup so popular and prevalent it has become it’s own genre.

Because of this dual-genre thing, two plots are generally required for an X Meets Y story. It’s important to note that these plots could be told separately, but together they make mashup magic! The plots will intertwine either from the get-go (like in SHAUN OF THE DEAD) or gradually (like the episodic murder mysteries and season-long zombie plague story arc of iZOMBIE).

Some masterplots are heavy on the character arc (like Rite of Passage or Love Story) and some are not (like Adventure or Horror). Likewise, some masterplots require lots of action (like Pursuit and Escape) but others don’t (like Institutionalized or Buddy Love). Armed with this knowledge, aim to combine plots with opposing characteristics. I feel this is one reason why SHAUN OF THE DEAD works so well — the action-packed zombie horror juxtaposes perfectly against the heartwarming romance.

Finally, the brilliance of the X Meets Y masterplot is its wide audience appeal. For example, people who don’t generally like horror flicks enjoy SHAUN OF THE DEAD because it’s also a romantic comedy. So if done well, this masterplot can be a hit!

Example to Study:

SHAUN OF THE DEAD is so obviously a perfect example of this masterplot (as I explained in the above section), therefore I’m choosing something different for the official example: the television show iZOMBIEiZombie

· 2 GENRES: Cop procedural (Mystery) meets zombie horror (Thriller). No wonder I love this show so much — it is literally my favourite genres and masterplots together, with a dash of Comedy (but not enough to make this a triple mashup).

· 2 PLOTS: In every episode there is the murder-of-the-week mystery and also a zombie plot. The murder plot and the zombie plot often seem unrelated at the beginning, but reveal themselves to be connected by the end of the episode. However, it would be absolutely possible to tell the story from one perspective (cop-Mystery) or the other (zombie-Thriller), but they’re more fun together.

· OPPOSING PLOT CHARACTERISTICS: Mystery plots are less action-heavy than Thrillers, and we see this in how the iZombie detective scenes are more brain-teasers (the audience trying to solve the mystery along with Liv and Clive) and the paranormal scenes are more brain-eaters (thrills and chills). *Sorry for the lame zombie joke; I couldn’t resist.

· WIDE AUDIENCE APPEAL: I can only speculate about this since I haven’t done an in-depth survey on the show’s viewers, but I do know that my boyfriend and I both love iZombie despite our different tastes in TV shows. Plus, it was just renewed for a 3rd season, so its ratings must be good! 

Future Research:

Books: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith (historical + paranormal), THE LUNDAR CHRONICLES (fairy tale romance + dystopian quest), OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon (historical romance + sci-fi / fantasy), PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES by Seth Grahame-Smith (classic lit + horror).

Films: SHAUN OF THE DEAD (horror + romantic comedy, aka a rom-com-zom flick), THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (pseudo-documentary horror), THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (sic-fi-horror-comedy-musical), CRIME AND MISDEMEANORS (romantic comedy + murder mystery), NEAR DARK (vampire-western), KUNG FU HUSTLE (action-musical), WESTWORLD (western + sci-fi), OUTLANDER (historical + sci-fi), JERRY MAGUIRE (sports flick + rom com),

Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed X is for X Meets Y and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, Y is for Yarn.

So… have you ever tried to write a mash-up?

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After
I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis 

N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle
P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest
R is for Rite of Passage
S is for Sacrifice
T is for Thriller
U is for Unrequited Love
V is for Vengeance
W is for Wretched Excess

 

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-x-is-for-x-meets-y-genre-mashups/

Masterplots Theater: W is for Wretched Excess

W is for Wretched Excess

Welcome to Masterplots Theater.

Does your main character start out fine? The have a fulfilling job, a loving partner, and a family life any one would be envious of? But writing a character with everything is pretty dull. You throw in a few bad events, and during this new stressful time, your hero falls under the spell of an old vice. Your character turns to drinking, drugs or maybe a sex addiction to ease the strain. Soon it’s all gone, they have no job, no home, or most importantly no family. If your character is in this type of downward spiral, you may be writing the Wretched Excess Masterplot.

Wretched Excess Plot Notes:

This plot centers on those seven deadly sins. The main character has a flaw, and it’s one that leads them to indulge in a vice. Soon they take this vice to a dangerous or even a deadly level. This descent into old behaviors does shocking things to the character, both physiologically and physically.

The character’s fall impacts everyone around them, and it creates sympathy for either the self-destructive character or their disappointed family depending on who the protagonist is. Sometimes both sides deserve sympathy. The story might have no clear villains. The character’s chosen vice just has a pull too strong for them to resist.

This masterplot often requires showing the addicted character in three distinct phases.

1. The before phase: The story opens with either the old addiction being defeated, or a snapshot of a current happy life. Near the beginning of the story we will see that things are going okay. The character is either enjoying the fruits of their labor, or they’re poised to receive something better.

2. The undoing phase: Life throws some unplanned for problems into the character’s life; once this issue is introduced, things change. The stress factor can be anything: ill-health, loss of a loved one, disillusionment with their former happy life, job changes, etc. The character start yielding to their old addictions. As they slip deeper under the old vice’s control, things fall apart fast. Losing the things they cherish most eventually creates a tipping point.

3. The resolution phase: The character either falls victim to their problems and often dies, or they find a way to overcome their addiction and reclaim aspects of their old cherished life.

Example to Study:

Mr. and Mrs. SmithI’m picking an odd one for this example, MR. & MRS. SMITH, because this film is one of the most creative uses of the Wretched Excess Masterplot I have ever seen. And here’s why:

· BEFORE SNAPSHOT: Mr. and Mrs. Smith were happy assassins before marriage. They did their jobs, which required never trusting anyone, enjoyed the rush of being paid killers and moved on. But something was missing. Once they marry, they attempt to hide their occupations and create the home life and intimacy they both crave.

· CATALYST: The marriage starts to fall apart, the strain of lying about their issues and trying to be the perfect couple is taking a toll. Then each character receives instructions to kill the other. This reveals the house of lies the marriage is based on and each character is devastated.

· FALLING FOR OLD VICE: The pair revert back to their old assassin’s code. They stop trusting each other and start trying to kill each other. They destroy their home, friendships with co-workers and reputations in the process. The adrenaline rush of being assassins is too strong to fight. For a while it looks like they will kill each other rather than give up their old patterns of behavior.

RESOLUTION: They decide the marriage is more important to them than the thrill of being assassins. They will trust each other and work as a team to dig out from the hole indulging in their old behavior has created.

Future Research:

Some examples are: LOST WEEKEND, CASINO, WALL STREET, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, OTHELLO and DEATH OF A SALESMAN.

Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed W is for Wretched Excess and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, X is for X meets Y – Genre Mashups.

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After
I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis 

N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle
P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest
R is for Rite of Passage
S is for Sacrifice
T is for Thriller
U is for Unrequited Love
V is for Vengeance

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-w-is-for-wretched-excess/

Masterplots Theater: V is for Vengeance

V is for Masterplots TheaterWelcome back to Masterplots Theater! Today we’re going to talk vengeance, for all those writers who are just dying to exorcise a past wrong through fiction…

Vengeance Plot Notes: 

The main drive of this masterplot is simple: the protagonist seeks revenge on the antagonist.

The antagonist must have done something that warrants the hero’s desire for vengeance. In other words, the hero must have moral justification for seeking revenge.

In Vengeance stories, the hero feels like they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands because the institutions that normally deal with the crime committed against them are not doing anything about it, either because of incompetency or inability. Thus, the justice the hero seeks is of the vigilante variety.

It’s important to note that the hero’s vengeance (the villain’s punishment) must fit the crime. So if the villain cheated the hero out of millions of dollars, the hero can’t plan to kill him. That punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and the audience won’t “buy into” the story. But if the villain brutally murdered the hero’s entire family, then the hero setting out to kill him is a plot the audience can root for. Though if you don’t subscribe to the “eye for an eye” philosophy, this masterplot is probably not for you. 

Vengeance masterplots tend to be action heavy. Even if there are moments of character reflection about the nature of good vs evil, revenge and retribution, forgiveness and atonement, these moments are not the bulk of the story. Especially in movies, fight scenes rule this masterplot.

Example to Study:

Gangs_of_New_York_PosterI have combed my Goodreads list, but alas, I haven’t read any revenge novels! So I am going to use a movie I have seen as an example: GANGS OF NEW YORK.

· PROTAGONIST SEEKING REVENGE: Amsterdam Vallon returns to Five Points, New York to kill gang leader Cuttings.

· MORAL JUSTIFICATION: Cuttings killed Amsterdam’s dad in a brutal gang fight.

· VIGILANTE JUSTICE: It’s mid-19th century New York! The police don’t care about gang leaders killing other gang leaders. So obviously young Amsterdam has to bring Cuttings to justice himself.

· EYE FOR AN EYE: Cuttings killed Amsterdam’s dad, so Amsterdam plans to kill Cuttings. It’s simple caveman math.

· ACTION: Though not filled with as much as straight up vengeful violence as KILL BILL, action still makes up the bulk of this film, including a lot of fights, and of course everything culminates in a final, bloody battle where the hero’s vigilante justice is served.

Future Research:

Books: TRUE GRIT by Charles Portis, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB by Olivia Goldsmith (a neat example of revenge that isn’t violent but rather image-focused), HAMLET by Shakespeare, and THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexander Dumas.

Films: KILL BILL, DJANGO UNCHAINED, UNFORGIVEN, THE CROW, POINT BLANK, MUNICH, and OLDBOY.

Thank you for joining us today, we hope you enjoyed V is for Vengeance and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, W is for Wretched Excess.

And if you guys know any great novels based on the Vengeance masterplot, do tell!

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After
I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis 

N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle
P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest
R is for Rite of Passage
S is for Sacrifice
T is for Thriller
U is for Unrequited Love

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-v-is-for-vengeance/

Masterplots Theater: U is for Unrequited Love

U is for Unrequited LoveWelcome back to Masterplots Theater. This is our last week of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and we have a fabulous final lineup!

Love is messy; it’s messy in real life and it’s messy in stories. This ill-fated type of affection is at the heart of just as many romantic comedies as tragedies. It’s ideal for writers who want to twist the knife into their character’s soul, or leave them on their knees searching for their dignity.

Unrequited Love Plot Notes:

The important thing to remember is this love is one-sided, or at least unbalanced. The two (or more) characters are not enjoying the same level of infatuation. One character might like the other character just fine, perhaps enough to date for a while, but that special zing just isn’t there for any deeper affections to grow, while the lovestruck character is sure they’ve met their soul mate. They will delude themselves with fantasies about creating something permanent. It’s the fantasy the love stuck character can’t let go of and not the reality.

The protagonist in this story can play either part: the object of affection, or the smitten one. Also both roles in this masterplot are gender neutral. This masterplot also adores creating tension by mismatching the two character’s sexual orientation. Love triangles are highly common in this masterplot.

It’s a highly emotional story and it’s often the cornerstone of some dramatic (and even scary) stories because unrequited love can turn nasty and vindictive. Examples: FATAL ATTRACTION and JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE.

It’s often the less emotionally invested character who pays the price, but not always. It’s possible for unethical characters to use the situation for emotional blackmail.

It’s often the social outsider that falls madly in love with a person who shows them kindness. The character’s lack of romantic acumen leads them to misread the social cues. What follows is a string of embarrassing and potentially life-scarring encounters as they try to win the other character’s love. In the end, the character often gives up, finds their social grove (usually in the form of a makeover), or finds a fresh person to focus their affections on. Example of this used in a critical subplot is Severus Snape’s love of Lily Evans-Potter in the HARRY POTTER Series.

I think this masterplot works best when it’s used as a complication plot point within the stages of the normal rules of attraction. The story starts out by following a typical romance formula, but something goes wrong at one of the stages. It might be the timing; one person is always in a relationship when the other is free. Or it might be that the first lust stage stalls out. Priorities often get in the way of love, one person wants a family, while the other wants a career. Example 500 DAYS OF SUMMER.

Unrequited love is sometimes used in rejection as foreplay stories. With the pervasiveness of rape culture and the current predilection for stalking in the world, personally I find that use distasteful and ill-conceived.

Example to Study:hunchback-notre-dame-victor-hugo-paperback-cover-art

I’m picking Victor Hugo’sTHE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (AKA Notre-Dame de Paris) because Hugo is a master of unrequited love. He also used it in Les Misérables.

·SOCIAL OUTSIDER: It’s hard to find anyone who is more of the outside than Quasimodo. Physical deformity makes him shun public interactions. Esmeralda is also an outsider, a gypsy who knows public scorn and even out right hatred.

·FANTASY LOVE: Quasimodo has known little to no affection in his life, so when the beautiful Esmeralda offers him kindness, he is forever infatuated with her.

·LOVE TRIANGLES ABOUND: Esmeralda is already desired by many, but has selected her object of affection, Captain Phoebus. However, her love is also unrequited. Phoebus in engaged to another woman, Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier. Fleur suffers from unrequited love of Phoebus, and although the two will marry, it will be a one-sided love and unhappy union.

Future Research:

Movies worship this masterplot, and some of these example even manage to bring this bad beginning around to an HEA of sorts. RUNAWAY BRIDE, BEST FRIENDS WEDDING, and CHASING AMY.

Books also favor it. Take GONE WITH THE WIND: Scarlet’s unrequited love of Ashley Wilkes is literary legend. Another good bet is REMAINS OF THE DAY. For a more tragic take read THE HOUSE OF MIRTH or DANGEROUS LIAISONS. There is also a long list of books about unrequited love at Goodreads.

This masterplot has around forty common tropes and I couldn’t begin to cover them all in a single blog post. If you decide to write this masterplot, check out this blog post on five must read writing tips for unrequited love stories.

Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed U is for Unrequited Love. We invite you back tomorrow for the next installment of Masterplots Theater, V is for Vengeance.

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After
I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis
N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle 

P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest
R is for Rite of Passage
S is for Sacrifice
T is for Thriller

And please share your favorite Unrequited Love stories in the comments.

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/a-z-challenge/masterplots-theater-u-is-for-unrequited-love/

Masterplots Theater: S is for Sacrifice

S is for SacrificeWelcome to Masterplots Theater.

Do you crave brave and selfless acts in your stories? The Sacrifice Masterplot requires these, because this hero is facing gut-wrenching decisions. This is a master plot for powerful emotional tales, ones that might leave your keyboard soggy and your readers emotionally devastated, but that’s just another part of the sacrifice.

Sacrifice Plot Notes:

This plot is all about the ending. The powerful, tear-stained ending, when a beloved character dies or gives up their freedom or fortunes to save another character. It’s best attempted by writers who are planners, because every step of the way the character making the sacrifice must develop into the kind of character (we believe) would give up their own life and livelihood for another person.

This is not a very popular masterplot, but it is an old one. Sacrifice was often at the core of classic Greek tragedies. It is still a huge theme in many stories about religious faith (Joan of Arc) and nationalistic pride (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN).

The most common tagline for stories with this masterplot is the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. However, one-to-one sacrifice is also common, especially within a family situation. The most common form is a parent sacrificing themselves for the good of their child. However, partners often make extreme sacrifices too. A less devastating example of partner sacrifice is O. Henry’s THE GIFT OF THE MAGI.

Currently, the Sacrifice shows up mostly in Sci-fi and dystopia. It’s also used as a common subplot to help increase the ending story stakes. The death of Obi Wan in STAR WARS IV is a good example.

This masterplot is often a heartbreaker. The characters are trapped in no-win situations and even with a major sacrifice by one of the characters; the story can still end on a bittersweet note.

Example to Study:

Catching_fireA great example is CATCHING FIRE the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Here’s why:

· GREATER GOOD: Several of the Hunger Games participants decide in advance of the games to sacrifice themselves so that Katniss might live to lead the rebellion.

· IT”S BELIEVABLE: It takes the example of several lone characters willing to stand up and to die early on to create the perfect situation for us to understand why so many characters would work together to save Katniss.

· REOCCURRING THEME: From day one in book one, sacrifice is a theme. Peeta was repeatedly willing to sacrifice himself for Katniss, just as Katniss was willing to sacrifice herself for her sister. The theme is just taken it to the next level as the stakes are raised in books two and three.

· ENDS ON A BITTERSWEET NOTE: Although some of the ending issues are resolved in book three, it’s not a happy ending by any means. We have lost characters and others are in the hands of the The Capitol.

Future Research:

It’s hard to find books or movies with a pure Sacrifice Masterplot; most have variations of the theme. Some reads with a clear sacrifice message are: A TALE OF TWO CITIES, THE ROAD, or look for more Self-Sacrifice themed books on Goodreads.

Hollywood loves a good Sacrifice plot. Some films to watch are: NORMA RAE, ARMAGEDDON, IRON GIANT, TITANIC, MY SISTER’S KEEPER and SILKWOOD.

Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed S is for Sacrifice and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, T is for Thriller.

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After

I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis
N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle 

P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest

R is for Rite of Passage

And please share your favorite sacrifice stories in the comments below.

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-s-is-for-sacrifice/

Masterplots Theater: R is for Rite of Passage

R Masterplots Theater-5Welcome back to Masterplots Theater! When people hear “Rite of Passage plot” they often think it’s another term for “coming-of-age story.” While youthful tales involving loss of innocence and puberty most definitely fit the Rite of Passage mold, not all ROP stories are about teenagers. Allow me to explain…

Rite of Passage Plot Notes: 

The defining element of the Rite of Passage masterplot is a life problem. It can be adolescence, mid-life, death of a loved one, addiction, or divorce. See? Puberty isn’t the only awkward, painful stage we humans go through.

The main conflict in this masterplot is internal conflict because the root of the hero’s problem is not a villain or other outside force, though the hero will spend much of the story denying this and blaming the world for their problem.

The hero will inevitably pursue the wrong solution to the problem, which is generally a diversion from confronting it head on, but for those of us who have lived through any of life’s painful stages, we know avoidance is never the answer.

Avoiding pain, recoiling from the hot flame, is natural, even logical — yet only the counterintuitive move of embracing pain will help.

Blake Snyder, Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies, pg 111.

Rite of Passage stories are ultimately about surviving bad times and getting one’s life on track. The only solution to the hero’s problem is acceptance of a hard truth that the hero has been fighting (for example, he finally admits he’s an addict, or he accepts that his brother’s death isn’t his fault). With that acceptance comes the knowledge that he must change, not the world around him, in order to get through this painful time in his life.

Example to Study:

10, an old movie from 1979, is an excellent example of the Rite of Passage masterplot.10 movie

· LIFE PROBLEM: Hero turns 40 and begins a classic mid-life crisis.

· WRONG SOLUTION: Pursue a young, beautiful, newly married woman, aka a “perfect 10”.

· INTERNAL CONFLICT: Is he good enough? Is he a failure? Is this all there is to life?

· ACCEPTANCE: Hero accepts that he is middle-aged and stops trying to act like he’s twentysomething, and finds happiness in his life.

Future Research:

Films: LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE BREAK-UP, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, KRAMER VS KRAMER, ORDINARY PEOPLE, 28 DAYS, TRAINSPOTTING, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, RISKY BUSINESS, SIXTEEN CANDLES, AMERICAN PIE, DAZED AND CONFUSED, and many more. Movies love this masterplot.

Books: PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King, LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles, IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky, LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel.

Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed R is for Rite of Passage and invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater.

For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After
I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis
N is for Nemesis
O is for Out of the Bottle 

P is for Pursuit
Q is for Quest

And please share your favorite Rite of Passage stories in the comments below.

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-r-is-for-rite-of-passage/

Masterplots Theater: O is for Out of the Bottle

OOB Masterplots Theater-3Welcome back to Masterplots Theater. Do you dream of writing stories with flying carpets, or wishing wells? Or maybe you want to write a story where the bad guy gets taken down by a witch with a sense of humor. Great, because this masterplot takes us to a land of all plots magical.

Out Of The Bottle Plot Notes:

This is a tricky masterplot to work with because it hinges on an inciting incident (aka story catalyst) that involves magic, mostly wishes and curses. The release of something magical into the world can lead to a good or bad experience depending on the circumstances. This plot works equality well for comedy as it does for drama.

The stakes are almost always small and personal, and the stories are character driven. The cast of main characters is frequently on the smaller side. The protagonist will typically share the secret with only one other character.

The protagonist always receives something that changes their life. It’s usually something unexpected, but that they secretly desire. The remainder of the story is about the joys and complications created by their out of the bottle encounter. This masterplot often teaches valuable life lessons.

There are many types of Out of the Bottle story catalysts; finding a wish-granting magic lamp is just one of them. Many of them are much more subtle, or sent by a unseen power.

As in the cases of many wish fulfillment stories, the wish frequently goes wrong and the story evolves into a “be careful what you wish for” for message. However, there are many happily ever after endings too.

Examples to Study:

Because wishes and curses come in many forms, I’m changing the format a bit and giving you some groups of stories and moves that fit the main types of Out Of The Bottle plot devices.

BODY SWAPPING: Characters learn a valuable life lesson by walking in another person’s shoes. This is not the same as the Metamorphosis Masterplot; this character remains human, just many decades older or younger then before the magical encounter. It can also include the Freaky Friday style body swap. Examples are BIG, 17 AGAIN and FREAKY FRIDAY.

MAGIC ITEMS: This one includes encountering something with no clear motive or origin that creates magic without wishes. This item usually has only one magical operation. Examples are: THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD or movies like THE MASK and TOMORROW LAND.

DIVINE INTERVENTION: They may or may not ask for it, they may not want it, but it arrives anyway. And it’s just what they needed to make their life better. Examples are films MEET JOE BLACK and NANNY McPHEE.

CURSES: When the protagonist has a nasty character flaw, magic steps in. There must be some good in this character’s core for us to root for them to survive the curse. Examples are movies: SHALLOW HAL and GROUNDHOG DAY.

Future Research:

Since the Out Of The Bottle masterplot comes from Aladdin lore, reading one of the many versions of that tale would be a great place to start. There is also MARY POPPINS, FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, or read one of the many body swapping stories listed at Goodreads.

Thank you for joining us today. Other episodes in this series include:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After

I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal 

K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis
N is for Nemesis

We hope you enjoyed O is for Out Of The Bottle and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, P is for Pursuit.

What do you think of the Out Of The Bottle masterplot? Please share your thoughts in the Comments!

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-o-is-for-out-of-the-bottle/

Masterplots Theater: N is for Nemesis

N Masterplots Theater-4Welcome back to Masterplots Theater where we examine archetypal plots in books and film. Today we’re going to study a plot often referred to as “Rivalry”, but I need an “N” post for the purpose of the #AtoZChallenge, so I’m going to call this masterplot “Nemesis.” After all, there is no rivalry if the hero doesn’t have a nemesis!

Nemesis Plot Notes: 

The defining element of this masterplot is the conflict between the hero and the nemesis. They are adversaries who know about each other. In other plots the protagonist may not know much about the antagonist, or even know the true identity of the enemy until the end of the story, but in the Nemesis masterplot the hero is well aware of who he is up against, and he usually has a personal connection to his archrival.

Often the conflict is a competition, either because the hero and his nemesis have the same goal (for example, to be the top male model, like in ZOOLANDER), or are after the same thing (like treasure with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), or are literally in a competition (like the boxing championship in ROCKY). And sometimes the conflict manifests because of a moral issue, such as Professor X and Magneto’s differing ideals over the mutants’ place in the world (X-MEN).

The hero and the nemesis should be equally matched. For example, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty is just as smart as the brilliant detective. However, the adversaries’ strengths don’t need to be the same, as long as one rival has compensating strengths to match the other (like Professor X and Magneto of X-MEN).

Finally, Nemesis masterplots always lead to a huge climatic showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Example to Study:

BookCover-Rot&RuinIt was easy to come up with a slew of film examples for the Nemesis masterplot (see next section below), but I had a harder time with novels. I finally decided to study ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Mayberry:

· ADVERSARIES: The nemesis in this book is Charlie Pink-Eye, a bounty hunter who tracks and kills zombies. At first the main character, Benny, looks up to Charlie and wishes his brother Tom (also a bounty hunter) was more like him, but that changes when Benny learns what kind of person Charlie really is.

· COMPETITION: Charlie and Tom are both bounty hunters who compete for business and control of trading routes in the zombie infested Rot & Ruin. They have been adversaries for a long time. Benny is new to the bounty hunter business and Charlie becomes his nemesis too.

· MORAL ISSUE: Charlie and Tom approach the job of zombie bounty hunter very differently. So different, in fact, that Tom doesn’t even like to be called a bounty hunter, and prefers the term “Closure Specialist.”

· PERSONAL CONNECTION: Charlie is responsible for doing something horrific to the woman Tom loves.

· EQUALLY MATCHED: Charlie and Tom are both very good at their jobs and extremely skilled fighters, though they use different weapons and tactics. 

· SHOWDOWN: Charlie is running a terrible place called Gameland that Tom and Benny set out to shut down, and obviously that involves a huge battle at the end of the story.

Future Research:

Films: THE OUTSIDERS (The Greasers vs The Socs), SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (Sherlock vs Professor Moriarty), X-MEN (Professor X vs Magneto), BRING IT ON (Torrance vs Isis), THOR (Thor vs Loki), BRIDESMAIDS (Annie vs Helen), WEST SIDE STORY (Sharks vs Jets), MEAN GIRLS (Cady vs Regina), ZOOLANDER (Hansel vs Derek), BLACK SWAN (Nina vs Lily), DODGEBALL (Peter LaFleur vs White Goodman).

Thank you for joining us today. For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:

A is for Adventure
B is for Buddy Love
C is for Chosen One
D is for Dystopia
E is for Escape
F is for Fool Triumphant
G is for Gothic
H is for Happily-Ever-After

I is for Institutionalized
J is for Journal
K is for Kinsmen
L is for Love Story
M is for Metamorphosis

We hope you enjoyed N is for Nemesis and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, O is for Out of the Bottle.

And please share your favorite on-screen and in-book rivalries in the comments below.

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/masterplots-theater-n-is-for-nemesis/

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