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This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News
Tags: writers abroad creative writing expat writers


What's New This Week?

  • Vanessa has raised the fact that every time a blog post gets published automatically to FB, her image is sometimes used. I have tried to change things via Networked Blogs but if you use an image at the beginning of the post this should be selected...
  • Dianne has written the Blog post this week about plot and where to start your story. Some interesting points about doing things a little differently.
  • Lesley is providing the inspiration through the Monday Muses with some fab prompts, one very close to her heart and some great pictures. Loving the monkey one!
  • Both Crilly and Alyson have risen to the August Challenge... not too late to post something!
  • Where to begin on the Bragging Stool? The Ad Hoc'ers have done it again; Sue, Crilly, Angela, Chris and Laura. Sue also has achived first place in a poetry competition in the Writing Magazine, Jill has a secret to tell, but not yet and has been longlisted in the I Must Be Off comp, Alyson came third in Morgan Baileys 100 word competition and made the long list of the Exeter Creative Writing Matters comp... phew! We need a sofa, not a stool! Congrats to all and shout out if I've missed anyone.
  • Content required for the WA Mag Issue 7 has been posted in the Magazine forum. Filling up nicely. Deadline for copy is September 30th
  • And finally, the Formal Chat is this Sunday at 4pm, Agenda will be winging its way to you shortly.
After the Fact
Category: Writing
Tags: plotting ideas writing

I recently read What Is Forgiven by C.F. Yetmen, an historical novel set in the American sector of post-war Germany, and was completely captivated by the story. Since I write wartime fiction, I often read other books set during the Second World War. I choose them because I enjoy reading other books in the genre and also to see how other writers tackle the era. It occurred to me as I read Yetmen’s novel that I hadn’t read many books set in the immediate aftermath of the war. My focus has always been on the war itself.  

This observation set me thinking about story plots in general. As writers, we’re always trying to generate new ideas for plots that will keep readers engaged. Conflict is a central element required to create a successful plot so dramatic events or situations are obvious catalysts for our plotlines. For instance, we might set a story during a war or a natural disaster such as a fire, an earthquake or a tornado. Or we might create a situation where the main character is a victim of rape, or is in the midst of a divorce or is about to lose someone they love. These examples are all good ideas; any of these scenarios could produce a very strong plot.

But, if you want to create something a bit different, why not think a little further down the road and write about what happens next? What Is Forgiven is a gripping novel about characters who struggle to survive in a war-ravaged country and rebuild their lives. The war is over: there’s no fighting, no bombing, no large scale death and destruction. Yet the author creates a story full of tension and drama about characters dealing with the war’s aftermath.    

So, in order to create a plot that’s a bit different, imagine what happens after the event or situation you first thought of. Can you build a gripping story by examining what happens next? Using the example of a main character who is a rape victim, tell the story of how she rebuilds her life after the attack or how she sets out to get revenge against her attacker. The former scenario might produce a work of women’s fiction and the latter might be a crime novel. Of course the victim doesn’t have to be female either which would add another dimension to the story. Or, if you choose the scenario where a character loses someone they love, examine what direction their life takes after the bereavement. The path they take doesn’t have to be a traditional, obvious one. Think outside the box and create a vastly different new life for your character to the one they lived before. A character that takes a sharp turn in their life’s path will definitely give the writer lots of scope to create an engaging story.

If you start with a dramatic event such as a war or a natural disaster as a catalyst for your story, think about what happens after the event is over and find the drama within this to create your story. How does your character survive and how do they feel if they have lost everything in a war or disaster? Or maybe a particular loss frees them from someone or something they wanted to escape from. How does their life change in the face of this?

I’ve chosen ‘After the Fact’ as the title for this post as it sums up what I’m trying to say. The idiom refers to something that happens after a particular occurrence or event. It will remind you when you are plotting a story to think past the first dramatic scenario that runs through your head and see if something that happens further down the road in the character’s life might be a better place to start a story. 

This Week August 14th 2017
Category: Site News

Total apologies for the late posting. I forgot. Again. I blame it on a combination of heat, old age, and way too much sangria.

But I’m here now…so what’s been happening this week?

On the blog today, Vanessa is imagining that she has carte blanche to be honest with impunity. Dangerous stuff. See what she would like to say to some of those questions writers get…

Jo has provided some fabulous Monday Muses. I’m very tempted by the middle-aged man with green eyes and a penchant for skulls.

Some biggies on the bragging stool this week:

Jill has won…something. And we’re all desperate to know what. But I’m sure she will reveal all when the time is right. In the meantime, huge congratulations.

And Jill also made the longlist for the I Must Be Off competition with her Namibian based story. Yay! Everyone is keeping everything crossed that it goes all the way.

And finally, just slipped in (and only because I’m late) Sue has come first in the Writing Magazine’s numbers poetry competition. A fantastic achievement.

There’s still plenty of time to submit something for the August Challenges.

The Poetry Project is running, so if poetry is your thing (and if not, maybe go give something new a try) please go and join in.

And finally, if anyone hasn’t yet shared their writing visions, think about doing so – it can be a great way to crystalize what you want to achieve in the future.

That’s it – have a great week everyone. 


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