New series: Writing Tips

My writing tips

Last Saturday I wrote a small snippet of a story and by using it as a template, I want to highlight important storytelling elements. This will be an ongoing series. 
The Lowest Point

My wife and I enjoy watching Jane the Virgin (on Netflix. We are behind so please no spoilers!!) There is a brief story arc in which Jane’s father, international telenovela star Rogelio, is kidnapped by a stalker. Throughout the episode, he is planning his escape. He is getting friendly with his captor, being on good behavior and then the moment comes and he is about to escape. He is right at the door and he is caught. 

While reflecting on this scene I thought, “I know why he didn’t escape. He hasn’t reached his lowest point yet.”

The lowest point is part of a character’s story arc. They have an obstacle, someone or something is standing in their way. Often, plans do not work out right the first time (just like real life!), and they enter their lowest point. 

Try this exercise. Raise your hand as high as you can. I know it’s silly but no one is watching so go ahead, as high and you can. Now, raise it higher. You were probably able to raise your hand even higher the second time despite, supposedly, raising it as high as you could the first time.

For a character’s story arc, this can be inversed. What is the character’s lowest point? Now go lower. 

It’s mean, as a writer to do that to someone, even fictional, but the lowest point contrasts with the success, making the victory even better. 

In my short narrative, I tried to demonstrate the lowest point. In an instant everything was taken from him, especially the woman he loved. And he was hopeless to save his people. He was in his lowest point. But a question creeps into the mind, now how does he escape?

The deeper the hole, the more the reader wants to see the hero succeed. How do they get out? As one sees the characters succeed it gives hope to real life events. 

Happy writing!


The Dark Lord Arnoch

The man stood looking forward, with determination across his dirty face. The supermoon eriely illuminated the silhouette of the dark castle across the valley in front of him. He clasped the sword at his side. The trusty weapon had gotten him through the hardest of times and would surely help him now. 

As the man stood, observing and pondering, his companion, a woman, stood beside him.

“The Dark Warlock Arnoch must be defeated,” she reaffirmed. “No matter the cost.”

The man nodded in agreement without a word. 

The woman clasped the sword at her side and said, “let us go.”

They ran down the steep slope, the looming castle always watching them. Secrecy was key, but the dark structure seemed to already know they were coming.

Then, they heard a howl!

Both warriors removed their blades as a pack of wolves encircled them. The wolves barred their fangs, growling with a deep madness in their eyes. The Warlock had bewitched them with unholy strength.

The wolves pounced. Fang was met with sword. The warriors heavy armor took many serious bites, but for every bite, two wolves were slain.

While the man stabbed his sword deep into an attacking wolf, another wolf jumped, going for his open neck.

The woman saw it coming before it happened and her sword, flying through the air, met the wolf’s own throat before its fangs pierced the man.

The wolf fell to the ground, its lively body now a shell. The sword was sticking up and she recovered it. That was the last of the wolves.

“Thank you,” said the man.

“It was nothing,” replied the woman, sheathing her sword.

“You have saved me in more ways than one,” and he embraced her.

She smiled and hugged him back.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you,” she replied.

Their lips met, briefly, but passionately. Then, the reality of their situation returned to mind, and they proceeded with caution through enemy territory.

At once, they approached the gates. They were huge, iron spokes, emanating from the ground. The man went for the gate, but the woman’s hand stopped him.

“There’s always more than meets the eye with these warlocks,” she said. She bent down, grabbed a fist full of dirt and threw it lightly at the gate. Sparks burst from where the dirt touched the gate. 

The man recoiled. “Good call.”

“I do pretty well for myself,” and she smiled.

The gates suddenly flew open.

At the steps of the castle a cloaked figure opened his arms and shouted, “welcome! Welcome to my home!” As he descended the steps, the two warriors recognized him, the Dark Warlock Arnoch.

“Did you think you could mess with my traps and not be noticed. Sure, you avoided incineration but, now I know you’re here.”

“We should leave,” the man said quietly but fiercely to companion.

“No!” She whispered back. “He must be stopped! For my people –our people!” She said. 

The man looked at her. He loved her determination and he felt, deeply, that with her at his side, together, they could do anything. That feeling surged through his body and he stood boldly within the gate facing the Dark Warlock Arnoch.

“Sup,” he said, giving a short nod. “Nice place you got here. A little dark and dreary but it’s nice.”

The Warlock replied, “as a young child my eyes were sown shut and I didn’t see the sun or the world for over a decade. When I escaped my bondage, I removed the stitches and found that my eyes had fully developed while in the dark. Now I cannot bear the light.”

“That sucks man,” he said, trying to show empathy. “Well, listen, it’s been real but you’re a Dark Warlock, terrorizing my wife’s people. We’re not cool with that so we’re going to kill you.”

And with that the warriors charged. The Warlock opened his cloak and bats flew out. As the two warriors fought bats, two trolls emerged from the dungeon of the castle. 

The warriors were no strangers to battle, especially of the supernatural kind. They fought gracefully against trolls ten times their size. 

The man, using his handy sword, sliced off the trolls kneecap. It fell to the ground and, without hesitation, he climbed atop and drove the blade deep into the trolls brain.

The woman was fighting against the other troll. The troll lunged at her, and using the momentum, knocked it to the ground. She went for the kill when a dagger appeared in her chest.

The man saw the lone blade pierce his love. She fell to the ground, dead. He looked across the carnage and saw the Warlock waving his hand. He had magically controlled the small dagger, biding his time with bats and trolls.

The undefeated troll arose and in one fell swoop, knocked out the warrior.

The man saw the world through blurry eyes and a screaming headache. He was in a dungeon, a cold stone prison cell, stripped of his armor and his sword. He lay naked on the barren floor. 

Before him stood the Dark Lord Arnoch adorned in his finest cloaks.

“Enjoying the guest room?” He asked.

“Five stars easily,” the man replied. “Is there a free continental breakfast?”

“‘Fraid not.”

“Four stars then.”

“However,”Arnoch switched subjects.”For your entertainment I have this.”

A liquid substance stretched in front of him, lining all the walls of the dungeon. Then, there appeared an image of the Warlock’s army. Humans and trolls and other monsters stood in military formation.

“You will see your people fall, alone and unable to do anything.” And with finality, the Dark Warlock Arnoch turned away and locked the cell door.

As the war began, he saw his wife’s people fall before the forces of evil, as sword and axe and arrow killed them. The man curled up on the floor. Without her, his love, he felt hopeless. He wept softly as he recalled how she had died, he couldn’t protect her and now he couldn’t save her people- his people.

There was no escape.