Book Review – The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies 0

Well, that’s a mouthful and they had to use an ampersand to make it all fit. However, Neal Soloponte provides 195 plot stages to consider in shaping a novel so the title needs some heft. The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies delivers so many plot stages that I fell into the rabbit hole Soloponte took in writing this book.

Like my favorite, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, by K.M. Weiland, this book provides an outline of what must go into a novel to make the reader want to finish the story. Except this is a scientific look at the process. Soloponte takes Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey canon (I recommend The Power of Myth) and breaks it down further into what needs to happen as the hero journeys from the reactive (ordinary world) to proactive (adventure world) stages of the novel.

Soloponte says that a good novel contains 3 phases:

  1. Something happens
  2. Someone does something about it
  3. Either things change for the good or bad

He then goes on the show the 195 things that have to take place in each of these phases to grab the audience and hold them until the end.

At this point, it gets rather complicated because you can’t see where all of these stages have to land, other than a rough idea of the progression of the plot. So, you have to keep going back and finding out where you’ve been and what you’re missing. I suggest an overlay of the plot stages over Weiland’s model just to keep track of it all (I may work on something to be downloaded later from my Writing Tools page).

Overall, the book is great and revealing as to what goes into a story with many fine examples examined and torn apart by Soloponte. The author says at least 80 percent of the plot stages he has identified will be found in a great novel. Of course, the creative mind may alter the placement of the plot stages, but Soloponte says the plot stags can be found in the most successful novels.

I recommend this book as an excellent resource into what science finds makes a great story. Of course, we are writers and creative license is something we will always take with us.

Author Reading : May 16, 2018 – A Moment of Pure Truth 0

I wrote this story after reading about a rare albino redwood on California’s coast north of San Francisco. I saw it as magical and spiritual. If I had my druthers, I’d live in Sonoma County or near Santa Rosa and make my way to the coast as often as I could to see the redwoods, ferns, and rough coast of the Pacific.

This is a short story about a group of people at a settlement conference: a sort of preliminary attempt to close out a lawsuit before a trial. Most of the settlement’s are managed by previous judges, so they know what will fly in front of a jury, and what won’t fly.

I tend to gravitate towards out of body experiences, paranormal, and strange phenomena. I suppose it is part of my belief we all are part of a collective experience and we certainly don’t have an answer for all of the mysteries of the world. I also think our imaginations fuel our passions and experience. So, in this story, I have no problem with a guy believing his daydream is reality.

Original Story: A Moment of Pure Truth

Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 8 0

las vegas story

Cranberry Juice

The emergency room at the county hospital seemed a bit too busy for a Tuesday morning. Tucked in every corner sat screaming babies with frantic mothers, homeless suffering from the heat, foreigners nursing hangovers, and Cindy with a gunshot in her arm.

She sat in the middle of a bed pushed into the hallway with her legs dangling over the edge. A gauze pad with a red circle of blood covered her arm. This part of the adventure she could have done without.

“All I found was cranberry juice,” Wallace said. He snuck up on Cindy as if she might hit him.

“Thanks.” Cindy refused to look at him. She put the bottle on her head and let the cold penetrate her headache. Wallace placed a towel on her neck.

Wallace felt sick. The shootout left a man dead, a hurt friend, and most of all, the end of a good place to stop for breakfast. Moreover, this girl almost died. So close to the age of his youngest daughter. What a mess.

“It will be just a moment more,” a nurse said. “Can I get you anything?”

Cindy opened the bottle and took a sip.

“Just let me go.”

“In due time, dear,” said the nurse.

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Be a Maker, Not a Taker 0

Some shout no to corporate welfare
And spit on those who say otherwise.
Tax loopholes seem unfair,
To those who minimize
Their day-to-day and scrutinize
The monthly budget.
The craftsmen yowl this advice,
Be a Maker, Not a Taker.

An artisan lists out what’s true and fair;
A list of various jobs and supplies.
To complete his family’s share
Of fruited endeavors reprise.
The labor like clockwork unifies
The sons and daughters sextet.
The craftsmen sing a fanfare to canonize,
Be a Maker, Not a Taker.

The effort rolls on in splendor
Fulfilling and occupying their lives.
Each embraces the craft and takes care
To improve with each enterprize.
They learn new ways to devise,
A trio rhythm to the minuet.
Until their breath greets sunset,
Be a Maker, Not a Taker.

Years hence others apprize
The fruits of their labors sweat.
Finished works inspire others to reprise,
Be a Maker, Not a Taker.

Author Reading: Sincere Advice for The Man of the House 0

You spent all day working, tossed the ball with the dog, watched some TV, and now you want to sleep. You nod off quickly only to awaken at midnight to the howling of your dog. Then your dog does something unusual: it starts talking to you.

What happens when you suddenly get life advice from your dog? Do you take it? Do you listen? Those are some of the questions I tackled in this short story.

This Author Reading dives into the short story Sincere Advice for The Man of the House and where it came from.

A collection of short stories exploring the colonization of Mars, reality, and the problems with cell towers.


Sincere Advice for The Man of the House 3

talking dog

At midnight, Charlie woke the only human in his life, the one who fed him, kept him in water, and let him lead them on an romp past the marigolds on the corner every day at three, with a long howl. It bubbled up from below his belly somewhere near his tail and felt more like an itch in a space he couldn’t reach with his nose. A long, frightful howl, which made even Charlie jump off the foot of the bed.

The man raised quickly in the bed and searched for his glasses.

“Charlie, you okay? Did you hear something?”

Charlie cocked his head to one side and then decided to just say it.

“It seems as though you as wasting your life.”

The statement was so frank and direct, it surprised Charlie as much as the man who stared at him with an odd grin, as if the dog appeared in a dream. The man rubbed his eyes and fumbled with his glasses. Charlie took the gestures as as a sign to continue.

“And I think I can help.” Charlie paused to make sure the man continued to listen. The oddness of the hour, combined with the sudden unusual ability to speak, left the man without words. He reached over to rub Charlie’s ears.

“That feels real nice, but we shouldn’t pause. I don’t have a lot of time. You see, every morning you wake up, fill my bowl with crunchy beef, fill my other bowl with water, and let me run outside. It’s all great. But you then vanish for a long time, and I get lonely. Then you come home all uptight, feed and water me again, let me out, and then fall asleep on the couch. This happens every day and you don’t seem very happy.”

The man listened to the talking dog in silence, unsure how to proceed, or how to process what he had just heard. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock, which showed one minute past midnight.

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I Wander Away – A Collection of Short Stories 0

I started writing again as an exercise for my hands and my brain. For many months after my stroke, I couldn’t hand write my letters, let alone type. I spent many hours tracing the shapes of letters with my right hand. It took awhile because my brain failed to move my hand. Anyway, I practiced like a child and hoped for the best.

All of this went on as I tried to get my world to come into focus. While my hand failed me, my eyes saw everything at a 90-degree angle. Everything I looked at jumped to the right, unless I closed my left eye. Then everything sort of came back perpendicular.

Quite frankly, none of this seemed very promising to me.

I remember the first time I tried to type. Everything was going to the right, my hand was numb, and I couldn’t find the letters. Before the stroke, I could touch type as fast as 45-words a minute, and faster if I needed to.

Anyway, I stuck to it and started writing words, sentences, and paragraphs. And I found my passion again for telling stories.

This is a collection of some of my short stories, especially the ones I wrote after my stroke. I wanted to put them together to share and to remember that it takes work to be creative. If you have time, take a look, buy a copy, and leave me a reply.

Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 7 0

las vegas story

Paramedics wheeled Charlie out of the club through the mess of wires, broken glass, and water. A medic taped gauze on Cindy’s arm where a bullet broke the skin leaving a bleeding gash. Cuts and scratches covered her legs.

“He’s going to make it,” Wallace said. “How he didn’t die is anybody’s guess.”

How they all survived, nobody could tell. A flash of gunpowder played again in Cindy’s mind as the bullet sent a cascade of water over Bill’s head. Then the bullet came toward her and she froze in fear. It threw up bits of cushion and wood behind her. It must have missed. However, a shock wave climbed her arm and she knew the bullet had hit her.

“You’ll need stitches,” a medic said. “I still can’t believe it happened,” Cindy said. “I could have died.” Cindy smoothed out her dress and tried to cover up her scratches.

“I’ll wrap those too.”

The medic squirted out some cream and moved his fingers over the cuts. His cold hands sent another shock through Cindy. She shivered. He paused. She waved him on and closed her eyes.

On this trip, she planned to find the man responsible for her dad’s death, kill him, and escape the desert. Instead, she landed in a shootout and a robbery.
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