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Thanks for stopping by Fiction Tips Weekly. This blog is one of the primary blogs hosted by me, Cyrus Wraith Walker. You will find many goodies here.

New writer's can occasionally find tips on writing fiction from myself and other published authors.

Reviews and Interviews, publishing industry news, and information about the horror fiction market. Recently I've been on the lookout for Dark Artists, Authors of Dark Fiction, and CG Animation Artists. So come join us at FTW and share your form.

If you are an author, artist, or CG animator with a recent work or desire to promote your past works, or you'd like to share advanced techniques with the online community, you can contact me for a guest spot at

Monday, December 14, 2009

Preditor Plagiarist!

Recently an author friend of mine who just had a novella published fell prey to a plagiarist that has been doing his dirty business for a while now by claiming authorship of trusting authors that have sent him a manuscript or two. Furthermore he has attempted to attribute his alias name as the author of works that are published by real authors and they have appeared alongside the real publication on sites such as Amazon with fabricated ISBN numbers stolen from publishers like Lulu.

This article is reprinted by permission of J.A. Aarntzen:

David Byron and NVH Books
7/18/2009 11:32:00 AM
by J.A. Aarntzen

David Byron, the man behind NVH Books and now NVF Horror Cafe, agreed by contract to publish my Mosquitoes In Heaven novel in April, 2009. In May 2009 when the book was ready to print, I sent David $400 for 25 copies of the novel. To date, mid July, I have yet to receive any of the books and have not heard from David outside of automated email responses. He is out of the book business now but is into promoting independent films. Beware of this man for his business operations are shady.

Beware David Byron and NVH

David Byron, also known as Dan Byron and Iron Dave, contacted me through email about a year ago. He was then starting up his New Voices in Horror (NVH) online magazine and inquired if I would be interested in submitting a story for it. I sent him "Talking Libra" and this story was featured in the premiere volume of NVH Magazine.

A few months later David inquired if I would like to be interviewed for an upcoming NVH issue. I agreed to do this as well. The interview never did appear in any editions of NVH.

In February or March of this year, David decided to go into the book publishing business and asked through a general email for submissions. I sent him my just completed manuscript "Mosquitoes in Heaven". David liked it and it was going to be the first novel published by NVH Books. David had his people edit the book and once that was complete, he provided me with a cover. I was pretty impressed and was looking forward to having a good relationship with my new publisher.

In the meantime David also went into an agreement with another author whom I won't identify outside of saying that his first name is Stuart and that he is an Englishman that lives in Spain. Stuart started sending me emails and he was greatly looking forward to having his first novel published. Even though Stuart was excited he was a little reticent about sending Dave money for copies of his books. He asked me if I thought David was above board and I had no reason at that point to think otherwise. Dave had afterall featured my story "Talking LIbra" in his online magazine and I had actually seen it there.

It was time for me to make my order. I wanted fifty copies of my book but strangely Dave talked me down to twenty-five. We agreed on a price of $400 and this I sent to him through PayPal. This was near the start of May. David told me that it would take two to four weeks before the books arrive. Stuart had also sent Dave the same amount of money for his books at about approximately the same time.

About two or three days later both Stuart and I received emails from David's email address. The emails were not from David but from his brother. His brother informed us that David had a stroke and would be incapicatated for a time. The brother did say though that he would be looking after Dave's business and that we could expect our books shortly.

After about three weeks my books and Stu's books had not arrived. I started receiving worried emails from Stuart. I told Stu not to worry. These things take time.

In the meantime there are new emails coming from NVH Books saying that they are not going to accept any new submissions and that they were going out of the publishing business.

When I contacted the brother and asked about my books, I was told about a new emergency in the family. Their mother had broken her arm and required the constant care from both brothers. This seemed rather a flimsy excuse but I was still told that my books were coming.

Stuart was getting very worried at this time. I told him to still wait. I still had some faith in Iron Dave. But when two more weeks lapsed without any books, I suggested to a very concerned Stuart that he perhaps check out the ISBN numbers on our books. Both books had one. When Stuart did this he discovered that our ISBN numbers actually belonged to Lulu Books and had nothing at all to do with NVH Books. Stuart wondered that maybe Dave was using Lulu Books to print our books but both of us thought it unlikely.

Both of us contacted Dave but we were now only receiving automated responses about NVH no longer existing. Dave nor his brother were answering any more.

Still more generic emails came from Iron Dave. He collapsed NVH Magazine and was now opening up a new website devoted to horror films. It was called New Voices in Film (NVF). He was out of promoting authors and was now promoting independent film makers. He kept his original mailing distribution list and he had the gall to send Stu and me these emails about his new operation even though he had never come through with his original contract obligations with either of us.

Both Stuart and I were in despair about what had happened to us. We sent Dave nasty and threatening emails but with no real response from him. We both really had no recourse to stop this man as he was an American and we were not, Stu being in Spain and me in Canada.

In late June I posted a message on my other publisher's author's forum warning the authors there about David Byron and NVH. And I am only now posting this news release here at Author's Den. I am angered about what had happened but I am not obsessed by it. I have learned a lesson although I really don't know what lesson I learned. Dave was legitimate at first as witnessed by his publishing of my story on his e-zine and Dave had talked me down from fifty to twenty-five books. These seem to be incongruent with what I would associate with a scam artist. But I have not received my books. Stuart has not received his books. Both of us are out money. Either Dave and his brother are very inept businessmen or they have taken shadiness to a more insidious level where you almost feel guilty about exposing them.

The one good thing that has come out of this is that Stuart and I are now good friends and we exchange emails on what it is like to live in each other's countries and we hardly mention Dave at all.

So in closing I wish to thank Iron Dave for introducing me to my displaced Englishman friend and for allowing me to having a news event to report here at AD. And I would like to warn any author or film maker to stay away from David Byron and any of his NV scams.


After I posted this news article, I received an email from Stuart. He had some interesting news. It appears that his book which is titled "The Well of Despair" now appears on Amazon but it is authored by somebody named Jack Burnett. When I looked this title up on Amazon and clicked on the book cover, it can be clearly seen that the name of the author of the book is not Jack Burnett but my friend Stuart and furthermore on the inside it also shows that the book is copyrighted by Stuart.

I searched Amazon for my title, "Mosquitoes in Heaven" but was unsuccessful in finding anything. But when I searched Amazon for Jack Burnett, lo and behold, among the dozen or so listings under this name were several issues of NVH Magazine!

I have a feeling that my book is out there somewhere under a different title and different author name.

So beware not only Iron Dave, David Byron, Dan Byron, but also now Jack Burnett!

So there you have it. If you too have been a victim of this guy there are a couple of websites I would like to share.

1. Entertainment and copyright attorney

2.Publishing Law Website

3.Internet Crime Complaint Center

Friday, September 25, 2009

Horror Publishers

Domestic Publishers

This list includes the US book publishers I found that handle Horror. Though they all have their specific areas of preference, some wider than others, they are large publishers and list themselves as handling fiction in many genres including horror. A good percentage of them handle new, unagented authors. The only one listed that only takes agented authors is Kensington, I think.

All the publishers I have listed, including the small press publishers, are conventional publishers. They are not subsidy publishers. You will never be asked to spend any of your own money on print, advertising, marketing, etc. (If any of them do, I need to know about it because I am supposed to report them. The listing these came from, lists only publishers that are not subsidy publishers. Report to ) Some pay advances, some pay just royalties, some pay royalties way above the typical 15% retail.

Depending on how patient you can be, be wary of turnaround times. Some of these respond to queries in a month, some in six months. Some publish within three months after acceptance, some as much as two years conventionally.

1. Arche Books Publishing
2. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.,
3. Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc. (Though they say horror, they look to mostly publish romantic. Got any romantic horror novels???)
4. The Invisible College Press.
5. Kensington Publishing Co.,
6. Leisure Books
7. New American Library
8. Raven Hawk™ Books
9. Teacher Curriculum, LLC.
10. Torquere Press
11. Vivisphere Publishing
12. Windriver Publishing, Inc.

Canadian Publishers

1. Kunati, Inc.
2. Loon in Balloon, Inc.

Small Press

The small press listings are many, but I would use them as a last resort. They publish far less titles per year and do not have the marketing abilities of the larger publishers.

1. The Market List This is a good resource for genre writers and they seem to have a focus on Horror fiction.
2. Arjuna Library Press
3. Contemporary Press
(original form pulp fiction!)
4. Elder Signs Press, Inc. (royalties, outright purchases, advances.)
5. Denis Kitchen Publishing Co., LLC. ($1-5,000 advances)
6. Leocrota Press (stakes a lot on style and attitude)
7. Ooligan Press
8. Top Publications, Ltd. (prefers books that appeal to a large mainstream audience)
9. Wolf Pirate Publishing
This one is interesting, their recent titles include: The Unforgiven, The Lady of The Lake, and The Serpent and the Saul.

Last but not necessarily least,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Damnation Books

Hello Dearest readers,

Today the first day of September, marks the launch of Damnation Books.

Co-founder, senior editor, and CEO of Damnation Books, Kim Richards, has announced that during the launch of this extraordinary eBook publisher, that the books they are offering are to start out at variable pricing. If you are among the early birds and order now, you will get some of the best new names in the genre for just pennies. Yes, I said pennies! I placed my order already for the first short story and got it absolutely free. Every time someone orders a title the price goes up, so, it's important to check them out right away. Titles such as the long anticipated Novella, Mark Edward Hall's The Haunting of Sam Cabot and Apartment 14f: An Oriental Ghost Story by Christian Saunders, are among the many titles selected for their launch. Sizes range from short stories to full fledged novels.

Visit them at

You won't be disappointed.


Cyrus Wraith Walker

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dark Fiction Update: Important!

Dark Discoveries' , Publisher/Editor-in-chief, James R. Beach, sent out announcements recently to all the people who subscribe and contribute to Dark Discoveries. He wanted to make sure and let us and all who love dark fiction to know that the prices will be going up in December so as to give everyone a chance to subscribe or purchase single issues at the lower price. Time is running out fast, so if you love this kind of fiction now is the time to get an issue or two or three or four or five . . .

.....................Here’s a taste of what’s in the current issue as well as what has been slated for you in upcoming issues:

Issue #14: 50th Anniversary Twilight Zone Special – Featuring Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Earl Hamner Jr., William F. Nolan, Marc Scott Zicree, Roger Anker, Christopher Conlon, Tony Albarella and more.

Issue #15: Lovecraft Special – Featuring H.P. Lovecraft, Brian Lumley, H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon, S.T. Joshi, Wilum Pugmire, Cody Goodfellow, Allen Koszowski, David A. Riley and more.

Issue #16: Horror Comics/Pulps Special – William F. Nolan, Frank M. Robinson, Hugh B. Cave, EC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Weston Ochse, Paul Bens Jr., and more.

Issue #17: Dark SciFi Special – Dennis Etchison, Joe Lansdale, John Shirley, Philip Jose Farmer, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick and more.

Issue #18: Forgotten Horror/SciFi TV Shows – William F. Nolan, Hammer House of Horror, Light’s Out, John Tomerlin, Darkroom, Thriller and more.

Please check out the website: to order a subscription or to pick up any in-stock back issues before the prices go up!

Sunday, July 26, 2009



Writing good dialogue, or if you prefer, great dialogue, talks a feel for dance that happens between the expressions of fiction namely: Narration, Description, Thought, Exposition, and Action. The goal once again in our fiction is to Show, not Tell. The more you can show your readers a thing as opposed to telling them, the more vividly you create that movie in their heads. Every time we do something as writers that jerks a reader, or an editor out of the story, we risk jerking them away from our prose altogether.

What a new writer needs to know about dialogue is how it is constructed, what components are involved, and about the do’s and the do not’s to writing dialogue that carries the story without distracting the reader. An example of this would be just because we can place an adverb with an identifier tag and have it be grammatically correct, does not mean we should.

“Thank you,” she said crossly. Will never replace “Thank you,” she said, crossing her eyes, “It’s…wonderful.”

Constructing Dialogue

RULE OF THUMB#1: Use of quotation marks:
Use quotation marks to indicate words spoken by the characters.

He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee. Why should I give a shit? You’re gonna answer the question? He does get cranky. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me? How about not losing your good time? You want to stay in prison for the rest of your life? How about not being dead? I’d rather be here then dead. I thought you were some kind of tuff guy. Flip off Screw. Well then, I guess you’re dead already.

“He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.” “Why should I give a shit?” “You’re gonna answer the question?” “He does get cranky.” “Maybe I will maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?” “How about not losing your good time?” “You want to stay in prison for the rest of your life?” “How about not being dead?” “I’d rather be here then dead.” “I thought you were some kind of tuff guy.” “Flip off Screw.” “Well then I guess you’re dead already.”

RULE OF THUMB#2: When the speaker changes so does the paragraph.

Always start a new paragraph when the speaker changes.

“He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.” “Why should I give a shit?” “You’re gonna answer the question?” “He does get cranky.” “Maybe I will maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?” “How about not losing your good time?” “You want to stay in prison for the rest of your life?” “How about not being dead?” “I’d rather be here then dead.” “I thought you were some kind of tuff guy.” “Flip off Screw.” “Well then I guess you’re dead already.”


“He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.”
“Why should I give a shit?”
“You’re gonna answer the question?”
“He does get cranky.”
“Maybe I will maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?”
“How about not losing your good time?”
“You want to stay in prison for the rest of your life?”
“How about not being dead?” “I’d rather be here then dead.”
“I thought you were some kind of tuff guy.”
“Flip off Screw.”
“Well then I guess you’re dead already.”

RULE OF THUMB#3: The reader needs to know who is speaking

Use Identifiers in order to tag your dialogue.

McMurphy said, “He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.”
“Why should I give a shit?” said Shiv.
“You’re gonna answer the question?” said Deputy Jakes.
“He does get cranky,” said Shiv.
“Maybe I will maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?” said Shiv.
“How about not losing your good time?” said Jakes.
“You want to stay in prison for the rest of your life?” said McMurphy.
“How about not being dead?” said Shiv.
“I’d rather be here then dead,” said Shiv.
“I thought you were some kind of tuff guy,” snarled Jakes.
“Flip off Screw.” Said Shiv.
“Well then I guess you’re dead already.” Jakes said.

While this may be correct grammatically, with the exception of (“Flip off Screw.” Said Shiv.), it is a bit cumbersome and lacks any real substance. There are other problems also with this bit of dialogue, which I will cover later in this article. But for now let us focus on implementing the missing components.

RULE OF THUMB#4 Use narrative sentences to show the character's concurrent acts, thoughts and/or perceptions.
You want the reader to be able to visualize the dynamics of the conversation.

RULE OF THUMB#5 Eliminate identifiers that are not necessary.

RULE OF THUMB#6 Do not use adverbs with or in place of the word “said”.
He said, she said, but not He said crossly, or snarled Jakes.

McMurphy, playing the role of good cop, said, “He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.”
“Why should I give a shit?” said Shiv, hip to their little game.
With hands on the table and leaning in real close, Deputy Jakes reinitiated his interrogation, with a demand, “You are gonna answer the question!”
“He does get cranky,” said Shiv, smirking, an act intended to incite Jakes anger. “Maybe I will maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?”
Jakes’ hands now balled into fists. “How about not losing your good time?” he asked, gritting his teeth so they squeaked.
Mcmurphy helpless to do much else, tried to reason, “Look you don’t want to stay in prison for the rest of your life do you?”
“How about not being dead?” said Shiv. “I’d rather be here then dead.”
“I thought you were some kind of tuff guy,” snarled Jakes. (Try to snarl this line. You could however say that What Jakes said next sounded more like a snarl than words.)
“Flip off Screw.” (Unnecessary Identifier)
“Well then I guess you’re dead already.” Jakes said, just before he launched across the table grabbing Shiv by his shirt.

This is a little better, but it still lacks flow and edge. Remember that this is dialogue in a story not a movie or television show.

RULE OF THUMB#7 Eliminate unnecessary dialogue and narration to keep the flow dynamics.

McMurphy, playing the role of good cop, said, “He gets cranky when he doesn’t have his morning coffee.”
“Why should I give a shit?” said Shiv, hip to their little game, “Just another dumbshit screw.”
With hands on the table and leaning in real close, Deputy Jakes reinitiated his interrogation, only this time with a difference, “Answer the fuckin’ question!”
“He does get cranky,” said Shiv, smirking, an act intended to incite Jakes anger. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, what’s in it for me?”
“How about not losing your good time?”
“How about not being dead? I’d rather rot in here than be dead.”
“I thought you were some kind of tuff guy,”
“Flip off Screw.”
“Well,” McMurphy said, “I guess the man’s dead already.” His voice of reason came too late. Jakes launched across the table grabbing Shiv by his shirt, and proceeded to beat the sarcasm off Shiv’s overconfident mug.

*You’ll notice I added a line also, to create tension. This also brings me to rule #8

RULE OF THUMB#8 Make it real.

The judgment had come down; it was to be a death sentence. Shiv gripped the end of the barred frame to his cell as the airlock released. The door slammed shut smashing his pinky. “Oh buttercup,” he said.

Well, I think you see the problem. And yes, there will be critics that may comment on the use of profanity or prejudice statements made by your characters but how stupid it would sound to have a hardened criminal make a statement like that. Even Jakes when he loses his cool spouts off in an unprofessional manner. I think this ads realism, and makes the story more genuine. Language is of great importance in portraying your character correctly.

RULE OF THUMB#9 Use proper punctuation

Punctuation needs to be invisible, improper punctuation is the worst when you have a tension-building piece of dialogue. Even the exclamation point I use in the dialogue above is more than questionable.

a. Harry said, "Your attention please."
If the sentence begins with a speech tag, the comma goes directly after the last word before the quote, followed by a space, then the quotation marks, then the first word of the quote is capitalized. If the sentence ends with the end of the quote, the period goes right after the last letter of the last word, then the quotation mark, then a space before beginning the next sentence.

b. "Your attention please," said Harry.

If the sentence ends with a speech tag, and the quotation would normally end in a period if it was written by itself, the last word of the quote is followed directly by a comma (instead of the period), then the quotation mark, then a space, then the next word (unless it is a proper noun) begins with a lower-case letter. If the quotation contains more than one sentence, the speech tag CANNOT be placed here. It must be either at the beginning, as in Example 1; at the first punctuation stop, as in Example 4; or eliminated altogether, with the speaker identified by a preceding sentence.)

c. Harry said, "Your attention please,” then sat down.

If the quotation is embedded in the middle of a sentence, where the sentence begins with a speech tag and continues after the quotation, the last word before the quote is followed immediately by a comma, then a space, then the quotation mark, then the capital letter to begin the quote. The last word of the quote is followed immediately by a comma, then the quotation mark, then a space, then the sentence continues with a lower-case word (again, unless the word in question is a proper noun).

d. "Ladies and gentlemen," said Harry, "your attention please."

If the quote begins and ends the sentence, and is broken up somewhere midway by a speech tag, the last word of the initial quote is followed immediately by a comma, then the quotation mark, then a space, then the speech tag begins with a lower-case word (unless it's a proper noun); then when the speech tag ends and the quote resumes, the last word of the tag is followed immediately by a comma, then a space, then the quotation mark, then the quoted sentence resumes and the next word begins in lower-case (unless it's a proper noun).
These rules apply to spoken sentences that would normally end in a period when written by themselves; the period becomes a comma if the sentence continues after the quote. However, if the quoted sentence ends in a question mark (?) or exclamation point (!), and the sentence continues after the quote, the question mark or exclamation point does not change to a comma, the first letter of the first word after the quote is still lower case, and the overall sentence still ends in a period: a) "Where did they go?" she asked. b) "Unbelievable!" shouted the announcer.

RULE OF THUMB#10 Don’t overdo dialect:

Another way to make your dialogue real is by the use of dialect. For this, we use phonetics. DO NOT OVER DO IT!

In the example above, I have used the word “gonna” and eventually replaced it with a more emotionally charged statement. You must listen to how people talk. In my novella Painter’s Green, Terry Painter recollects words from his father. They go like this:

“This here’s a special paint, son,” he had said, “Ma own special mix of blue, yeller and a particular, uh . . .
ingredient grey. Der ain’t no color like it in da whole worl’ an’ one day, Terry ma boy, I’m gonna sell it see? Yeh, we’ll make a fortune. Imagine: houses, cars, boats and fences, all painted with ma own special color. Me Al Painter, see? Yeh.”

Whatta ya call it Dad?”

Jus’ like it sais on the can der son, it’s called Painter’s Green, so dey all know where it come from, Al Painter, see? Yeh.”

Here is a story that takes place in the desert in a little town of Brushville, Oregon. Brushville sits in the middle of Christmas Valley and the Oregon desert. These are country folks, contractors, with little education. The dialect tells us that. And though I may have overdone this, I’m going to let the editors decide. I have known someone, my grandfather, who actually spoke like this. He had a third grade education, though he wasn’t stupid. He was self-taught in the fields of construction, diesel mechanics, and farming and everything he put his hands to.

Your character might speak with an accent’a because he is French, or, he might be a man from Mexico city in which case:

Paul could see there was slight irritation in the man’s face, furrow lines stood out like red incisions across his forehead.
“Si?” he said with a grunt.
“Eduardo, I’m Paul Cochrane. Do you speak English?”
Jes I speaka de engliais, what ees it jou are wanting?” a frown.
Copyright©2009 by Cyrus Wraith Walker

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Horror Market Report

Hello readers,

I have a few tasty tidbits for those of you that delight as I do in writing Psychological and Supernatural thrillers/horror.

Weird Tales currently has a new fiction editor Ms. Ann VanderMeer. Unlike editors of the past Ms. VanderMeer accepts simultaneous submissions.

Damnation Books is scheduling their launch for sept. Definitely worth checking out. They publish not only short fiction but can help with that first novel.

Dark Discoveries is currently closed for submissions but will re-open in August. At that time James Beach will be increasing the pay rate but he will be dropping simultaneous submissions.
This is a knock out magazine. I highly encourage buying a sample.

Check them out and good luck. You reach me for submission advice at:

Monday, July 6, 2009


Let us start with a definition of what plot is:

Plot is a chronological series of causal events, which increase in intensity and rising action towards the climax of a story, and gives structure in order to achieve the over-all effect intended by the author’s vision. Plot answers the question “what?”
You would do well as a writer to realize that our lives are very plot-less. Each event happens usually without causing the next event. If we were to put the chronological events of one of our days on paper, it would not make for very good reading: Got up, showered, brushed teeth, made breakfast, went work, went shopping and went home—anybodies life.

Let us break down our definition piece by piece.
1. Plot is a chronological series:
Covering a period, plot begins at some point and progresses through to a later point in time. This could be very short, or cover hundreds of years.
2. Plot is a series of causal events, cause and effect. One thing leads to another and another and another and another to end: Noisy neighbors woke him up early, still sleepy he jammed the toothbrush into his gum, instead of going to work he had to see the dentist, so he missed getting blown up by the bomb in the building.
3. Thirdly, plot follows as a structure that gives backbone to the story. There is a beginning, middle, and an end.
4. Arranged properly serves as a vehicle to convey a vision, a moral, a theme.
Real writers do NOT sit down, draw up an outline and plot from which to derive a story. If you do, the critics will see right through it and your story will be tainted with the shadow of an amateur never gaining extraordinary creative energy. It is not story that comes from plot it is plot, which comes from story. Then you outline the thing to make connections not previously made. I hope you understand this. Plot and outline stifles originality, inspiration and spontaneity of creating story. I told you about the use of the right side of the brain where the muse lives. In addition, yes, there are fictitious notions of the muse but if you realize that the phenomenon of the muse is a brain function that gives way to creative energy then you begin to understand.


Stories are dynamic things organic in nature and tell themselves. All you have to do is create a field in which those stories to grow. Then you can cultivate them. Make them award winners. Plot will emerge and character will take control, and you will have reached the goal of producing a character driven prose.

When you sit down before the blank page for your first draft, you may not even know the what. The most I would burden myself with is the basic mechanics of drama. Aristotle gave us the model in which we still adhere to today. The model is referred to as the dramatic curve. Find a story that does not make use of it and I will guarantee it will not be much of a story.

“Drama begins when a problem begins and ends when the problem is resolved”

In short, the dramatic curve:
a) The beginning (The Problem)
b) The Middle (The Conflict)
c) The End (The Resolution)
d) The Denouement (Life Now)

In the book Good scripts, Bad Scripts by Thomas Pope, Pope presents various theories on variations of the curve begin with tension, begin with an initial problem or more like real life at the height of worse or most exciting part, but that is where plotting and outline come in but first you must make that field and let the story grow out of it.

Sit down and begin to write, does not matter if you know or not. When I wrote my short horror story The Gemination of Benjamin Lore, the only thing I knew was a guy was to be possessed by the mind of his twin. Until I started to write which for whatever reason started the protagonist in a therapy session with a psychologist, I had no idea that the twin brother (antagonist) was a bedridden, non-responsive insensible that just lays there and drools. This came up on its own, and pushed itself on the story. The possessing created the conflict and tension, and the resolution was not anything I expected. By the time I had finished the first draft, there wasn’t much plotting to do.

Aristotle, Horace and even modern day authors such as Louis L’Amour, agree and give this advice. Find the beginning of the story, and then start after that. Aristotle termed the technique in medias res, “In the middle of things”

Ever wonder why George Lucas started the Star Wars films at episode four? Especially when he had written the whole space opera from beginning to end to begin with? Because chronologically it was not as exciting. And how many years did we all think it was Luke that would eventually save the day. But Luke was Anakin’s offspring but he was not the chosen one. Anakin was. So in the end as the prophesy foretold, It was Anakin who set balance to the force, it was Anakin’s conflict as Darth Vader that eventually led him to throwing the Sith Lord down the reactor chamber. But Lucas started in medias res and as a result we had years of anticipation for that final climax which would have been cut short because the story wasn’t about Luke at all. It was about Anakin Skywalker.

So sit down and write your story from beginning to end. That completes the first draft and now the plot should be prevalent. Now we can get to this business of outlining in which we work with the overall effect.

The outline is the overall effect of your story, unlike the plot, which is the chronology. Think of how many crime novels have started with the killer getting ready to commit that last and most heinous of all his crimes. The one where he eventually has his final conflict and is stopped forever. Much more intriguing than following the story from the serial killers childhood. But to do that the writer had to think about the story as a whole.

1. Break down your chronological first draft into scenes. Start at the beginning of the chain of events and follow it through to the end. Remember that that first event will not necessarily be where you start the final draft of your story.
2. If we did this with Star Wars immediately, we would see a problem. The story is too huge to write in one single novel. Other problems may occur to you such as age and time period of a character remember that what you want is a sort of domino effect, for every action there is a reaction, but you want that connection from on event to another to be unbreakable and tight. THE CHARACTERS MUST BAHAVE IN A LOGICAL FASHION FOR EVEN THE MOST INCREDIBLE FANTASY STORY TO BE CREDIBLE TO THE READER. In this process, you might notice scenes that should be deleted. You also may come up with extraordinary ideas to insert strengthening the piece.

A note here about using coincidence in your plot. It is best used in the beginning of a plot to set off a causal chain. If you use coincidence in the middle somewhere it could damage the credibility if the story. For coincidence to work, the odds must be long, and it must be linked to some other secondary factor. You can forget your umbrella we all do that, but just before the rail car you would have taken crashes killing everyone aboard? This sort of thing excites us as to the powers hidden deep beneath the fabric of the senses world. A good study of the outline plot would reveal problems with such things. As would the re-writing of the causal chain of events backwards, using the word because.
I. This happened because,
II. This happened and it happened because,
III. this and so on.

From Outline to Story.
Once you’ve done this tedious work, you can now concentrate on what I mentioned earlier concerning where to begin your story. In The middle of Things. Pick the most entertaining and exciting or horrific event and shift your outline from there. Moviemakers use note cards, upon which scenes in chronological order are written. Then to make the effect of the theme they shift these around in order. There are probably an infinite number of combinations you can make. But given an example of a story with five scenes, we could do these sorts of variations:

A-->B-->C-->D-->E-->F (Here we have the chronological order of the plot)
C-->A-->D-->B-->E-->F (Here we start in the middle and flash back, progress, flash back and end)
D-->E-->F-->A-->B-->C (The outline followed by George Lucas in Star Wars)
F1-->A-->B-->C-->D-->E-->F2 (Frame in which the story is made credible being told by somebody else or first person narrative)

The beginning of the story should set up the reader for questions. A horrible crime is taken place and the police cannot catch the guy—WHY?

Benjamin is tormented by his retarded brother and believes he is trying to ruin his life—WHY?

Increase the stories intensity by following scenes that increase in tension.

Resolve the problem with some major event which happens in the future or brings the reader back to the middle or any way you like to put it.

Then end in denouement and get out of the story quickly. A lot of time with this is the way life is now. Do not belabor the ending by tying up loose ends that should have happened all before the climax or because of it.

I hope this article helps. It would be a book to get much more detailed than this. I plan to add 12 categories describing the various types of plot. Check back from time to time as additions come slowly with labor.

Copyright©2009 by Cyrus Wraith Walker

Monday, June 29, 2009

Writer's Software

You will be thrilled to know that I recently added Writing software to my store. I selected various titles so do a little research before you purchase anything. Make sure it is the software for you. No matter if you use software specifically designed to lay out manuscripts, or just Microsoft Word, you should familiarize yourself with proper manuscript format. Have fun, and I hope this helps you to craft the perfect story.


-Cyrus Wraith Walker

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Finally the punctuation guide is finished and has been posted for your disposal at the site. Visit the Fiction Tips Weekly Site for that article and more. Also see the bookstores I have both here on this blog and at the bottom of the first page of the site. If you need some books on writing fiction I have selected some great publications that used to be offered through Writer's Digest. Because the store is through Amazon your purchases will be completely secure.

Thanks again for your support, I love being able to help new writers get started.


Cyrus Wraith Walker

Monday, June 22, 2009

To my readers


There has been some urgency by future fiction writers for me to hurry as fast as possible in finishing every category article on the Fiction Tips Weekly site:

I assure you I am writing as fast as I can. That being said I know you are hungry for answers so in the meantime email me on the subject or category you need help with. (please use the category specific name off the site map list at the site, for example: Elements of Fiction, Character.)

Please email me only on categories I haven't written an article for or on categories that you want more information on and I'll see what I can do.

Hope I can help

-Cyrus Wraith Walker

Saturday, June 20, 2009



And . . . action!

Johnny was nobody’s fool. He quickly scooted out of sight using the immediate obstacles to cloak his disappearance. He vanishes out of thin air, maybe the guy isn’t human, Officer Mundane had said. But it was just misdirection on Johnny’s part, swiftly moving behind the dumpster, between the buildings and from tree to tree beyond. Sweat dripped from his brow as he painstakingly betrayed their line of vision. By the time he reached the car, he was grasping at his chest. He fell to the ground retching what had been his meal for that day.

Action is a most useful Mode or Expression – as I like to call it – of fiction. If we look this up in some resources, we usually get a short little explanation that (Action) is used to demonstrate the events as they happen in a story thus helping the readers feel as though they are participating. All fine and dandy, and the more action/reaction you can weave successfully into your story, the more involved your reader will get. But, while (ACTION) is just that, the action that takes place in a story, the skilled writer can use certain types of actions to imply the emotional or physical state of the character. This is in good keeping with the Show, don’t tell rule of writing fiction.

I am talking about body language.


Facial expressions and reactions,

Tone of voice, and Breathing

Balled hands into fists!

Yeah that’s the stuff! Below I have compiled some body language to help you see what I mean.

Your character is:

· Confident so she – walks brisk and erect

· Ready and aggressive so he – stands with his hands on his hips

· Bored so she – sits with her legs crossed, her foot kicking out slightly

· Open and relaxed so he – sits with his legs apart

· Defensive – so she crosses her arms across her chest.

· Dejected so he – walks down the street with his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunching and his face reddening

Any way you get the idea. Here is more

Body Language: Hand to cheek
Character reacts to: Evaluation, thinking

Body Language: Touching, slightly rubbing nose
Character reacts to: Rejection, doubt, lying

Body Language: Rubbing the eye
Character reacts to: Doubt, disbelief

Body Language: Hands clasped behind back
Character reacts to: Anger, frustration, apprehension

Body Language: Locked ankles
Character reacts to: Apprehension

Body Language: Head resting in hand, eyes downcast
Character reacts to: Boredom

Body Language: Rubbing hands
Character reacts to: Anticipation

Body Language: Sitting with hands clasped behind head, legs crossed
Character reacts to: Confidence, superiority

Body Language: Open palm
Character reacts to: Sincerity, openness, innocence

Body Language: Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed
Character reacts to: Negative evaluation

Body Language: Tapping or drumming fingers
Character reacts to: Impatience

Body Language: Steepling fingers
Character reacts to: Authoritative

Body Language: Patting/fondling hair
Character reacts to: Lack of self-confidence; insecurity

Body Language: Quickly tilted head
Character reacts to: Interest

Body Language: Stroking chin
Character reacts to: Trying to make a decision

Body Language: Looking down, face turned away
Character reacts to: Disbelief

Body Language: Biting nails
Character reacts to: Insecurity, nervousness

Body Language: Pulling or tugging at ear
Character reacts to: Indecision

Body Language: Prolonged tilted head
Character reacts to: Boredom

Copyright©2009 by Cyrus Wraith Walker

Thursday, June 11, 2009


So many short story and novel publishers today are preferring character driven prose over plot driven prose. Stephen King in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, states that first and foremost, “story must be paramount.” Most of the books you can pick up that deal with plot explain that outlining a plot is what amateurs do. A three dimensional character is what we are after. One who thinks and breaths and eventually takes over the story in a secret collaboration with your Muse that will send all your best plotting efforts into the dumps and you too if you don’t comply with their wishes.

The wonderful thing about writing fiction is when you sit down before the page in your comfortable narrow space free from all distractions and you don’t let the left side of the brain complicate things by simply putting the pen to the paper and beginning to jot out some dribble without thinking about, you suddenly find yourself in the right side of the brain. Dreams, Van Goghs, Picassos, and Lovecrafts, come from the right side of the brain.
It is where the Muse lives. Mine likes to hide behind the earwax on occasion so that he can chastise me should I get distracted by those Left side attacks.

Characterization is one of the five elements of fiction. Plot, Setting, Theme, and Style make up the other four.
If you want to write a character driven prose than the character must be the driving force behind your story. All characters in the story are participants and all collaborate with your muse. Commonly one thinks of the character of a story as being a person. Our world of storytelling has become a breeding ground for many different types of personas, identities, and entities their existences spawned from fiction.

When it comes to bad teeth THE SPOON sees all!

If we categorize the types of characters typically found in a story we come up with:

  • Point-of-view character: the character, by whom, the story is viewed. The point-of-view character may or may not also be the main character in the story. Think of the narrator point of view we hear in the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Road Warrior.
  • Protagonist: the main character of a story. Often the hero in some form but occasionally, and to the author’s who create such characters credit, can actually be the bad guy. This twisting of Protagonist and Antagonist roles give fresh flare to a story and intrigues the reader.
  • Antagonist: the main opposition to the protagonist
  • Minor Character: a character that interacts with the protagonist. The voice of reason is a common important minor character. They help the story move along. In The Rings Trilogy, Sam acts as the voice of reason for Frodo. So does Gollum to a point but Gollum is more a foil character
  • Foil Character: a (minor), this adverse little creep often hinders the protagonist and helps in escalating the tension along the dramatic curve.

Copyright©2009 by Cyrus Wraith Walker

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Prompt of the Day

Today I Thought I would challenge the reader to do a little workshop free write. In Creative Writing Workshops, you often are given Prompts. I was recently published in the new North of North spring 2009 ten year anniversary anthology for Write Around Portland. The workshop piece that led to the publication? I was asked to write for 5-10 minutes on The Smell of Coffee. You can view this piece by clicking the picture on this blog that leads you to my MySpace profile and look through my blog there. The title that ensued was Decaf was it, Or Just Idios?

So show me what you got. Get out your pen. and write on this prompt for ten minutes. You can share with me what you have written in the comments section. Good Luck.

The Prompt? You guessed it! The Smell of Coffee

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Expressions Of Fiction

In Basic what you see when you pick up your favorite novel is a dance in creative awareness composed of seven distinct parts, modes, or expressions. They are Narration, Description, Dialogue, Action, Thoughts and Exposition.

Part A Narration:

Narration carries the story. It moves the story from point A to Point B. It defines for the reader tense and voice. It moves your character or sets your character into a certain place and time. It functions to change the same for your character. Narration is the legs, feet and shoes of the prose.

Part B Description:

The very best fiction draws the reader into a state I like to call autopilot. Description causes a sensory experience for the reader. Good fiction causes a movie in the reader's head. This brings me to a vital point. Movies give us what? Sight and sound. that is all you get. However a gifted writer can take the reader to much deeper level. The reader can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. They can feel the gritty texture of sandpaper, taste the tangy sweetness of a Mango and smell sulfur from the smoke of an extinquished match.

Part C Dialogue:

Dialogue brings your character to life. We can tell the character's mood, intellect, ethnicity, mental status, and many other things. "Quid Pro Quo, Clarice, you tell me things and I tell you things. Enthrall me with your Acumen." Recognize it? What does it tell you about Dr. Hannibal Lector?

Part D Action:

The action that takes place can also help to define the character's mood and further our visualization. There is a couple golden rules to writing good fiction. 1. Write what you know, and for the purposes of part C, SHOW DON'T TELL. If I combine dalogue with action, I never have to say James was furious.

"Dammit Heather, I told you once already but I guess I have to repeat myself. We - are - through!" Throwing up his hands James stomped across the floor. His hands fought with the doorknob. The small glass unicorn given to Heather by her mother fell from the shelf as he slammed the door shut behind him.

Part E Thoughts:

Thoughts give readers extra sensory insight into the character's mind. Stuff we always wanted to know concerning our wives, husbands, or significant others - penney for your thoughts - Ok bad cliche.
In the case of furthering our character, thoughts are essential in some places because it gives personality to our character and insight to the reader. Thoughts sometimes contradict actions. In Stephen King's The Shining, King opens the story with the interview, and while his character Jack Torrence is putting his "PR smile" forth his thoughts give him away when King puts in italics Jack's thoughts of the hotel manager. "Officious prick!"

Part F Exposition:

In good fiction, you will find very little of this. Exposition is the systematic explanation of a subject. Think textbook type stuff. Occasionally the story has something in it that warrants a little exposition. In addition, while the literary and film world have avoided this because of the preset notion that readers and moviegoers alike want who dunnit not how dunnit the course of expostion changed with the CSI shows. But we don't want to let that carry us away in writing pages or even paragraphs of lengthy boring exposition just because we are afraid that our readers might not know a particular, say, psychological condition. In my story The Gemination Of Benjamin Lore, I have a protagonist, Benjamin Lore, whose mind is being possessed by his brother Dewey who suffers from some extreme kind of Akinesia or something. In other words Dewey is non-responsive and bedridden. Just lays there and drools. When Mr. Lore takes counselling sessions with his Psych Dr. Normer, the good doc thinks it is a psychological condition on Ben's part. An altered state of consciousness (ASC) subscale called dissociation in which the sufferer can actually experience alterations of identity, memory, and includes auditory hallucinations and sensations or impressions that some outside forces are acting on the person forcing or causing them to commit actions for which their own personality is not responsible.

You see the problem with presenting this important fact to the reader without boring them. So I worked it into the dialogue were Dr. Normer is explaining to Ben the condition. Of course, Ben is actually getting possessed by his brother who merely wants to experience life.

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