By Jack Milgram of Custom Writing
From The Six Main Arcs in Storytelling, as Identified by an A.I. by Adrienne LaFrance, published in The Atlantic
Based on author Kurt Vonnegut’s 35-year-old master’s thesis that every story has a narrative shape, a group of researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide collected computer-generated story arcs for nearly 2,000 works of English language fiction and classified each into one of six core types of narratives based on what happens to the protagonist.
The researchers’ focus was on the emotional trajectory of a story, not merely its plot. They also analyzed which emotional structure writers used most, and how that contrasted with the ones readers liked best.
They used a collection of fiction from the digital library Project Gutenberg, they selected 1,737 English-language works of fiction between 10,000 and 200,000 words long.
Then, they ran their dataset through a sentiment analysis to generate an emotional arc for each work.
The most-prevalent six narratives the data revealed are:
1. Rags to Riches (rise)
2. Riches to Rags (fall)
3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)
4. Icarus (rise then fall)
5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)
6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)
So if you have the proverbial writer’s block consider one of the six narratives to free your story.
Kurt Vonnegut explains his thesis of the shape of the narrative.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reprinted with permission by Fiona Mcvie from her blog, Author Interviews.
By Fiona Mcvie
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from The Netherlands, I was born in a small village near Rotterdam.
Rotterdam has one of the biggest harbours in the world. It is said that the inhabitants are ‘born with rolled back sleeves’ – which means that everyone likes to work hard. That’s the spirit I like. I am a writer and work every day and never had a writer’s block.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Outer Banks Publishing Group, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, offered me a contract for my series of children’s books Saladin the Wonder Horse. Four books. The covers are already done. Everything looks splendid. This is what the stories are about:
England, the twelfth century:
Angie, a poor Saxon girl, looks after the horses of Lord Baltimore.
It is a rough time in England, where Prince John sits temporarily on the throne of his brother Richard the Lionheart.
The girl plunges into wild adventures when she tries to keep a colt out of the greedy hands of the prince. She meets a mysterious knight, who gives her his horse – Saladin, the black wonder horse.
With the two faithful animals, Angie manages to reach the camp of Robin Hood, bringing him an important message.
Silver, the colt she saved, learns quickly from the clever Saladin.
The exciting adventures of Angie, Silver, and Saladin come to a head as the girl resolves to outsmart Prince John.
And of course, she cannot achieve that without her special horses…and some very special friends.
I wrote dozens and dozens of scripts for comic magazines. The drawings were done by Spanish artists. The comics were published all over Europe: The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France… The main publisher asked me to write a series about horses. I came up with Saladin the Wonder Horse.
The publisher decided to print the books in Sweden. They came to The Netherlands by truck: 40.000 paperbacks!
Before Saladin the Wonder Horse, I had written another series for another publisher. The title of the series was Slimmetje, which means as much as ‘Smarty’. It was published by two different companies and more than 450.000 copies were sold in the Netherlands only!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I have always been interested in history. Saladin is a name you will find when you read about the crusades. Fascinating times. I created Saladin, a big black war horse, brought to England by a wounded knight. It is a true wonder horse and little Angie had to take care of him when the knight passes away.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
When you write books, you learn something every day. I often write fantasy, but the stories take place in a normal world. Sometimes in the present, sometimes in the past. Then you have to deal with lots of facts, you must know what you are writing about.
I could not have written Saladin the Wonder Horse without knowing about the middle ages.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Saladin the Wonder Horse would be a terrific film. The producers and the director must look for a clever girl who is able to ride a horse.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write children’s books and novels. More than often I write two books at the same time. Start writing at half past seven in the morning. All I need is one single idea – that is enough to start writing, I never know how it will end. There is chaos in my head and I need to put an avalanche of words on the screen of my laptop to clear up my thoughts. I feel free when a book is finished, but soon it starts all over again and I concentrate on writing new things. I have written over sixty different titles and hundreds of comic scripts, worked as a copywriter for a big agency, and wrote songs and plays. It just never stops and I am so grateful for that!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Love to travel. Mostly by car. From The Netherlands it’s easy to drive to Germany, Austria, Switzerland. But I don’t have to travel for my books. Been to New York – I was invited by Bill Thompson, the editor of the first books by Stephen King and John Grisham. That was a great experience.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
They were done by Maverick Book Services in the Philippines. Publisher Anthony Policastro and I instructed the artist and we received sketches and different ideas. We picked out the best designs. Isn’t that fascinating? I am in The Netherlands, my publisher in the USA, the cover artists in the Philippines and the Internet brings us together!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! The message in all of my books is simple: “I hope you will have a good time.”
What I write is pure entertainment. Of course, I have some interesting things to say as well, but that is not the main goal. I just hope that my readers (kids and adults) will enjoy my stories.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
At the age of 7. I filled a pile of notebooks. I was Europe’s youngest scenario writer for comics when I was only 16 and my first novel was published when I was 18 years old.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 16. I had three pages in a weekly for several years. It was fascinating to learn that so many kids in school bought the comics and read my stories.
“As a boy, I was, of course, not allowed to write too late at night. The bookkeeper of my father’s business knew I had that drive to write after midnight. He gave me a special old light bulb, that was used during the Second World War; lights were forbidden then, they could attract bombers. I used the bulb to write at night: a small beam shone down on my paper. Only I was able to see it. It was exciting to write my stories in the dark.”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I always mention Jack Vance when someone asks me about my favorite writers. He was such a good fantasy writer. And Edgar Allan Poe still fascinates me. He remains a mystery and some of his short stories are almost too scary to read…
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Will tell you a secret. As a boy, I was, of course, not allowed to write too late at night. The bookkeeper of my father’s business knew I had that drive to write after midnight. He gave me a special old light bulb, that was used during the Second World War; lights were forbidden then, they could attract bombers. I used the bulb to write at night: a small beam shone down on my paper. Only I was able to see it. It was exciting to write my stories in the dark. The old bookkeeper encouraged me to write my stories when I was still a kid.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do. I have always worked at home and could make money by being an editor and a copywriter and that gave me the opportunity to build a career as a writer. With ups and downs! Now I have found a home for Saladin the Wonder Horse and other series of children’s books. Signed a contract for twelve novels with Righter’s Mill Press, USA; they are the owners of Three Corners Entertainment for film and television and all titles are under contract with this film company as well.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the Saladin series?
Not as word. I always read my own work several times, because I write in Dutch and then have to translate it into English. During that process I can change the text as often as I wish. After the translation is done, I am satisfied and nothing had to be changed.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
One advice: Go Your Own Way. Which means read a lot, but never imitate your favorite writers; surprise the world with your own style. Every new writer has to find his way in the publishing world. It is not easy, but so what? If you want to become a writer, then write – as simple as that. When you think it is time, you should try and find an agent who is willing to help you.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Read the first book of the Saladin series: Saladin the Wonder Horse.
Adults, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers: buy it for your kid or grandchild. He or she will love it. Angie is a hero for girls. And the boys will especially like the brave boy, Joe, and his big brown bear Bruto! That is pure adventure!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge, from Marcus du Sautoy. A fascinating book about what we will (probably) never know.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
A Dutch journalist, Fije Wieringa, wrote about that in Penthouse:
“Once I asked the Dutch author Koos Verkaik, whose reputation in the Netherlands is similar to that of Stephen King, which book had influenced him the most in his life. Without losing a second he replied, ‘Alice in Wonderland, that is such a weird and scary book. A lot scarier than any of my own horror and ghost stories.'”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I seldom cry. Life itself makes me laugh, because it is a rather cruel joke; we have to deal with consciousness, we know that there is a beginning, there is an end… but I am a very optimistic man and I love to laugh every day.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Gerrit Jacobsz, an ancestor from 1720. He is my oldest known ancestor. In Holland, your second name is the one of your father: Jacobsz. It means ‘son of Jacob’. My full name is Jacobus Jan; I would love to shake hands with that man from 1720. I have a lot to tell him and who knows what he can tell me…
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play guitar. You can find me playing blues here:
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Play guitar in a blues band.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He refused to leave before the last word was written…
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Book 1: SALADIN THE WONDER HORSE
Angie looks after the horses of Lord Baltimore.
It is a rough time in England, where Prince John sits temporarily on the throne of his brother Richard the Lionhearted.
The girl plunges into wild adventures when she tries to keep a colt out of the greedy hands of the prince. She meets a mysterious knight, who gives her his horse—Saladin, the black wonder horse.
With the two faithful animals Angie manages to reach the camp of Robin Hood, bringing him an important message.
Silver, the colt she saved, learns quickly from the clever Saladin.
The exciting adventures of Angie, Silver, and Saladin come to a head as the girl resolves to outsmart Prince John.
And of course she cannot achieve that without her special horses . . . and some very special friends.
Book 2: SALADIN AND SILVER
Angie roams the country, that is reigned by the ambitious Prince John.
An encounter with a mysterious knight saddles her with an even mysterious horse: Saladin the wonder stallion. This horse reveals himself as the teacher of Silver, her own, silver colored horse. This way Silver becomes a wonder horse as well.
Angie has gone far away from Nottingham and the castle of the prince.
Of course she rides Silver. The beautiful horse is no longer a colt, hardly seems to feel the weight of the young girl and loves it to be together with her.
Again Angie meets the most odd people – a tinker, Joe and his bear Bruto and especially the spoiled Princess Wanda, daughter of Prince John, who is after her favorite horse! Angie has become an outlaw and a fugitive: she has to keep Silver out of the hands of the greedy princess!
Book 3: SILVER AND THE GHOST HORSE
Again Angie and her wonder horse Silver plunge into the most dangerous adventures. It all starts, when a sly councilor and a giant soldier decide to destroy the camp of Robin Hood. No one knows where to find that camp of Robin and his men. No one, except for… Angie! Soon everyone is looking for her and things don’t look good for the girl. But she can count on the help of Silver and Saladin and of her friend Joe and his bear Bruto. And another party is interested in Angie and Silver! A strange man, who calls himself Sultan! And where do these mysterious ghost horses come from? Angie and her horse stay tough. For together they are strong, together they stand tall in a land full of enemies and problems…
Book 4: THE JESTER OF NOTTINGHAM
Prince John reigns over England, now his brother Richard Lionheart is not there. He exploits the people and wears Richard’s crown. Everyone fears this mean prince. Except for men like Robin Hood and… girls like Angie!
Angie roams the country on the back of her wonder horse Silver and comes across the most odd persons. She runs into knight Rush and his little son Arthur, she meets a merry rat catcher en returns to the camp of Robin Hood. In the meantime Prince John organizes an election: the man who becomes the Jester of Nottingham, is allowed to reign the country for one week. He does not know that King Richard has set foot on English ground again! Angela knows where she can find the king and looks him up with Silver and the mighty Saladin…
And the king can use the help of Angie and her wonder horses!
Outer Banks Publishing Group recently signed a four-book contract with Scifi and children’s book author Koos Verkaik of The Netherlands.
Koos’ Saladin, the Wonder Horse, a four book series, is about a poor Saxon girl, who is given a special horse, Saladin, by a mysterious knight during the turbulent times in 12th century England during the reign of Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood.
The series will be published in early 2018.
Koos says he developed his own writing voice and that is what makes his books different, according to an interview with Circle of Books.
“My books are different from other writers, they are all typical ‘Koos Verkaik Books’. I love it to make the reader wonder what it is all about and where it will lead to. But I never liked books that end without the reader knowing what it was all about. Therefore I always come up with explanations. Why one should buy them? Buy one of my books and I take you by the hand, lead your through the most insane situations, you will have a great time and after having read the last word, you will say: “Yes, that was worthwhile!” Up to the next Koos Verkaik Book!”
Koos, a ‘Dutchy’ with spunk and an inexhaustible drive and fathomless imagination, is one of the most prolific authors of Scifi and children’s books in The Netherlands. His novels, All-Father and Wolf Tears, earned him the moniker, the Dutch Stephen King.
He wrote his first Scifi novel, Adolar, in a weekend when he was 18 years old and the manuscript was published shortly thereafter.
Koos has published over 60 books, both children’s books and novels, many hundreds of comic scripts, and he has worked as a copywriter. He is currently working on several screenplays and new novels.
His most recent interview can be read on authorsinterviews.
Alfred A. Knopf and Little, Brown and Company will jointly publish the novel, which represents a rare foray into fiction for a former president, according to the report published in The New York Times.
You can read the rest of the story in the Times here.
Outer Banks Publishing Group author Scott Fields’ novel, The Mansfield Killings, based on the true story of the horrific murders of the Niebel family in 1948, will be made into a major motion picture in 2018.
Produced by Forbidden Tears Productions of Waldron, Arkansas, the movie will be filmed in Waldron and on location in Mansfield, Ohio and at the historic Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) also in Mansfield, where the story started. The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One were also filmed at the reformatory.
Jennifer Anderson-Bounds, owner and producer Forbidden Tears Productions, was chosen as Female Producer of the Year 2016 and won the Humanitarian Award from WIND International Film Festival 2016. She was also awarded 2nd Place in Indie Film Festival 2015, along with a nomination for Best woman filmmaker 2015 in Barcelona.
Scott Field’s literary agency, Gilbert Literary & Film Agency International of New Zealand, secured the movie contract.
Scott, who was three years old when the killing spree occurred, said he had dreamed all his life of writing a story that would become a movie. When he heard about the murders, he became obsessed with writing the story into a novel and completed the manuscript in four months.
When asked about his reaction to the movie deal, Scott said,
“Without doubt this is probably the most fascinating and exciting thing to ever happen to me! When I was just a little boy, my parents took me to a movie, and instead of wishing that I could be an actor, I wanted to be the guy who wrote the screenplay. It was the beginning of a dream that has been with me for about 60 years. I am not talking about an occasional dream…it was with me practically everyday.”
“My mother was a great writer, but she never pursued her talent. I inherited it but being a Kmart manager and raising a family of three kids, I had no time to write even a short story. Then after 30 years in management, I became a common worker and began to write. After having a few short stories published, I decided that it was time to try writing a novel. Since then I have had 16 novels published, but the dream was still there.”
He said at times it was difficult to write the novel because the killings were so atrocious and brutal.
The Mansfield murders was the worst two-week killing spree in Ohio’s history. On the night of July 21, 1948, Robert Daniels and John West, former inmates at the Ohio State Reformatory, entered John and Nolena Niebel’s house with loaded guns. They forced the family including the Niebel’s 21-year-old daughter, Phyllis, into their car and drove them to a cornfield just off Fleming Falls Road in Mansfield. The two men instructed the Niebels to remove all of their clothing, and then Robert Daniels shot each of them in the head.
The brutal murders caught national attention in the media, but the killing spree didn’t stop there. Three more innocent people would lose their lives at the hands of Daniels and West in the coming week.
The two parolees were captured after a 14-day manhunt in Ohio when West attempted to shoot it out with police and sheriff’s deputies at a road blockade north of Van Wert, Ohio. West was killed by police and Daniels was captured, tried and convicted. He was executed in the electric chair on January 3, 1949.
Scott Fields tirelessly researched the killings, the capture and trial of Daniels and even interviewed a surviving member of the Niebel family to weave this tragic story bringing the reader back to those dark days in the summer of 1948. What led to these brutal killings, and why was the Niebel family singled-out to be savagely murdered? It has been more than sixty years since the tragedy, and, yet, this question still remains unanswered. The killing spree is not only remembered to this day, but is an important and dark part of Mansfield lore.
If you are ever in Mansfield, Ohio, be sure to tour the historic Ohio State Reformatory, the most haunted location in Ohio and one of the shooting locations of The Mansfield Killings.
Hauntings have been documented over the years by professional paranormal investigators and TV shows on the paranormal, including Syfy’s Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel’s popular, Ghost Adventures.
View the informative video about the OSR and its rich history.
Order a copy of The Mansfield Killings at our bookstore.
Outer Banks Publishing Group author Ron Rhody has agreed to serialize a few chapters of his newest novel, Concerning The Matter of The King of Craw, giving readers a sneak peak into his book based the real life of John Fallis, a legendary figure, who was like a Robin Hood in Frankfort, Kentucky during the Roaring Twenties.
Each week, we will present a new chapter here or you can read it on Ron’s blog. Here is the second chapter Ron released.
Sketch by Karen Piedmont of the “Craw” section of Frankfort, KY in the early twenties.
CONCERNING THE MATTER OF THE KING OF CRAW will be released Nov. 5, 2016 at the Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort, KY. You can pre-order a copy from our bookstore at the publisher’s pre-release price of $11.99.
By Ron Rhody
CHAPTER FOUR: RISE PEON
The day Tubby and his merry men would be expecting to collect their tribute, the day that would mark the start of my second full week of school in this town still strange to me, the day that would set the way my peers would think of me.
I knew they knew of Tubby’s shakedowns. They must have talked of it. The word must have gotten around. Not that they were likely to ostracize the timid and the weak among them. They’d just have no respect for them.
I understood that. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. To prove that you do, you can’t let others push you around.
While I was a boy, the only instruction I ever had in fighting came the afternoon Andy Charbonneau got beat up.
Jigger Swinson beat hell out of him. Jigger was the biggest and meanest boy in class.
We were playing marbles after school behind the swings. Jigger said Andy cheated. He grabbed Andy’s taw and wouldn’t give it back. Andy called him a liar.
“Don’t call me a liar you little bastard.” He took Andy apart.
When Andy couldn’t stand up any longer, Jigger kicked him in the side and walked away with Andy’s taw.
Jimmy D. and Winston and me helped him home. Andy’s dad, the guide, the elk hunter, was there. “What happened, boys” he said as he washed the blood from Andy’s face.
Mr. Charbonneau, Baptiste Charbonneau, was a cheerful man with an easy way and the build of a bear. His face was wind-burned and sunburned and his eyes crinkled at the sides when he smiled. No smiles now.
When we finished, Mr. Charbonneau said, “Did anybody help this Jigger Swinson beat on Andrew?”
He waited a moment or two, considering, then said, “I’m not for fighting, boys. But some things you can’t let pass.”
He looked around to each of us. “I want all you boys to pay attention to this.”
Another long pause, waiting to be sure we were listening.
“I don’t expect you to fight unless you have to. But from time to time you’ll have to. Life works that way.” He seemed saddened by that, but continued.
“If there’s going to be a fight, don’t stand around jawing. Don’t waste time pushing or shoving. Knock the sonofabitch down and stomp on him. Hit him as hard as you can! Go for the stomach. Knock his wind out. When he bends over to try to get a breath, hit him behind the head with both your hands locked together. When he falls, stomp on his hands so he won’t be able to hit again for a long time. Don’t give him any quarter. Don’t give him time to collect himself.”
Mr. Charbonneau was a respected man. He had to master the mountains. Sometimes had to master the egos of the swells who could afford his skills but who drank too much or wanted to take a calf for the meat when it was bulls only season and he wouldn’t permit it.
“Beat him so bad he’ll never want to fight you again,” he said. “Blow through him like a Maria and then stand over him and tell him if he ever sees you coming he damn well better get out of the way.”
We were gathered in his kitchen when he told us this. Andy was sitting on a stool by the sink with the bloodstained washcloth floating in the basin and we were ringed around him. Mr. Charbonneau was standing behind Andy with his hand on Andy’s shoulder.
“Understand, boys? Understand what I’m telling you? Don’t get caught up in ideas about fair fights. There are no fair fights. You hit first! Hit with as much force as you’ve got. Drop him down and stomp on him before he knows what’s happening. Make him never dare mess with you again.”
He ran his gaze over each of us, satisfying himself that we understood.
“Now, Andrew,” he said, moving around to stand in front of Andy. “I want you to go find this boy Jigger Swinson. I want you to give him that message. And I want you to get your taw back.”
He walked to the corner by the fireplace where he kept a staff that he used when he was scouting in the mountains, a long wooden staff of fire-hardened oak that had been shaved into round and varnished slick. He hefted it, swung it, slapped it against his open palm a couple of times, walked to the window and looked out. The afternoon was fading but there was still an hour or two to sunset. He walked back across the room to stand in front of Andy.
“This boy’s bigger than you. Take this to even that up. When you find him, don’t say anything.”
Mr. Carbonneau raised the staff above his head and swung it down in a sweeping arc.
“Smash him! Hit down, like you’re chopping a log. Hold the staff in both hands. Hit hard. Aim for a spot between the shoulder blade and the neck. Then switch your hold and swing like you’re hitting a baseball and hit him across the upper arm.”
He drew back, pivoted and stepped into the swing as if he expected to drive it out of the park.
“Then swing it down and bark his shins. Then stab it into his gut. When he falls, stand over him and jam the stick into his neck where the Adam’s Apple is. Not too hard. You’ll kill him if you press too hard.”
Mr. Charbonneau stood there, legs apart with the staff’s point shoved into the floor at his feet and him leaning into it, steel in his tone.
“Tell him give me back my taw. Tell him don’t you dare come at me again.”
He handed the staff to Andy. “Go now.”
And turned to us. We were breathless at what we’d seen, shocked at what we’d heard. “You boys go with him,” he said. “See that no one interferes.”
No one did.
Andy got his taw back.
Jigger Swinson didn’t mess with any of us again.
Tubby and his three merry men circled me when class let out for morning recess.
“Pretty boy, pretty boy, we’re waiting for you. It’s Monday morning and tribute is due.”
They were standing by the outside water fountain. You had to pass it on the way to the playground. Tubby made his little sing-song chant loud enough to be heard by those who were passing. Most of the class knew what to expect. They didn’t stop as they passed but began to gather in little groups just far enough away to be close enough to watch.
The morning was chilly. Tubby had on knickers again and a neatly knotted tie and a button- up sweater, with hair slicked back and an arrogant smile. He stood hands on hips, looking big and threatening. The three merry men grinned at each other.
He held out his right hand, palm up, smirking. I smiled right back and drove my fist into his gut with all the force I had. Tubby’s eyes widened. He folded over, gasping, and I hit him behind the neck with my interlocked hands. He splayed out flat, almost bouncing off the concrete pavement at the base of the fountain. I let him lay gasping for a minute, then rolled him over and knelt down with my knee in his chest. I grabbed his tie and forced his gagging face up to look me in the eyes. The surprise on his face was deeper than the pain.
“Wha….” he tried say but he was fighting too hard to breathe.
I tightened my grip on his tie. “Tubby, the peons have risen,” I said.
I dropped him down then and rose to deal with the merry men. But there was no need. Lucas was standing behind me, protecting my back.
Across the schoolyard kids were running in to get closer.
Tubby was still on his back gasping for breath. The merry men seemed dazed. Lucas nodded his head toward Tubby and said to them, “Your little shakedown is over, boys. I wouldn’t try it again or pretty boy might get mad. Now pick your friend up, clean him up, and get out of here.”
Then he turned to me laughing and shaking his head said, “Where’d you learn that!”
(more to come)
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