It’s been almost a month since I posted what I’ve been reading. Sixty plus hours a week down the word mines made it challenging to find time to read. But now that I’m heading for a holiday in T minus two hours, I thought I’d line up my next read.
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My Last Reads
Trough of Hell
Last time, I shared that I was starting the third book in H. R. D’Costa’s Story Structure Essentials Series. I mistakenly assumed that the book was aimed at screenwriters and novel writers, like the previous two instalments–my fault for not paying attention to the description. Alas, this one is aimed at screenwriters, but don’t let that put you off reading this superb book.
I started out screenwriting long before turning to fiction writing, and I think learning storytelling for a visual market helped solidify my skills. The thing is, no matter what medium you’re writing for, story doesn’t change. The structure is the same. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
This book focuses on the end of the middle (end of Act 2–or end of Act 2B if you like screenwriting terminology), where the hero’s plans are falling apart, and his life has mostly turned to shite.
For a romance, the super-basic structure is as follows:
Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back.
The trough of hell is when “boy loses girl” happens. In the romance writing world, it’s known as The Dark Night of the Soul (I love that name!). So, the couple breaks up, and in some shorter contemporary romances, that’s enough for the story’s trough of hell, but for most others, not so much.
A break-up isn’t close to enough in a romantic suspense novel (*cough cough* I’ve just finished mine 😜 ). The hero and heroine need to suffer, like really suffer. And that’s where this book comes in handy as a reference guide–and a source of dastardly inspiration.
There’s not a list of things to do to your character, like throwing him off a cliff. It’s a list of seven major trough types. A break-up would fall under trough #5 Social Alienation, as would partners falling out in a buddy cop story. The major troughs aren’t standalone things; you can weave multiples together to really screw over your characters. But only if those troughs ring true and authentic to the characters and the story you’re writing.
Like all of HRD’s books, this one is full of excellent examples from well-known movies. And that fact is why I always come back to her books. I learn best from example, and she over-delivers in that department. I highly recommend adding this book to your writer’s toolkit.
Trough of Hell on Kindle (£6.99)
Trough of Hell on Kobo (£6.99)
This Week’s Read
As my holiday starts in the next hour or so, I’ve decided to treat myself and dive into the second book in Anne Stuart’s Ice Series.
Cold As Ice
Description from Kobo
The job was supposed to be dead easy—hand-deliver some legal papers to billionaire philanthropist Harry Van Dorn’s extravagant yacht, get his signature and be done. But Manhattan lawyer Genevieve Spenser soon realizes she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that the publicly benevolent playboy has a sick, vicious side.
As he tries to make her his plaything for the evening, eager to use and abuse her until he discards her with the rest of his victims, Genevieve must keep her wits if she intends to survive the night. But there’s someone else on the ship who knows the true depths of Van Dorn’s evil. Peter Jensen is far more than the unassuming personal assistant he pretends to be—he’s a secret operative who will stop at nothing to ensure Harry’s deadly Rule of Seven terror campaign dies with him.
But Genevieve’s presence has thrown a wrench into his plans, and now he must decide whether to risk his mission to keep her alive, or allow her to become collateral damage. . . .
Cold As Ice on Kindle (£2.49)
Cold As Ice on Kobo (£2.99)
What are you reading this week?
Until next time, take care, and happy reading!
4 thoughts on “What I’m Reading 9th May”
That first book looks like a potential saviour from the dreaded ‘soggy middle’!
Oh, it really is, Chris. I’ve used a lot of HRD’s suggestions, some naturally, others through seeing the potential and working them in. The middle of my story doesn’t drag, like I’d feared it might, and it’s not bloaty either. 👍
A happy holiday to you and Jez, Susan!
Enjoy reading Anne Stuart.
The first book might go on that reading list I don’t have… 😁
Thanks, Stefanie! Jez told me say thank you from him, too 😊
Oh, Trough of Hell is amazing. I’ll be re-reading it before I outline my next book.