Author: Mel

“Hi. I am Melisha Childs and I am a screenwriter, blogger and author and you may know me primarily as the author of The Vital Sacrifice, under the pseudonym M. L. Childs. As you may know from my bio, my first passion is history but due to history’s objective nature, I was always yearning to know about history from a subjective point of view. In other words, I was less interested in the factual data and more interested in the passionate, real stories of what happened in the past which unfortunately is missing in history writing. As you will discover, most of my fiction writing is fused with history to give history more of an exciting and enriching experience that I so desire when I read history books.”

How Useful Are Your Post-It Notes?

Board Image with Post-It Notes ID © Roman Milert | Dreamstime.com 2609687

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

Do you use Post-It notes? I find them repulsive because even though they are meant to keep me organized, they end up looking like a bunch of colorful clutter with words on them that are obscure or obsolete once I go back to review them. Their original intended use may not work well for me, but I have discovered the perfect use for them within my writing process. I am currently working on the sequel to my novel, The Vital Sacrifice. I was pleased with the finished product of my first novel, but I admit that I wasn’t very organized in the writing process the first time around. Since I have many more books to research and write soon, I thought it would be a good idea develop a writing routine that I can apply to each of my projects so that I won’t get tangled up in the production process.

One way that I have planned to keep my book layout and writing plan on track is a technique that I learned in a screenwriting class. Excellent screenwriters (film writers) lay out their scenes using index cards. They usually lay the cards out on the floor or they may have a large cork board on which they pin the index cards.  This method of organization allows them to move scenes around easily if and when they need to make changes to the script before they start writing the screenplay.

While most screenwriters use the index card method, I have found that using the poster board and Post-It notes method is more convenient. I find this process very useful and satisfying because I can see everything that needs to happen in my book scenes laid out in front of me, similar to an outline. Unlike an outline, it is easier to move scenes around as I change my mind about the storyline. Also, having the Post-It notes on poster board is great because, as all you writers know, we need a change of scenery sometimes and this is a light, convenient thing to carry around the house or around the world.

I’m not sure what your approach to writing is but I usually start by laying my book out in acts or parts.  I create a Post- It for each of the acts and put those on the poster board.  From there, I start filling in scenes under each part.   I have moved scenes and gotten rid of them by just moving a Post-It note.  Once I am comfortable with all the things laid out in my acts, I then group scenes together to formulate a chapter.  But I loosely create chapters at this point because I don’t want to restrict my creative process too much. The goal with my poster board and Post-It note method is getting organized enough to avoid writer’s block.

How about you? What techniques do you use to keep yourself organized during the research and writing process? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image courtesy of © Roman Milert | Dreamstime.com 

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Do You Like Learning About and Discussing Unusual Topics?

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Follow the “Pondering the Obscure” blog and join the Facebook discussion group where we share and discuss topics including occult studies, secret societies, supernatural occurrences, ancient controversial knowledge, aliens and much more.

 

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Part I: Making of The Vital Sacrifice – The Invisible Race of Djinn

Image courtesy of © Ruslan Kokarev | Dreamstime.com # 11325218

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

When I stopped wishing I could be a writer and I actually sat down to write my first novel, The Vital Sacrifice, I decided that I wanted it to be a love story between my two main characters, Teresa McMillan and Ali Rahman.  My initial drafts set their love story in the past during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, but something kept urging me to make it a present-day tale. So, I put the drafts of their past romance aside and began working on their modern love story.

As I was formulating their contemporary romance, I was pleased with its development, but I felt that their past romance had relevance in my tale. How could I juxtapose a story set during the 1500s with the present-day?

That’s when a light bulb came on in my head.  As I pondered how to fit both tales into one storyline, I remembered that my favorite horror film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, tied in a historical love story between Count Dracula and Mina.  She and Dracula were lovers during 15th century Romania and they crossed paths again in late 19th century Victorian England.  Dracula was a paranormal entity who lived for many years feasting off the blood of humans which was how he was able to see Mina again.  I concluded that if I was going to weave Ali and Teresa’s past and present together, I would have to make Ali a paranormal character; however, I didn’t want to write a vampire tale.  I needed to create a unique paranormal love story that was different from what was already on the market.

I thought about using other paranormal creatures such as werewolves, zombies or ghosts but none of these inspired me.  The genie in the lamp tale intrigued me but I didn’t want my love story to be about Teresa rubbing a lamp and out comes Ali, the man of her dreams.  Since I was creating an adult love story, I didn’t want my tale to morph into a children’s novel by using the genie in the traditional sense that we are familiar with in western culture. Therefore, I had to reconstruct the whole idea of how we perceive genies in this culture.

When I researched genies, I discovered that they are much more than the playful entities that we see in Aladdin tales.  Eastern cultures, which refer to the genie as Djinn, have cunning and somewhat vicious interpretations of what these creatures are.  My research revealed that these entities exist in a world similar to our own but they are invisible to the human eye.  They also live much longer than humans and have different classifications ranging from the playful types that we see in Hollywood to much scarier ones.

After realizing that I didn’t have to stick to the genie in a lamp cliché, I begin to work diligently developing a genie that didn’t play by the rules of lamp enslavement and instead existed on his own terms.   My genie characters were half-men half-genies but live longer than their human counterparts.  This paranormal character was the glue that I needed to link Ali and Teresa’s past romance to the present one and this changed my story from a romance to a paranormal romance novel.

Follow this blog to learn more about how I developed the paranormal novel, The Vital Sacrifice.  

 

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Image courtesy of © Ruslan Kokarev | Dreamstime.com

Who is Chasing this Famous Singer?

Image of a woman being chased by a paranormal entity in an alley - The Vital Sacrifice Promotional ad

Renowned songstress, Teresa McMillan, has recurring nightmares about a creature who walks out of her dreams and into her waking life disguised as a gorgeous stranger by the name of Ali Rahman who wants to make her his.

 

Get your copy of this thrilling paranormal romance novel today!  Click the link below to buy, The Vital Sacrifice.  Don’t forget to follow my blog page and subscribe to my quarterly newsletter to learn about book giveaways and other freebies.

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Image composition courtesy of Scott Hill Design

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Disclaimer:  The woman’s image used in this post is a stock image and is used for promotional purposes only.  

Film Review From a Screenwriter’s Perspective – Us, Directed By Jordan Peele

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

When it comes to film, we screenwriters know or should have an idea of when things should take place within a film to keep the audience’s interest.  We refer to this as the story structure.  Directors that adhere to the story structure deliver an outstanding product.  Those that don’t tend to make us snooze or leave the theater.  As a screenwriter, I like to watch and review films from a screenwriter’s perspective to see if the movie plays by screenwriting structure rules.  This month, I am reviewing the film Us written and directed by Jordan Peele.

Act One 

Does the first act introduce us to all of the essential characters in the film including the hero?

Yes.  Act One introduces all of the people that we see for the rest of the film.  Adelaide Wilson is the hero.

What is the want and need of the hero?

Adelaide’s want is for all of the doppelganger class to be free.  Her need is for her to face her doppelganger and get rid of it once and for all and join the rest of the freed doppelgangers.

 

Inciting Incident 

Was there an inciting incident at least 10-15 minutes into the film?

Yes.  The inciting incident was when Adelaide wandered off from her parents while she was at the beach carnival and goes into “Merlin’s Forest – Find Yourself” hall of mirrors and sees a reflection of herself in the mirror that was her twin self.

 

Plot Point One and Act Two

How was the hero’s journey complicated?

Adelaide’s mission is complicated when the family shows up in the driveway.  This scene is plot point one and the introduction of Act Two.

 

Midpoint

What is the point of no return or what is dramatically different now?

The midpoint is when the family turns on the television and sees that this is no longer just their problem but a problem that everyone is having with their “tethered” selves.  The family realizes that there will be no one coming to save them and that they have to face these creatures themselves.

 

Plot Point Two

Is the hero’s journey complicated, even more, an hour and a half into the film?

Yes. When Adelaide’s doppelganger takes Adelaide’s son whom she vowed to protect, this raises the stakes, and she has to face her doppelganger fearlessly to save her son.  This scene is plot point two and the introduction of Act Three.

 

Act Three

Is the hero’s internal and external dilemma resolved?

Both the hero’s internal (need) and (want) external dilemma are resolved .  Adelaide realizes her external want for the doppelganger race to be free when we see all of the people in red holding hands across American in the same way that the eerie commercial alludes to in Act one.  Also, Adelaide fulfills her personal internal need when she defeats her twin and is finally “tethered” from her evil twin.

Theme

What seems to be the theme of the film?

The theme seems to be as follows:

In the U.S., everyone has an evil twin that is residing in dark, vacant caves, living terrible lives waiting for the opportunity to free themselves from bondage to kill and replace their twin so that they can live the perfect life that their good twin is living.

 

Overall Impression of the Film

All screenwriting technicalities aside, I think that Jordan Peele adheres to story structure very well.  He is both the writer and the director for the film, so this places him in a strong position to ensure that the storyline stays intact.  I was very impressed with how things unfolded and when they unfolded.  I felt that from a screenwriter’s point of view, he nailed this film in terms of sticking to the rules of screenwriting.

Many are talking about the confusion associated with the end of the movie; however.  For me, the only confusion I experienced was how the family would react to Adelaide being the true evil twin and their “real mother” being the one who was chasing them?  I guess this is what will lead us into a sequel.

Other things that people are talking about is the color red that the tethered class wore.  Jordan Peele seems to borrow this dominating color from the popular Hulu series, Handmaid’s Tale – played by Elizabeth Moth, the star of Handmaid’s Tale who also appears in Us as family friend, Kitty Tyler.  In Handmaid’s Tale, the red cloaks that the women wear represents their fertility.  I felt that the red in this film was chosen to represent the bloodshed that the tethered class would need to cause to be free.  The jumpsuits are similar to those that prisoners wear and seem to symbolize the fact that they are all united in bondage.  The red jumpsuits and the golden scissors seemed to go hand in hand symbolically representing the key to their freedom.

I’ve read where people are making comparisons of this film to Twilight Zone and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  While I can definitely see the comparison, this film reminded me of the Planet of the Apes because a lower life form is seeking to overtake the human race which is exactly what happens in Us.

Everyone also seems to be comparing this film to Jordan’s debut Get Out however, I don’t think there is a comparison.  It seems to me that Jordan is trying to build a portfolio of horror flicks that maintain his macabre style but are completely different from his hit thriller Get Out, which I think is a smart approach.   Avoiding being typecast as a certain type of director or writer will keep audiences wanting and wondering about what he will create next instead of assuming that they’ve seen all that there is to see with this developing director.

Will this film be Oscar-worthy?  It’s hard to say but if I were to choose a category that this film could be nominated for, it would be Best Story and Screenplay.  Will Jordan snag a win as he did for Get Out?  I guess we will have to wait until early next year when the Academy Awards air to find out.

 

 

Video courtesy of Youtube.com.

*Announcement* – Blog Schedule Deviation

Attention blog fans,

The blog schedule is slightly off-schedule.  I plan to post every first and third Wednesday of the month by 11:30 am.  However, the post that you will see tomorrow is a week late.  I will resume the regular posting schedule next week.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

 

Sincerely,

M. L. Childs Writer

 

 

 

*Announcement* New Blog Focus

I am happy to announce that my writer’s blog has shifted in a new direction!  I will still include my book promotions and advice for aspiring writers; however, my blog – which is now called “Pondering the Obscure Blog” – will include book and film reviews and topics that delve into occult studies, secret societies, supernatural occurrences, ancient controversial knowledge and much more.  Blog postings will be every first and third Wednesday of the month at 11:30.  Exceptions to this schedule will be announced.

 

Follow my blog page and also join the discussion on Facebook group where you will be free to share more of your own findings with the group.

 

 

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