C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

July 2013

Small, in a Big Way

My mother made dolls and my father built dollhouses and together they created some amazing miniatures, but as elaborate as their designs were, they never came close to this.

Kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, and more ∨

Browse living room ideas, from a sectional couch to chandelier lighting and floor reading lamps, for your next interior design project.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

Feel the Sensation

I saw this video on haptic technology on Slashdot this morning. Disney has created a device that allows you to feel air movement when using motion control gadgets.

It’s not pretty - but that’s right now. How long can it possibly take for this to show up on store shelves for consumers’ personal use.

Thrillerfest 2013

Alexandra Sokoloff
Alexandra Sokoloff

I just got back from
Thrillerfest 2013, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, where I picked up a lot of great information. It was my 7th Thrillerfest and I always learn something new.

One session, given by thriller writer Alexandra Sokoloff, discussed how novelists can adapt a formula used for TV and film scripts to their books - to keep readers hooked. She was a great instructor, and I’d like to share the highlights of her lecture.

Most films and TV shows follow the same type of plot point outline that divides a story into eight sequences. Each block should end with a mini climax - it could be a bold statement made by a character, or something as simple as asking an unanswered question; having a phone ring; or a knock on the door (on TV, is usually comes right before a commercial break). The key is to keep the audience/reader wondering what happens next. This works for a half hour sit-com, a 1-hour drama, or a 2-hour film. For a 400 page book, a sequence would cover about 50 pages.

Sequence 1

Call to adventure

Seq. 1 mini-climax @15 minutes


Sequence 2

The status quo has changed

Seq. 2 mini-climax @30 minutes

ACT 2:a
Sequence 3

The hero devises a plan

“hero is winning”

Seq. 3 mini-climax @45 minutes

ACT 2:a

Sequence 4

Something goes horribly wrong

“game changer”

Seq. 4 mini-climax @ 60 minutes


Sequence 5

The hero is tired and depressed and losing hope

Seq. 5 mini-climax @75 minutes

ACT 2:b
Sequence 6

All is bleak

“worst moment”

Seq. 6 mini-climax @90 minutes


Sequence 7

The hero takes a stand…

“Storm the castle”

Seq. 7 mini-climax @105 minutes


Sequence 8

Hero faces greatest nightmare

“new way of life”

Sequence 8 Climax @120 minutes

Is this formula written in stone? Probably not for established writers who know when and why to break the rules; but if you’re just starting out, you may want to stick with it. Just tweak the times of the mini-climaxes to coincide with the length of your book.

Same old, same old...

I saw this quote online and it made me feel guilty. I’ve been going through my manuscripts trying to route out weak verbs, but I doubt I’ll ever be perfect. I know that because I used one of the following offenders in my first sentence.

“Most people use twenty verbs to describe everything from a run in their stocking to the explosion of an atomic bomb. You know the ones: Was, did, had, made, went, looked… One-size-fits-all looks like crap on anyone. Sew yourself a custom made suit. Pick a better verb. Challenge all those verbs to really lift some weight for you.” — Janet Fitch