Sunday, June 6, 2021

A Visit to A Faraway World

Writing one book can be challenging, but think about those authors who write a series! It means not simply one commitment, but several -- to characters to plot to coming up with distinctive stories that all work together. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is Lyndi Alexander who has written several series. She says she always dreamed of faraway worlds and she has made them come alive in her stories.. 

She tells us she lives as a post-modern hippie in Asheville, North Carolina and is a single mother of her last child of seven, a daughter on the autism spectrum. She says she finds that every day feels like first contact with a new species. Since she has written a number of series, and I am currently teaching a writing class on how to write a series, I asked her to answer a few questions on this difficult endeavor as she tells us about her latest book.

What is the most challenging thing about writing a series? 

I find that the hardest thing for me is to begin the second book or third book with enough information for a new reader to get into the story, without over dumping info. An author can never know whether the person who picks up the book knows anything about the rest of the series. I’ve managed it so far by switching to a more objective third party as first-chapter narrator. That narrator can put their own spin on what’s happened so it’s not just regurgitation. 

How do you keep track of all your plotlines and your characters?

While the overarching stories of a series may continue through consecutive books, I try to have each book wrap up some part of the situation. For example, in the Horizon Crossover series, HORIZON SHIFT is the story of Captain Rogers’ arrival into a new universe via wormhole, and what he needs to do to refurbish his ship and rebuild his crew. HORIZON STRIFE goes on with his struggle to fit in the new place he’s found and his run-ins with the government Agency and the mysteries of the Ancients. HORIZON DYNASTY allows both stories to wrap up as well as various triumphs of minor characters in furtherance of their own destinies. This keeps me from having to remember everything about everyone and keep the drama active throughout multiple books.

I then had an idea using a few of the tangential characters in the trilogy, and thus we have SIXSHOOTER, which is part of the series by virtue of having a similar setting of the star system in which all these characters operate. The action happens somewhat simultaneously.

What is most rewarding about writing a series?

Definitely I think that readers enjoy a series—continuing to discover more about the characters and their adventures. It is a self-fulfilling way for your audience to stick with you. When I first got into reading science fiction, I picked up one of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight books. She created so many of these (followed up by her son) that I had steady reading material for years. Plus, as an author, it grants your wish to keep on with people you’ve loved to create. It’s hard for me to let go of my favorites!

Let's hear more about  Sixshooter:

Valeni Pascual wants to be free to make a living hauling cargo with her spaceship and to understand the shapeshifting alien who presents sometimes as the steamy male Nik and other times as the blonde bombshell Nikki.

As a rebel insurgence builds against the oppressive government known as the Agency, Valeni and Nik/Nikki encounter a sexy Terran cowboy named Garrett Rawls. Since being pulled into this region of space by another mysterious wormhole, Garrett has looked for a way to return to Earth. After meeting Valeni and Nikki, he might have found something worth staying for.

 However, dark forces may have a much bigger picture in mind for all of them. Valeni, Nik/Nikki, and Garrett are pulled into a life and death fight that lays bare all of their secrets and their desires. Will they lose everything as the battle against the Agency rages around them or can love pull them through?

SIXSHOOTER [©2021] A Horizon Crossover series novel by Lyndi Alexander | Cover Art by Kat Hardy | Science Fiction Romance (R) 280 pages / 100,000 words | Available in ebook and print from the DFP Books label of Dragonfly Publishing

Print editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. Find ebooks at retailers, lending libraries, and subscription services, including: Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Blio, Kobo Books, Open Library, Overdrive, Scribd, Smashwords, and more.

 If  you would like to know more about Lyndi and her books, here is her contact information and where you can buy her books: 

Author Links

Website  and Blog            https://lyndialexander.wordpress.com/

Facebook                            https://www.facebook.com/lyndialexander13/

Goodreads                          https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4185290.Lyndi_Alexander

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/Lyndi-Alexander/e/B005GDYPU2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Bookbub:                             https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lyndi-alexander

Smashwords | Lyndi Alexander    https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lyndialexander

 Thank you, Lyndi, for being my guest today. Our cats send their best to all your cats!  Any questions or comments for Lyndi?

Monday, May 31, 2021

Writing through the Summer

This has been a trying year for all of us. With Co-Vid changing our lives so drastically, sometimes it feels like our whole world has moved to another universe. It can be hard to write in our pretend world when the world we live in seems more like fiction than reality. And that can lead to a problem that hits all of us at one time or another as writers. Sooner or later we hit the wall with our writing and we suffer through that old , well-known, feared syndrome called “writer’s block.”  We fear it, we try to hide from it, we fight it, but more often we give in to it.

So what do you do when it hits you?  Do you fight it? Do you give in to it? Lots of people say they know when it hits them and they try to shrug it off and get back to their writing.  For others those blank, empty days of staring at the computer screen or playing games or just ignoring the latest work can start to pile up until they fear they will never write again. It's even worse when the world around is also a little different than the world we had a year and a half ago, and we are very uncertain about the future.

When writer’s block visits me, I try not to give in, but with each passing day I don’t write I find the fear that I’ll never write again. That in itself can drive me back to the keyboard to prove that I can still tell a story, whether it’s a fiction work, or just a blog on not being able to write.

Here are some ideas for coping with writer’s block:

1.      Write something – anything – this is something I usually try first. If I find myself unable to face my characters and my latest stories, then I do work on a blog or try writing a lecture for one of my writing classes.  Sometimes by doing that I find new inspiration for the fiction story I am working on. Often when teaching a writing class I find that reading over what some of those other students are doing makes me want to work on my own writing.

2     Look over old stories – this is always a good way to get something finished. By reading an old story that I started several months ago, I find myself with new ideas that I hadn’t thought of before – maybe even something that had given me writer’s block and stopped me back when I was working on this story. If there is something that was stopping me in my current story, I can just set it aside and work on those old things and maybe get something done. Usually finishing a work will propel into the next book or story. I've been doing that anyway this month as I work on edits for the sequel to my book Dead Man's Rules. I just signed a new contract with my publisher, The Wild Rose Press,  for the second book in that series so I am going back through not only the first book, but my ideas for a third book to finish off the trilogy. 

3.      Get away from your desk and try write somewhere else – a change of scenery can be like a breath of

fresh air. Sometimes just sitting at your desk every day can seem like drudge work. I am a big fan of going to a restaurant or coffee shop with a note book and writing long hand for a while. Then when I go back to my computer and transcribe the pages it spurs me on. Of course I have also been known to take my computer to a library or coffee shop to write. Sometimes the change in scenery and just getting away from the house can spur creativity.  These days that choice may be dicey, but since the weather is so nice as we head toward summer, it might be a good time to try a park, or even sitting outside in the backyard with your computer. I've often done that. Fall is best for me, but summer evenings outside or even in the shade can be great!

4.      Try a plotting brainstorming session – I love to do this with friends or a writing group. We will sit and toss story ideas around and I either jot them down or put them into the notes feature of my iphone. That way I have the ideas to refer back to later. I use this especially if I run into a knotty plotting problem that needs extra help. People love to play with story ideas when they don’t have anything invested other than offering their opinion.

5.      Have a dialogue with characters – sometimes I realize that my characters are either not fully formed or I don’t know them as well as I thought I did so they are refusing to take those next plot steps. That can lead to a dead stop to the plot. I just can get that next scene written. Often a little conversation with those characters can pull out a new idea or make  me realize just what is ailing that character. Then after a while I find myself getting back on track.

Sometimes it just takes getting away from things for a while. I will put something down and let it sit. Sooner or later those characters will start yelling and I’ll have to come back and finish their stories.  I’m never sure what stops me from writing, but I know any or all of these things can pull me back. Sooner or later that will lead to THE END getting written!

These days some of these techniques can work and can even be stress relievers as well. After all, in the world you are creating at the keyboard, YOU know what will happen. You are setting the boundaries and getting to make all those decisions. It's YOUR world and YOU are fully in charge!  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A New Beginning

Today's guest in My Writing Corner is one of those writers you always want to meet because they always seem to be on the go. Whether it's a new project or a teaching experience, well, she always seems to be busy in the writing world--so busy she works under several names.  

BETH HENDERSON tells us that she spent a dozen years writing and rewriting the same three books during the 1980s. Well, all those rewrites did pay off with a romance spinning career that is now 31 years long. 

Contemporary romantic-comedy and 19th century historical romantic adventure are her forte. In writing

historical fiction, in particular, she tells us that she likes to add mystery, which which her new book, Until . . . clearly shows. 

As J.B. Dane she writes urban fantasy PI mystery comedy. As Nied Darnell it's Weird West Steampunk, 1920s Dieselpunk adventure comedy, and 1880s Victorian Gaslamp mystery comedy. 

As Beth Daniels she is a frequent online fiction writing workshop presenter with Savvy Authors and various RWA online chapters. This month she celebrates 31 years since her first novel was published. Until . . . is her 30th romance but the 32nd published title. There are already three other completed manuscripts waiting for their turn in the spotlight.

When Talmadge Hammond drifts into the Idaho mining camp he has no intention of using his law degree. He’s there for whiskey and the gold he can win at cards. Instead, he must save the life of the woman who’d once vowed to love him until…


Noletta Kittridge begins that day covered in a man’s blood and accused of murder. She has sinned to stay alive. Redemption can come only by giving her life to save the person who accidentally killed the man. Even Tal’s reappearance in her life can’t revive Letty’s will to live.

Determined to keep her from the hangman’s noose, Tal must either convince her to tell who did kill the victim or solve the mystery himself. If he fails, he and Letty will finally reach that unvoiced destination beyond until…

Want more?  I did, so I asked Beth if I could interview Talmadge. He sounds like one of those characters we won't soon forget.

What do you want most out of life?  (what is your current goal?) 

Once I would have said what I wanted my life to be would have been a successful life as a lawyer in Boston that included a wife I couldn't wait to go home to and probably children. Then I met Noletta Kittridge and fell in love. The career was going great but her parents were holding out for a son-in-law from their own level in society, not some nobody from a small town who was making waves in Boston's legal circles. Then the war came and rather than get swept up in a conflict where I didn't agree with either side, I left Boston, headed for Canada and points west. Letty lacked the courage to run away with me though she told me she'd love me "until..." Two years have gone by since then. Thought I'd never see her again. Then I walked into a scraped together mining camp in Idaho Territory and there she was -- freshly covered in a man's blood and accused of murder. What I want most out of life right now is to prove her innocent and save her life.

What frightens you most about being involved with ??(the heroine/hero) 

What scares me most is the fact that I know she knows the identity of the real killer and won't give their name up to save herself. If I can't sort through what facts I've gathered and discover the name on my own, Letty goes to the gallows and I'll be helpless as so-called justice is delivered.

What do you find most appealing about her/him?

As irritating as it is considering the herculian job ahead of me, I can't help but admire her gumption in being ready to sacrifice herself for someone who, although they shot a man dead, she believes has more reason to want to live than she does and isn't giving them up. Back in Boston, it was her beauty, her spirit, her intelligence that I admired. But this is a different woman, one who has gone from the heights in Eastern society to surviving in the wilderness by joining the only profession open to her, that of a soiled dove. It's forged a new element in her makeup, one that was probably lacking in it before. Yeah, it irritates the hell out of me, but it also makes me damn proud of her. 

Thank you, Talmadge, and a big thank you to Beth for introducing us to her latest book! If you want to know more about her and her latest work, here are the links:

Website: 4TaleTellers.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/BethHendersonBooks

Twitter: @Beth__Henderson

Buy Links: 

Amazon https://amzn.to/32tl2xA

BnN https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/until-beth-henderson/1138919963?ean=2940162596769

Apple https://books.apple.com/us/book/until/id1556173060  

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/until-4

Again, thank you for being my guest.  Are there any questions or comments or questions for Beth?

 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Stop at The Inn

 I always enjoy finding new writers to invite to visit My Writing Corner, and I'm even more pleased when I can discover a writer who lives in  the one place I would move to if given the opportunity. Gabbi Grey  is the guest this week and while she lives in British Columbia, her new story is set at a location far from there, but one that is another favorite place for me -- the Deerbourne Inn in Vermont. 

Gabbi lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black.

Let's get a look at her newest work, If Only for Today.

Jared Langford is a happy man. The desk clerk at the Deerbourne Inn knows everyone in his cozy town in Vermont. He is accepted and loved by the community, but he's missing someone special in his life.

Devastating news has brought journalist Xander Fortier to Willow Springs( for some much-needed rest. He's photographed every major conflict in the world for the last ten years, but being stateside has forced him to reassess the solitary life he's been living.

Something in Xander's gruff demeanor calls to Jared's caring nature. Soon the men are spending time together, but Jared's kisses might not be enough to keep Xander from leaving. Can the men find a happily ever after if they only have today? 

Want more?  Let's talk to these fascinating characters. We'll start with Jared.

What are you looking for in life?   

To make those around me happy.  I greet each new guest with a huge welcom

e and a genuine smile.  I love my job at Deerbourne Inn.  But that infectious cheeriness extends beyond my work.  I do my best to make my boss Nathan and my co-worker Liz smile.  I love hanging with my friends, often inviting them over to my place for movies and cooking for them.  I even adopted an older formerly feral cat and gave him a place to rest before he passed.  Mephistopheles was a tough nut to crack,:but by the end he was willing to let me pet him and comfort him.  I miss that companionship.  I think I need to adopt another animal.  Or I might even bring home a world-weary award-winning photojournalist with shadows in his eyes.

 What do you fear most?

 Losing someone I love to illness and death.  I suffered a great loss back in my early teens, and as much as I tell myself I’m over it, it still haunts me.  I still think about that person all the time.  I know she would want me to move on, but I’m so scared to lose another person.

Now let's talk to Xander:

What frightens you about Jared?     

His naïveté.  The guys I’ve been with before?  Rough like me.  World-weary like me.  Cynical like me.  Jared has this rosy view of the world – like everybody is redeemable and life is amazing.  But then…there are moments where I can see he’s suffered pain, and although he hides it from everyone, he can’t hide it from me.  But am I the man to help him finally acknowledge and cope with that pain?  I’m not sure. 

What do you want most in life?

For my work to matter.  I’ve been around the world, many times, shooting photographs of the aftermath of war.  The awards are nice, for sure, but it’s hearts and minds.  I want people to see my shots and decide to intervene.  Decide that enough is enough and the suffering has to end.  It’s happened a few times, but I’m afraid this sidelining may become permanent.

To make those around me happy.  I greet each new guest with a huge welcome and a genuine smile.  I love my job at Deerbourne Inn.  But that infectious cheeriness extends beyond my work.  I do my best to make my boss Nathan and my co-worker Liz smile.  I love hanging with my friends, often inviting them over to my place for movies and cooking for them.  I even adopted an older formerly feral cat and gave him a place to rest before he passed.  Mephistopheles was a tough nut to crack, but by the end he was willing to let me pet him and comfort him.  I miss that companionship.  I think I need to adopt another animal.  Or I might even bring home a world-weary award-winning photojournalist with shadows in his eyes.

What do you fear most?

Losing someone I love to illness and death.  I suffered a gross back in my early teens, and as much as I tell myself I’m over it, it still haunts me.  I still think about that person all the time.  I know she would want me to move on, but I’m so scared to lose another person.

Now let’s talk to Xander:

What frightens you about Jared?     

His naïveté.  The guys I’ve been with before?  Rough like me.  World-weary like me.  Cynical like me.  Jared has this rosy view of the world – like everybody is redeemable and life is amazing.  But then…there are moments where I can see he’s suffered pain, and although he hides it from everyone, he can’t hide it from me.  But am I the man to help him finally acknowledge and cope with that pain?  I’m not sure. 

What do you want most in life?

For my work to matter.  I’ve been around the world, many times, shooting photographs of the aftermath of war.  The awards are nice, for sure, but it’s hearts and minds.  I want people to see my shots and decide to intervene.  Decide that enough is enough and the suffering has to end.  It’s happened a few times, but I’m afraid this sidelining may become permanent.

Let's get an excerpt:

“You said something about photographs.” With his gaze, Jared indicated the collection.

“No big deal.”

“Are you kidding?” His voice rose in anticipation. “I get to see some of the unpublished photographs of the Xander Fortier, and you think I’m going to pass up that opportunity? Uh, no way. You promised.”

How could he refuse that enthusiasm? Ugh, he hated watching others scrutinize his work. Usually he was halfway across the globe when his boss decided which picture worked best with the story being told. Heck, if he was without good internet, he might not know until days later which shot had been selected. Or if one had been used at all. Despite the importance of the foreign beat, domestic issues would always take precedence.

Jared pointed to one. “I haven’t seen this one before.”

A black-and-white photo of a young girl, no more than five years old, clinging to her mother’s body.

“Shelling in Aleppo. I came across them after the dust had settled, so to speak. The mother, or at least I assumed she was the mother, had died and the daughter just sat there. She wasn’t crying, wasn’t moving. She saw me and pointed to her mother. I took a couple of pictures and went looking for someone to help. I later saw her being loaded on a bus heading to a refugee camp.

“I wound up there a few days later and I tried to find her, but the place was massive. Thousands of people. I often wonder what happened to her. I mean, did she find other family, or did she simply become a war orphan? Did someone care for her? Were her needs met? So few countries take refugees, there’s a good chance she’ll grow up in that camp.”

He shuffled through and found another photo. Three young children sitting outside a tent. “Their mother was inside giving birth. They sat patiently while listening to her scream.” He pressed a finger to one of the boy’s faces. “They didn’t even seem perturbed. It was like this was a normal everyday occurrence.”

Jared’s face was devoid of color. “I can’t even imagine.”

Want more?  Here's how you can get Gabbi's new  story:

 Amazon US:  https://amzn.to/3fOsviy

Amazon CA:  https://amzn.to/31LG1LP

KOBO:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/if-only-for-today

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-only-for-today-gabbi-grey/1138919955

iBooks:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/if-only-for-today/id1556170342

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gabbi_Grey_If_Only_for_Today?id=hEonEAAAQBAJ

Publisher:  https://www.thewildrosepress.com/book-post/if-only-for-today

Add it to Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57730616-if-only-for-today

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/If-Only-Today-Deerbourne-Inn-ebook/dp/B08XTNZ2K5

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/If-Only-Today-Deerbourne-Inn-ebook/dp/B08XTNZ2K5

 And if you would like more information on Gabbi and her work, here is how to get in touch with her: 

Website: https://gabbigrey.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gabbi-grey

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15456297.Gabbi_Grey

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Gabbi-Grey/e/B07SJVFX1M

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorgabbigrey/

Facebook (page): https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGabbiGrey

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabbiGrey

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/gabbigreyauthor/

Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009821772591

Any questions for Gabbi?  Thank you for being my guest today



Friday, May 7, 2021

Setting the Proper Pace

Over the years as I’ve taught classes on writing, I’ve had writers ask me how to set the right pace in a book.  Pacing can be one of those elusive things we all want as writers, but it’s not something we necessarily consider as we write the book.  To me, the story needs to flow naturally. For writers who carefully plot, pacing might be easier because you’ve already set down the guidelines for the story. 

When you write organically or by the seat of you pants, the story just flows as you write, so you might not think about whether or not you are setting the right pace. But no matter what kind of a writer you might be, you will want your story to move in a steady rhythm that ebbs and flows. My writing style has evolved over the years, but for the most part, I have always written off the top of my head. All my outlines and plans go right out the window the minute the words start going onto the written pages.

First, you want to get your book off to a good start. Readers need to be pulled into the story
and want to continue reading or they are going to simply stop. For instance, in my book, Desert Blossom, I start off with my character hitting a jackpot in a Las Vegas casino. Her life will never be the same... or will it?  The winning jackpot i the catalysis that gets her story going. In my story The Problem, I started with a woman facing an old love  for the first time in years at a class reunion.

But the story can't stop there. You also want it to move along in a steady stream of action

elements though you also don’t want to wear out the reader immediately. You also want or need those slower, reflective and internal elements to keep it from making the reader feel out of breath.

Let’s look at some of the various things to consider as you read your finished product or that you can look over as you write your book and consider its pacing.

 Here are twelve steps to take during revision and editing to check your pacing.

--Have someone else read through your book and see if they find places where they think the pacing is slow. Why do they consider it slow? Is it a matter of too much exposition? Is it flabby construction with too much description or saying the same thing more than once? Watch for repetition as you edit. Are you saying the same thing either through your phrasing or raising a point too many times? Are you being repetitious in your dialogue? If you find yourself repeating something too often, or even using the same words over and over, look for ways to edit that part out or remove those repetitious words.

--Read passages aloud yourself. I started doing this as a newswriter years ago because I needed to know how my words would sound coming out of an anchorman or reporter’s mouth. I didn’t want them tripping over a sentence when they were live on the air. But as a book author, I still often find myself reading passages out loud I did it as I wrote this blog. For one thing, you can hear whether the dialogue works, but it can also help with pacing. Is a sentence too long when spoken? Does the sentence make sense? Reading also is also great at finding typos in the manuscript 

--Watch for those long periods of backstory. If you glance at your printed manuscript pages and you spot page after page of backstory or introspection, STOP! Go back and change things. Nothing slows down a story more than long paragraphs of something that happened in the past but that contains no current movement.

--Remember not to put too much backstory up high in your book. Pull your reader in first and then sprinkle backstory in throughout the book instead of lumping it all in one place as a big information dump.

 -- Watch for too many long paragraphs of introspection. Just like backstory you want to keep these at a minimum and sometimes while you are writing you forget you put them there. If you start going through the pages later you will spot those long paragraphs or you will notice several pages without dialogue and you can go back and fix things.

 --Go through your dialogue too--and for certain do at least that part out loud. Does it move the story along or is it a repetition of something you’ve already said in narration or description.

--L:ook at your tags, are they action filled? Do you vary them? Some writers swear by using only action tags rather than he/she said, but even too many of those action tags can grow cumbersome and wear you out. It’s better to intersperse them. At times your dialogue works better with action tags and in other instances you might want to just use he/she said. And at times you won’t want to use dialogue tags at all.

In a future blug, I’ll take a look deeper into the pacing process as we look at setting up scenes and the opening and closing pages designed to get the story started, keep it moving and then leave your reader wanting to buy more of your books!. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

A Journey to Another Time, Another Place

When I first  began reading romance novels many years ago, historical romances were my first choice. I enjoyed not only getting away from the real world into a realm filled with romance, but I also loved being placed in a different time in some many different settings. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is here to take us away to another world and another time.  

Author Kathy Otten is a book coach, and developmental editor. She lives in the rolling farmland of
Western New York.
 Her novels and short stories are filled with wounded heroes and feisty heroines. Her Civil War novel, A Place in Your Heart was a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner, and her historical western Lost Hearts, a Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist.

 She is an active member of Pennwriters, Inc., and leads an area critique group. Kathy also teaches

fiction writing at the local adult education center and presents workshops on-line as well as at conferences and author events. When she’s not writing, Kathy can be found walking her German Shepherd, Henry, through the woods and fields near her home, or curling up with her cat and a good book.

Her newest book is Heart of Ash, which is set during World War I. I asked Kathy about the special challenges of writing a story set in another time. To me, setting has always been very important. Here is her answer:

Though it is a short story, the amount of research was both daunting and incredibly fun. I watched hours of WWI reenactors, documentaries, old movie footage of planes, and pilot interviews.  I read tons of material on pilot training, uniforms, dog fighting techniques, and old planes. If you're going to write historicals, you really have to love the research.

Excellent point!  That is a valuable lesson for any fiction writer. To me, getting into the setting can make all the difference in the enjoyment of any story. 

Want to know more about the story itself?  I certainly do!  Let's get a blurb:





  https://www.kathyottenauthor.com or at kathy@kathyotten.com

Any comments or questions for Kathy?

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Plotting Dilemma

Writers are always asking me how do you write your books? Do you plot everything in advance or do you do it scene by scene, or do you come up with a whole detailed outline? One thing I have learned over the many years of writing fiction – writers have so many varieties of ways to plot that it all comes down to whatever works for a particular person.  However there are some basics you can learn that can help a writer get the story in order. 


Still another way to plot your book is to do it by using multiple scenes. 
Use one scene to an index card and line up the scenes in order. You can also do this on your computer by putting the scenes onto separate pages into a file that you can save in a folder
 in the computer.  This method is great for the writers who don't like to come up with a formal outline because each scene can be written individually and then shuffled around to come up with the desired plot.  Each scene can be moved back or forth until it is in the "right" place.

Writers who don't like to plot often prefer to write their books a scene at a time.  If they have an idea for a certain event or scene, writing that scene out of order can help the creative process.  Getting the scene down while it is still fresh in their mind can improve the book.. 

A scene shows what happens as the action or the emotional problems/reactions unfold minute by minute. A typical book of let's say 85 to 90,000 words has about 70 or so scenes, give or take a few depending on the length of each scene,  with each scene moving the story forward or giving the reader insight in the growth of the main protagonist.

 Each scene should have a small plot in it:

·         time and setting - however this is often understood by the reader and therefore not always necessary

·         because of the action of the scene, the character MUST react in some manner either to the previous scenes problem or to the plot's overall situratio

·         and also show an emotional change or reaction

·         the reader needs to know (the motivation behind the character's actions)  and understand the goal of the protagonist

·         the conflict can be in the action, or it can be in the emotional tension

·         and finally the protagonist or whoever has that scene's POV needs to make some sort of a decision         

 Scenes can be a variety of lengths, depending on what you choose to include.  Some action-filled scenes may run two to three pages, while a simple conversation may be only half a page...but, on the other hand, it could also be three or four pages.  It all depends on your style, genre and whose POV the scene is in.

Learn to be careful how you treat the setting of your story...pages and pages of description, while maybe interesting, should be broken up and used sparingly and scattered in various scenes.

The main things to remember is that the scene must propel the story forward.  Each scene needs a reason.  If a scene does not serve a purpose, then that scene should be deleted.

  Keep in mind as you begin to put the scenes in order that you will want a variety of action-packed scenes intermixed with slower scenes or reflective moments.  Too many fast-moving scenes coming one right after another can leave a reader breathless, while too many long, emotional scenes can lull a reader to sleep.

Mix the length of the scenes with a progression that makes sense in moving the story forward and that allows the reader time to think and react along with the characters.

Remember - Each scene needs to contain a reaction to what has just happened or to the dilemma with the choices to be decided upon.  A decision, which reveals the character's determination and the direction of the overall plot and some type of goal set up for the next scene should end the scene.  This is called the hook. 

In my mystery, Blues at 11, I worked hard to make certain each chapter contained some sort of hook to pull the readers into turning the pages. What would happen to Anchorwoman Kimberly delaGarza, and could she prove she was not guilty of killing her cheating ex-boyfriend? 

THE HOOK

Captain Hook in Peter Pan, although a villain, always caused Peter a great deal of trouble and his problems were almost always a surprise to both Peter and the reader. Writing hooks are like that.  We as authors use hooks to keep the readers turning the pages and to keep the interest in the plot. We don't want the reader to put down the book. We want them to know what will happen next. Hooks are usually used in two ways

             1 - At the end of a scene (or chapter) so the reader will keep turning the  pages

              2 - At the beginning of the scene to get the reader "hooked" into reading                                   all of the following pages.

          Let's see how the hooks work in the various scenes in the movie, Romancing the Stone

·         In one scene in the very beginning of the movie, the opening hook is where Joan returns home to her apartment and finds her place trashed. The closing hook is when her sister calls and Joan learns about the map that has been mailed to her. She then realizes that the bad guys have been looking for the map in her apartment.  This makes her mad and determined to do something about it.

·         The scene in the wrecked airplane, in which Joan and Jack get drunk and Jack finds the map, the opening hook is finding the plane as it is raining and they need a place to stay...finding an old plane in the middle of the jungle certainly is not expected and the ending hook is when Jack not only finds the map, but puts it back.  We, the reader, now know that Jack is up to no good and we wonder what will he do next?

All these elements play a vital element in the plot and that is what the writer needs to keep in mind what the end purpose is. Putting things together so that the viewer or reader can say at the end, "wow, I didn't see that coming," or "I missed that. I should have known."  Those are the type of statements that will have readers coming back for more. 


A Visit to A Faraway World

Writing one book can be challenging, but think about those authors who write a series! It means not simply one commitment, but several -- to...