Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Plot Thickens – Pt. 1

Standard

One of the first questions you should ask when you’ve finished your book is “What is my book about?” Try to boil it down to a sentence or two. This is the basis of your plot.

Plot is what your story is about. If you just string together a group of sentences that have no coherency, you don’t have a plot. You don’t have a story. You just have words. In order to have a plot – and, therefore, a story – you have to be writing about something, preferably something that is includes conflict. If you write romance – the basic plot is: boy gets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back (usually with a bit more action thrown in for interest.) Or you can think of it this way: plot is two dogs with one bone.

It is important to have a plot that draws the reader in – and keeps him or her reading. Proposing hypothetical questions the reader may ask does this. Consider the following passage from my story, “Prime Time”:

 

Deena studied the newest crop of lunar tourists and transports milling around the huge domed reception area as her partner began his spiel for his audience. On the far side of the shuttles, she caught a quick glimpse of Security leading out a sorry-looking group in binding collars.

One of the prisoners broke from the line and dashed for the shuttle. He never had a chance. The guards triggered his collar and took him down before he got ten steps. Deena winced as they dragged the unconscious man to a cart and dumped him. She hoped for the prisoner’s sake he never woke up. He’d be much better off. The guard glared at her and she turned away. She was here to do a job and forget whatever she might see. She could do nothing for them. Nothing.

 

The questions that arise are: What is Deena doing there? Why can’t she help anyone? Why would it be better if the prisoner never woke up? Is Deena a prisoner? What is going on here? Each question leads to another – and thus, the beginning of a plot.

Plot can take two basic forms, or even a combination of the two. It will usually be either a three-act structure (beginning, middle, end), or, from Joseph Cambell’s writings, be a mythic journey. It can also be a combination of the mythic journey within the three act structure.

In the three act structure, you have the beginning (Act I) in which you introduce the character(s), set the tone, establish the setting, introduce the story problem and urge the reader to move on to the next section.

Act II is where you expand on these issues and set up the final moment of the story.

Act III is the final battle, the tying up of loose ends, and leave the reader satisfied.

The Mythic Journey, as explained by Christopher Vogler in his book (which I urge you to get), consists of:

Hero in his ordinary world

The call to adventure

Answering the call

Tasks and challenges

Tutor

Allies and opponents

Talisman

Final test

The return

 

In addition to these structures, most plots can be boiled down to patterns:

The quest – Indiana Jones looking for the Ark of the Covenant

Revenge – Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride”

Love – choose any “chick flick”

Change – Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”

Adventure – Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” or Luke in “Star Wars”

The Chase – “The Fugitive”

One Against – Batman in “The Dark Knight” or Erin Brockovich

One Apart – Rick in “Casablanca” or Han in “Star Wars”

Power – Lord of the Rings

Death Overhanging – death can take three forms: physical, emotional, or professional. For physical, “Titanic”; emotional – “Inception”; professional – “Pretty Woman”

 

Sometimes it helps to have something in the ending reflect back to the beginning of the story. You can do this with an object or with a situation that mirrors one in the beginning. For instance, if you had a story about a blackout, you could have the hero flicking the light switch at the beginning and – nothing. He goes through the apartment searching for candles. The story continues and on the last page, he flicks on the light switch and gets light – then turns it off and lights a candle.

 Or you could have the very nervous heroine entering a particular building and at the end, she enters that same building, but this time, everything has changed, especially her.

When checking on the plot line, ask yourself what is the hero/heroine’s goal? If he or she doesn’t reach the goal, so what? Why should the reader care? What makes the goal so important that we need to read? If the goal or conflict is too simple, you’ll end up with the reader saying “they could have done that on page one”, and if they could have, that’s not a good novel. If the goals aren’t important, neither is the story. Having your character take a shower merely because she wants to isn’t a compelling action. It only becomes important if she happens to be staying at a place called “The Bates Hotel”. (If you don’t understand that reference, check out a little movie called “Psycho” by Alfred Hitchcock.)

Once you’ve set the stakes, raise them. And raise them again. And again. Keep the story growing.

In a full length novel, you will probably have several sub-plots as well as the main plot. A sub-plot is similar to a plot, but may involve secondary characters. Even with other characters, they should have something to do with the plot, a link that ties them to the main story line. Like a plot, they must be tied up at the end.

Next week – Part II of Plot

Advertisements

Books: Georgie Lee!

Standard

Georgie5.3-1Research, research and a little more research.

Research, for me, is not an onerous task. When I’m ready to start writing about a particular time period, I can’t wait to go to the library, pull every book available on that era off the shelf, take them home and lose myself in a time period. However, research isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can be overwhelming deciding where to begin, what to look for and when to stop. Today, I want to offer some advice and a few suggestions for getting started and seeing it through until “The End.”

The first thing to do is…

Start Big: You know what era you want to write about, so it’s time to learn about the era. General overview books are a great place to start because they give you the key politics, ideas, people and events that helped shape the time period. Once you know the basics, you can begin to…

Narrow things down: Decide when in the era you want your story to take place then focus your research accordingly. In my upcoming Regency novella, Hero’s Redemption, the hero was involved in the battle at Hougoumont Manor during the battle of Waterloo. As a result, I did a great deal of research on the particulars of the battle including the manor layout, the French soldiers who stormed the gate, the British soldiers who held them off and how the wet weather turned the ground muddy. Details like this are important since they helped me craft scenes and add to the historical realism of the story. So once you’re done narrowing things down, it’s time to…

Get personal: The details of everyday life help create characters, make them real and flavor a narrative. To make the Regency period come alive in the story, I researched everyday life including dress, food, furniture and the plans of both London town houses and country manor houses. I sprinkled these details throughout the story to help make the setting come alive and draw the reader into the time period. However, be careful with how much historic detail you add to your story. Too much will make it read like a college mid-term instead of a sweeping saga. So, what happens when the research you need isn’t there? Well, it’s time to…

HerosRedemptionFinal (2)Think outside the box: Depending on what time period you’re dealing with, or what obscure historical event you’re trying to incorporate into your story, you may or may not have a wealth of information to draw from. This is when it’s time to start looking at primary sources like journals, autobiographies and even government reports. These writings will give you more detail on a subject than a general history book will and most are in the public domain and available free on Amazon. It’s time consuming but worth it, even though at some point I’m going to have to…

Know when to say when: Research can be fun. It can help you outline your story or navigate a tricky plot point. However, it can also distract from writing. There is no end to the research available or the hours you can dedicate to it. It’s an important part of the process, but so is sitting down and getting words on paper. So, don’t be afraid to put your research aside and start writing, because the great thing about research is, you can access it any time and you can always do more.

Thank you everyone for stopping by and a special thanks to Misty for having me here today.

Hero’s Redemption

by Georgie Lee

 

London, 1817

 

Devon, the Earl of Malton, is a hero for his deeds at the Battle of Waterloo. But he suffers terrible nightmares, and drinks himself to sleep most nights. A habit he vows to break when he awakes one morning to find a woman sharing his bed, no memory of how she got there, and her angry brother at his door.

 

Cathleen is mortified when her wastrel brother and his greedy wife propose a blackmail scheme involving the earl, but as a penniless war widow she’s at their mercy. She goes along with the plan and sneaks into Devon’s bed one night, and ends up comforting him through a night terror.

 

Charmed by her beauty and kindness, Devon determines that rather than pay the blackmail, he will offer his hand in marriage to Cathleen. Although she is deeply attracted to the stoic earl, Cathleen cannot understand why Devon would want to marry her. What she doesn’t know is that Devon owes her a debt that can never fully be repaid…

 

BIO:

A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.

 

Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Look for her Regency novella, Hero’s Redemption from Carina Press on July 29, 2013, and her Regency novel, Engagement of Convenience, from Harlequin Historical on October 1, 2013.  

When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit  www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.

 

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgie-Lee/259729314054846?ref=hl

Twitter: @GeorgieLeeBooks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2985551.Georgie_Lee

Blog: http://georgielee.blogspot.com

Website: http://www.georgie-lee.com

Buy Links

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/05D92BD3-7720-46F7-A802-0E90E74AB2E5/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=DBC6503B-E226-468E-B6B3-19970DCD7C85

http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Redemption-ebook/dp/B00CC68FSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370404068&sr=8-1&keywords=hero%27s+redemption+georgie+lee

Books: Reese Ryan!

Standard

ReeseRyanWhat genre do your books fall into or is it a genre blended?

Making the First Move is a contemporary romance, but because the heroine’s journey is an integral part of the story I’d also consider it romantic women’s fiction.

What inspires you to write?

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice first made me want to become a storyteller by trade. I’m fascinated by human nature. A similar situation happens to three different women, yet they respond in three very dissimilar ways. I love reading and writing stories that allow me to get inside the character’s head and walk in their shoes for a little bit.

Do you listen to music or set the mood somehow to get writing?

I love the arts and music is a close second to reading and writing for me. Right now I’m listening to Yo-Yo Ma and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Later I’ll be listening rock, or R&B, or hip-hop. I have very eclectic tastes in music and what I’m listening to is determined either by my mood or the mood I’m trying to set in the scene I’m writing.

Do you come up with the plot or characters first?

A situation typically comes to mind. I visualize the character who would be in that situation. Then I develop the storyline from there.

MakingTheFirstMoveFinalCover-403x645Do you have a favorite book of yours?

I’m a new author, so right now my current project is my favorite one. I love Making the First Move, Melanie and Raine’s story. She’s a smart, strong heroine and he’s deliciously swoon-worthy, yet he has a dark past. There are lots of funny and emotional moments. Then there’s is the crazy dynamics of the Gordon Family.  So that was fun. But I’ve just finished a related story called Love Me Not. It features Jamie Charles—the best friend character in Making the First Move. It’s a harder, edgier story. So I’m in love with that story and those characters right now.

Who would you consider an influence on your writing?

I’ve got a thing for authors named Jane. I love Jane Austen’s witty heroines who defy convention and the crazy family dynamics in her stories. Both have become staples in my stories. I adore the self-deprecating humor of Jane Green’s heroines who are always less than perfect and a bit quirky. Those are typically traits you’ll find in my characters, as well.

Tell me something quirky about yourself.

I’ve attended lots of concerts over the years. I have this thing where—once I get my concert tickets—I stop listening to that artist’s music until after the concert. Live performances often sound quite different from the recorded tracks—better if you’re lucky. Not listening to the recorded tracks for a while is like cleansing my palate so I’m ready to enjoy the live performance for what it is, without pre-conceived expectations.

What do you aim to make people feel when they read your books?

After reading Pride & Prejudice, what made me to want to be a writer was the feeling I left that story with. I’d connected with the characters. Laughed with them. Cried with them. I felt their pain and their happiness. That’s the kind of stories I want to tell. Every day I work toward that end.

What’s next for you?

A related story, Love Me Not, will be released by Carina Press on December 30th. When things settle down I’ll be proposing another related story to my editor at Carina Press. I have two other finished manuscripts which I’ll be editing—one is a contemporary romance and the other is a romantic thriller. Then, I have a few partial manuscripts that have been patiently waiting for me to get back to them.

Do you sing in the shower?

Rarely. But I sing just about everywhere else—much to the chagrin of my son who often says, “You know we can hear you, right?” Yep. And I don’t much care. 😉

 http://www.reeseryan.com/author-events/making-the-first-move-blog-tour-july-22-august-4-2013/

 

Bio:

Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

Visit Reese online at ReeseRyan.com. Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook.

Author Links:                                                   

Website:  ReeseRyan.com
Twitter: 
@ReeseRyanWrites
Facebook: 
ReeseRyanWrites
Goodreads: 
Reese Ryan
Amazon Author Page: 
http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Ryan/e/B00CD31WJ0

Making the First Move Blog Tour Grand Prize

  • $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • Digital copy of Making the First Move by Reese Ryan
  • Digital copy of The Winning Season by Alison Packard
  • Digital copy of Knowing the Score by Kat Latham
  • Digital copy of Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning
  • Digital copy of Derby Girl by Tamara Morgan

 

Buy Links:

Amazon Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Making-the-First-Move-ebook/dp/B00CC68FMU/

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/making-the-first-move-reese-ryan/1115148406

iTunes Buy Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/making-the-first-move/id653078144?mt=11

 

Add to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17800669-making-the-first-move

 

Making the First Move Summary           

Melanie Gordon has spent the past five years obsessing over her career to dull the pain of a devastating breakup and the loss of her father. Her effort pays off when she receives the promotion that could be her big break. Only it means returning to her hometown to face her past while leaving behind the man who could be her future.

Selfless (and insanely sexy) philanthropist, Raine Mason, is committed to his cause. But his passion for rescuing high-risk young males from the road to disaster is fueled by his own dark and tragic past.

When Raine is ready to take his casual friendship with Melanie to sizzling new heights, her one-way ticket to Cleveland is already booked. But a steamy night of passion leaves them both wanting more, even if Melanie is afraid to admit it. She reluctantly agrees to a long-distance relationship with no promises and no commitments.

Melanie may finally be ready to give Raine her heart…but then she discovers startling news that causes her to question everything she knows about him. Worse, he’s harboring a dark secret from his past that threatens to shatter any hope of a future for them unless he can convince her that their love is worth the risk.

 

That vs. who vs. which

Standard

Such a little word – the word “that” – and such problems it causes. Everyone uses it, but very few use it correctly. Plus it is often a useless word added in to up the word count, but in actuality adding nothing at all to the sentence.

The first controversy with this little word is that vs. who. A little trick to remember: that is for animals or things. Who is for people. So when you say:

Wrong: I like the girl *that* I talked to last night.

Right: It should be: I like the girl *who* I talked to last night.

Right: I am taking the alien that I captured to Area 51.

 

Or that vs. which:

In this case, the word choice all depends on the use of restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

A nonrestrictive clause is one that is not essential to the sentence, but merely adds additional information.

Example: The third carton, which Tom put on the top shelf of the closet, is full of sports equipment.

In this case, the location is just added information. The carton isn’t any different from any other carton. It’s not important that we know this information. But, if we change one word and the punctuation:

The third carton that Tom put on the top shelf of the closet is full of sports equipment.

The location becomes essential to the sentence. We have to know that the carton he put specifically on the top shelf has the sports equipment in it. “That” is part of the restrictive clause and does not need the commas. “Which” is non-restrictive and must have commas separating the clause from the rest of the sentence.

Useless “That”:

Very often ‘that’ is used in a sentence when it is completely unnecessary or when another word would work better. Read your sentences containing the word “that” – if it can be removed without changing the sentence, do so.

Example: I looked at the clock and realized that I was going to be late.

I looked at the clock and realized I was going to be late.

By removing the “that”, we have changed nothing in the sentence.

Oops: I realized that I was going to be late for the meeting and that there was nothing I could do about it.

Better: I realized I was going to be late for the meeting and there was nothing I could do about it.

Oops: The Department of Revenue knows that no matter how careful you are about reporting your income on your tax return that mistakes happen.

Better: The Department of Revenue knows that no matter how careful you are about reporting your income on your tax return, mistakes happen. (Note – the first ‘that’ is retained for the sake of clarity).

 

Keep an eye out for the little word “that” and make it do its job correctly. 🙂

 

Vicky

 

Writer: Jeff Burkholder

Standard
My name is Jeff Burkholder. I’m writer/artist of the comic strips Zoidland and The Social Life of Frank and Linh, the creator/editor of the collaborative flash-fiction blog Gloaming Gap, and – most importantly today – the writer of the comic strip The Ouro Bros and the Neverending Tour. My creative partner on that, Jeremy Bentley, and I are just about to wrap up a Kickstarter campaign to get our first three years’-worth of comics printed into a bound volume. We’re pretty excited about that!
Anyway, here are some answers to popular questions that you and your readers might be asking me:
  • Are these actually popular questions?
    • No.
  • What genres do your books fall into or is it genre blended?
    • My work tends to bounce around a bit, genre-wise. The Ouro Bros is a slice-of-life comic strip about two brothers and their misadventures along the way of becoming a world-famous band. Over the course of the strip, we’ve managed to not only do gag-a-day style strips, but we’ve had some zigzags into fantasy, Sin City-styled film noir, and ’80s-era, Japanese-produced Saturday morning cartoons. My other material ranges from geeks complaining about TV and politics (Zoidland), introverts snarking about social media (The Social Life of Frank and Linh), and a Twilight Zone-esque anthology of monsters going about daily life in a small town (Gloaming Gap). So…blended. Definitely blended.
  • Do you come up with the plot or characters first?
    • Largely, the characters. I’ve found I have a hard time really getting a good handle on a plotline unless I know just how my characters will react to something. Some of my strips and short stories have had to completely change, story-wise, because the character just wouldn’t be shoe-horned into the plot I was trying to create. And I like to think that most of the time, the characters had the right idea.
  • What inspires you to write?
    • Is it cliché to say, “Deadlines”? …No? Shouldn’t it be?
  • Who would you consider an influence on your writing?
    • I’d love to say Douglas Adams, with maybe a touch of Cory Doctorow, but I imagine that’s rather presumptuous. So, instead, let’s go with Corey Addams, this guy who sat three chairs in front of me in 9th grade homeroom who always said that the essays I wrote for his homework sucked.
  • What do you aim to make people feel when they read your books?
    • My main goal in most of my writing is to ask questions. And to get my readers to ask questions, themselves. Never answer questions, though. I’ve found that answering questions is never as interesting as asking them. So don’t look to my writing to give great answers. If you want answers, find some nice, comforting dogma somewhere that sits well with you.
  • In light of that, will you continue to answer these questions for this interview?
    • Erm…yes.
  • What’s next for you?
    • The Ouro Bros is continuing – and we just started up with new, expanded strips after taking a bit of a hiatus to get our book prepped – as is Frank and Linh. I just recently ended Zoidland after a 10-year run, and am looking forward to perhaps some new challenges on the geeks-in-politics front.
  • Do you sing in the shower?
    • No, but I do occasionally hum Hans Zimmer scores while shampooing, if that’s not too much information for you…
  • How can we read more of your scintillating prose and perhaps even throw fabulous piles of monies in varying denominations at you?