High school junior, Erik Anderson, and three friends, Lily, Al and Sherry, go through a planetary portal on Earth to a planet with three moons. Lily is kidnapped to be sacrificed to the volcano god, Velidred, by Kestrel, the Falcon Prince. Al learns he has magical abilities and finds a powerful magic staff. Sherry glows a weird blue color. Many people want to see Erik dead. Can the teens rescue Lily before the triple eclipse of the moons? What secrets are dark-haired, green-eyed, Zita, hiding from the teens? Exciting, heart-pounding, action-adventure, Sci-fi fantasy story.
This is a continuation on a series of writing stronger scenes for a talk I gave at my local library to young adults. In this article I talk about the scene promise, producing the payoff and the resulting impact.
The Promise - Romance
When writing scenes you are making a promise to the reader. The promise may be action, suspense, theme, an attempt to bring two potential lovers together or a compelling plot point. The promise part of the scene sets a wish fulfillment in the reader’s consciousness.
Will your scene leave the readers feeling breathless with excitement or sad that the adventure ...
This is a continuation on a series of writing stronger scenes for a talk I gave at my local library to the young adults. In this article I talk about dialogue as action, dialogue as suspense and dialogue and a character's past.
Dialogue is a great way to create suspense and action. Wait, dialogue as action? Let’s go back to happy people in happy land. You have two people sitting at a kitchen table and their dialogue goes something like this:
Dialogue as Action
Sally said, “I’m going to the store for the party, do you want anything?
Bill said, “Your family likes the chips, the ranch and onion flavored ones.”
“Okay, and I’m getting a birthday card for Uncle George.”
Sounds like there’s a party for Uncle George. But this is boring dialogue, when one person says something and the next person...
This is a continuation on a series of writing stronger scenes for a talk I gave at my local library to the young adults. In this article I talk about characters how to introduce them, how to make them likeable and giving a character a secret.
Why should I like your character? What makes someone likeable? In the first scene of the Incredibles, we find Mr. Incredible racing to stop a bad guy and just about the point where he will capture the bad guy a little old lady asks for help with her cat stuck up a tree. Mr. Incredible saves the cat and still stops the bad guy. We as readers like Mr Incredible.
Or you can have a woman find a lost dog. She takes it home, feeds it, cleans it up and then makes the effort to find the owner. We as readers will like the character.
Imagine a man in a large city like Chicago. He is going to lunch and happens to overhear a conversation a mother is having with two little children. She tells one of them ...
Do you want to make your settings stronger, richer, and a more integral part of the story? Here are five key points to improve your scenes.
Describe the Characteristics of the Setting
Tell us about the setting. It can be a hospital waiting room, crowded with sick people. Or two angry men in a small studio apartment during a snow storm. One of the two men would be willing to stalk out the door, but there is nowhere for them to go. The room turned smaller when Gregg stood up.
Describe the scene, the plants, the smells – most writers miss the smells, but the sense of smell is one of our strongest memory senses. One of my strongest smell memories is ...
Sometimes the goal of the scene is obvious so you don’t have to show it.
You don’t want to go into detail about the scene so you summarize that it occurred off screen. Maybe a violent act occurs. Down play the event or summarize it at the beginning of the sequel. Suzy sees her boyfriend walk into a restaurant with another woman. The reaction scene will be Suzy’s reaction to the event, we don’t have to see what happens at the restaurant. It is Suzy’s reaction that matters.
What is the purpose of your scene? Is it to provide information important to the plot? Do you need to tell us more about the character? Is it a section of the novel where you expound on a point important to the theme? Are you trying to heighten suspense?
As you create your scene you need to think about the purpose of the scene. You should vary the purpose of your scenes. ...
Suzy is standing counting the boxes and she just found out she’s missing five boxes of books. What’s going through her mind? This could be a character breaker. Will she melt down? Is she strong-willed and will get through this set back? How does your character react? We don’t just tell the reader, Suzy was distressed, tired and cried. Boring. We show the reader how she feels.
Suzy collapsed to the floor. Sweat ran down her face, rivulets of fatigue, worry or a heart attack? Her left arm felt numb as she tried to determine if she had fainted. Should she call an ambulance? ...
Our POV character enters the scene. Why is she in this scene? What does she want to get out of the scene? Does she have a problem to solve? Is there something she’s trying to find or accomplish? Does she want to meet someone and fall in love? Or solve a murder or interview a potential witness or maybe a suspected murderer? Is she running for her life and needs to hide from the person stalking her? Is she interested in taking karate lessons in an attempt to protect herself from the creepy man that sleeps under the lamppost outside her apartment?
Before you get too far in creating the scene you want to have a reason for the scene to take place. That is the goal. Your character’s goal.
Let's say, your character, Suzy, is trying to start a business, a bookstore. Your character has ordered a few boxes of books to stock her shelves and is expecting the shipment to arrive today. She is opening her book store tomorrow so she’s anxious to receive the books today.
The goal at the start of the scene is she wants to receive her books and stock her shelves before tonight’s closed door opening celebration with friends.
The second part of a scene is conflict. You don’t want your scenes to be happy people in happy land. Many beginning authors make this mistake. You want to give the reader a picture of the happy childhood the character had before the bad person entered the picture. But happy people in happy land (yes even one chapter) is boring. People read books to see how people similar to themselves handle conflict, pain and suffering. Your job as an author is to be mean to your protagonist, your hero. Readers will read to experience emotional change. They want to feel and by reading your novel they will live as someone else and experience emotional heartbreak, the joy of winning a championship game or the satisfaction of putting a killer behind bars.
So we’re going to be mean to our new bookseller.
Characters are the people the story is about. You will have good characters and bad characters. Most stories have a principle character, known as the protagonist, we will follow throughout the novel. The novel is about the protagonist reaching her goal.
To make an interesting novel you will have someone trying to prevent the protagonist from reaching her goal. This character is known as the antagonist. Your antagonist can be an evil dictator, a friend vying for the same love interest or a parent preventing a teenager from going to the basketball game on Friday night.
Bob and his middle school best friend, Joe, wanted some jelly beans and headed out of Joe’s home to the local Seven Eleven only five blocks away.
About a block from their house the rain started and Joe said, "We should get out of this rain."
Bob listened to the rain drops pitter patter on the summer leaves still protecting them from getting wet as they walked on the neighborhood sidewalk. He turned to go back to the house as drops of rain became bigger and more numerous.
"Wait, where are you going?" Joe grabbed Bob's arm.
"I thought you wanted to go back to the house before we get wet. We're only a block away, we might be able to out run it." Bob knew he would get wetter than athletic, Joe. Bob's large frame and too many hamburgers, cookies, ice cream and fries didn't lend itself to running fast. He pushed his glasses up his nose.
Joe pointed to the street and said, "There's another way. We can go underground and the rain won't touch us."
I read this quote the other day and it is so true. An author sits at his desk with a pen and paper or computer and begins to plot out a story. Maybe it began from a single image, event or person the author met that day. She puts a little thought into the story and decides whether it can be a short five hundred word story, a fifteen thousand word short story, a twenty-five thousand to forty-five thousand word novella or a full blown novel.
Then the novelist pecks away at the story a little everyday, finishing a chapter after a few days or a couple of weeks finishing a scene. Maybe as the story progresses the author sees the need for some research about history, clothing, time period tools, deep space concepts, math or people and customs and stops their writing for two, three or more months to immerse themselves in details important to the story. Then back to writing the story.
Interruptions will occur in the author's life including . . .
Forty-six year-old Vince Butler walked out to the end of his driveway Saturday morning a few minutes past eight to retrieve his newspaper. The time was an hour later than normal for Vince because it rained all night and into the morning and he didn’t feel like getting the paper in the rain.
Right away, he noticed the parked car in the street at the curb in front of his house. Somebody must have left it there this morning because the car’s back lift gate was raised and a small spare tire lay on the lawn next to the curb.
Dark clouds hung low, still prophesizing rain as Vince retrieved the newspaper. As he shook the plastic covered newsprint, droplets of water splashed on his red, plaid, pajama pants. He thought, someone should be at the car since the lift gate is open. The next rain shower will leave the car trunk filled with water like a kiddie pool.
Lightning flashed in the distance followed by thunder. Vince glanced at the empty car and hurried to the house.
The pills called to Cheryl as she stared at the medicine bottle on the table. Would tonight bring the relief she craved?
Her husband, Bill, was out late again at work. A lie he maintained even though she knew he spent time with a female lawyer from the office downstairs.
Cheryl was tired of the lies, the promises to be home on time, the apologies and the heartache. The kids were grown and long gone from the home she had built. Bill convinced her they should move to New York for his career. She never liked the big city, she was a small town person, comfortable with a tight group of three friends. New York overwhelmed her and she hadn't found close friends in this uncaring metropolis.
She imagined what Bill's first words would be when he found her lifeless body, "Finally, the witch is dead."
I'm listening to the book, Personal by Lee Child.
Jack Reacher and the person who's working with him, Casey Nice, have just broken out of a tense situation where they were captured. They need to leave before more bad guys get to the location.
Before they leave Reacher wants to look for something he's sure is in the building. (Read the book if you want to know what they're looking to find.) Jack is looking and he knows and Casey knows the bad guys are on their way to capture them or even kill them.
Casey said, "Hurry Reacher"
Jack keeps looking.
Jack keeps looking, Lee child does a good job describing how Jack searches for the object he desires. A detailed list of corners, cars, cabinets, desks, etc.
"We gotta go now."
Jack thinks to look somewhere else. Lee Child describes Jack's thought processes as he searches.
Casey nearly screams, "They'll be here any moment, let's go."
See how Lee Child uses a couple of techniques to ramp up the tension?
The clock is ticking and you get lulled into the search process, but then the clock dings again, Casey Nice tells us, "they're coming for us." Imagine a whole chapter where the reader thinks the next paragraph Reacher will leave the scene before the bad guys get there. But, Lee Child doesn't let go, he keeps ramping the tension. The reader is almost yelling with Casey Nice each time, "Come on Reacher get out of there, you're in danger." The reader feels the emotion, begins to breathe deeply, adrenaline rushing through her body.
Wow, what a weekend. Over the last three months I have spent time reviewing my book for editing errors, formatting errors, concept errors and just looking for anything I might have missed. I created the e-book cover and received my wife's approval, a huge win. I read everything I thought I needed to know to publish my book on Smashwords and Amazon. The time is ripe, I'm ready, let's do this.
Smashwords has specific criteria and formatting that they recommend before you publish. When you are ready to publish they recommend you have your file in a Microsoft Word document. And the formatting instructions are quite specific about how you should format chapters, break points, copyright info, back matter and any images in your book. I spent probably five hours following the formatting instructions preparing my book for the Smashwords' meatgrinder.
What's the meatgrinder? It is a translation tool that takes your Word document and formats it into mobi, ePub, pdf and multiple other formats that make the text pleasing to people using eReaders. "The Meatgrinder" is a horrible name that strikes fear in the hearts of self-publishing newbies like me. No matter how much time you spend editing, reviewing and worrying, there is that terrible question in the back of your mind, is my manuscript worthy to pass through the meatgrinder?
I find that when I'm listening to friends and co-workers talk to me I have an internal dialogue going on. Yes, I'm listening to what they're saying, but in the back of my mind I'm evaluating their clothing choices, wondering how tall they are, wondering how they get their teeth so white and thinking about something happening in the background that the speaker can't see.
If the person wears a college or professional team jersey or sweatshirt, I may look at the logo and think about the team and whether I like that team or not. Anyway the reason I bring this up is because this might go on inside a character's head while they speak with another character. You don't want to have your protagonist thinking random things at least not often. What you want is the experience to be something that relates to the story later. Here's a list of six reasons to describe your characters.
Over the years I have written short stories for my own enjoyment and started a couple of books, but never had the fortitude to finish the books. I found myself distracted by work, family and other business ideas that I thought were more important than writing.
But one day an idea came to me about a boy who wants to rescue a girl and finds that going through a cave he is transported to another planet. A planet where magic is real and the dangers of wild animals, strange people and bizarre customs are just as real.
Zach Hammer laughed as he overheard his co-worker, Paul, talk about the twenty-fifth anniversary of some billionaire inventor sending a car into space driven by a dummy known as Starman. Zach didn't have time to hear the rest of the story about how the car revolved around the sun in an orbit between the asteroid belt and Earth.
He left work to pick up his daughter and hopped in his Tesla self-driving car and set up the work bench to finish the reports his boss wanted completed by nine tonight.
Zach missed the part of Paul's story where the space car hit an asteroid ten years ago.
He reached home in time to pick up his daughter, Lynn, to take her to piano practice. He flirted with the piano teacher, Ms Morris, each session and hoped to ask her for a date soon.
Ken Brown is an application web developer by day and author by night.
Over the years he has written short stories for his own enjoyment and started a couple of other books, but never had the fortitude to finish the books. Ken found himself distracted by work, family and other business ideas that he thought were more important than writing.
But one day an idea came to him about a boy who wants to rescue a girl and finds that going through a cave he is transported to another planet. A planet where magic is real and the dangers of wild animals, strange people and bizarre customs are just as real.
Dabney Wilson woke in darkness. He felt cold to his bones, his fingers so cold he couldn't feel them. Where was he? Why is it so dark? He reached out with frozen fingers on his right hand and felt a wall. Doing the same thing with his left hand another wall. He brought his hand to his mouth and blew on his fingers trying to warm them.
He couldn't remember how he arrived in this situation. He lay on his back in the cramped quarters with no room to move or change positions. Three days ago he remembered meeting two men at a cancer clinic. They were strange men, but they were going to help him? How?
Did he have cancer? Yes, that's right, he was at the clinic to have his cancer removed. But, these men weren't doctors. They had funny accents and said they could help him with his cancer, but how? Claustrophobic in the little box that felt very much like Dabney thought a coffin might feel. Did the men kill him or think they killed him and buried him still alive?
Dabney pounded on the box lid and yelled. "Help me, I'm trapped, help!"