About Chapter Beginnings

When a reader opens the cover of a book, they are embarking on an adventure the writer has created for them. What should happen at the beginning of that first chapter, and subsequent chapters? Let’s explore the possibilities. First Chapter The beginning of the first chapter of a story has specific requirements, different in some…

About Chapter Endings

Chapters are the stepping stones that guide a reader from the beginning to the end of your story. A chapter can be a mini-story in itself, with its own arc and exciting stuff happening in a little, literary package. When it comes time for the chapter to end, what do you do? What is a…

Antagonists – Why Bother?

Antagonists are such a pain. Why should a writer bother with one, or more? All they do is cause trouble! Exactly! A story needs to have opposing forces, conflict, and struggle. Otherwise, it won’t be a story worth writing–or reading. Creating your protagonist (main character) and sending him on his merry way might be the…

Writing Secondary Characters

As a writer, you send your main character out the door, down the path, and into the world of your story. But wait? Can they succeed if they go it alone? Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam as The Lord of the Rings fans know all too well. Your story needs someone to join…

Creating 3D MCs

When the main character in a story is created, the reader needs to be able “see” a fully-formed individual they can connect with and invest in for the duration of the story. He/she cannot be a teetering paper doll or a penciled stick figure struggling to grab and hold the reader’s attention. Let’s see what…

Writer’s Block Begone!

Wikipedia calls writer’s block a “condition.” Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Like a chronic malady that a writer struggles to keep at bay, the threat of a recurrence is always lurking in the dark shadows of that last sentence, paragraph, or scene. It’s something you might get a bit of respite from, but is guaranteed to…

The Ether Experiment

Droughtlander is finally over, and we can resume our spirited discussions and reactions to a new season of Outlander! So here are some of my thoughts about Episode One, Echoes. Claire appears to have recovered (at least on the outside) from the attack upon her at the end of Season Five. She is back in…

Backstory Thoughts

A question was recently posed to me about a creative way to insert facts and information from the past into a story. Readers don’t want an information dump, so how does a writer provide the pertinent details without a lot of backstory? After I offered up a few suggestions (I hope they helped!), I thought…

After ‘The End’

You did it! You completed an amazing writing journey, and you’ve got something you’re proud of and excited about–a novel, short story, memoir, etc. After long (endless?) hours of writing, tears of frustration, and feelings of self-doubt, you finally typed those last, two words–The End. Before you whisk it off to your editor, consider these…

Moose As Muse

I realized that a moose would become my muse on a hike in Glacier National Park years ago. The twelve-mile hike was exhausting, I was not properly prepared, and I considered turning back at more than one point in the trail. Then it happened. While taking a short break to listen to our guide, he…

Story As A Stone Wall

I happened across this photo of a stone wall project I completed a few years ago, and it made me think about how I might compare it to the construction of a story. Tools, materials, planning, and brain power translates to creating a wall (or a story) that will stand the test of time. I…

Free Shopping Spree!

Free is great, right? Who doesn’t love free? It’s especially fabulous when you are gearing up to write your first (or next) story. Settings, characters, and other story elements are free for the taking – in unlimited quantities! So forget about TP, grab your cart, and let’s shop ‘till we drop! Your Genre’ Aisle This…

Denouement – #16

It’s a French word, literally meaning, “untie the knot.” It’s the point in a story where the conflicts, entanglements, and challenges are resolved. Without giving too much away, I can tell you this – there are three (yes, three!), separate plots that have to be resolved and “untied” in The Ghost Writer. A complicated trio…

Rejections and Reviews

You did the hard work. You dreamed, plotted, wrote, and edited the story within you that needed to be told. Then you did more hard work – writing that query letter. Some think it’s more of a challenge than writing the book itself! I’m inclined to agree. Query letters and blurbs will be the death…

Captivate With Color

There are so many senses in which to immerse readers, and color plays a huge role in getting readers to feel like they’re right there in your story. In order to get the most out of each visual description, bust out that color palette and have some fun! Go Beyond the Obvious Sure, her dress…

So Much Surrendering

There is so much surrendering going on in this episode, it’s hard to know where to start. Part of the definition of the word is to, “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent.” There is a lot of it happening, but there isn’t a battlefield in sight. First of all, Jamie has surrendered his name….

A Wedding Gown – #15

There’s going to be a wedding, but not everyone is happy about it. Especially Lady Sophia, the newly-betrothed, bride-to-be. This match was not of her choosing, but that’s a topic for another blog. For now, the wedding is going to take place, and there must be a gown. This wedding is taking place in the…

Of Things Lost

If you’re a writer who has unexpectedly lost hard-won sentences, paragraphs, or drafts to the electronic technology demons, you know all too well the chest-clenching feeling of panic and heartbreaking loss that comes with a file that will not open or the fatal error message that signals whatever you’ve written is forever doomed to orbit…

Baking for a Baker – #14

Jenna’s an average baker. Nothing too fancy or complicated works for her. And she doesn’t really need to do much baking because Jim’s Bakery is downstairs from her apartment. Jim and his wife Rosa are of the same Slovakian descent as Jenna, and they’ve pretty much adopted her as their own since Jenna’s parents live…

Writers on Vacation

Even the most passionate, dedicated writer needs a break. Perhaps you’re in between projects, feel a bit bogged down by the process, or don’t have a clue where the plot of your story is headed. A vacation is a good way to step away from the writing process and give your mind a well-deserved respite….

Deadlines

Deadlines. We all have them, and probably chafe in varying degrees when they approach. Work-related deadlines, bill-paying deadlines, and the days of the week that the trash needs to be set out at the curb (yeah, that’s a deadline, too). Some are more constrictive than others, and some we can ignore or procrastinate about a…

The Shawl – #13

What do you do when something as seemingly unimportant as a shawl materializes in your mind and tells you it has a part to play in your story? It not only knows the place, it shows you. It leads you to the exact scene, and as it settles in, tells you of its significance going…

Two at a Time

A writer’s mind rarely rests. If a writer isn’t in front of the computer, their brain is most likely composing, editing, or solving a plot problem. It’s more than enough for a mind to manage if there’s just one story floating around, but what happens if another one steps in and tugs at your sleeve?…

Unsavory Characters – #12

It can’t be smooth sailing, hearts, and rainbows all of the time. A story worth reading and investing in has to have challenges, heartbreak, and times when it would be easier for your character to give up than to carry on. And the characters that fill the pages of The Ghost Writer can’t all be…

Across the Pond – #11

So… Jenna is finally on her way to Scotland! She works for Posey Travel and has lots of travel miles built up, so she won’t be flying coach/economy. Still, the stress of getting there is pretty much the same for everyone (except for the wealthy or those who don’t need to make their own arrangements,…

Secrets to a Series

Our first book was never written with the intent of becoming part of a series, but the characters had other ideas. They weren’t done telling their story, so (for my part) I had to figure out a way to keep it all straight going forward. Along the way, I’ve seen other writers voice the challenges…

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The title for this Season One Outlander episode (By the Pricking of My Thumbs) made me curious regarding its relevance because I didn’t see anyone actually pricking their thumbs. Turns out, it’s a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:  “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” And, there’s plenty of wickedness to go…

The Inevitable Low Point

There’s no getting around it. Every successful story has to have a low point – the place where it all goes wrong, and there’s little hope in sight. Is there any point in struggling on? Highly doubtful, probably not. It would be so much easier at this point to give up and let whatever is…

Jim’s Bakery – #10

You’d love Jim’s Bakery. It’s one of those gems you might never experience unless you get off the beaten track and know where to look. It’s located in Jenna’s NYC neighborhood of Kensington, and she’s lucky in that she lives next door and above it. When Jenna moved in, she learned that she and Jim’s…

Making Old New

With social distancing and sequestering still high on the priority ladder, it might be a good time to dig through the closet/flash drive and unearth that writing project you’ve been meaning to finish or thought was so bad that it was beyond repair. Dust Them Off! Pull those unfinished projects out and see which one…