Category Archives: Writing Tips and Lectures

A Few Different Thoughts on Writing

Writing and editing use two different areas of the brain. When I’m writing, I need a quiet environment and total concentration. I fall into the story, entering another dimension where sometimes I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I don’t want to be distracted and pulled out of the world I’m in.

Conversely, I’ve edited several stories on the couch watching television. Usually, it’s a golf match or financial show (I’m an ex -stock broker) where I can split my attention. Editing means hunting for misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, badly used grammar…things like that. I can do that in bits, whereas in writing I need to keep a train of thought going.

I like to edit; it’s like cleaning a room. You can see the improvement, and you feel as if you have accomplished something. However, our English language is complex, and the grammar rules don’t always make sense. Comas are my downfall. I probably have a better grasp of the rules than most, (Master degree in English) but it still poses a never ending battle that I’m not winning. That’s why Nicolas Rossis’ blog on My 4 Golden Rule of Writing was refreshing and worth reading.

https://nicholasrossis.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/my-golden-rules-of-writing/

1. Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.
2. Grammar’s aim is to make the written word as clear as possible.
3. Creativity trumps conformity.
4. As long as it has a beginning, a middle and an end, it is a story.

Nicholas blasts some of the conventional wisdom found in rule books to put forth common sense thoughts on how to write. He even brings in Shakespeare and word creation. I’ve followed his blog for awhile now. Besides, he’s Greek, and my daughter just returned from a lovely vacation there. Check it out.

I’m back to limited marketing at the moment. I ran a promotion for A World Too Far on Freebooksy recently and, heads up, I’m running a 99 cent promotion starting June 6 for Caught in Time on Fussy Librarian and extending it out a couple of days. If you haven’t had a chance to get a deal on this starter to the Alysian series, now’s the time.

Meanwhile, I’m working on an innovative marketing platform that I’ll let everyone know about as soon as it goes active. It could be the next revolution in publishing.

This week I floundered around on my selection for my blog readers. I had elected Neil Gaimon’s Neverwhere.

Halfway through, I thought, Neverwhere… Nevermind.

However, there were a good number of readers in my Powell’s book club that liked it. So, you may too. I just didn’t like wandering around in the sewers of London meeting weird characters. After awhile, I felt I needed a shower.

Then I tried an Indie story that is getting a lot of buzz on Amazon called Crossing in Time. Both were on my to-read list that I make at the start of each year. This one I read halfway into the story until the main characters end up together in a different time dimension… which is kinda cool. When the female character goes back in time to the other dimension, she reverses aging, so she is also a teenager. There she meets the earlier young love she missed out on and is determined they should not separate in that timeline like they did in her original timeline. From there on, it became a juvenile romance novel. I did finish it, but may not be moving on to the next. So, fair warning.

Don’t get me wrong, I like romance in my science fiction, but for some reason, this lost the science fiction elements that I’d been enjoying in the first half of the book and became something else. However, I did finish it.

Now, I’m reading A Thousand Faces: A Shape-Shifter Thriller by Janci Patterson.
Free on Amazon.

So far, so good. The price is right.

I want to leave you with a smile on your face. My daughter is fostering kittens and I just couldn’t pass up showing you one of them. The ears jump up and down as he drinks. Quite the show.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, Indie authors, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, science fiction romance, Science fiction thriller, time travel, Writing Tips and Lectures

Authors Using Technology: Blessing or Bane?

Technology : Blessing or basin of authors.

There! Right there. I typed bane not basin. My computer decided I meant something else.

I love the ease of Swype where I can glide my fingers effortlessly across the keyboard, but it comes at a price. I often face a battle over how to spell words and even what words I’m writing. I can’t fathom where my computer finds these words. Sometimes, I try to write a very simple word several times, and computer boy wants something else. Yelling and shouting at the keyboard does no good. It’s deaf.

Many times, I have threatened to leave the program. But like a bad boy you can’t give up, the program reactivates, and I come slinking back just for the feel of the glide on my fingers and the ease of typing. And like a bad boy, I have to keep an eye out and constantly check up on what the program is saying for fear of some outrageous word cropping up… Like basin for bane, and then name, and then… until I’m pounding the keyboard in frustration.

Does technology do that to you? Do you bless and curse it all in the same breath? What technology do you use as an author that helps you?

As my writing circle shrinks, I’ve been exploring editing programs. I’m now familiar with Grammarly, Ginger, and Prowritingaid. Autocrit, Hemingway, Slickwriter, and Scrivener are a few others.

Of the three I use, the most value from the program for me comes from Prowritingaid. For forty dollars a year, I bought the premium version. It’s fairly easy to use, but can be overwhelming. It offers a critique summary which tells you your reading level, grammar mistakes, word repetitions, spelling, sentence lengths, punctuation and much more. I feel there is too much, but then I pick and choose what I want to change, and my writing is better for it.

Next I like Ginger. This editing program has a free version that is quite adequate. You import your section, and it tells you grammar errors, punctuation problems and offers a fix. The free version has limited word count of five hundred words at a time, but you can do it  piecemeal. If you have the patience, what Ginger has that the others don’t, is a program that goes sentence by sentence and offers several alternative words and sentence structures. Often, they will suggest a word that makes the meaning sharper. Instead of she walks, they’ll offer she ambles or struts. Sometimes, like my Swype program, they’ll offer a total off-the-wall suggestion. One of the choices might say: The queen rained. You just blink your eyes and move on.

Grammarly is also good and very popular. There, too, you can get a free version. Just be aware that you must put up with the constant sales pitch, and slyly, they won’t tell you all the errors, saying you must upgrade to their thirty dollars a month version to get a full critique. I don’t feel the upgrade is worth it.

Still, the free version does an adequate job, even though it harps on my use of articles for various nouns, or rather my lack of them, and my negligence in adding commas between compound sentences while completely ignoring the lack of punctuation at the end of a sentence.

I never liked Hemingway’s compact and sparse prose. I’m more of a Faulkner writer with his long involved sentences and intricate descriptions. Juicy. So, I didn’t explore the Hemingway editing program.

If you use an editing program or a writing program, which one is it, and what do you like about it? What is your opinion–technology: blessing or bane?

This week I want to suggest reading two of my favorite books : Heavy Time and Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh.

I’m now having fun writing the third novel in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. Previously, I’d become stuck in the middle of the story as often happens to writers. I knew I wanted to write about the conflict between Alysians and Terrans as the Terrans try to settle on Alysia. I wanted to add urgency to the story with the threat of an attack, and that’s when I remembered reading Hellburner.

But I had to start with Heavy Time because Hellburner was hard to find, and also because Hellburner happens earlier and continues the story with the same characters. Rimrunner also takes place in the same universe.

Heavy Time has strong political overtones and tells about the struggles the small independent spaceship miners have against the big company asteroid mining conglomerates. Pilot Paul Dekker is discovered drifting in a tumbling mining spaceship and half dead without memory of what happened. His crew appears to have been murdered, and he is the number one suspect. Paul is half out of his mind and keeps calling out for his lover and crewmate, Cory. With great reluctance, Ben Pollard answers his distress call and brings him in, complaining about the cost and inconvenience. Paul ‘s constant frantic rantings after his missing girlfriend annoys Ben, and he abuses Paul in order to stop it.. Once on station, Paul’s former fellow crewmate, Bird, takes pity on him and is the only person who tries to clear his name, but it doesn’t prove easy.

Hellburner continues Paul’s story.

After testing Paul to see what skills he might have, the military discovers through an incident that he has extraordinary piloting skills. A powerful executive in the Mars Company, Cory’s mother, is out to crucify Paul as she believes he is responsible for her daughter’s death. She tries to bring him off station to Earth to try him for murder.

But the military has a secret warship in development and needs Paul’s skills to pilot their prototype. They offer him refuge from prosecution if he will pilot the ship. However, within the various divisions of the military, conflict develops as to who will control the program, and Paul ends up right in the middle of the fight with several murder attempts aimed at him. Against his will, Ben is pulled in to bring a drugged Paul back to sanity where he uncovers a secret plot within the military.

Fast-paced, the story is typical Cherryh. Told in various first-person viewpoints, it’s solid science fiction with a lot of emotional heat. She keeps you guessing as what is really going on until the very end.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling author, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, military science fiction, Science fiction thriller, Technology Authors can Use, Writing Critique groups, Writing Tips and Lectures

A Writer’s Insights and An Assassin’s Fate

With the stress of the holidays, or maybe just the distractions, many authors are finding it hard to stay on track with their writing and marketing. I’m reading blogs that mention burn out. For me, it’s both. I’m thinking of what to get my family for Christmas, and I’m shopping with my daughter at the mall. There are parties and plans that preempt my writing. Meanwhile, I’m losing the momentum of the story.

Hence my blog is late, and my writing even more behind schedule. My editor is yelling at me and my publisher is disgusted with my procrastination.

Oh, wait…

That’s me.

The hardest taskmaster of them all.

To feel better about this author experience, I offer several blogs for writers intent on becoming authors. The first, if you haven’t read it already, is Hugh Howey’s blog on becoming a writer. If you have read it, now’s a good time to re-read it. He offers great insight into the writing process.

1. His first insight is that the only obstacle to writing is you. To become an author you have to start writing. As simple as it sounds, many authors use various excuses to block their goal of completing a novel.

2. You can’t compare your rough draft to books you’ve read. Those have been polished and edited by professional people.

3. There is no special qualification required…to write.

4. The best writers are the best readers.

5. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep it in mind, oh impatient one.

6. Whoever works the hardest will get ahead. In this insight, High mentions that it is easier to work hard if you are passionate about what you do. I find this very true.

7. Competition is complicated. The number of books out there isn’t important. Your book may be the inspiration or escape needed for a particular reader. Don’t let the numbers swamp you.

8. Be helpful and engaged. Authors should help and encourage one other.

9. Know your readers

10. Know your industry. Treat your writing as if it were a business.

These are the highlights of his discussion with important and insightful comments to support them. To read the complete blog, go to:

http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/165774835635/writing-insights-part-one-becoming-a-writer

Then, I recommend reading his follow-up blogs starting with writing rough drafts. I swear he was a fly on my wall. I do a lot of my writing in my head in the shower, before I fall asleep, or generally while driving. Then, I put words to these scenes I have created. He describes this same process for his writing.

Who knew?

At the moment, I’m at what he calls “the crux.” Noting that it was a normal phase in writing relieved a lot of my current frustration. I eagerly read where he describes how to get out of this impasse. Give me that machete so I can cut my way out.

http://www.hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-two-the-rough-draft/

There are several more blogs on the writing process that I’ll visit in a later blog.

The second blog I recommend is the Passive Voice. PG (passive guy) writes a lot about how Amazon has changed the industry in this blog and ends up with these statistics on author earnings that I found interesting.

You may, too.

A few facts from Author Earnings (emphasis is PG’s):

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/publishings-greatest-challenge-might-surprise-you/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%2

In 2016, two-thirds of traditionally-published fiction and non-fiction books were sold online.
• About 75% of adult fiction and non-fiction books (including both traditional and indie published) were sold online (77% of fiction, 72% of non-fiction) in 2016.
• In early 2017, Big Five publisher sales on Amazon were 20.8%–or barely one fifth–of all Amazon US consumer ebook purchases.
• As far as the earnings of individual authors who have debuted in the last three years:
◦ 250 Big Five authors are annually earning $25,000 or more from Amazon sales
◦ 200 recent small or medium publisher authors earn $25,000 or more from their Amazon sales annually
◦ Over 1,000 indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years are earning more than $25,000 per year from Amazon sales
• Looking at earnings of debut authors from the past five years, more indie authors are now earning a $50K-or-better living wage from Amazon than all of their Big Five and Small/Medium publisher peers put together.
• Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authors and 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
PG suggests that traditional publishing’s greatest challenge is demonstrated by numbers like this.

Lots to think about.

Another reason this blog has been delayed is that I was reading the 800 page tome by Robin Hobbs called Assassin’s Fate. I have been an avid reader of all Hobb’s books, and I am particularly fond of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

There are eighty-eight percent five stars out of 755 reviews. So, I’m not alone.

The story: Fitz Chivalry’s daughter, Bee, is kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society that uses dreams of special children to mold the future, often for their own benefit. Fitz Chivalry and the Fool believe Bee is dead, and they embark on a revenge mission to wipe out the whole island where this sect lives to destroy them utterly. The Fool had vowed never to return to where he grew up, was tortured, and finally escaped. But now, he joins his closet friend to wreak vengeance on his earlier persecutors.

Unbeknownst to them, Bee survives and is dragged across the land and sea by her sadistic abductor, who believes she is the chosen one. She brings along a small group from the island who bend to her commands. One minion, when given the spit of the dragon, can control the minds of those around him, except for Bee, who has special talents she hides. She can dream the future also, but she doesn’t reveal this fact to her tormentor. Others bend to her kidnapper’s vicious demands and also bully Bee.

So, yes, there are dragons and ships and magic and many old familiar characters from several of her other books that make a cameo appearance.

Read the earlier books first, write up all your apologies for chores being left undone, appointments missed, late blogs, and then enjoy this fine conclusion to the story of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, dragons, fantasy, fantasy series, Hugh Howey, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, magic, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

A Space Opera Selection

Who do you listen to when you write?

Dean Wesley Smith has written more than a hundred books over many years along with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch who has written equally as much. Both are Oregon Coast writers who know what they are talking about when it comes to writing and publishing. So it was interesting to read a blog where Dean advocated not having Beta readers or even writing groups.  https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing-beta-readers-help-you/ His point was that in the cacophony of advice, the author ‘s voice may be lost among the mumble of suggestions, and the story damaged or diluted.

I work with both a writers’ group and Beta readers because I find their input helpful in making my story stronger.

But he has a point. A very good point.

Some writers want to polish each word to a literary high gloss, while others encourage a stampede of action and excitement to keep their readers turning the pages. Others drench their characters with emotion much like a teenager in the throes of first love. And you, as the writer, may be pushed and pulled by their suggestions.

In The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon  (mentioned in my last blog) I delighted in brilliant metaphors and similes until it became too much and felt like every third sentence was a finely crafted metaphor to show off how clever the writing was.

I love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Series, but the strong emotions of the characters take center stage, leaving descriptions and action to tag along.

And anyone reading space opera science fiction or a series like The Expanse knows that action is paramount. Authors are told to have the first chapter start bang with strong action that hooks the reader and fill out the characters and setting later.

So a writers should decide what his or her voice is, or it could become a hodgepodge of other people’s suggestions.

Make no mistake, suggestions are helpful and often make for a stronger work, but only after asking the question : Do I know what my voice is and is this suggestion consistent with my voice and how I want my story written?

In my last blog, I mentioned the international aspect of blogs. Writers are blogging with other writers from all over the globe. It’s quite international. But now we have come to a whole new level when Google translate can instantly translate a blog into many different languages. My friend Diana Peach wrote a guest blog today for Christopher Graham. (copy/paste)

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/10/03/world-building-from-imagination-to-reality-guest-post-by-diana-peach/?c=128961#comment-128961

The blog was excellent, but what attracted my attention was the ability to tap the drop down in the upper right hand corner and immediately have Google translate the blog into a bewildering number of languages. Take your pick.

Think about that one.

I return to space opera this week for my science fiction suggestion. David Drake is a prolific writer of science fiction with several series, and I have been meaning to read him for some time now. Written in 1992, Starliner came out in trade paperback this past June with additional content.

Third officer, Lieutenant Ran Colville, receives his staff side position of making sure all goes smoothly on board the newest and largest starship, the Empress of Earth. Even with the efficient help of the attractive lieutenant Wanda Holly, politics, greed, young love and war threaten to disrupt the orderly passage of the luxury ship with its high class passengers. And Ran’s job is to see they are happy and safe. Different chapters describe various landings on interesting worlds, each one presenting a challenge to the ship. All through the story is the threat of pirates or a military fleet from a warring planet that would love to add this majestic ship to its fleet. Jumping through wormhole, exploring exotic world, dealing with dark politics, and fending off panting women all keep Ran hopping.The Spark

Drake writes a fast-paced story but keeps in mind his characters and their various emotions that drive their actions. This book is a stand alone, but I’m certain to try out other of David Drakes stories having read this one.  Maybe this latest one.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction space opera, Writing Critique groups, Writing Tips and Lectures

Urban Fantasy in London

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy…”

Well, not if you’re scribbling away, or worse, staring over the deck while wracking your brain as to what you should write next.

I’ve been both places.

In the last hour.

So I’m going to use this blog to tidy up some odds and ends. While I was writing A World Too Far, I needed some insight into what futuristic weapons could look like. After all, Carter Wright had to come up with a defense system for the ship, and a robotic swarm seemed a natural for his talents. I found this website on futuristic weapons, some are leading edge weapons already on the battlefield, and I wanted to pass it on to my science geeks. (Overlook the ad and any click bait, because the content is interesting.)

Here’s the link : http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=843

I used the rail gun because it doesn’t use explosives (no air in space), and the armed robot swarm. Lasers seemed like a cool futuristic weapon too.

Science fiction is just that…fiction. But it becomes much more powerful if grounded in some fact. How precise the accuracy should be, and how detailed, varies from reader to reader. I research a lot, but then when you’re skimming a black hole for the impact of the story, I sometimes make a leap of imagination. A big leap.

Never having the real experience recorded by anyone to compare notes with.

When I think of the astronomy I learned in school and what they have discovered since, I am astounded. Nothing can be ruled out as to what future discoveries might reveal.

Er, that dates me a bit.

On an entirely different subject, but another odds and ends note, I came across this article on page count. With the advent of the ebook, page count becomes not as important. No bookstore dictates shelf space and formatting is more flexible. So how has this changed page count?

The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander is a favorite website. They have an occasional blog that says, “Do This: Not That.” In June, Amy Collins did an interesting guest blog on page count.

-Here’s the link:  https:thebookdesigner.com/2017/06/book-promotion-do-this-not-that-june-2017/.

Zack Obront from Book in A Box analyzed 272 books that sat at the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List over the past seven years. In 2011, the average nonfiction #1 NYT Bestseller was 467 pages long. Now it’s 273. Almost half.

For fiction, in 2011, the average Bestseller List page count was 502. This week (June 21, 2017) the average Best Seller List page count was 398. Quite a difference.

This surprised me as I thought page count would go up due to not having the shelf space worry.

But…

If you are going to offer a POD paperback, new authors are finding the cost of production eats deeply into any royalties for a long book and drives the price too high for the average reader’s pocketbook. Less buyers.

If you are beginning a book, it is good to set a goal for how long the book should be. I often use Larry Brook’s outline for pacing purposes, and it is helpful to know around what page your plot points should drop.

Amy goes on to offer suggestions on how to remedy the problem of the too long and the too short book from splitting it up, tighter editing, to places that take lesser page count material such as magazines or leaflets.

Odds and Ends, dusted and done.

This week I’m highlighting an urban fantasy. If you’re a fan of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden Series, you’ll like Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. It can also be found in the United Kingdom under the title of the Rivers of London.

The story: Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Unfortunately, his superior plans to stick him in a desk job as a clerk.

However, on duty at a particularly puzzling murder, one of the eye witnesses that speaks to him turns out to be a ghost. This odd occurrence comes to the attention of Inspector Thomas Nightingale, Special Division of the Uncanny. Nightingale investigates crimes involving magic and the supernatural…on the down low. Due to Peter’s unique ability to sense the supernatural, Thomas takes him on as his assistant. As they investigate the murder, they wade deeper and deeper into a series of bizarre crimes that soon involve gods and goddesses fighting over river territories. A long dead evil begins to emerge in a rising tide of magic and mayhem, and it is up to Nightingale and his new partner to stop it.

I enjoyed the story, full of twists and turns. Peter stumbles into a whole nether world unknown to most Londone

rs who become victims of a malevolent being. Fun dialog, interesting characters, and magic. What more could you want?

 

It’s hot. I’m going to find some mint from my back deck for my iced tea and another good book to read in the shade.

Shine on.

 

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Filed under Cutting Edge Science ideas, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, hard science, magic, Urban Fantasy, Wizards and magic, Writing Tips and Lectures

The Excitement of Self Publishing

Someone once said that the only constant is change itself. Who says? I’m not sure, but it’s true.

Over time my writing group has changed and evolved. We each bring or have brought our own special writing strengths to the table, and everyone has been better for the interaction. Sadly, four of our writers over the years we have been together have gone on because of new jobs, a new husband, new baby or new residence. Others have filled in the vacancies, adding fresh ideas to the writing process.

Our most recent escapee, er, graduate, is D. Wallace Peach. She has shed the constrictions of her publisher to turn to self-publishing. Recognizing the help given by her publisher when she was new and learning, she has embraced self-publishing and revamped her series with exciting new covers, combing through her books, fixing any errors, and generally re-editing everything.

The results are exciting and gives everything a fresh new look.

But then she continued on with a whole new series: The Rose Shield, and Catling’s Bane is the first book.

This is not your usual fantasy or science fiction series but a strange blend of both, which deals with mind control in an exotic world. Oh, here. Let me have her tell you in her own words:

“In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

To the Influencer’s Guild, she’s an aberration, a threat. They order her death and thus the betrayals begin. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?

The Rose Shield Tetralogy – a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to a world of three moons, a sentient landscape, rivers of light, and tier cities that rise from the swamps like otherworld flowers. A planet of waterdragons, where humans are the aliens living among three-fingered natives with spotted skin. Where a half-blood converses with the fog and the goddess plans her final reckoning.

Follow Catling’s journey as she grows from childhood into the deadly force that shapes the future. She is the realm’s shield, an influencer, assassin, healer, mother, and avenger. And all she wants is to go home.

The books of The Rose Shield Tetralogy:
Catling’s Bane
Oathbreakers’ Guild
Farlanders’ Law
Kari’s Reckoning”

The whole series has been released at once so there’s no waiting around one book at a time. (As George R.R. Martin has us doing)

Recently she talked about how important the first chapter was and had a lot of good points for writers at any level. Check out her blog at:

https://mythsofthemirror.com/2017/03/07/28237/

Yes, change is the constant. We are all changing, growing, reaching out for new experiences and hopefully becoming better for it. I wish Diana the best of luck and lots of sales in her new adventure.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

A Whiff of Science Fiction in a Good Thriller

Image 1With the rain coming in and A World Too Far published, it’s back to writing…no excuses.
I know the general overall scope of this next story, just not all the details—and the devil is in the details.

That’s when Larry Brooks’s story structure comes in handy. (The Storyfix) He uses a four point system. The first twenty pages is the initiating event with a hook. Something happens that shows the character’s life is about to change. The first 25% is the set up and the first plot point. We learn about the character and his world. The primary obstacle is defined.larry-brooks

The hero confronts the obstacle, but then there’s the pinch point at 37% of the way through where we are reminded of the nature and intention of the antagonistic force.

At the mid plot point we are 50% through and everything changes. New information shows up. The hero has to dig deeper and find new solutions to reach his goal.

At 62% into the story, the confrontation escalates. Obstacles change and evolve. The hero finds a new course, and new opportunities set up the final showdown. Protagonist takes command. We think the solution is in hand …but not so fast. Greater feats are required.

At 80% a plot point carries the final battle. The character has evolved, changed through the experience and a major confrontation occurs to prove his or her worth.

The resolution brings the final pages of the story where ends are tied up, actions are explained, and a sense of completion ends the story.

I use this outline to try to keep on track so my heroine is not off wandering in the weeds with readers asking : what’s she doing? What’s the point? There has to be a rub…conflict worthy of a story. And, for me, there can be multiple conflicts and lines of progression. Sometimes the conflict is outward, but sometimes, the conflict is internal. Sometimes both at the same time.

Brooks has a blog called the Story you might want to check out. He goes more in-depth  with the process.    storyfix.com/about

Okay, now (sips coffee, rubs face) time to write.

legaciesThis week I read a book recommended by a new reader. What I like is that it’s a hidden gem not on any current list. It was published a while ago, but it’s new to me. That’s the beauty of this new publishing world. The reader comes fresh to the story if he’s never read it before no matter what the publication date. Ebooks are forever.

The other caveat is that it barely ekes into the science fiction genre. There is a science fiction element hiding in the story, so I decided to go ahead and mention it. It’s there so keep reading.

The book is Legacies by F. Paul Wilson. This is in the popular Repairman Jack series. Repairman Jack isn’t your average repairman, although his own father is oblivious to what he really does and wants him to move to Florida, buy a fleet of trucks, and with Florida’s great opportunities, expand his business there.

What Repairman Jack fixes is lives. He rights injustice. He defends the underdog. He lives off the grid, not daring to marry for fear of creating a data trail. In certain circumstances, he is willing to murder if necessary. He has no social security card, does not deal with banks or leave an identity trail of any kind. Often, his opponents were powerful men who did bad deeds. Consequently, over the years he has antagonized dangerous people. But he chooses his jobs carefully. There is a bit of MacGyver in him.

Dr. Alicia Clayton works with children who have aids. These are abandoned children of mothers usually on crack, heroine, or other drugs and have passed aids onto their child. Alicia runs a center to help these desperately ill children.hosts

She inherits her inventor father’s house after his death in a mysterious plane crash. Both house and Alicia carry deep secrets. Her half brother is willing to do anything to get the house out of her hands, but if she is killed, the house passes to the Greenpeace organization.

So, those desperate to uncover the house’s secrets stop at killing her. Shadowy Arabs, a lurking Japanese ninja, and various nefarious characters enter the picture. Alicia wants the house burned, but competing shadowy international figures want the house at any cost. They offer millions, but for some reason Alicia will not sell. Everyone who helps her, from lawyer to private eye, ends up murdered. She is becoming emotionally unhinged trying to deal with what is happening to those who try to help. Someone of daring and cunning who is willing to risk his life to uncover the mystery is needed.

the-tombAnd so enters Repairman Jack under his many aliases to right the wrong and uncover the mystery.

Clever with many plot twists, this page-turner thriller will pull you in until the last surprising moment.

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