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Month: January 2016

Plotting “What Happens Next?”: Sunday Reblog

When you are plotting your book, there are going to be times when you are stuck, when you are not sure what should happen next. This week’s Sunday Reblog ties into my last post on Moving Forward When You (or Your Characters) Are Stuck. This article from Janice Hardy at Fiction University gives some solid practical advice on plotting and getting from point A to point B when it is more than just your character’s motivation that is in question.


plotting, outline

Where Do I Go From Here? Plotting Through “What Happens Next?” Part One

Whenever I’m not sure where the plot goes it’s almost always due to a goal issue. I’ve usually lost sight of what the protagonist was after and why she wanted it in the first place.

The rough part is, I often know what happens next in the plot, which makes the whole thing ever harder to manage. The story needs to go there, but I can’t quite figure out how to get the protagonist from point A to B.

When you find yourself in the same situation, step back and look at the scene from both a macro and micro perspective. Keep drilling down (or pulling back) until you find where the problem lies.

Continued at Fiction University: Where Do I Go From Here? Plotting Through “What Happens Next?” Part One


Other Plotting Resources

  1. K. M. Weiland uses tips from her book Structuring Your Novel to teach authors how to successfully plot each scene effectively to keep readers interested. How to Structure Scenes in Your Story (Complete Series)
  2. In a guest post on The Writer’s Dig (Writer’s Digest), Karen S. Wiesner offers authors the Story Plan Checklist to help them cover all of their bases when plotting their novel. Your Novel Blueprint
  3. Chuck Wendig, in 25 Ways To Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story, offers a variety of techniques for plotting your story and just getting the job done. In this list, you are bound to find at least one method that appeals to you.
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writng prompt, wednesday writing prompt

Each Wednesday, I will be bringing you a writing prompt from a different category: photo, romance, mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, etc.

Change anything you like, but get to writing. Even if it doesn’t develop into a full story or novel, save it because you never know when you might use something from this little exercise!

WRITING PROMPT: Your hero is on a business trip, relaxing in the lazy river of his hotel and trying to stop thinking about his recent, messy breakup when he spots a beautiful woman stealing hotel keys from the lounge chairs around the pool.


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Moving Forward When You (or Your Characters) Are Stuck

As I was writing along a couple of days ago in the paranormal romance that I am working on, I finished writing a scene that was really exciting. I had done a rough outline of the book to start with, but my plans have recently changed, and my characters’ motivations have changed along with them. So, at this point—as I am mostly pantsing it—I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to keep moving forward.

Anyway, this scene was really intense. It got my blood pumping and my heart racing. I wanted to run over and tell my husband all about it, even though he hasn’t the slightest interest in paranormal romance. However, when I sat down to write the next scene the following day, I felt a little stuck. Now that this big scene was over, there was definitely some conflict between my main characters, and neither knew just what to do to fix it and/or move on. I stared at the screen for a while before closing out Scrivener and switching over to my freelance work.

While I was working, I kept stewing on the situation in my story so that I could get my daily writing in later. At some point, I had my a-ha moment. What I had to do was to go back to the basics for a little while and ask myself questions that would give me the answers that I needed.

In my case, because my characters were not yet ready to kiss and make up, I went back to my character sheets and asked myself the question, “What do my characters do when they are stressed?” I had already answered the question for one of these characters without really realizing it. She liked to hike as a hobby, and she also liked to walk to relieve stress. In an earlier scene, when she was afraid and overwhelmed, she took off and walked the city streets. As for my other character, it was time to develop that side of her as well before moving on. She had already faced a life-or-death situation and reacted quickly, maybe rashly, to save the day (maybe), but how would she react when the woman she loved looked at her with hate in her eyes? Would she analyze it, run away, feed her feelings, take a run, get defensive? The answer to those questions will help me write the next scene and move on with the story. By taking notes, I will also have resources for future scenes that will help me to develop a more fully featured and believable character.

So, if you are stuck and have written an outline or taken notes, go back to your plan and see what is supposed to come next. Examine how your characters would react to the situation at hand in a way that is uniquely their own. If you haven’t got notes or an outline, now is the time to start! In the process, always make sure that your character motivations are well grounded and that the transitions from event to event are believable. It can be easy when outlining to list events A, B, and C without giving reasons why one leads to another.

So, sit down with your story, your notes, and your character sheets and ask yourself some general questions (like “What would X do when Y?”) until you find the answer that helps you move forward. Don’t be afraid to do a little revising of your plot if it doesn’t fit with your excellent characters or to do a little revising of your characters if they don’t fit with an excellent plot. It will give you what you need to keep your story moving forward.

Update October 8, 2016: This one move has helped me immensely since I wrote this six months ago. This book is now over 50,000 words long, and I expect to have finished it by the end of November. Knowing the ways in which my two main characters react to basic situations and feelings has moved the story along in a scene–sequel/action–reaction pace that is natural and feels good to write. I’m still learning and polishing this technique, but it’s proven indispensable!


“Writing Patterns Into Fiction: Scene and Sequel,” Raven Oak (guest blogger), at Writers Helping Writers




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SUNDAY REBLOG: 7 Ways to Help You Be Precise in Your Writing | Live Write Thrive via @CSLakin

After a week off to recover from bronchitis, I am back to share a great post from Live Write Thrive guest author Dawn Field. This post gives you some tips on how to evoke the feelings you want in your writing without using too many words. Read it, and see what I mean.

Today’s guest post is by Dawn Field: The best books suck you into an alternative world in a single sentence. Ideally, it happens in the opening sentence. Some take a paragraph—others longer. …

Source: 7 Ways to Help You Be Precise in Your Writing | Live Write Thrive

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The Importance of Point of View: Part IV: Third Person

Welcome back! In this final installment in my series on point of view (POV), I will be discussing the most popular point of view used in fiction: third person. The different points of view and the use of first-person and second-person POVs were covered earlier in this series.

Third person is popular for a reason. It is very flexible. You can choose to show your fictional world from many viewpoints and intimacy levels within one POV.

Third-Person Omniscient: You can show the reader your world from completely outside the characters and setting yet be able to relate—or refuse to relate—the thoughts and actions of each at your own whim or for your own devious intentions (e.g., to drive your reader crazy with suspense).

Third-Person Objective: Again, you can show your reader your world from the outside but, in this case, refrain from getting inside the characters’ heads. Only actions, narrative, and description are used to tell your story. All thoughts and feelings must be learned or inferred by the reader from these elements.

Third-Person Limited: With this POV, you can take a more intimate approach and get up close and personal with one of your characters. This can be a single character in a novel (also referred to as third-person single POV) or multiple characters (also referred to as third-person multiple POV). The latter can be distinguished from third-person objective in that at any one time in the story, only the viewpoint of one character is shown. In this case, any shifts from one character to another must be done carefully, such as through a natural break in the story with a scene shift or new chapter.

As with the previous weeks, I will demonstrate third-person POV (limited in this case) with a short scene from The Magician’s Wife. This same scene was covered in the first-person and second-person POVs in my previous posts.

Excerpt, The Magician’s Wife by Janell E. Robisch

“Sarin, you must be careful.”

“Lew, do not speak that way. There is nothing to worry about. It is just another spell. As soon as Kaleo arrives with the herb, everything will be fine.” Her voice was shaking terribly despite all her efforts to remain calm. After wringing a warm cloth between her trembling hands, she applied the compress to her husband’s cheeks and forehead.

“Sarin, look at me, at my face!” he said, pulling her wrist and the cloth down.

Reluctantly, she brought her eyes to his, blinking back tears. His green eyes were bright, but the flesh around them was pale and drawn. Moving his hand to hers, he squeezed gently. “Sarin, this is the last time. The Guardians are calling me. It’s time to go.”

“No.” She shook her head hard and felt her hair brush the sides of her face. It usually annoyed her, but now it seemed unimportant.

Lew’s eyes focused on her once more. “Listen to me Sarin, you have to be careful with the magic. Do not trust anyone. Do not tell anyone. If I had known . . . . I never should have taught you anything.” She heard no malice in his voice, only fear and regret. “You must promise me to be careful.”

His lips faded to a lighter shade of pink as if all his blood were rushing down to his ailing heart, but Sarin knew the truth. She could feel its beat slowing as surely as if it were her own. Soon, it would stop.

“I promise,” she nodded. “I promise.” The truth of his departure was becoming clear to her as the emerald sparkle of his eyes finally began to fade.

As a warm tear slid down her nose, Sarin made the four-pointed sign of the Guardians over her husband’s chest. “I love you,” she whispered, burying her face in his shoulder, inhaling his scent as if she could hold on to it. She felt his cool, weak hand rest on her neck. “Don’t forget me.”

“Never, my little star. Never.”

The hand slipped ever-so-slowly from her neck, and Sarin broke into sobs, her fists buried in Lew’s tunic, knowing she would never hear his sweet voice again.

Now that you have read all three, which do you prefer for this scene?


Deep POV—What’s So Deep About It by Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley

Using Third Person Multiple POV by Mac Hopkins, Scribophile Writing Academy

What Point of View Should You Use in Your Novel? (First Person? Third Person?) by James V. Smith, Jr., Writer’s Digest