Mind Mapping

Recently, I came across some software for “Mind Mapping,” a snazzy virtual visualization technique that is currently all the rage.  Although the concept of Mind Mapping dates back some 25 years, Mind Mapping software is much newer. So, always on the lookout for things that will help organize the gazillion bits and pieces of information I collect in the process of writing a novel, I set off to investigate this phenomenon. Little did I know what I was getting into.

First, I found the motherlode site, http://www.biggerplate.combiggerplate a… Continue reading

Twisted History: Playing the “What If” Game

TwistMost story plots are based on previously written fiction or our own history. Writers love to reach out and give the past a little twist, playing the “what if” game in the hopes of creating ideas unique enough to propel their story onto the best seller lists. You see “what if” all the time in Science Fiction where the ordinary and known world is flipped upside down. The lure of Science Fiction is the possibility that what you’re reading might actually materialize in the future. We readers are fascinated and disturbed at the… Continue reading

Writer’s Problem: Timelines

At a recent panel at a local writer’s meeting, one author talked about the challenges of writing a historical novel.   I didn’t think it applied to my current day novel but I found that there were a lot of the resources that could be helpful for me as well.

The first was creating a timeline, which I also do.  This provides the backbone of an historical novel.  However, in any novel, keeping up with what day something happened and how the time works is important.  For the historical novel, it also includes people who you might meet at particular… Continue reading

Likeable Villains??

I just attended a great workshop taught by Carol Bugge entitled Villains, Heroes, and villainSidekicks–Crafting Characters that thrill readers (and SELL books). The workshop was put on by Sisters in Crime, New England.

I needed to learn more about villains and give them their proper place in my work. Not only do I leave their development until later, but, sometimes, I don’t figure out who they are until it’s absolutely necessary. I have one cozy set aside because I can’t decide who did it. But, I’m learning.

In order… Continue reading

Writer’s Problem: Keeping the suspense/tension high

Last Saturday, my local writing group’s program included authors talking about how to solve a particular writing problem.   One presentation was on how to develop and maintain suspense.  The solution:  chapter ending hooks.

Nancy J. Cohen wrote an interesting blog post (Killzone Blog) that talked about seven types of chapter ending hooks.  These are used to provoke the reader’s curiosity or to shock or tease or entice or worry or otherwise propel your reader to the next page and chapter.  There may be more than the seven but I thought it was a really good list to start… Continue reading

Purloined Prose or Synchronicity?

Purloined PlotsHow many times have you read a book, seen a movie, or watched a TV show that bore an uncanny resemblance to others you’ve encountered? I’m not talking about those endless remakes. Nor am I talking about déjà vu.

When a story line follows another so closely that you recognize the plot, does that mean that the author has stolen the plot from someone else? Probably not. Could it be synchronicity? Google defines synchronicity as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible… Continue reading

The Fat Lady Sings (Again) – to Beat Sheets

CORRECTION: The wonderful Jami Gold has made a correction to this post. Although a number of “Beat Sheets” below are attributed to different authors, they were actually created by Jami herself. She’s drawn from the teachings of Larry Brooks, Michael Hauge, etc. to assemble them, hence their names. The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet was created by Elizabeth Davis. Confused yet?  Don’t worry. All will become clear as you read further.
Two other suggestions from Jami: first, she recommends this link for her Scrivener Beat Sheet: jamigold.com/2013/12/can-we-use-beat-sheets-with-scrivener . And second, she provides a “clearinghouse” link for all Beat Sheets

Talking Books, Films and Garage Sales with Author Suzi Weinert

Today I am thrilled to be talking with Suzi Weinert who is the author of the Garage Sale mysteries series. First a bit of history:  Moving regularly as an Air Force brat, after college Suzi married an Army officer and in the succeeding 21 years, moved 11 more times across the US, Germany and the Philippines. Transforming each new house into a home, she discovered on-post thrift shops where military families consign for sale whatever they can’t take on a move and later supplement their belongings from their new destination’s thrift shop.

Theme? My Story Has a Theme?

 

Begin bookAs we all know, writing, especially fiction, is not as simple as deciding on a story and penning it. Each chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence must work together to tell the story you want and ensure reader satisfaction. A story has many crucial elements: plot, characters, pacing, setting, point of view, etc. Then there are things like arcs, story and character, to consider. It’s hard to believe how much goes on behind the scenes of each printed page. As an author in the midst of editing, I often find… Continue reading

More on Self-Editing (Will It Ever End?)

Not every great writer writes a great book. That’s a given. Even Agatha Christie had a couple of truly awful mysteries. elephant (“Elephants Can Remember” stands out as boring, repetitive, definitely an un-Christie-like story.)

But still, it’s always a surprise to hit one of those disappointments, much more so when the disappointments are multiple. Three of the last four bestsellers I’ve read have fit into this category.

lawyer revised and flippedOne had so much technical information it got in the… Continue reading