Love, Joy, and Peace – Sounds Good, Reads Bad – Revisited

conflictI pray often for my home to be blessed with love, joy, and peace. For those who are wondering, it is. Who wouldn’t want a peaceful stress-free home environment, especially after a crazy day at the office?

However, I don’t want love, joy, and peace, in the novels I read. I want action, adventure, and adversity. Who wants to read a humdrum book about a couple meeting, falling in love, and getting married? That’s sweet, but it’s a little too sweet.

Without conflict, your story is going to be rejected. We all want the happily ever after ending. So make sure you have it, but it’s the conflicts and challenges your couple faces along the way that keeps your reader turning the page.

Keep in mind, conflict shouldn’t be something that shows up at the climax of your novel, you are going to lose your readers before they get that far.

Conflict should be evident in every scene and practically every page. It’s the engine that propels your story forward and keeps your reader engaged.

Most novels have one major conflict, but then each character will have one or two of their own conflicts. All of these conflicts go hand in hand to create an even bigger problem.

When you do introduce conflict,  it has to be a natural extension of your plot or your character. The conflict has to be something that prevents your hero or heroine from achieving their goals. It can’t be something you just magically pull out of the air.

It’s okay to have a flat tire or an unforeseen traffic jam that prevents your character from making that all-important meeting. Just remember, too many coincidences like these are not directly related to your character or plot and can sound contrived.

One flat tire is acceptable, but if you are going to have more, then you had better find a way to make it a part of your story. Maybe someone is purposely flattening the tires of the main character to prevent them from meeting their goal.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Love, Joy, and Peace – Sounds Good, Reads Bad – Revisited

Thursday Thoughts

resumewritingoverusedwordsDid you get rid of the filler words? Search for the words there, here, and it followed by a verb like is, are, was, and were. Those weaken your writing by diluting it and taking focus away from the object and often make your sentences longer.  Estelle Erasmus, Writer’s Digest

Examples:

There are many people who write. Vs. Many people write.

It was a great party.  Vs. The party was great.

Something else to think about.

-Jan R

Thursday Thoughts

Underlying Elements are Essential

flawopportunityThere are four main dramatic elements to your novel. You probably never thought about it, but if you did it right, they are there. If they’re missing, you need to revisit your work and make some adjustments.

That’s one of the nice things about writing. Nothing is set in stone, and when equipped with time and knowledge, you can change anything.

So back to the blog and the elements that I was referring to.

  1. Passion – yours not the Novels. Write something that you are passionate about. If you’re not passionate, it will come through. What’s important to you?  What are you trying to get across? What do you want to be the takeaway?
  2. Theme – what your reader takes away from reading your story.  Yes, the theme and passion can be the same thing and probably are in a great many cases. Examples of theme would be, belief in yourself or all things work for the good of those who serve the Lord. 
  3. Flaws – your character must have flaws. They don’t have to be exaggerated or grotesque but face it, nobody is perfect. Talk about a boring read.                                  The flaw could be as simple as a lack of confidence or the inability to put the past behind them.  The character doesn’t have confidence,  so the theme would probably be, believe in yourself. Note how they can work hand in hand and build on each other.
  4.  Premise – What if a (flawed character)(encounters some problem) and had to (overcome the flaw) to (solve the problem). You know your story. Fill in the blanks. Does it make sense? Is it enthralling or boring?

One of the things that the agent wrote to me after rejecting my work, was I had a great premise. It was a silver lining to a dark cloud that sprung up after the initial shock of being rejected. And while I thought the passion and theme were there, my characters were not flawed, which means that my passion and theme were probably weak.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Underlying Elements are Essential

Plot Holes Revisited

plot-holes Does your plot have missing or broken parts? Does it jump from one idea to another without providing a bridge?

When you are writing, you know what’s happening and you may not question why Suzie is talking to Jeff about needing a job in one paragraph and working for him in the next.

I’m not saying you need every little step in order for your reader to follow what’s going on. I’m sure most people don’t want to know she woke up, took a shower, put on her favorite dress, ate some Cheerios, and brushed her teeth with Crest toothpaste before walking out the door to go to work, but if Jeff gave her a job, I think that’s pretty darn important. This is a missing plot piece.

Your readers will do a double-take and have to try to resolve the inconsistency for themselves without the knowledge of how the scene was supposed to go. All it will take is a few of these before your readers are calling you names and tossing your work to the side.

When you read through your manuscript, look for areas where something important has happened and your reader didn’t see it. Try to put yourself in their shoes and see the story through their eyes. They don’t have access to your brain and thoughts, so they can’t fill in the missing holes.

I talked about plot holes in this blog but there are also broken plots that I pointed out in last week’s Thursday Thoughts. Check it out 🙂

-Jan R

Plot Holes Revisited

Waiting For Inspiration?

imagesMEZC930WWaiting for inspiration will kill your novel. It’s also an excuse I have used many times over the years.

Some writers don’t write unless they feel inspired. They think they’re wasting their time by pushing through the mental block that is stifling their creativity. Their argument is that they are bound to make more errors and have to go back and do significant revisions so why bother.

These writers are better known as aspiring authors or unpublished.  They don’t complete their masterpiece because they are waiting for something that may never come.

Think of writing as a job. You can’t call in every other day and say I’m not working today. I just don’t feel inspired. I guess in all reality you could, but it wouldn’t go over very well and that would be the end of that job. You get the picture?

Sometimes we have to push ourselves even when we don’t feel like it. In most cases the results are positive and once we get going things just flow. Published Writers/Authors have the mindset that you work on your craft every day. They set quotas based on time or number of words.

Remember, the more you write the better you will become. Writing every day also helps you to develop a writer’s mindset. If you are concerned about ruining your story by writing without inspiration, you can always leave your story alone and work on something else until the creative juices start flowing.

I can relate to those of you who procrastinate and make excuses. Some days it is a true battle of the mind. Thank goodness for my accountability partner.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Waiting For Inspiration?