Longer Books Through Better Planning

Anodyne-cover-2015Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Twitterific writing links a couple weeks back led me to Ryan Lanz writing about stretching your word count.

In a moment of weakness, worried that Anodyne is too short, I followed it.

Expecting smarmy tricks, I found solid advice, which if implemented properly and with good motives is, what’s the phrase I’m looking for . . . oh yes; Good Stuff.

The 5 stretches listed by Lanz:

… more … “Longer Books Through Better Planning”

Character (Story Engineering and Physics #2 of 12)

Part of a series of posts on story engineering based on the book of that title and its companion volume Story Physics.

Story Engineering & Story Physics

I learned a lot about trust from a book called The Speed of Trust, written by Stephen M. R. Covey, the son of the “7 habits” author.

It cleared up some misconceptions and filled some gaps in my understanding of trust. For instance, why can we trust someone to repay a loan, but we wouldn’t ask them to work for us? Why can we take them at their word, trusting their honesty implicitly, but not ask them to watch the dog when we’re on vacation?

Answering those questions taught me about the people in my life (including myself) but it changed how I present the people in my books as well. First, some details about the psychology of trust, and then, how this informs your writing.

Trust is a Tree

Covey compares trust to a tree with four elements matching the roots, trunk, branches and leaves.

… more … “Character (Story Engineering and Physics #2 of 12)”

Snowflake People: Backstory to the Rescue

Irish (really?) castlemusic with friendsChef JoelI’ve finished 3 mysteries, with a solid first draft of a fourth and half a draft of another. The first, Through the Fog, was a solo project, a lark, a few years ago. This year, I got more serious with A Long, Hard Look and dug a little deeper for Into the Fog, the second of my foggy Irish mysteries.

The first editing note Tom Bentley sent regarding Into the Fog mentioned that its protagonist sounded a lot like the chap in A Long, Hard Look.

All I could think was, wait ’til he reads anodyne.

All three protagonists (wait; there’s a fourth, a woman) speak with my voice. There are subtle differences, but I’ve made the mistake of allowing my writer’s voice to overwhelm these characters’ individuality.

They’re all too much me. I guess I have so many faces I want to use them all. But that’s confusing for readers.

O woe is me. How to fix?

Tom’s first suggestion sounded familiar. That’s because I’ve been recommending it to my business coaching clients since before I wrote The Commonsense Entrepreneur in 2008.

This is why we hire others: so they can help us see, over here, what we’ve been doing for 6 long years over here.

Write What Who You Know

I’d like to introduce you to Eileen Thomasina Armstrong, 36. (She sure doesn’t like her middle name.) Here are some things you might like to know about her: … more … “Snowflake People: Backstory to the Rescue”

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ — Momentum as a Writing Tool

“Now, where was I?”

Most folks dislike being interrupted. Finding your place in that column of figures you were adding. Wondering whether you were just about to add the salt, or just added the salt. Might as well start the joke over from the beginning because you aren’t sure where you left off.

With a non-fiction book, momentum is a good idea. With fiction, it’s vital. One reason to write every day, even a few sentences, is to keep the story rolling in your mind. The thread of story, the creative process, is tenuous at times. We’ve all experienced the brilliant thought we were sure we’d remember but which evaporated, leaving only a stain.

keep moo-ving
keep moo-ving

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C.S. Lakin: Write Better Stories By Asking These Questions

?I need these. You might, too.

  • Where is this scene taking place?
  • What is your character feeling right now?
  • What is the point of this scene?
  • What is your protagonist’s goal?

Lakin’s details make the questions meaningful. Read ’em.

The Setup (#2 of 12 Sentences)

#2 Setup

#2 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.

The first part of your novel is the Setup. It has 5 missions. The first is setting a killer hook, giving the reader something so compelling they don’t even consider not reading your book.

The Setup makes up the first 25% of your novel. It takes that long to meet the 5 missions. Shortchange your readers in the Setup and you’ll struggle to create empathy for your characters. Without that emotional connection the stakes fall flat.

Besides the Hook, the Setup has 4 more missions:

… more … “The Setup (#2 of 12 Sentences)”