Reflections from an emerging writer as she journeys through the creative process.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Plots and Sub-plots in First Person

I recently read an excellent article about sub-plots written by Anna from Shout with Emaginette. I'll share with you the sentence that stuck with me (slightly paraphrased):

If the plot is a section of fence, the sub-plots are the vines that grow upon it. The more vines, the more color and the more intertwined action.

I mulled that over for a couple of days, since one of my current projects is in first person. I came to the conclusion that in order to create those vines it would have to be through the eyes of the main character and how she/he perceived other characters and events. Her/his ideas, thoughts and feelings would have to react with other characters to create sub-plots around those characters.

Since in first person we only know what our protagonist knows, it seems the challenge would be to make sure the vines intertwined enough to create action so the story doesn't bog down. I decided to make one of my sub-plots around a secondary character who has an agenda to hurt the protagonist. In order to create suspense, I wrote him as being sullen and then openly hostile, but without any direct threats towards the protagonist. Also, the protagonist can overhear his plans as he talks to someone else.

It is fun and a challenge to work in first person. I'm hoping that all the vines intertwine and make an exciting story for my readers. If nothing else, it will be an educational experience for me. One that I haven't had since I was in my last writing class in college.

How do you create your sub-plots? Are they created around different characters? How do you relate them back to your protagonist?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Dragons of Mar: A Trilogy With A New Name

The Dragons of Mar...

Is a trilogy I wrote during this past year but now has a new name. Because of issues beyond my control I made some changes to this series.

The story is the same as before, so if you have a copy downloaded, it won't be necessary to re-download another copy.

 The Dragons of Mar is about the dragons, and their riders, who go on a quest to stop a sorcerer that has usurped the throne of Mar. Each story tells a little more of the tale about Mar.

These three books are available on Amazon and Smashwords as ebooks. I hope you enjoy all three!

Call of the Dragon, Book 1

The Puzzle Box, Book 2

Dragon's Fury, Book 3

Now get a free copy of Call of the Dragon, Book 1 during the next 30 days!

Use coupon number: CL49X at Smashwords for your free ebook. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

IWSG One Year Anniversary

October 1st is the Insecure Writer's Support Group's website's one year anniversary! Happy Anniversary! As always, it is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month, his co-hosts are:
Fundy Blue
To go to the website and visit other members of the IWSG, click HERE.

I wanted to give you ten tips on e-book publishing today. These tips were gleaned after publishing six e-books at Amazon and Smashwords. They are not in any particular order, but all are important tips to make a successful publication.

Tip 1: Always keep a backup file. Before preparing your manuscript for publication, set aside that file. If you make mistakes on a copy and accidentally erase the copy, you still have your backup or original file.

Tip 2: Never use more than four consecutive paragraph returns (hard returns by hitting ENTER). On a small screen device, this creates blank pages.

Tip 3: Don't use tabs or space bars to create first line paragraph indents. Instead, code your paragraph style at the top of the page under "paragraph."

Tip 4: Don't use fancy non-standard fonts, colored fonts, compressed or expanded fonts. And, in most cases, drop caps don't work either. Think of the different size tablets that your reader will be using and keep it simple.

Tip 5: The e-book doesn't come out the same as a printed book, where you can set the page. It will change with the different size readers and the page will be different on each one. Also, no page numbers.

Tip 6: Use font size 11 or 12, or 14 at maximum. Consider the different size readers.

Tip 7: Microsoft Word gives the most predictable results and works well when converting your book.

Tip 8: Make sure your book is edited before publication. So many times a good book can be spoiled by poor editing or none at all.

Tip 9: If you aren't a graphic artist, consider hiring someone to do your book cover for you. The cover is the first thing that a reader sees of an e-book.

Tip 10: Activate Word's show/hide before you start formatting. This is the backwards "p". When clicked, it exposes your paragraph returns, extra spaces, tabs, or strange formatting.

These ten tips are a few things I've discovered that will help make a cleaner, more well-formatted book. Also, both Amazon and Smashwords have books to help you format specifically for them and the last time I looked, they were still free. Good luck with your newest publication and I hope these suggestions have helped.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Writing In First Person

Have you ever written in first person? I'm talking about a fiction novel, not a memoir or an essay. I've been experimenting with this style of writing with a new story I've been outlining. The question is, will it be expansive enough to develop all the characters in the story?

By writing in first person, my characters must all interact with the protagonist. They must become well-rounded and viable by what happens between them and this character. Would this get boring after so many chapters of first person?

In order to create tension between the characters, the plot will have to be paced so that new elements are introduced at intervals close enough to keep the reader's interest. What's my story about? All I can say right now is that a young woman is trapped by her own mistakes and she must prove to others that she is a sane, level-headed individual who can pick up the pieces of her life and move on. It won't be so easy because there are those around her who would like to see her fail. Can she retrieve her life from what seems like the bottom of the abyss?

My working title is A Walk Through Hell.  Not only am I writing it in first person, but this is a different genre for me. I've stepped away from fantasy to write in contemporary fiction. If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dragon's Fury Is Now Available!

I'm pleased to announce that Dragon's Fury, Book 3, Dragon Stone Trilogy is now available as an e-book at Smashwords. It will also be available at Amazon in the next few days. To get your copy of this Young Adult fantasy adventure at Smashwords, click HERE.

If you prefer to get your copy at Amazon, click HERE.

Dragon’s Fury
Darius is wanted by the King, a rogue sorcerer who has usurped the throne. Escaping arrest, he’s given a dragon stone and a dragon egg to guard. Not knowing what the dragon stone is, he tosses it in the bottom of his satchel and takes the egg to the desert, where the desert dwellers, the Zandir, place him under their protection. The dragon hatches and becomes a loyal friend and fierce protector to Darius. The Great One, Zandir’s voice of the gods, gives them a mission to save the kingdom of Mar. He reveals the well-kept secret that there is one left alive of the true King’s line. The young Queen of Mar has been in hiding with the Zandir but is unaware of her identity. The false King refuses to go quietly and is exposed as an evil sorcerer that has been traveling through the timelines, taking what he will. A mighty battle ensues, with dragon fire breaking the chain of magic and attacking the evil King. Who will win and who will escape from the growing forces of magic? 

Enjoy reading the final adventure as the dragon's journey comes to an end. If you haven't read the first two books of the Dragon Stone Trilogy, they are:
  • Call of the Dragon, Book 1
  • The Puzzle Box, Book 2
These books are also available at Smashwords and Amazon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Beginnings - Insecure Writer's Support Group

The first Wednesday of the month is for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This is a blog hop and if you'd like to be included, or would like to find other members, click HERE.

I titled this New Beginnings because right now I'm in the process of deciding what I'm going to write about next. After spending the last two years writing about dragons I'd like to switch gears and write about something else. I've been researching a couple of different ideas, but at the moment I don't have the courage to talk about them. The ideas are still too flimsy, like eggs getting ready to hatch. Perhaps I need to see a crack in the egg and the living being pop out as it materializes into a true identity.

To me, this is the hardest part of writing a story. Starting an outline and sketching out the idea. How do you start your story? Do you outline? Or have scraps of papers with notes on them? I take a fresh notebook and start writing ideas down. Scenes as they come to me and parts of dialogue. But some of it I never use if it doesn't fit in the final story.

This next story will have more than one layer to it. I plan on making a secondary plot that won't be revealed until near the end. Perhaps I'll create another race of characters and make up a whole new world for them to live in. So, on with the plot! Same old, same old? A new twist on the same plot? This is hard for me until I get the story down, but it will tie in with the new world and new creatures. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jefferson Smith: The 5 Most Common Writing Mistakes That Break Reader Immersion

Jefferson Smith has an article out about his study on Reader Immersion. He cites the 5 most common writing mistakes that cause readers to lose focus and stop reading. Actually, in the article, he cites many more reasons that he has found while reading an e-book a day for forty minutes. So far, he's read 50 books and will continue his study so he can make another such analysis after reading 100 books.

The first 5 most common errors are:
  1. Weak mechanics: Spelling, grammar, etc.
  2. Implausible character behaviors: When a character does something contrary to his/her established traits or in violation of basic human nature.
  3. Echoing: When words or sentence structure repeat frequently in a way that calls attention to the pattern.
  4. Illogical world features: Aspects of the world building that do not bear scrutiny.
  5. Conspicuous exposition: Presentation of backstory in inappropriate places, or in dense passages, or for insufficient story reasons.
I must include in this small commentary that Mr. Smith did his study while reading only fantasy and science fiction, which are his primary genres as an author. I found his article to be challenging and as a writer with a book recently finished, I will be examining the entire text for mistakes.

If you want to read Jefferson Smith's entire article, click HERE.