Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brainstorming for Conflict and Stakes

What are you reading now?  Dark Kiss (Michelle Rowen)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far? NEW RELEASE FOR ANGEL-DEMON FANS   :)
          Maybe if Samantha’s life weren’t so ordinary, or maybe if she were used to guys wanting to kiss her, or maybe if she . . . never mind because her life is what it is and she did it. She kissed utterly gorgeous Stephen. On a whim. Not a date. Not even a dance first. She thought it’d be great or at least good or maybe be the start of something. But he just kissed her and left.
          Now she’s changed. There’s a hunger she can’t stop, and if she gives in to feeding it what she really wants—well, there’s just no way she’s going to do that.
           Samantha meets Bishop and ends out helping him. She doesn’t know if she can do enough, or if he can, to save herself and her friends. Her life is anything but ordinary now.
            This is the first in a series—I hope—because I want to know more about Samantha’s friend, Carly. I want to know about the relationship between Bishop (angel) and Kraven (demon), and why heaven and hell are working together on this one. It’s good when you read a book and feel like you had a lot of your questions answered yet like there are still more to explore too. So yeah, I’ll pick up the next one.
Brainstorming for Conflict and Stakes
(This is a long blog post today--just copy and paste it into a doc that you can use later when you're brainstorming ideas for scenes.)

What are Possible Sources of Conflict?

·   Friendship
·    Work
·   Priorities
·   School (aggression and defense)
·     Loyalty
·    Someone limiting our potential
·     Trust
·     Order of the world changes (personal world or world-world)
·     Living arrangements
·      Grown up issues v. kid issues
·      Internal conflict
·      Incompatible values
·      Attempts at control, power struggle, dominance and dependence
·      Economic (scarce resources)
·      Different belief systems, religion and ideology
·      Contrasting laws
·      Power to choose or influence
·      Competition
·      Role definitions
·      Different relationship needs
·      Personality conflict (motives and styles for dealing with people)
·      Nature

How to Escalate Conflict:
·      Increasingly vocal
·      Suspicion
·      Emotional appeals
·      Poor communication
·      Make it a personal attack
·      Harm or threat to a family member, significant other or friend
·      Environmental forces
·      Involve more groups or members
·      Oversimplification or distortions
·      Scapegoating
·      Prejudices
·      Propaganda
·      New laws
·      Rewards, punishments, deception, evasion, emotional blackmail
·      Selective perspective and spinning the perspectives
·      Take precautionary steps
·      Fear tactics/ defensiveness
·      Threats and counter-threats
·      Hostility and injury
·      Chaos
·      War

How can we Raise the Stakes (what can be gained or lost) in a Scene?
·      Safety (emotional or physical)
·      Opportunity
·      Basic needs (housing, food, transportation)
·      Economic threats
·      Internal (emotional, memories, guilt, doubt)
·      Abduction
·      Past overshadowing the present
·      Attempted murder
·      Illness or health concerns
·      Medical care
·      Involvement of loved ones and pets
·      Earth (disaster, pollution, destruction, need new one)
·      Wants v. reality
·      Life/death
·      Difference of opinions
·      Accidents
·      Misunderstandings
·      Physical blocks
·      Public stakes (wider community)

    Leave a comment with more ideas we can include in this list.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ending Another School Year!

What am I reading now?  Immortal Rules (Julie Kagawa)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Yes, it's a vampire book and I usually love vampire books. No exception here.

Allie lives in a city ran by vampires--as far as she knows all cities are. Nothing likeable about these. They don’t try to abstain from human blood. They don’t want to live undetected in a human world. They don’t sparkle. They feed as they please on the humans who are kept in a deprived state—little food, no education, limited freedom. Ali loathes them. When she is faced with dying, she has to choose to die quickly or live as a vampire.
She chooses to live.
I’ve enjoyed Julie Kagawa’s books before (Iron Fae Series—swoon!) and wasn’t disappointed with this one either. The writing is beautiful and the set up for another fun series has hit the mark!

Ending Another School Year and 
Planning for the Next:

Enough said!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Story Question & Scene Question

What am I reading now?  Dearly, Departed (Lia Habel)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  OMG--I'm rooting for zombies!

Not my first book with zombies--but definitely pushed the envelope on the character type by putting dead and decaying right up there with hot and go-for-it.

How did Lia do that?

There had better be a second book, because although I like the ending in this book--'cause it ends! I'd like to see Nora and Bram (yup, he's the dead guy who is apparently hot in a full dress uniform) have a happily ever after. And, there's some stuff that's in the way of that just now.

This book is a little victorian, a little futuristic, a little horror and a little romance. I'm being cryptic for you own good. You don't want spoilers for this book. You'll enjoy every twist and turn. Read it and you'll know.

Story Question & Scene Question

Editing Tip:  So here's a relationship that makes or breaks the possibilities of a story being published or not. Being considered a favorite or not. And being something-I-must-keep-reading or not.

Consider Story Question first: What question is the story going to answer that the reader REALLY has to know the answer to? 
          • Writers have about 5 pages to make the reader interested in their character. 
           Then they have about 50 pages to make the reader want to know if/how a burning question will be answered.

Now consider Scene Questions: Every scene points toward that overall story question! If it doesn't--the scene should be deleted. 

Deanna and I are trying to learn more about how to use this skill our current work in progress:
Story Question: Will Cassie get amnesty from hell?

Scene #1: Why does Cassie need amnesty?
Scene #2: How does the amnesty program work?
Scene #3: Who is helping with the plan to save Talese (and thereby gain amnesty)?
Scene #4: How can Cassie become friends with Talese?
Scene #5: What distractions cause the characters to lose sight of the plan?

And on and on and on . . . There are some 50-60 of these in a finished novel. While creating scenes, writers need to keep their eye on the overall Story Question to have meaningful, satisfying scenes in plot development. The kind of scenes that make it hard for a reader to put the book down!

Quote for the day:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strong Female Protagonists

What am I reading now?  Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

Annnd . . .  what do I think so far?  Did you read Divergent?
And did you love it?
I know--me too!
Hmmmm, how much can I say here without spoiling the first book if you haven't read it yet?
 --Not much, so read this blog post at your own risk!

Tris has impossible choices to make. Can you help someone you don't trust? Can you trust someone you love? The factions are falling apart, or being blown apart. Innocents and the guilty are hunted. What can save their society now? There are pieces of truth hidden, guarded and worth dying or killing for. The truth will rest with those who are Divergent. And the Divergent are everywhere.

Female Protagonist

In a recent class I attended by Michele Holmes, she gave a list of characteristics strong female protagonists should have:

Feminine (doesn’t mean she can’t be a tomboy or “tough”)
She has individual interests (she is her own, well-developed character, aside from the romance)
Strong (she’s not needy, she can take care of herself)
She has a strong value system (reader respect)
She needs the hero (whether she realizes it or not!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To my mother:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Best Advice Received at Storymakers

What am I reading now? Endure (Need #4, by Carrie Jones)

Annd . . . what do I think so far? This is the fourth and final book in the Need series: Need, Capitvate, Entice and Endure. Zara White is half-pixie--that's good and bad. On the one hand, Astley makes her his queen. On the other, Nick wants her human again. The love triangle heats up as the apocalypse does.

The first few pages were hard to get through—there seemed to be too many new elements that interrupted the bond I felt with the first three books in this series. But patience pays off—in a big way! As soon as I incorporated the new elements, the story was romantic, thrilling, sad, and caused way more anxiety--in a good way.

The book is as intense as are Zara’s choices. 
Who to love? Who to trust? Who to fight along side? Who will die? 
It kinda broke my heart a couple of times, but the ending was a rush (and by ending I mean the last quarter of the book.) The twist at the end left me breathless for an entire scene! This was a great finale' to a fun series.

And the best news--It's out today!!
The best writing advice I received this week:
I attended a class at the LDStorymaker Conference this weekend taught by Kiersten White (author of the Paranormalcy Series) about Plotting and Pacing. There were a lot of great tips that she gave us for how to keep interest in our stories and in the individual scenes. She told us several times to keep the characters moving. If they're sitting or standing or leaning, change it. Get them moving.

When we find a scene  like that in our story we are supposed to ask ourselves:
Is there another way you could deliver this information while the characters are moving? 

So there it is, the advice I'm working on for this week. Thanks, Kiersten!

Quote for the Day:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Outside and Inside Story

What am I reading now?  Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Fairie Tale (Tamra Torero)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  I liked the main character, Shayla. I appreciated that she wasn't self-assured and wise beyond her years. I know that doesn't sound like a complement, but it is. She's a teenager and she was written to sound like one. Her voice was authentic. She has doubts about everything, but she was learning to overcome those doubts and trust herslef. 
I didn't like that the resolution to the story wasn't tightly tied to the problem at the beginning, it kind of blind-sided me. I wish there had been more foreshadowing or more scenes that built a case for the climax of the story. That said, I also liked the supporting characters, Josi and Daniel--I even warmed up to Jace.
3 Stars = I liked it.

My Favorite quote from the book? "A brief moment of disappointment washed over me as I approached Jace’s lifeless body. Here I was, about to kiss a boy on the lips for the very first time, and he was completely comatose—possibly paralyzed—and would never even know or remember the experience. This was not how I’d envisioned my first kiss—me invisible, him unconscious."

My Epiphany this Week
Deanna and I have revising/editing our current story for weeks! We've send it to beta-readers and received back some great feedback. Thank you Kristi and Jenni!

But here's the thing--it still feels flat. I know that sounds bad. It is.
So I've been thinking a lot about that and had an epiphany.
The outside story is fine.
The inside story is not. 

Here's my short list for revisions for the next two weeks.

And my focus for writing: Check the outside story, but focus on the inside story.