Fiction

Hate Plotting? No problem. Use Plot as a Character. Plotting for the Non-Plotter

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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What is plot? By basic definition, plot is the series of events that occur within a book.   Plot: A tale of grocery shopping. The drive, the shopping, the return home. Bestseller? Hardly. A better way to view plot is to envision plot as a character who has a hate-on for the protagonist. Put Plot (as an invisible character) into the grocery shopping story and see what happens. On the drive to the grocery store Plot lets Protagonist see her husband with a woman at a café laughing. Protagonist doesn’t want to jump to conclusions and avoids the conflict that Plot had hoped to instill. Classic denial. So, Plot throws screaming kids in the backseat and a crazy driver who cuts Protagonist off while she is rubbernecking at her husband. Protagonist swerves up over a curb to avoid an accident and damages her car. Sounds expensive. Plot isn’t done. Plot […]

Sex Ruins Everything – And Love Makes It Worse

Karyn Connor

by Karyn Connor Article Categories: ,

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Most new writers of romance make the same mistake. In real life, a mind-blowing sexual encounter is good. Falling in love is better.In romantic fiction this is all wrong.Attraction, lust and love all have to make the situation worse for the protagonist. Otherwise, the conflict and sexual tension eases. Conflict and tension are what keep the reader up at night turning pages.When Romeo first sees Juliet—Blammo! Instant desire. In his gut (and lower too, I assume) was an immediate pull towards this one girl—the one.A few scant pages later, all this perfumed prose turns to poison when Romeo and Juliet learn that their families are mortal enemies.Conflict for Romeo. Conflict for Juliet.Conflict for the reader who desperately wants to see these young lovers find a way to live happily ever.Readers of romantic fiction want to believe in happily ever after and love triumphs all.  At each stage of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship […]

How to Craft Tension and Create a Page-Turner in Fiction Writing

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by Araminta Star MatthewsArticle Categories: ,

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In a world of media so riddled with zombies, Araminta Star Matthews owes part of the success of her zombie fiction franchise to two key elements: strong characters who happen to be young women, and an ability to craft the knuckle-grinding tension so apparent in her first book, Blind Hunger. Tension Tip #1: Use Fact-Based Descriptions When I was an undergraduate, I had the honor of working with John D’Agata, professor and awe-inspiring author of Halls of Fame. He once described an experience working in a cinema as a support person for the visually-impaired. His job was to describe the visual elements of a film for his clients. Because his clients wanted the experience of the film for themselves, he quickly learned not to embellish his observations as he described them. The power of observational description far outweighs our desire to control a reader’s inference. Describing only what can be […]

Plunging Deeper into Sex – How to Thrust More Conflict and Meaning into Sex Scenes

Sex Column

by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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What’s in a sex scene? Is it as simple as an erotic depiction of Insert Tab A into Slot B and repeat? For some writers, perhaps, but successful authors know that sex scenes have to work much harder. Otherwise, sex scenes start to bore the reader.The general understanding is that sex scenes are supposed to sexually stimulate the reader. This is true of romance and erotica genres. In horror books though, sex is often written to disturb. In humor novels, to make the reader laugh. At the end of the day, all sex scenes need to accomplish more than just pursuit of orgasm.Here are five things sex scenes should do beyond erotic stimulation:Advance plot. The sex scene should change things for the characters. Common ways this is done is:It was just supposed to be a one-time casual thing, but the two people who never should have accomplished more than an […]

What Not To Do In Your Opening Scenes — Tips by Suspense/Thriller Author Jeff Buick

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by Fred E. Whyte Article Categories: ,

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What information do you think should never be present in the opening? JB: Boring stuff should never be in the opening. John strolled, leisurely, into the park. Who cares? I don’t. You just lost me. John saw the body as he entered the park. He’d always wondered what a dead person looked like. Now he knew, and it wasn’t pretty. If I’m the reader, I’m thinking that the dead person is going to play into the plot somehow. What this scene does not need is paragraphs describing the weather, the length of the grass, what John is wearing, or the time of day. Unless, of course, those things are important. Which they likely aren’t, so leave them out. What the scene does need, is for John to notice how tightly the scarf was tied around her neck and that it had a strange looking knot. That her ring finger had […]

Write Killer Opening Scenes — Tips by Suspense-Thriller Author Jeff Buick

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by Fred E. WhyteArticle Categories: ,

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Your opening scenes hook the reader instantly and give a sense of the ride on which they are about to embark. How do you figure out where and how to start each book and what actions or metaphors would pack the best punch? JB:  I often start a book with a prologue, and there’s a very good reason for it. The prologue can be simmering with suspense or an action-packed scene that leaves the reader wondering what just happened and how it will fit into the book. They dive into Chapter One and the pace slows a bit as I begin the task of developing characters the reader will care about. Without the prologue, it’s tough to start a novel off with a big enough bang to hook the reader. And if I do, then it’s almost impossible to continue that level of conflict and suspense for the remainder of […]

Ordinary World

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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Ordinary world doesn’t have to be a mortal-to-magic scenario. Sure, it worked great in Harry Potter who went from the small cubby under his aunt and uncle’s staircase in Muggle (non-magical for those of you who live in a cave and haven’t read/seen any of the Harry Potter franchise) to the magical world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Take another hot franchise right now: The Vampire Diaries. Admittedly, I didn’t watch any of these shows while they were all nouveau rage. I have just recently started watching them because—quite frankly—I got bored and had nothing else that interested me on Netflix. But that first episode really packed a punch. In this pilot of the series, the heroine doesn’t pack her wardrobe and diary and board a plane, train or automobile off to a distant land where she will encounter the vampire of her dreams (that’s the Twilight series […]

The 12 Stages of Intimacy

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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The 12 Stages of Intimacy is essentially a list of the steps it takes a man to woo a woman into sex. The steps are there to make a woman feel comfortable and to give her regular checkpoints to accept or reject a man’s advances. While working in the financial industry, a friend came across the bad cliché of the wealthy married man who wanted some excitement on the side. Dodging his advances became part of most of female employees’ regular job routine. One afternoon, my friend was in the photocopy room, a small poorly ventilated space hidden in the bowels of the company. In walks Wealthy Married Man. She was trapped in the room, and thus in his company. He strode over in that slithering sort of way men like that have perfected. During his I’m so cool speech, he reached out and touched her ear where she often […]

How to Build Tension and Up the Pace

Carrie De Simas

by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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No matter the genre or plot structure, tension is what makes or breaks a novel. Without it, you have a humdrum connection of events that won’t hold the reader’s attention. For example, open the book with a kid trying to rescue a cat stuck in a tree. He gets the cat down and returns Garfield to his owner. So where is the tension? Hint: it isn’t there. Here are five ways to ignite tension: Emotion is an essential ingredient of surprise, Alfred Hitchcock.  If we don’t care about the character, we won’t care that she is being chased by a serial murderer or that the hero is about to lose the girl. Quickly make us care about the characters and then throw in the tension. Show me the money! Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire.  Show us the goal and why it is so important. This means understanding the goal of […]

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Carrie De Simas

by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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A prologue is the portion of the book that comes before the actual story begins. But is this necessary? Will it hurt your chances at publication if you use one? In publishing years past, the prologue made regular appearances in commercial fiction. Today, many publishers consider prologues to be a lazy style of writing. Is a prologue something a new writer can consider? Or should writers avoid them completely? The benefits of a prologue is that it allows you to begin the story twice. Murder mysteries will often employ this type of opening so that the villain’s grisly work is displayed as an action scene instead of an exposition scene. This allows the writer to define the stakes and then start the book again with the hero. The downside of a prologue is that the information contained therein is often backstory. Editors­­—and often readers—want these historical details to be woven […]