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April 21, 2014

Today’s Writers’ Tip

WRITING FICTION PLOTS

Plot Number 18:

WRETCHED EXCESS

Mildred Pierce

The Lost Weekend

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

 

I think you’ll probably agree with my assessment of this plot. If you’re down in the mouth at the time, don’t write this fiction plot, and don’t read a novel with this plot in full swing. You might walk away depressed or in need of a good shot of caffeine to get you through the rest of the day. However, although this fiction plot can be a tear-jerker, it also requires intense planning and storyboarding, working your way to a whopper of a climax and a big “crash” at the end. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of the Wretched Excess Fiction Plot:

1. Wretched excess is generally about the psychological decline of a character.

2. Base the decline of the character on a character flaw.

3. Present the decline of your character in three phases:

a. How he/she is before events start to change him/her

b. How he/she is as he/she successively deteriorates

c. What happens after events reach a crisis point, forcing him/her either to give in completely to the flaw (tragedy) or to recover from it.

4. Develop the main character so that his/her decline evokes sympathy.

5. Don’t present him/her as a raving lunatic.

6. Take particular care in the development of your character because the plot depends on the author’s ability to convince the audience that the character is both real and worthy of their feelings for him/her.

7. Avoid being melodramatic. Don’t try to force emotion beyond what the scene can carry.

8. Be straightforward with information that allows the reader to understand your main character. Don’t hide anything that will keep your reader from being empathetic.

9. Most writers want the audience to feel for the main character, so don’t make your character commit crimes out of proportion of our understanding of who and what he/she is. It’s hard to be sympathetic with a person who’s a rapist or a serial murderer.

10. At the crisis point of your story, move your character either toward complete destruction or redemption. Don’t leave him swinging in the wind, because your reader will definitely not be satisfied.

11. Action in the plot should always relate to the character. Things happen because your main character does (or does not) do certain things. The cause and effects of your plot should always relate either directly or indirectly to your main character.

12. Don’t lose your character in his madness. Nothing beats personal experience when it comes to this plot. If you don’t understand the nature of the excess yourself (having experienced it), be careful about having your character do things that aren’t realistic for the circumstances.

So, the bottom line for writing this fiction plot is to do your homework. Thoroughly understand the nature of the excess you want to write about, and go for it!

Next time we’ll look at the fiction plot number 19 & 20: ASCENSION & DESCENSION.

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them-ebook/dp/B006RAIXXI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390841564&sr=1-1&keywords=20+Master+Plots

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!)

Happy writing!

Marsha

 

Please check my latest publication on Amazon:

No Furlough for Mandie

Volume 4

The Snyder County Quilting Bee Series II

 

No.Furlough.for.Mandie.Cover

Mandie and Tobias Schmidt, missionaries to Jakarta, Indonesia, have waited two years to come home to Snyder County for a six-month furlough. With their nine-month-old baby, Lydia, the couple plans to spend quality time with their families and travel to numerous states, presenting their ministry to Mennonite churches, whose congregations pray for the couple and sometimes offer financial support.

But Mandie and Tobias’s furlough is cancelled after only a few weeks because of a crisis back in Indonesia. What happens that forces the couple to consider returning to Indonesia immediately?

Lisa.Lawmaster.HessLisa Lawmaster Hess

Lisa’s Background:

Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who has lived in Pennsylvania for most of her adult life.

Did she always want to be a writer? Lisa tells us, “In my eighth grade career report, I declared my intention to become a magazine journalist, but once at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, I studied psychology and education.” After earning her master’s degree, Lisa worked as an elementary school counselor until June 2012. Now, she keeps busy as an adjunct professor at York College of PA by day, as a community education instructor in the evening, and writing whenever she can.

Lisa’s Published Works:

Lisa is the author of Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, both inspired by her interactions with her elementary school students. Currently, she’s at work on a non-fiction book on organization, a sequel to Casting the First Stone and revisions on a novel with a whole new cast of characters. For more information about Lisa, check out her website (www.L2Hess.com) or read her blog (“The Porch Swing Chronicles”) at www.L2Hess.blogspot.com. Casting the First Stone is her first novel.

Fun Facts about Lisa:

  • Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania.
  • She loves to tap dance but is incredibly rusty.
  • Her favorite place to write is on a screened-in porch at the condo she and her husband rent at the beach. Their traveling companion is their teenage daughter, Leah, and there’s usually another teen along for the ride to keep things interesting.
  • The title of her blog, “The Porch Swing Chronicles” was born when she wrote the first post sitting on a porch swing at her brother-and sister-in-law’s house one Memorial Day weekend.
  • She developed a love of theatre in high school and she still does community theatre shows whenever she can. Currently, she’s in rehearsal for a cabaret that will be performed in April.
  • Lisa sings with the contemporary choir at her church.
  • Her Snyder County connection is a school counseling internship in the Selinsgrove School District under the tutelage of Wendy Hummel (still a Union County resident).
  • Lisa spent six years living on-and off-campus in Lewisburg, PA, while pursuing her BA in psychology and her MS in education at Bucknell. During her final summer in Lewisburg, she worked the early A.M. shift at a daycare and evening hours at the Short Stop Mart, and she recalls more than one occasion in grad school when she was scraping change together to get her staple dinner—a meatball grinder from House of Pizza on Market St. In 1985, a grinder and a soda cost $3.17, a meal she still seeks out whenever she visits Lewisburg.

Thanks, Lisa, for stopping by my blog today and letting us know a little bit about you and your latest work!

Casting the First Stone

Casting the First Stone Cover.

Marita Mercer and Angel Alessio are linked by only one thing—a relationship with the same man. When Angel’s husband decides to pursue custody of the child he fathered with Marita thirteen years ago, both women are forced to consider what they will—and won’t—do to protect the lives they have built and the families they have created.

http://www.amazon.com/Casting-First-Stone-determined-families-ebook/dp/B00I2F1A18/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397487312&sr=1-2&keywords=cASTING+THE+FIRST+STONE

 

April 7, 2014

Today’s Writers’ Tip

WRITING FICTION PLOTS

Plot Number 17: DISCOVERY

Death of a Traveling Salesman

Ghosts

Oedipus Rex

If you’re considering writing a “discovery plot,” take a good look at these characteristics, which are quite involved. A writer who does an excellent job with this type of plot will create a character-driven plot. The universe revolves around him or her. Let’s review how to write a good discovery plot:

  1. A discovery plot is more about the character making the discovery than the discovery itself.
  2. If the protagonist is searching for something, the focus of the story is not the search itself; it’s a search for understanding about human nature.
  3. Focus the story on who the character is, not on what the character does.
  4. Start the plot with the understanding of who the main character is before circumstances change and force the character into new situations.
  5. Don’t linger on your main character’s “former” life; integrate past with present and future.
  6. Place the character on the pinnacle of change. Start the action as late as possible, but also give the reader a strong impression of the main character’s personality as it was before the events started to change his/her character.
  7. Make sure the catalyst that forces the change (from a state of equilibrium to disequilibrium) is significant and interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention.
  8. Avoid being trivial. Don’t dwell on insignificant detail.
  9. Move the protagonist into the crisis (the clash between the present and the past) as quickly as possible, but maintain the tension of past and present as a fundamental part of the story’s tension.

I’ve never written a discovery plot, and in my opinion, it seems like one of the most difficult to master. But now that you have your ammunition, go for it!

Next time we’ll look at the fiction plot number 18: WRETCHED EXCESS.

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them-ebook/dp/B006RAIXXI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390841564&sr=1-1&keywords=20+Master+Plots

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!)

Have a great day writing!

Marsha

Please check my latest publication on Amazon:

No Furlough for Mandie

Volume 4

The Snyder County Quilting Bee Series II

No.Furlough.For.Mandie.Cover 

Mandie and Tobias Schmidt, missionaries to Jakarta, Indonesia, have waited two years to come home to Snyder County for a six-month furlough. With their nine-month-old baby, Lydia, the couple plans to spend quality time with their families and travel to numerous states, presenting their ministry to Mennonite churches, whose congregations pray for the couple and sometimes offer financial support.

But Mandie and Tobias’s furlough is cancelled after only a few weeks because of a crisis back in Indonesia. What happens that forces the couple to consider returning to Indonesia immediately?

Meet the Author Cindy Sproles

CindySproles.Profile.Picture

 

I first met Cindy Sproles in July of 2013 when we served on faculty at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. Let’s just say we hit it off, and we became fast friends, almost as if we’d known each other all our lives. But that’s often the case when one Christian meets another. We have a special bond in Christ, which makes being a part of the family of God so very special.

Let’s meet Cindy and find out a little more about this interesting gal and published author.

Cindy’s Day Job

When asked about her job, Cindy replied, “Which one? I have four. I’m a writer, of course. I also serve as acquisitions editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas – SonRise Books. SonRise is the devotional books imprint of LPC. I also acquisition for our non-fiction imprint, which has not officially been released yet. That’s job #2.  Job #3 is as an Office Administrator for Comfort Keepers, an in-home, non-medical company who places caregivers in the homes of the elderly. Finally, job #4 is Christian Devotions Ministries. I am the executive editor for www.christiandevotions.us and cofounder of this ministry.”

Is Cindy very busy? Need we answer that question?

Cindy hardly has time to be bored. But of her four jobs, she said, “I love writing first and foremost. I can sit at my desk and be lost in words a good thirteen hours a day. My second love is Christian Devotions. I know this, along with writing, is the ministry into which God has called me. The two work hand-in-hand, and they allow me wonderful opportunities to teach at writers conferences nationwide. It’s a joy to teach. I’ve been told I’m an encourager. I love to sit across the table from other writers and work with them and critique their efforts. It allows me the golden chance to become their cheerleader.”

What Does Cindy Write?

When asked this question, Cindy chuckled. “The first time I attended a writers conference, I attended alone. I stood in line to check into the hotel and had the radar going to hear what everyone talked about. There’s something to be said for naivety, because all I heard folks asking was, “What do you write?”

Cindy then recalled the humorous incident that caused that chuckle to surface. “As I stood in line, this very nice man turned around and extended his hand. ‘Hi. My name is Al. What’s yours?’”

“Cindy.”

“This your first conference?”

“I look that green?”

He laughed. “You look like that deer-in-headlights.”

I immediately began to feel comfortable. These writers must not be so bad, so I asked “the” question.

“What do you write?”

A grin stretched across his face. “Oh…this and that.” And he left it at that.

The next day, I attended my first class, and who should walk in to teach the class but Alton Gansky. I found out he’d written over 40 books, and I, the deer-in-headlights, had actually asked him what he wrote! Since then, Al has become a wonderful friend. See what happens at writers conferences?

So, Cindy, c’mon, tell us. What do you write? She says, “I’ve primarily written non-fiction: devotions and true stories. But fiction has always gnawed at me. I kept writing non-fiction and became part of three devotional compilations, He Said, She Said – A Devotional Guiding to Cultivating a Life of Passion, co-authored with my ministry partner, Eddie Jones. And last year, my first stand-alone devotional book was released, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refining You into the Woman You can Be.

Fiction for Cindy?

“Yes,” she said. “In August 2013, Kregel Publishing contracted Mercy’s Rain, which will release late fall or early 2015. My fiction dream is coming true.”

Any Advice for Newbie Writers?

“It took a long time for me to find my niche in writing. I knew God gifted me in non-fiction, but the drive He placed in me moved me to learn the craft of fiction. This is why when I teach, I encourage new writers to try their hand at lots of different types and genres. You may never publish in those areas, but you learn the art of writing from every angle. It’s amazing.”

Cindy’s Personal Life is not Dull Either

When talking about her life, Cindy said, “I’m a country girl, raised in the mountains of East Tennessee, my most all-time favorite place to be. I love my mountain heritage and the people of the Appalachian Mountains. We’re pretty easy going, happy with a simple life, and we love that mountain air.

I’m happily married to the THE most wonderful guy in the world. Tim and I have four sons (all adults) and one grandson. Yep, we never seemed to find a little girl to hug on—it’s all boys–even our pet animals are male. But this has made life most interesting. There has never been a dull moment.”

What Inspires Her Writing?

“Plain and simple,” she said, “people do. I try to look deep at every life experience I have to seek out the things God is teaching me. That pours out through my writing. My heart and my life are a constant work in progress. Those around me help shape that, so they inspire me.

“The river inspires me. A mountain trail. The summer breeze. I love to meet God on the mountain and try to hear what He whispers to me.”

In a Nutshell. . .

Cindy shared how she feels about her life and work: “I’m very transparent. I love family, quiet time, and working the ministry of Christian Devotions. I had no idea seven years ago that God would actually use a gal like me. But when He called, I said yes, and the road He has taken me down has been nothing short of amazing.

“I had a conferee say, ‘How’s it feel to have so many people know who you are?’ And I actually laughed out loud. I figure there’s one of me. It’s easy to remember the gal with the southern twang. I don’t consider myself to be known by the multitudes, but I do pray those I meet are encouraged, and when they walk away, they can say they were loved.

“I’m an avid animal lover, having worked for 15 years as a vet tech. I could not pass up the opportunity to publically admit, I covet Marsha’s dog, Bailey.”

*****

Well, thanks, Cindy, for opening your heart to the readers. We wish you all God’s blessings in the many facets of your life, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: Bailey thinks you’re the cat’s meow too!

Bailey.on.Cushion.405.12

 

Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and see the ministry of Christian Devotions at www.christiandevotions.us.

Sproles.Book.Cover

Meet the Author Cynthia Hickey

Cynthia.Hickey.Photo 

Who is Cynthia Hickey?

Multi-published and best-selling author Cynthia Hickey is a prolific writer, who works hard at her craft. She tells us, “I’ve had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. My first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. My third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as e-books through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s e-books for their genre.”

More Than One Publishing Company Has Published Her

She has several historical romances releasing in 2013 and 2014 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents.

How About Her Personal Life?

Cynthia says, “I live in Arizona with my husband, one of our seven children, two dogs, and two cats. I have five grandchildren who keep me busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer.”  When asking her for an interesting fact that most folks don’t know, she says, “I’ve been on TV twice—once on my honeymoon when I posed in front of a waterfall as the backdrop for the local weather report and at my high school job when I was interviewed for a documentary about how pickle factories are run. I worked at a pickle factory all during high school.” When “Nana” has time, she’s active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com

Check out Cynthia’s latest exciting release:

AN UNCONVENTIONAL LADY

 Hickey.An Unconventional Lady cover

http://www.amazon.com/Unconventional-Lady-Heartsong-Presents-ebook/dp/B00FTQHXFA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395668822&sr=1-1&keywords=An+Unconventional+Lady

Annie Rollins longs for adventure. But her strict mother keeps her close to home, working as a Harvey Girl waitress. Until Dallas Baker shows up in town and takes the job Annie really wants—leading tours through the Grand Canyon. Annie’s frustrated but finds it impossible to ignore the handsome outdoorsman. 

With her split skirts and modern hairdo, Annie challenges Dallas’s old-fashioned notions of what makes a lady. To his surprise, he finds her delightful, until he learns she has no interest in settling down. Dallas is ready to win her heart, but is Annie willing to fall in love?

 

March 17, 2014

Today’s Writers’ Tip

WRITING FICTION PLOTS

Plot Number 16: SACRIFICE

Abraham and Isaac

High Noon

Casablanca 

Have you been aching to write a real tear-jerker? Do you want to create a main protagonist, who is willing to sacrifice not only fame and fortune but even his own life for someone or something else? Well, then you want to write a Sacrifice Fiction Plot. Let’s take a look at the characteristics that make an excellent fiction plot with sacrifice as its theme:

1. The sacrifice comes at great personal cost.  The main protagonist plays for high stakes, either physical or mental.

2. Your protagonist should undergo a major transformation during the course of the story, moving from a lower moral state to a higher one.

3. Main events should force the protagonist’s decision.

4. Lay an adequate foundation of character so the reader understands the character’s progress on the path to making his/her sacrifice.

5. All events should be a reflection of your main character. They test and develop the character into a better person, animal, or entity.

6. What motivates that protagonist to go on? Make clear his/her motivation so the reader understands why he would make that kind of sacrifice.

7. Show the line of action through the line of your character’s thoughts. (P.O.V.)

8. Develop a strong moral dilemma at the center of your story, and have the protagonist in a position where he/she must choose.

Are you ready to start typing on that blank page you’ve been avoiding? Now you have some ammunition to create a best-selling novel with sacrifice as the theme.

Next time we’ll look at the fiction plot number 17: DISCOVERY.

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them-ebook/dp/B006RAIXXI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390841564&sr=1-1&keywords=20+Master+Plots

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!)

Happy writing!

Marsha

P.S. Interested in a heart-warming Amish love story? Please check out one of my creations:

LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN

Why were Louellen and Eli Friesen shunned by their Amish Ordnung?

LoveSong.KindleFire

 

VOLUME 3 IN THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY

http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Snyder-County-Love-Louellen/dp/1622083024/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391533076&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+Song+for+Louellen+by+Marsha+Hubler

Twenty-five-year-old Amish Louellen Friesen finds herself falling in love with forty-year-old Englishman Dr. David McAndrew, a widower with two children, for whom she cleans house regularly in Mapletown, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. There’s only one problem. Louellen is already married. Well past the “marrying age” at twenty-two, Louellen Bidleman had wed Amish man Eli Friesen three years prior, mostly because of pressure from her family. Eli, also in his mid-twenties and in danger of being “passed over,” had married Louellen for one main reason, to have sons. Louellen has some love for Eli, but because of her church vows, sets out to be the best wife and mother she can be, especially when God blesses them with little ones. However, after three years, there are no children. Louellen is devastated, and Eli becomes bitter, feeling trapped in a marriage that has produced no offspring even though he knows that he has the medical problem, not his wife. Although he treats Louellen civil in public, at home he ignores her needs, and their wedded life is nothing but a disappointment to both. What should Louellen do? Turn her back on her husband and her Amish Ordnung? Should she leave, become “English,” and marry Dr. McAndrew, a man who has promised her the moon?

 

 

Today’s Writers’ Tip

Meet the Author: Karen Malena

(Today we’re taking a break from blogs about fiction plots to feature an author with an interesting life that has translated into interesting writing.)

Malena.Karen.Photo

I guess with a last name like “Malena,” you would expect Karen to be Italian. Well, you’re correct. Discussing her roots, Karen tells us, “Heritage plays a major role in my books. Being Italian is something I’m proud of, yet I’m able to laugh at some of the truly dysfunctional events from the interesting upbringing I had. Italians are extremely vocal people, very passionate in their beliefs, and quite hilarious in their actions. I can’t make up better characters than drawing from some of the people in my own family and their quirks and traits, good and bad.”

How Has Life Affected Karen’s Writing?

It’s interesting to note how many true-to-life events Karen uses in her writings. “My own memories,” she says, “while creating stories are easy to draw upon: some difficult, others downright humorous, and still others quite inspirational. In my book, Reflections from My Mother’s Kitchen, A Journey of Hope and Healing, I cover some true events from my life such as the scoliosis I had as a child, subsequent bullying from cruel children, and the frightening time spent in Children’s Hospital with recovery afterward. I speak of my mother’s childhood fears of an abusive father and her life-changing near-death experience later in life. In many ways it has been quite healing to write about issues I’ve kept bottled up for many years.”

What’s Karen’s “Style?”

Karen goes on to say, “I like to layer my faith-based writing a little at a time. I believe the reader doesn’t like to be preached at or lectured to. I gently incorporate stories of faith and goodness, hopefully, to inspire a person who may never have heard the good news before. My stories cannot entirely be categorized as Christian fiction but could be labeled as family encouraging material, instilling old-fashioned values back into our world.”

 What’s She Up To Next?

Karen’s already working on a third book, in which she says readers will get to see a creative, humorous side of her with a family friendly novel about friendship and morals…. and the differences between cats and dogs.

Well, I for one can see Karen Malena is a prolific writer, who aims to bless the heart of every reader. See more of her true, inspirational stories on her blog at karenmalena.blogspot.com.

Malena.Mothers kitchenBk.Cover

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