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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

ARE CRITIQUE GROUPS VALUABLE?

Some members of the Susquehanna Valley Writers Group, Selinsgrove, PA

 

Absolutely, undeniably yes. My local critique group has helped make me the writer I am.

One of the most valuable tools you’ll ever have in your writing career is a local critique group comprised of other writers.

Some groups meet once a week; others meet once a month. The choice is for the group to make. Some groups meet in the members’ homes; others meet at libraries, bookstores, or cafes with quiet corners. Again, the choice is the group’s.

If you don’t belong to a local critique group, make it a priority to join one. If you aren’t sure there even is one, then determine to start one yourself.

So, how do you get the word out that you are interested in a critique group, either joining or starting?
1. Ask for information at your library or bookstore. If they know of no critique group, prepare an 8 1/2 x 11 poster and ask if you can post it. Put your name, phone number, and email address on the poster.
2. Mount posters in your local grocery stores and mini-marts.
3. Place a free ad in your local “service” newspaper, the one that allows you to buy and sell without paying for an ad.
4. Call other local authors you know and ask about a critique group. If they aren’t members of any, encourage them to help you start one. You really only need three or four other writers to start, and not all need to represent the same genre. Six to eight members are ideal if you plan to meet for two or three hours at a time.

So, there you have it. Get busy with that critique group. If you become accountable to someone for your writing on a regular basis, you will write more often, and you’ll write better!

(Next time: The Guidelines for a Successful Critique Group)

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THE MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE

Writers, the 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history for a month already. With over 100 writers, agents, and editors gathered together in mid-July, we had a wonderful week of fellowship and learning how to write better for God’s glory.

Believe it or not, I’m already working on the 2020 MCWC and already have verbal commitments from about 10 authors, editors, and agents. Lord willing, our next conference will be held from Sunday, July 12th to Friday, July 17th, 2020. A few folks who’ve already said yes to coming on faculty are freelance editor Vie Herlocker, literary agents Sally Apokedak and Michelle Lazurek, authors Annette Whipple, Joyce Magnin, and Tiffany Amber Stockton, social media expert Don Catlett, and marketing guru Karen Whiting. There are still about five or six more potential faculty members, so check in often to see the final line-up, hopefully before the holidays are upon us.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, there will be over 40 classes presenting all facets of the writing/publishing world. We also have interesting and fun events Monday through Thursday evenings, often allowing conferees interaction with faculty members.

Then there’s Frank and Bucky, who always liven up the week’s boring moments (if there is such a thing.)

So mark your calendar and start sprucing up your manuscripts. Next July you just might find yourself with a contract in your hands.

 

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The Dynamite 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference Faculty

Writers, if you’ve never attended a writers conference, this is the year to do it. We have a tremendous faculty coming who will be glad to sit down with you and review your work in private. Also, plan to attend over 45 classes that will teach you about fiction, nonfiction, poetry, songwriting, marketing, working with editors, finding an agent, and much more.

One of our editors is Roseanna White, (also an author), whose company WhiteFire is looking for juvenile fiction and adult fiction.

Another faculty member is Lora Zill. Lora teaches writing and critical analysis at Gannon University and creative writing for Allegheny College’s arts programs for gifted middle and high school students. She is also a teaching artist with the PA Council on the Arts, conducting artist residencies in public schools and training teachers in arts infused curriculum. Lora edits and publishes a poetry journal, Time Of Singing, and speaks at writing, education, and arts conferences. She has co-authored a chapter on creativity in an academic textbook and her award-winning poetry and nonfiction have been published widely. She is completing a book about feeling God’s pleasure through creative expression and blogs at www.thebluecollarartist.com.

The rest of our faculty include:

Dan Brownell – editor with Today’s Christian Living

Rebecca Irwin Diehl – editor  with The Secret Place

Alison Everill – Praise and Worship Leader

Deb Haggerty – publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing

Pam Halter – award-winning children’s book author

Jim Hart – agent with Hartline Literary Agency

Gloria Penwell-Holtzlander – acquis. editor with Bold Vision Books

Jeanette Levellie – award-winning author

Elaine W. Miller – international speaker and best-selling author

Linda Rondeau – editor with Elk Lake Publishing

Gayle Roper – award-winning author

Donna Smith – editor of the blog “Almost An Author”

Shawn Smucker – award-winning author

Kim Sponaugle – award-winning illustrator

Diane Stark – award-winning author

Jim Watkins – award-winning author

Please check more details about this faculty at https://www.facebook.com/MontroseChristianWriters/ For more details about the conference and registration forms, please go to http://www.montrosebible.org

Register now, gather your tote bag full of your work, and get ready for July 14th. I’ll look for you then at Montrose!

Marsha, Director

 

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PLOT # 18

WRETCHED EXCESS

Mildred Pierce

The Lost Weekend

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

Picture compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_Eden

The holidays are over, and if you’re like me, you want to “get back in the groove of life” and face the new year head on. However, with sugar plum fairies possibly still dancing in your head, you might be struggling to get back into the writing mode. Maybe these tips about writing fiction will help.

If you want to tackle this difficult fiction subgenre, do your homework and study best sellers before you start. A “wretched excess” plot involves all kinds of drama and some difficult scenes. But there are some issues you need to address with much care as you write. It’s definitely a character-driven piece of work:

  1. Wretched excess is generally about the psychological decline of a character.
  2. Base the decline of your character on a character flaw.
  3. Present the decline of your character in three phases: how he/she is before events start to change him/her; how he/she is as he/she successively deteriorates; and what happens after events reach a crisis point, which forces him/her either to give in completely to his/her flaw (tragedy) or to recover from it.
  4. Develop your character so that his/her decline evokes sympathy. Don’t present him/her as a raving lunatic.
  5. Take particular care in the development of your character, because the plot depends on your ability to convince the audience that he/she is both real and worthy of their feelings for him/her.
  6. Avoid melodrama. Don’t try to force emotion beyond what the scene can carry.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. At the crisis point of your story, move your character either toward complete destruction or redemption. Don’t leave him/her swinging in the wind because your reader will definitely not be satisfied.
  10. Action in your plot should always relate to 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.
  11. Don’t lose your character in his/her 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.
  12. As I said before, do your homework, and fully understand the nature of the excess you want to write about.

Wow! That’s a head full of ideas and information, isn’t it? If you’re brave enough to tackle this “wretched excess,” God bless you as you work on your best seller!

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

*****

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PLOT # 17

DISCOVERY

Death of a Traveling Salesman

Ghosts

Oedipus Rex

(Painting compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_Rex )

If you’re interested in writing fiction, take a good look at what it takes to write a best seller with the theme of “discovery.” But what are the elements involved in writing that masterpiece? Let’s take a look:

  1. Remember that the discovery plot is more about the character making the discovery than the discovery itself. This isn’t a search for the secrets of the lost tombs of some Incan king; it’s a search for understanding about human nature.
  2. Focus the story on the character, not on what the character does.
  3. Start your plot with an understanding of who the main character is before circumstances change and force the character into new situations.
  4. Don’t linger on your main character’s “former” life; integrate past with present and future. Place the character on the exciting edge 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 events started to change her character.
  5. 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. Don’t be trivial. Don’t dwell on insignificant detail.
  6. Move your main character 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 your story’s tension.

So, there you have it…all the elements you need to write your best seller. And read, read, read those fiction works that have mastered the technique. You just might be the next author with a best-selling discovery fiction plot!

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

 

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PLOT # 16

SACRIFICE

Abraham and Isaac

(Painting compliments of

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/abraham-and-isaac-bible-story.html)

High Noon

Casablanca

If you’re thinking of dabbling in a novel that involves great sacrifice on the part of your main protagonist, several key points need to be included in your story:

  1. The protagonist’s sacrifice should come at a great personal cost; your protagonist is playing 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. Events must force the protagonist’s decisions.
  4. An adequate foundation of character must be developed early so the reader understands the character’s progress on the path to making his sacrifice.
  5. All events should be a reflection of the main character and his actions. They test and develop “character.”
  6. Make clear the motivation of your protagonist 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.
  8. Have a strong moral dilemma at the center of your story.

Once you incorporate this key issues in your story, then you only have one big decision to make: Will my novel end with a smile or a frown? Either is acceptable.

So, there you have it. Get those creative juices flowing, and crank out the next best-selling “sacrifice” novel.

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

 

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PLOT # 15

FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romeo and Juliet

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Are you a writer with a passion to peck out a love story with a tragic, yet heartwarming, plot or end? Then take heed to the steps you need to take to crank out a best-seller:

  1. Forbidden love is any love that goes against the conventions of society, so there is usually either an explicit or implicit force exerted against the lovers.
  2. The lovers ignore social convention and pursue their hearts, usually with disastrous results.
  3. Adultery is the most common form of forbidden love. The adulterer may either be the protagonist or antagonist, depending on the nature of the story. The same is true for the offended spouse.
  4. The first dramatic phase should define the relationship between partners and phrase it in its social context. What are the taboos that they have broken? How do they handle it themselves? How do the people around them handle it? Are the lovers moonstruck, or do they deal with the realities of their affair head-on?
  5. The second dramatic phase should take the lovers into the heart of their relationship. The lovers may start out in an idyllic phase, but as the social and psychological realities of their affair become clear, the affair may start to dissolve or come under great pressure to dissolve.
  6. The third dramatic phase should take the lovers to the end point of their relationship and settle all the moral scores. The lovers are usually separated, either by death, force, or desertion.

So, there you have it. Take note of the progression of “sadness” that must occur to develop a well-written forbidden love story.

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

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