August 14, 2017

Writers’ Tips for the Fiction Genre

TWENTY MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them/dp/1599635372/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373314000&sr=1-1  is one of the best books I’ve ever read to help understand the fiction genre and to improve my own writing. This book by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction, who desires to improve his skills for writing an appealing, can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript. All the tips in the next series of blog posts come from this book.

Today we’re going to start by reviewing the definition of plot, a plot-driven book, and a character-driven book. So if you’re been wanting to write good fiction, regardless of the age of your readership, take special note of the helpful tips in my next 20 or so blog posts.


  1. A plot is organic, the skeleton that holds the story together, the scaffold, the superstructure, the chassis, the frame, a force, a process.
  2. Every plot is different, but each has its roots in a pattern of unified behavior and action.
  3. It’s a blueprint of human behavior.
  4. It’s more than a chronicle of events. It answers WHY! (It has to be more than “Johnny hit his sister Susie.” WHY did he hit her?)
  5. TENSION fuels the plot.
  6. PLOT asks the question; the CLIMAX answers it.

DEFINITION OF A PLOT-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story that is more important than the characters. The characters are there to make the plot happen.

DEFINITION OF A CHARACTER-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story is less important than the characters.

  1. Don’t have a STATIC character. He/she must be different at the end than he/she was in the beginning.
  2. Put your character in a SITUATION.
  3. Use TRIANGLES: the relationship between character and plot. They make the strongest character combinations and are most common. Events happen in threes. (Example: the hero tries three times to overcome an obstacle.)
  4. MOTIVATION: explaining why the major characters to what they do: ACTION VS. REACTION

So…there are some introductory tips from Ronald Tobias’s excellent book for you to ponder as you plan your work of fiction. Next time, we’ll share with you some pointers to help you write a plot that focuses on a quest or a goal the protagonist is aiming to achieve.

Happy writing!



Interested in Amish/Mennonite fiction?

Eli and Louellen Friesen’s marriage is on the rocks, and at the same time, both question their ordnung’s teachings of the way of salvation.





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Meet Author/Illustrator Brenda K. Hendricks

(In her own eloquent words …)

All the world’s a football stadium. Beneath that dome, there exists four positions—spectators, cheerleaders, coaches, and players.

Brenda K. Hendricks? She sits in the grandstand filing her nails or doodling on the program. At least until a player’s shoulders slump in bewilderment. Then Brenda bounds onto the sideline. With a keyboard in one hand and a paintbrush in the other like whirling pom-poms, she “shouts” encouragement through words and paintings.

Over a hundred of her devotions have been printed in numerous periodicals and compilations. Her paintings and prints have been bought as visual reminders of God’s love.

While cheering the players to victory, Brenda notices the need for instruction and marches to the players’ bench. Keyboard clicking, brush swirling, she writes and illustrates children’s picture books. Two are currently in print. What’s the Buzz, Bumbly Bee? helps children to become all God has created them to be, despite the impossibilities. What’s Better than That, Seren Dippity? teaches children that sharing makes friends, and nothing is better than that.

Brenda continues to “blow the coach’s whistle” with an online Bible study that can be read at Two Small Fish and through words of encouragement on her blog My Quotes of Encouragement.

Currently, she is illustrating an early reader’s chapter book about the first settlers in Wisconsin, which is scheduled for publication in December. She also is writing a devotional designed for creative people entitled, A Portrait of Christ, an Artist’s Perspective and an allegory titled Tabitha Tuesday.

Although all this cheering and instructing consumes a lot of time, the ball occasionally bounces at Brenda’s feet. She sets her keyboard and brush aside, picks up her helmet, and … hops on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. Together, they sail over paved seas. While enjoying the landscape, Brenda plots her next novel, relates scripture to her adventure, and deciphers how to duplicate the cloud formation on canvas as she settles back into the position of spectator.


Wow, Brenda. A boring life is NOT what you have. You go, girl!

Be sure to visit creative Brenda at her blog sites and order her books for your young grandchildren. They’ll love them.

Happy Writing!

P.S. – I want to welcome any Amish/Mennonite fiction lovers to this site who are interested in my new series, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY. Volume 1, BACHELOR’S CHOICE, was released by Trestle Press as an e-book on July 2, and is already doing quite well. TEACHER’S PET and LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN are slated to be released over the next few months.

In a short time, I’ll have a page on this blog dedicated to just those who love reading the red hot Amish/Mennonite genre! I’ll discuss all things Amish and Mennonite, including their lifestyles,  PA Dutch recipes, and other trivia that will interest any reader of this genre.

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