Posts Tagged ‘writing novels’


Friends, with my husband’s heart attacks, ICU stay in three different hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, for over two months, and his homegoing on November 6th, I’ve not been able to post my weekly Writers’ Tip Blog since August 21st. Richard had two heart attacks that same week, and our lives changed forever.

That was six months ago already to the day when he entered the first ICU. You who’ve experienced the death of a close one know how much “paperwork” is involved in getting your new life in order. I’m finally getting some kind of “normalcy” in my daily routine. Thus, I’m going to try to return to entering a Writers’ Tip Blog post every Monday. Again, I want to thank you all for your continued prayers.

Today we’re going to continue with the different plots that fiction novels can present. I’ve used a wonderful book by Ronald Tobias called MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM as my primary resource. This work by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction desiring to improve his skills for writing an I-can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript.

In August, I had posted PLOT # 1, THE QUEST. You might want to scroll down and refresh your memory concerning that plot’s specifics. Today we’re going to look at PLOT # 2, ADVENTURE. If you’re a fiction writer, I believe you’ll thoroughly enjoy these posts and glean much information from them to help you become a better writer:



Indiana Jones

Luke Skywalker

James Bond

Robinson Crusoe

The adventure plot resembles the quest plot, but they differ in some profound ways:

  1. The quest plot is a character plot, getting into the mind of that main character. The adventure plot, on the other hand, is an action plot—a plot of the hero in action.
  2. The difference between the two is the focus. In the quest plot, the focus from beginning to end is on the person making the journey. In the adventure plot, the focus is on the journey.
  3. In the adventure plot, the hero searches for fortune somewhere over the rainbow. The purpose of the adventure is the journey, so the hero doesn’t need to change in any special way.
  4. The reader doesn’t get “into the head” of the main character like the quest plot. The protagonist is perfectly fitted for the adventure: He/she is swept up in the event because the event is always larger than the character.
  5. The worlds the main characters live in are anything but “normal.” Readers enjoy the adventures not only for the action but also for the places where the character goes.
  6. If you the reader liked fairy tales as a child, you’ll love adventure plots in an exciting novel. The adventure story is nothing more than a fairy tale for grown-ups.


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

Next time, we’ll look at PLOT # 3: PURSUIT





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April 11, 2016


The Essential Details of Research for your Fiction


What? Research for fiction when I’m making it all up in my brilliant head?

Yes, you need to do research even though your story is “make-believe.”

The editors with whom I worked to publish three different juvenile fiction books or series all demanded accuracy when it came to “the facts.”

In my Keystone Stables book number seven, WHISPERING HOPE, a small barn fire causes the local fire company to come to the Chambers’ ranch to, of course, put out the fire. So, what, or who, would show up to put out a potentially dangerous flame that could destroy acres of property and farmland?

To be absolutely correct in my manuscript, I interviewed a local fireman and got all the details of who, what, where, when, and why. Following is that scene with all “the facts” included accurately:


Skye followed Mrs. Chambers outside just as two screaming fire engines, a tanker, and an ambulance, all with flashing lights, barreled down the driveway and pulled a short distance from the barn. The trucks and their commotion lit up the place like a firemen’s carnival. As far as Skye could tell, about ten firemen scrambled from the trucks and started their assigned tasks.

Moving to the far side of the barn, Mr. Chambers continued to spray water on the fire. “I think it just started!” he yelled to anyone who would listen.

“Is there anyone in the barn?” one fireman yelled.

“No!” Mr. Chambers yelled. “We just got all the horses out!”

Another fireman asked, “Do you have a pond on your property?”

“Yes,” Mr. Chambers answered, “at the bottom of the fenced-in pasture.”

“Freeburg’s trucks should be here any sec,” the fireman said. “Open your gate, so their tanker can fill up.”

Mr. Chambers dropped his garden hose and raced toward the gate.

Skye stared at the scene while two men quickly slid a large plastic holding tank off the truck and started pumping water from the tanker into it. One fireman grabbed some kind of line or hose from another truck and pulled it to the plastic tank where he plugged it in. Two other men shoulder-loaded a hose from the first truck and stretched it the length of the barn. A pair of men from another truck donned breathing apparatus, grabbed fire extinguishers and hatchets, and started toward the barn.

The men with the outstretched hose started spraying water on the flames in the loft while two men from the second truck prepped their hose.

Still coughing, Skye watched the firemen perform their duties with the precision that only drill after drill had produced. Every man knew exactly what to do to put out the fire and save the barn from total destruction.

Out of the ambulance hopped two EMTs. Carrying small cases, they rushed toward Mrs. Chambers and Skye. “Are you all right?” asked a chubby female in a navy blue uniform.

Mrs. Chambers gestured toward Skye and spoke through a series of coughs. “We … got our lungs full of smoke, but we’re okay. Just let us… catch our breath.”

“Do you need any oxygen?” a tall thin EMT with a beard asked.

“I think… we’re okay,” Skye managed to say. “We were in the barn… just long enough to get the horses out.”

Gasping, Mr. Chambers joined the group while his glare never left the barn.

“Sir,” the male EMT asked Mr. Chambers, “are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Mr. Chambers said. “I didn’t breathe in any smoke… I’m just winded.”

With blasting sirens and flashing lights, three more fire trucks and another ambulance barreled down the driveway. They clattered to the far side of the barn and pulled to a screeching halt. One busy fireman in front of the barn ran to the tanker and shouted something to the driver. As the firemen hopped off the engines, the tanker backed up, maneuvered around the other trucks, and headed toward the pond.

Mrs. Chambers grabbed Skye by both shoulders and glared into her face. “Skye … where’s Wanda?”

Skye’s eyes grew as round as saucers. “Mom… I completely forgot to tell you… she wasn’t in her bed.” She then pointed at the barn. “She might be in there!”

“Wan-da!” Mrs. Chambers screamed and started running toward the barn, but Mr. Chambers grabbed her arm and stopped her. “You stay here!” he yelled. “I’ll go in.”

“You can’t go in there!” an EMT yelled.

“I have to,” he said. “One of our girls is in there!”

Mr. Chambers ran to a firemen gearing up and told him about Wanda.

“Mike!” the fireman yelled back to the hosemen. “There might be a kid in there. We’re going in.”

“Okay,” one said. Turning his water on, he and his partner streamed a second powerful surge of water into the barn’s loft.

(From WHISPERING HOPE by Marsha Hubler, pp. 60-62)




There you have an example of the detail required to make a scene come alive with truth in action. I trust that you felt like you were standing right next to Skye, watching everything that was going on.

In another one of my fiction books, THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON, the plot centers around Civil War gold coins hidden in a canyon that the main characters, three teen girl junior detectives, have to find. I make several referrals to the Battle of Gettysburg, including a map or two in the manuscript; so, of course, much research went into being accurate with the details about the coins and the battlefield. I used encyclopedias and the Internet for my research.

Oh, by the way, one of the publishing companies’ editors’ main jobs is to make sure their authors get their stories straight. The editors, in turn, must do their own research to verify the words we authors have written.

So, my point is this: when writing fiction, make sure you get “the facts” straight. I suppose the only subgenre in which you wouldn’t need much research is if you’re writing fantasy that takes place in a brand new world. You can make up your own laws, rules, details, and creatures which need to follow no standard. However, if you’re writing about anything or anyone here on planet earth, do your homework, and make your story as true to life as you can, even if it’s all a big lie. ☺


P.S. Don’t wait to sign up for a work-in-progress class at the Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference this July. Those seminars fill up fast.MCWC.Duck.Welcome.Sign.on.Porch.7.22.14






(More shameless promotion)



Foster kid Skye and her horse Champ have their hooves full

trying to help Tanya Bell, a wild foster kid, handle the loss

of a mare giving birth.

 Keystone Stables Book 3



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September 30, 2013

Today’s Writers’ Tips


Continuing our study of fiction plots, we’ll look at plot number 6 today: Revenge.

Ha! Here’s your chance to get even with all those evil people in your life who did you wrong; of course, you’ll change the names to protect the guilty, but you should have a barrel of fun writing what you’ve always wanted to say—or do—to those wicked folks in your life. So let’s have a look at:

 PLOT #6



The Outlaw Josey Wales

The Sting

As you write your revenge plot:

1. Your main character should seek retaliation against the antagonist for a real or imagined injury.

2. Most (but not all) revenge plots focus more on the act of the revenge than on a meaningful examination of the character’s motives.

3. Your hero’s justice is “wild” vigilante justice that usually goes outside the limits of the law.

4. Work on manipulating the feelings of your reader by avenging the injustices of the world by a man or woman of action who is forced to act by events when the institutions that normally deal with these problems prove inadequate.

5. Your hero should have moral justification for vengeance.

6. Your hero’s vengeance may equal but might not exceed the offense perpetrated against the hero (the punishment must fit the crime).

7. Your hero first should try to deal with the offense in traditional ways, such as relying on the police— an effort that usually fails.

8. The first dramatic phase establishes the hero’s normal life, which the antagonist interferes with by committing a crime. Make your reader understand the full impact of the crime against the hero and what it costs both physically and emotionally. Your hero then gets no satisfaction by going through official channels and realizes he must pursue his own cause if he wants to avenge the crime.

9. The second dramatic phase includes your hero making plans for revenge and then pursuing the antagonist. Your antagonist may elude the hero’s vengeance either by chance or design. This act usually pits the two opposing characters against each other.

10. The last dramatic phase includes the confrontation between your hero and antagonist. Often the hero’s plans go awry, forcing him to improvise. Either your protagonist succeeds or fails in his attempts. In contemporary revenge plots, the hero usually doesn’t pay much of an emotional price for the revenge. This allows the action to become cathartic for the reader.

So there you have ten points that you need to develop as you write your revenge plot. Work on these details, perfect them, and you just might write yourself a best-selling novel!

I believe as you outline your fiction plots, you can better define which plot you’re developing and better understand how to incorporate many of these characteristics to improve your writing 100%.

All information compliments of:

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

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

Next time, we’ll have a look at PLOT #7: The Riddle or Mystery

Happy writing!


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