Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In media res...

Received wisdom tells us to begin a story in the middle--the middle of the action, that is.  We're told to 'hook' the reader on page one, from the first sentence if possible.  Keep things moving, keep the action going, keep the reader on the edge of their seat.  It's a lot to expect from the beginning of the story, and woe to the author who doesn't do this.  There are plenty of books out there, and readers have an ever-shrinking attention span--they won't hesitate to drop your book and pick up another, one that presumably holds their interest.


What about those books that don't start right in the middle?  What about the books that take you on a journey, building your relationship with the characters before plopping them into the middle of the action?  I'm not saying I want to read the entire biography of a character before they do something, but as a reader, I don't mind a little build-up to the action.

One of my favorite books is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  If you haven't read it, go get a copy.  I'll wait. <g>

By today's standards, Outlander starts off pretty slowly.  It takes at least 50 pages for Claire to travel back in time and meet Jamie.  My guess is that an agent or editor today would want to trim that introduction, have the book begin right as Claire makes her trip.  But all of the stuff that happens before she goes back tells the reader who she is, makes the reader care about her so that we want to know what happens to her.  The details and back story also serve to make Claire a more fully realized character, one who comes alive off the page.

Maybe I'm being naive, but rather than worrying about opening with an explosion or car chase, I try to open with something that makes the reader want to turn the page.  That doesn't have to be a big, showy event, and in fact, I usually have several pages of character introduction and scene setting before getting things off the ground.

Fellow authors, how do you approach beginnings?  Do you like to set the scene, or do you start things off with a bang?  Readers, what about you?  How much time are you willing to spend on a book that doesn't get to the point right away?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words...

I'm about half-way done with Thomas and Claire's story, and part of me is all:

funny pictures of cats with captions

But at the same time, I've reached that dreaded middle section.  You know what I'm talking about--the story isn't flowing as quickly as it was in those heady early days, I'm floundering a bit and feeling a little lost...

funny pictures of cats with captions

And then I heard it: the seductive whisper of a shiny new idea. 

funny pictures of cats with captions

What to do?  It would be so easy to abandon put off working on the current WIP in favor of taking up with the awesome new story--after all, the new characters are talking freely, being all cooperative and stuff, while my current characters are... not.

funny pictures of cats with captions

But I know that if I start working on this new idea, Thomas and Claire's story will likely not get finished.  So, I've told the new idea:

funny pictures of cats with captions

Last time, Thomas and Claire were being very demanding, but I put them off to finish James and Kelly's story.  Now, it's the characters from the third book clamoring for attention.


Don't get me wrong--this is a great problem to have.  Multiple plots, characters, and ideas floating around?  I just wish I had the time to work on them all.  

funny pictures of cats with captions

But I will wait.  After all, patience is a virtue, right?


So now I have a question for you, fellow authors.  When you get that shiny new idea, what do you do?  Drop everything and start working on it, or stay the course with your current WIP and come back to the new idea later?  What's your process like?  Does it involve as many kitties as mine? <g>

All images courtesy of

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guest blog!

I'm guest blogging over at Kary Rader's website today, talking about favorite romance heroes.  Stop by and check it out!
So tell me, who's your favorite romance hero, and why?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

But what do they look like?

I'm about to send off Edge of Trust to my awesome cadre of beta readers--I wanted to do this sooner, but life (and NaNo) got in my way.  Sorry about that, guys!

In the interest of sharing with the rest of you, I thought I'd post links to pictures of how I imagined the characters of Kelly and James.  So, without further ado, here are the hero and heroine of Edge of Trust!

This is James.  He looks very nice in his suit, don't you agree?

And here's Kelly, with her hair in its customary ponytail.

I'm working on Thomas and Claire's story now, so stayed tuned for pictures of them in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A pep talk...

Oh, NaNoWriMo.  Whether you participate in November, June, or August, there is a special kind of guilt that participants fall prey to as they write.

You know what I'm talking about.  In order to write 50,000 words in one month, you should aim to write 1,667 words per day.  A large, but not unachievable, word count.  But sometimes, you hit 800 or 1,000 or 1,200 words, and you just can't write any more.  You're stuck, you have no more words in you for that day, and you're tired.  Ordinarily, your total for the day would be a word count worthy of celebration, but because you fell short of the magic 1,667 words, you feel like a failure.

Well, stop it.

Stop feeling guilty if you don't hit 1,667 words in a day.  Ask yourself this: did I write today?  If the answer is 'yes' then you have succeeded.  Any day you get a non-zero number of words down is a good day, and you shouldn't beat yourself up for not reaching some arbitrary goal.

That being said, it's important to push yourself, to stretch your writing muscles and try to power through the dry spells.  But understand that not every day is going to be a banner writing day, and don't wallow in guilt when that happens.  After all, this is supposed to be fun, right?