The advice I wish I had when I first started writing.
The advice I wish I had when I first started writing.
It was my turn to blog on Romance Books ‘4’ Us blog.
Please check out my post about advice to young or new writers.
Here’s my Youtube Vlog: Writing Matters
By Janice Seagraves
When we write, everything matters. From sentence structure to what our characters are eating and drinking.
It has to happen in the proper order or it won’t make sense. And if it doesn’t make sense then it won’t make sense to your readers.
I was watching Malibu Country with Reba McEntire (I love anything Reba is in). In a scene where she talked to her Mamma, I started watching what Reba was doing. Reba picked up a mug and added a tea bag. I could see that little square that hung over the edge of her mug. She added hot water. Walked around. Took a sip, then another. Talked some more and drank more tea. Half her cup seemed to be empty, before she walked back to the counter and added sugar.
Do you see what was wrong here? Reba did something out of order. She’s such a pro that this struck me as odd.
One of the things I check for in the final read through of my writing, is what my characters are doing. Is it logical? Does it make sense? Is it in the right order? Are they adding the milk to the cereal, or cereal to the milk?
One of my daughter’s old PBS cartoons she used to watch had been really bad about doing things that defied logic. Characters would talk with a fork still in their mouths. Really? Wouldn’t that break their teeth?
Have you ever noticed something that happened in a book, movie or your child’s cartoon that didn’t make sense?
Alien Heart, the first of a whole new SF series.
Blurb: Divorcee and single mom, hardworking Audrey Westberry is the host of a cable TV show called Miz Fixit.
Romance was the last thing on Audrey’s mind when two handsome extraterrestrials join the audience of her show.
Soon Audrey finds out a single word “mated” has different meaning when you are born a galaxy away. After a wonderful night of passion, Audrey finds herself far from home, impregnated and her life turned upside down.
Will she ever be able to leave the alien compound, see her son again, or get home in time to film the fall season of her Miz Fixit show?
But what’s a girl to do with two aliens that smell like candy, and their kisses taste like it, too?
|Excerpt: “Good show, everyone.” Derek, the director, walked through the dressing room. “So Audrey, how are you going to spend your summer hiatus?” Tall, dark-haired, with hazel eyes, and oh so married. He leaned on her chair and looked into the mirror at Audrey.“Oh hi, Derek.” Kendra made eyes at him again.Audrey frowned at her. If his wife ever saw her do that, she’d go ballistic.
To Audrey he was just a dear friend and director, who’d guided her through the complexity of cable television. “I was going to spend it with my son, but I got a call from my ex. Tony is going away to camp for eight weeks.”
“Camp?” He blinked in surprise. “Whose idea was that?”
“Tony and his best friend decided they wanted to go. My ex put him on the phone, so he could tell me.”
“Ouch.” Derek pulled down the corners of his mouth. “Best friend one, mom zero.”
“Yeah,” Audrey sighed, still feeling the sting of rejection. “He’s at an age now when friends are more important than mommy.”
“And, this is the dressing room where our star puts on her makeup for the camera.” Fox Watanabe, Audrey’s agent, was nattily dressed. His straight midnight hair and dark eyes marked him as pure Native American. He seemed to be acting as a tour guide to the aliens.
A cameraman entered the dressing room ahead of the aliens, walking backward as he snapped pictures.
Audrey grimaced. God, what’s Fox doing now?
“The aliens look like elves,” Derek muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, they do.” Audrey noticed their pointed ears and long faces. “They could’ve played extras on the Lord of the Ring movies.”
“Got to go, things to do.” Derek headed toward the exit, but he slowed, and his back stiffened as he got near her agent.
Audrey tensed. Please don’t let them get into another argument over me.
“This is our little show’s director, Derek Alcorn.” Fox gestured toward him.
“Nice to meet you.” Derek gave a nod to the aliens. “I’ve got to button up the set.”
He hurried out of the room.
Fox turned back to the aliens. “He’s a busy man, lots of responsibilities.”
Audrey let out a breath. Fox had once again ignored the subtle dig Derek’s quick exit meant. The show’s director didn’t like chitchat, but he hated her agent even more.
“They have three penises each,” Kendra whispered in Audrey’s ear. She used a soaked cotton ball and ran it over the side of Audrey’s face to clean off the makeup.
Audrey turned to stare at her. “What?”
Kendra pinched Audrey’s chin, moving her head over to clean the other side.
“I saw a picture on the internet.” She whispered, “Two long ones and a little one. It makes you wonder what their women look like down there.”
Audrey licked her lips, trying to imagine the male aliens naked. Would their equipment look like my favorite toy?
Kendra moved back and smiled. “All done.”
Fox walked over to her, with the aliens in tow. “Here’s our Miz Fixit, Audrey Westberry.”
God, what a thing to tell me, just before I’m introduced to them. “How do you do?” Standing, Audrey held out her hand and tried not to glance at their crotches.
Conflict in writing
By Janice Seagraves
Most writers know that to have an interesting story which draws the reader in, you must have conflict.
Conflict = story.
One way to have conflict is to make your main character an underdog.
Why an underdog?
Because people love to root for an underdog.
Example: Remember Charlie Brown, trying every year to kick that football? Didn’t you root for him, even though you knew Lucy would pull that ball away each and every time, he tried to kick it?
Let’s face it, no one wants to root for Ken and Barbie who live an idyllic life in suburbia.
In my book Windswept Shores, I have my heroine, Megan have a really bad day:
Windswept Shores Excerpt:
If she had to spend one more day on this godforsaken island, she’d go stark raving mad. The thought spurred Megan into rolling a large log with one foot then the other, until it was near the bonfire. “God, this thing is heavy.” With a grunt, she lifted one end until it teetered upright then gave it a shove. It landed in the fire, embers swirling in the air.
Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She’d thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She’d been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.
Another way to have conflict in a romance is to have newly divorced Ken, (Barbie ran off with G.I. Joe), have a miserable day—conflict.
Example: Say Ken’s Porsche breaks down on the way to work and he has to have it towed. As he waits impatiently for the tow truck driver, he’s mentally marking off all the things that went wrong that week (conflict). Just after he’s comes to the fact that he is alone and unloved the tow truck driver arrives. But a pretty woman steps out. It’s P.J. The baggy coveralls can’t hide her full (Mattel) figure and the grease smudges on her (plastic) face can’t cover up her lovely face or her Malibu tan. Maybe P.J.’s father or uncle owns the business, or maybe she owns it herself. Or maybe she’s not a tow truck driver, but a pick-up service for a car rental agency.
So Ken thanks his lucky star that he’s spotted this beauty, but when he asks P.J. out she turns him down—flat.
No conflict—no story.
In my book Windswept Shores, I have Megan alone on a deserted island, until Seth washes up on shore. The first thing he does is sniff her hair.
Windswept Shores excerpt:
“Are you from England?”
“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sidney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”
Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”
“G’day, Megz,” he answered, struggling to sit-up. “Sorry, I’m not from your plane.”
Megan slipped an arm around him lifting his back off the sand. Turning his head to her hair, he took in a couple of short breaths. Megan pulled back staring at him. “What the—did you just sniff me?”
“Ya smell too good not to.” He grinned, causing his cheeks to dimple. “Name’s Seth Dawson.”
Whatever your conflict is, you’ve got to either keep it going or bring in some new conflict. New conflict is great, especially if you overlay it with the old conflict.
Example: Charlie Brown gets depressed about not kicking the football and visit Lucy at her psychiatrist’s help booth to tell her all his troubles. Then she basically calls him a loser.
Why? For additional conflict.
Lucy is the antagonist; her job is to cause conflict.
Back to Ken. He’s finally got P.J. to go on a date with him. Everything is great in Ken’s life right? But what if her business partner doesn’t like Ken and tells him so right to his face?
Why? For additional conflict. That partner is the antagonist for Ken’s story. He’ll keep poor Ken on his toes for the rest of the story.
In Windswept Shores, I have the wild pigs that inhabit their island for additional conflict. They are the antagonist and keep my characters down or at least running for their lives. I have them in place way before things getting hot and heavy between my couple.
Windswept Shores excerpt:
“You can’t charge boars barehanded. They have long, sharp tusks.” She frowned. “The last time I ran across a wild pig, I had to climb a tree.”
He slammed his fist on the boat’s railing. “I should have taken the offal out last night and buried them.” Opening a chest, Seth took out a spear gun. “You know how to use one of these?”
“No, I’ve only seen them on TV.” She set the eggs on the swivel chair.
“It’s just like on the box. You point and pull the trigger.” Seth demonstrated, loading it with a long spear with a wicked looking barb.
“What are you going to do?” She took the spear-gun.
Seth pushed the sharp end away from him. “I’m gonna make a bullroarer.” He brought out some heavy duty fishing line, tying a pointed weight to the end of it. “If I get charged, shoot. But try not to hit me.”
“I’ll try,” she said softly.
“Try a little harder than that, luv.” He grinned as he climbed down the ladder.
It was my turn to post on Romance Books ‘4’ Us Blog.
I wrote about avoiding filter words.
How to make your book a page turner
by Janice Seagraves
To make your book a page turner, you’ll need to hook your readers.
Place a hook at the beginning and end of each chapter, so the reader won’t want to set your book down.
A hook doesn’t have to be the middle of some crisis like a cliff hanger in the old serials where the hero is left literally hanging off a cliff. It can be something that leaves a question in the readers mind: Will she/he kiss/accept him/her.
If your story is suspense, mystery or horror, don’t end the conflict until the very last page. Do the same thing if you’re writing romance, keep some unresolved question between your couple until the very last page.
In that way you’re keeping the tension going.
Remember you have to have tension to have a story. No tension, no story.
Then your reader will be staggering into work the next day, saying, “I just read the best book. I couldn’t put it down and didn’t go to sleep until three in the morning.”
By Janice Seagraves
Today my daughter and I were talking about sound-a-like words that mess up a perfectly good sentence.
Ah—as in Ah, I just got that.
Aw—as in Aw, I’m disappointed.
Awe—as in I’m in Awe of the majestic mountains that surround the Yosemite valley.
Then there is:
There—over there by the car.
Their—is a possessive—That’s their car.
They’re— is a contraction of they are—They’re making a get-a-way in their car.
Yeah—I agree with you.
Don’t forget the possessives that don’t always have an apostrophe s (‘s):
Their—possessive of they—that’s their car.
Its—it’s is is a contraction while the possessive of it is its.
What other sound-a-like words can you think of?
It’s my turn to post on Romance Books ‘4’ Us: http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/2012/12/turning-i-cant-into-i-can-by-janice.html