AN AUTHOR’S GMC

Oct 20 2017, 7:20 pm

Like successful books, successful writers have

Goals, Motivation, and Conflict.

Think about it. We use GMC to build our books. As writers we are no different from the characters we set up in stories. Writers have Goals just as our characters have. We have the Motivation as to why we want to achieve our goals as do our characters. And we have the internal and external Conflict standing in the way of achieving our goals preventing us from reaching those goals. 

GOALS

It is proven individuals with goals are significantly more successful than those without. Think of your writing career as writing a book. Do your characters wander around a story doing nothing? Nope. Your characters have purpose, a story goal. If a character’s goal is to be the president of the US, she will have to do some things, have a plan, take steps to reach that goal. What happens in a book is plot. What happens in your life is planning. As authors, we want to write the best book possible, be published, have bestselling books so we take steps and make plans in order to be successful. Ding, ding, ding. GOAL.

What’s your plan to reach the goal of writing that great bestselling book? This is important. It’s said that the main reason primary goals fail is because there are no secondary goals made. By this, I mean if your primary goal is to write a book your secondary goal could be to put your butt in the chair and write so many words every day. You may say, “well, duh, of course.” But, you will be amazed at how many people do not make secondary goals. To me this is same as saying you want to go to Paris and standing on the curb in front of your house expecting a 747 to land and take you there. To reach your primary goal and keep you on track develop daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals. Be realistic. Be honest. Remember life can and does reach out and head smack you. Forget what your friends are doing. Decide what it will take for YOU to reach your goals. Don’t say you’re gonna write 5000 words a day when you know you only have time to write 500. You may discover reaching a goal can mean making a decision about what you need to give up. How many times have you said you don’t have time to write? Examine how you use your time. Perhaps cutting down time spent cruising the Internet or, hours watching TV.

MOTIVATION

Our characters goals are define by what they want and why. Motivation.

A writer’s reason, or motivation, for writing and being published is important to acknowledge. Do you write for fame? Fortune? To be labeled a successful author? Because you’d die if you don’t write?

If it is fame and fortune take a step back and define what fame, fortune and successful author means to you. As in a book, motivation has a direct effect on your goals.

Is your motivation to see your print book on the end display at a brick and mortar store?

Goal. Research editors and publishing houses.

Motivation. You want to prove to all the naysayers who said you couldn’t write a book that you can and did.

Goal. Save money to rent a billboard and take full-page newspaper ads to say nanny-nanny-boo-boo to all of them.

Motivation. You promised your dear great-auntie you would write and publish the family history and self-publishing is the way you’re going.

Goal. Find a good editor. Learn about e-reader formatting and research cover artists.

What I’m saying is different motivation requires different goals. In a story, a character’s motivation keeps the middle from sagging. For the author, motivation keeps you from sagging in the time between you finished the book and it is published. It’s that time when you’re looking for representation and a publisher to buy the book or working hard at learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. No sugar coating here, it’s hard and staying focused and motivated is extremely important.

CONFLICT

And now we come to…Conflict. We are told conflict, conflict and more conflict is what makes a good story. Conflict, conflict, and conflict in a writer’s life might not be the best thing. Unless of course you are a person who thrives on conflict. But, let’s face it, we all have conflict in one form or another. A day job sucking the life out of you. A day job, and caring for a family while you write. BTW if you do, I am in absolute awe. Family and friends giving you grief about your writing. A new baby, children home sick, or both. A daily battle with the fear of failing, or being successful. Maybe the evil internal editor follows you everywhere. Whatever it is, you are not alone. We all fight the enemy called conflict and totally eliminating it is not possible. In your story, your H&H work hard to overcome their conflict. Writers are not different. Work hard to identify your enemy. Adapt, improvise and overcome. Yeah, that’s what gung-ho marines say and it works here cause our battles are just as intense as theirs. Never underestimate your enemy. (Yes. I write suspense/thrillers)

You are the Hero or Heroine of your own story. Use Goal, Motivation and Conflict and ensure your very own successful happy ending.

Have Primary and secondary goals.

Define your motivation. Believe it will happen. Believe in yourself. YOU_are_a_writer.

Identify your conflict and make a plan to overcome it, short circuit it or turn it into an advantage.

Rita

 

Writing Romantic Suspense

Oct 20 2017, 7:16 pm

In Romantic Suspense there are two distinct stories. The suspense and the romance.

RWA defines romantic suspense as a romance novel in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.

You need a strong suspense story and a strong romance. Then you weave the two together perfectly. Today I’m only going to talk about developing quick physical and emotional relationships.  

 In this genre the action moves fast and the story takes place over a relative short period. I write contemporary thriller/action adventure and the stories take place over a couple of weeks and less. BIG PROBLEM. An author has to weave in a plausible romance and bring it to a satisfying conclusion (don’t forget part of a romance definition is the HEA) in short timeframe.  Not easy.

 If your characters are meeting for the first time on the pages of your story how can that plausible—I emphasis plausible— relationship develop so fast? What about the sexual aspect?  Characters getting between the sheets fast is crazy tricky. Of course if the characters have a history, good or bad as long as they have a touch point of knowledge, it’s less complicated.

 If you plan on writing sex for a hero and heroine who just met it is important you know yourself and your own boundaries.  Know what YOUR comfort zone is. If you can’t conceive of, or don’t agree with characters getting hot and sweaty together fast, for goodness sakes, don’t do it.

For example I’m not comfortable with a 2o something woman meeting a man,  two hours later being in bed and two weeks later being in a happy ever after relationship. Nor am I comfortable with someone that age knowing the man she’s just met is the one that fast. It would be impossible for me to give her the experiences that would allow her to make these decisions. Be clear here. I am NOT saying someone that age is incapable of making that decision, I’m saying I can’t write it to happen fast.   

Ergo, I write with heroes and heroines over 35. They have experience. To my way of thinking -my comfort zone- they are more capable of making a decision about going into a sexual relationship after a short time and handling any blow back. A 36 year old woman who has been around and experienced a lot in her life knows the ramifications of hooking up.

 You MUST know your characters.  What they will and will not do and why. I mean the down deep why.  While these issues are vital in every story, it is even more important in the fast pace RS genre.  You must know what circumstances will drive your heroine to hit the sheets quickly.  BTW I say heroine because I firmly believe she is the one who makes the decision as to the when and where.

 In my first book, Under Fire, the H&H go home together after they first meet. I totally knew my heroine. What event formed her values and beliefs and was behind all her decisions. The day the H&H met, she suffered two huge setbacks in her story goal. Going with him that night breaks all her personal rules but she decides to console herself with some sexual healing. Give in, just once, to her own needs and the reader knew this. She leaves his bed before he wakes thinking she will never see him again. In a few days this comes back to bite her. It also begins the resolution to her story goal. 

 As for the HEA in this story, these two people were NOT looking for a relationship but found something in each other that filled a void they didn’t know existed. As the author, I knew it did. Knowing your characters inside and out allows you to understand what they fear, what they want, and what they need. You use it to get them to work out their problems together and rapidly establish a bond. With each other’s help they face their fears, they change, and are rewarded with love and in the suspense novel get the bad guy in the process. This is an over simplification but I hope you get what I mean. 

 When the H&H have a sexual history getting them into a speedy relationship is always easier. In my third book, Point of No Return, two experienced intelligence officers from different agencies have an affair that lasted more than a year. You can read how they met in the free prequel No Holding Back. The hero broke it off for his own misguided reason. They come together again working to find the same bad guy. With their history, the sexual tension lasts for only so long before they give in. Their HEA is very complicated. Again, I know them completely.

 Another way is to use what some call survivor sex. After two people share a near death experience sharing the life affirming act of sex is always a possibility.  As an author, you can put friends, detective or business partners, who have worked together for years and know each other completely into that death experience and life affirming sex after. The act changes a relationship to full blown love and HEA. On the surface this looks to be the easiest choice. Honestly it’s the most difficult for me to write. To get a good balance of conflict you really have to know your H&H.

 I can probably come up with a hundred more scenarios but this is already too long.

Bottom line

  • Dig deep
  • Know yourself
  • Know your characters inside out.

What do you think?

 

Industry Terms

Oct 20 2017, 7:13 pm

Sometimes authors and those in publishing rattle off industry terms and acronyms forgetting not everyone knows what they mean, so I’ve listed a few. I’m sure I’ve left some out. Feel free to add, or ask about those not included in the comments.   

TYPES OF FICTION

Commercial Fiction- Fiction written in ‘plain’ language that focuses on plot and content rather than prose.  Commercial fiction, also called mainstream fiction, focuses on plot and character development and has a narrative structure.

Dystopian Fiction – Dystopian is the opposite of Utopia.  Dystopian Fiction focuses on a world that is completely different from what one would consider to be an ideal world.  It features a futuristic projection of a world (usually a government) that perceives itself as or is striving toward being a utopia, and the book/series is frequently about the unraveling of either that world view or the government itself.

Genre Fiction- A genre is a label that describes a particular kind of story.  Within commercial fiction, genres break the books down into smaller categories such as Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and so on. Within a genre there are often sub-genres, or even narrower categories. For example, the Romance genre has sub-genres such as Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance.

Literary Fiction –Literary Fiction is considered to have ‘literary merit’ as opposed to wide commercial appeal.  Generally focused more on the writing style or ideology than the content.  Often the prose is admired for its lyrical quality.

Romantic Fiction – A type of genre fiction. A book that has a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

Steampunk – A genre that originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternative history such as Victorian era in Britain or the US Wild West, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy

 Women’s fiction- A commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship.

Young Adult—Novels geared toward young adult readers.

New Adult—Aimed at readers in their early 20s

 

ACRONYMS

 ARC Advance Reader Copy dispersed by publishers and authors before the book is actually released

BCB – Back Cover Blurb

BIC- Butt In Chair

BICHOK — Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard

GMC —Goal, Motivation, Conflict

HEA – Happily Ever After

H&H — Hero and Heroine

IMO – In my opinion.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number

ITA – I totally agree

MS – Manuscript

NA – New Adult

POD – Print on Demand

POV – Point of View

ROTFL – Roll on the floor laughing

ROTFLMAO – Roll on the floor laughing my a** off

RTF – Rich text format

RWA – Romance Writers of America

TSTL – Too Stupid to Live

w/a –  Writing as

WIP – Work in Progress

YA- Young adult

PUBLISHING TERMS 

Anthology- A book or other collection of selected writings by various authors, in the same literary form, of the same period, or on the same subject. It can be a collection of selected writing by a single author.

Advance – Money the publisher pays when buying a book is an advance against royalties.

Auction-A literary agent sees there is more than one book publisher or editor interested in a book project, the agent holds an auction inviting publishers to bid on the book. A publisher may make pre-emptive persuading the agent to take the project out of auction

Backstory- Anything that happens before page one of the book.

Backlist- A list of older books that are still available from a publisher.

Black Moment – When it appears all is lost and the H&H will never get together.

Boiler Plate – A standard form contract.

Book Bible –  A tool used to keep track of what is going on in a series.

Blurb- A couple of paragraphs on the back cover that entice a reader to buy the book.

Character Arc – The internal journey a character take throughout the story.

Conflict- Everything that keeps the H&H from getting what they want 

  • External conflict – external events that get in a characters way of meeting the story goal
  • Internal conflict – Issues coming from within the character that prevent them from being emotionally complete

Copy Editor – Edits for typos, grammar, and consistency.

Copyright -A publisher is granted rights to publish, but it’s the author who holds copyright.

Critique – Read another’s manuscript and offer advice on grammar, punctuation, spelling, story structure

Dialogue – Discussion between characters used to move the story forward, reveal the past, develop character, illuminate theme, or define tone.

Dialogue Tag – Tells the reader who is speaking and how the speaker is saying it.

Digital Device- Anyone of a number of devices with a screen to read an electronic book. Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony have products allowing you to store books, magazines, newspapers, listen to music and audio books. Many smart phones can do the same.  

e-book – A book available to read on a digital device.

Full Manuscript request – Agent/Editor will ask to read a completed, edited and polished manuscript.   

Galley – Is the manuscript after it has been typeset.

Genre Fiction– Romance, mysteries, science fiction, Westerns, horror, and thriller novels written to entertain.

Goal – What your characters want to achieve in the story.

Head Hopping – Frequently switching POV from one character to another in a scene.

High Concept –A story that has a different twist, is universal, has an intense emotional pull and can be explained in a few words.

Hook – An unexpected end of a scene and chapter designed to keep the reader turning pages.

Inciting Incident- sets your story in motion once your foundation is solid. Is a life-altering event for the protagonists. It forces the protagonist to choose between their old world and an opportunity that will change them.

Indi Publishing or Self-publishing- The publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR.

Info Dump- A large chunk of narrative giving backstory information that slows the forward motion of the plot. 

Literary Agent- A publishing professional working with/for an author to sell books to a publishing house.

Literary Novel –Book written with a goal to enlighten

Manuscript – An unpublished book

Mass-Market Paperback– Mass-market books are designed to fit into the racks set near the checkout counter at supermarkets, drugstores, hospital gift shops and airport newsstands. They are priced affordably so they can be bought on impulse.

Mid-list Author- Authors who consistently publish good but not bestselling books.

Motivation – Why a protagonist wants something.     

Novel- A work of fictional narrative prose in the romance genre of at least 40,000 words as determined by computer word count.

Novella– A work of fiction of 20,000–40,000 words as determined by computer word.

Pacing – Speed of forward motion of the story.

Pantser- An author who does not plan/plot a story. 

Partial Manuscript request-An agent or editor, based on a query letter or pitch will request to see the first three chapters or fifty pages of the manuscript.

Pitch- Authors speaking with an editor/agent about the main characters and plot of their book. Elevator pitch is telling the story in a couple of sentences.

Plotter- An author who plans and plots an entire story and writes according to this plan.   

Plot points – Key scenes to the story line that add complications to the initial goal set by the protagonist.

Plot point one the moment something enters the story in a manner that affects the protagonist’s status, plans and beliefs, forcing them to take action in response, and from that point forward everything changes for them. This event occurs in the 20 to 25 percentile of the story.

 Plot point two – the final point where new information may enter the story.  Where the protagonist receives everything they need to bring the story to an end. This occurs around the 75 percentile of the story.

Point Of View –Which character is sharing internal thoughts are being shared and what tense is being used to tell the story.

Proposal- Sent to and editor by a published author to pitch a new book.  A big name author may receive a contract for a concept. Most will send a description of the proposed book, including an outline or sample chapters.

Protagonist – A story’s principal character, who changes and grows the most in the story, the one with whom the reader identifies with the most

Query letter – A professional one page email sent to an agent or editor showing who, what, and why the story is unique to hook them into reading the full manuscript.

Ragged Lay Down No this is not a description of a steamy sex scene — it’s a description of the way a book is released for sale to the public. It means that the book will be available before its actual publication date. This is a huge issue for big name authors, because to get on the New York Times or USA Today best-seller lists, you want most of your sales to come in a two-week period. So having books sell before the actual publication date, is not a good thing.

Royalty – A percentage paid on sale of each book, most often based on the books cover price, and generally paid quarterly.  Some publishers have semi-annual payments.

Scene – A unit of story structure

Small Press –A term often used to describe publishers with annual sales below a certain level. Commonly, in the United States, this is set at $50 million, after returns and discounts. Small presses are also defined as those that publish an average of fewer than 10 titles per year, though there are a few who manage to do more.

Synopsis – A short overview of the main story plot points.  What the characters want, why they want it and what’s keeping them from getting it. (GMC)

Slush Pile – To be read manuscripts on an editor’s desk. Generally unsolicited, unagented, manuscripts.  

Tag-As in Amazon tags. A tag is a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find items on the Amazon site and provide an easy way for you to “remember” and classify items for later recall. You can add up to 15 tags per item.

Tagline – A sentence that tells your story. The fewer words the better.  

Tense – The authors chooses to tell the story.

  • First person
  • Second person
  • Third person
  • Deep third person
  • Editorial omnipotent
  • Limited omniscient

Three Act Story Structure – Simplified definition.

  • Act 1—Setup
  • Act 2—Confrontation and response
  • Act 3—Resolution

Act 1— Setup.

Act 2 —Confrontation and response. 

Act 3 —Resolution.  

Trade Paperback– Are generally printed on more expensive paper and with sturdier binding. Are higher in price and often (not always) printed in smaller numbers trade paperbacks are sold in bookstores (“to the trade”) and are shelved with their spines facing out.

Troll- For our purpose not the critters who live under a bridge. Troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse. Trolls post inflammatory, messages in an online community, such as a forum, review, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking an emotional response.

Universal theme – Touches something primal in all of us and pulls us deeply into a story.

Unsolicited Manuscript – A complete manuscript sent to an agent or editor without a request.  

Voice – How an emotional connection is made with the reader. Showing the reader life thorough the authors eyes

 STORY WORD COUNT

NOVEL                   OVER 40,000 words

NOVELLA             17,500-40,000 words

NOVELETTE        7,500-17,500 words

SHORT STORY    under 7,500 words

MAJOR PUBLISHING HOUSES

Simon & Schuster (a subsidiary of CBS Corporation)

HarperCollins (a subsidiary of NewsCorp)

Penguin Random House (a subsidiary of Bertelsmann and Pearson)

Hachette Livre.

Harlequin TORSTAR

 

 

 

 

 

Authors and Creativity.

Feb 19 2017, 1:15 pm

Lately, in writers groups, there has been some discussion about keeping the joy in our writing. There are a bazillion answers as to how this can be accomplished. I think one is by indulging our other creative talents.  Yeaph. OTHER creative talents. Authors are very creative people. Think about all the other talents you have and how those creative outlets can nourish your writing. 

Here are a few.

Sewing. BTW I hear it’s coming back as a thing.

Knitting and crocheting.

Setting a proper table is now considered an art. You’ll notice there is no place for a cell phone.

Family wrangling. You parents know all about that.

Cooking. Look at all the TV cooking shows.

Painting as in, on a canvas and the walls. 

Carpentry.

Sketching.

Coloring.

Gardening.

Decorating.

Giving Parties.

Yeah. I hear you asking what these creative endeavors have to do with writing.  When you begin writing a new book you write a synopsis. Make a plan. Develop a structure or a pattern.  Look at the talents I mentioned above. How many need a plan, a pattern?

When sketching a face you start with the basic features everyone has, head shape, jaw, ears, nose eyes. But, it is how we shape those features that makes the face unique. Take sewing a dress. You begin with a pattern. Each one has an opening for the head and sleeves, but think of the creative possibilities in achieving the finished product. Same with a book. Plot, setting, characters, conflict, goals motivation, and so on. 

When you begin to write every word inside you doesn’t rush out like a water fall onto the page at once. It’s like knitting and crocheting. One stitch/word at a time culminating in this great design/book.

I believe spending a few hours, minutes, a week with your other talents can help feed the writing beast. As for me, I’m sketching again. Drawing my characters. Although I have to admit I sometimes use the Flash Face app to get the basics. I color in the big girl books. I click the knitting needles and crochet with basic stitches.

Garden.
My chain saw skill is getting better. A new design, other than out of control jungle, is emerging in the back yard. New skeeter repellant recipes are being tested and I write.   

What are your other creative talents? Take one of yours and examine it for similarities with writing.

Do you think enjoying all your creative venues can help keep the joy in your writing?

What are yours?

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