Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sticking Points, Oh Sorry, I Meant Plot Points

You have to have plot points. Well, I mean if you want to have a plot that is.

There are just points along the way where you HAVE to have something happen.

Let's say you started the story with your Hero HAVING to get to Los Angeles. So we are heading to Los Angeles.

However your big climax happens to occur in the French Quarter.

Ok, we have to at some point take a left turn and go down to Louisiana, right?

YOU as the writer has to make that left turn because gosh darn it, you want to get New Orleans.

However, the reader should NEVER know that you HAVE to get to Mardi Gras.

This 'turn,' this plot point that must be executed, however we want to 'cover' this fact up.

We want this plot point to feel organic and a part of your story and not feel the author's 'hand.'

But how to do that?

Seeding things helps.

I like to reference Lord of the Rings here. Clearly Tolkien needed to get Frodo into Mordor. Equally clearly he needed to make that journey intimate.

However the thrust of the plot was to get to the GATES of Mordor. But ultimately Tolkien knew he was going to go the 'secret' back way.

Luckily he seeded this. Gollum had suggested it. Sam, who has been WELL established to not trust Gollum, shot him down. Only by being in peril and the impossibility of scaling the main gate, do they finally decide to go the 'secret' way.

This was a massive plot point that could have stuck out like a sore thumb, but instead felt organic and you felt as desperate as the characters to have to take this perilous journey.

The lesson here is that if you have a major plot point coming, seed it. Mention and discard the idea. Put up resistance to the Mardi Gras. New Orleans simply is NOT an option.

Then when you get to the plot point you need to make Los Angeles simply unattainable. Whatever they feared about Louisiana becomes so much less than the disastrous conditions in California.

Or they are forced to Mardi Gras. Someone has been kidnapped. A vital piece of information or item has been moved to New Orleans.

Whatever it is, it must MAKE sense. It must feel motivated by the story, the characters, and the environment.

Your Assignment: Find a major plot point in your story. Does it feel like a major plot point? #RutRo

Find at least 1 way to 'soften' and camouflage this point.

Now do it to the rest of them :-)

Until next time!

Don't forget that "Plain Jane" (a Patterson, "Kiss the Girls" style thriller) is out!
Read 50 pages for free at Smashwords:
To sweeten the pot here's a 50% off coupon: RH88E

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scene Setting... So Simple...

Yet so hard.

Even though I love writing with every breath I take, setting a scene or the 'travelogue' portion of the novel is probably my least favorite.

I want to get to the action, damn it! LOL :-)

But scene setting is essential to any great story. We, as the reader, needs to be oriented to the environment.

Scene setting is also a place to allow your writing to shine. This is a place where you generally have enough room to turn some phrases and get away with a few more descriptors.

However, beware. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Narrative drive must always be maintained.

Even while standing perfectly still on a snowy field under a lone tree, your story must be moving forward.

But how to keep the momentum going forward when you want to pause and sit a while under the tree.

Luckily you can do both. The trick is to allow us insight into the character setting the scene (looking around, smelling, feeling, tasting their surroundings).

Each character in your story would look at that winter scape completely differently. (If that isn't the case, then you have bigger problems then scene setting).

One might look at the stark scene and consider it harsh and barren. Another might find the meeting of the white of the snow and the blue of the sky on the horizon as beautiful and yet another might notice the tiny droplets of dew falling from the branches, creating tiny crystalline pools in the snow.

Each are describing the same basic physical landscape but HOW each is describing the scene gives us incredible insight into not only their character by their word choice (intelligence, education level, etc), but also their current state of mind.

Perhaps at the beginning of Act 2 our Hero hates the snowy field. But by the end of Act 2 he would die to defend it.

Test your scene setting skills.

Read a section of scene setting a loud.

Do you have WAY too many descriptors? Did you not give us vital information (like the tree has mistletoe in its bare branches that is later important)? Can you tell EXACTLY to character and even the Act in which that scene was described?

If not... you know the drill. #Rewrite!

Also, I would love some feedback.

Could you head over to

You can read the first 25% of my new novel Plain Jane for free there. Take a peek then leave a comment here and let me know if I practiced what I preached about scene setting!

Now if you have to happen to fall in love with Plain Jane and want to read the whole thing, here is a 50% off coupon (TF93S)which makes it only $1.99 to purchase the entire novel!

Also if you are on GoodReads, please 'friend' or 'fan' me and I will return the favor!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why do we write?

Just stop for a second and ask yourself that question... "Why do I write?"

For me, I write because I have to.

The stories inside of me are quite persistent. Trust me, I have wanted to stuff them down and ignore them, but they would come out while I was driving or in my sleep or simply pester me every time I sat down at a keyboard.

I was a born a storyteller. My guess is if you are reading this blog, you are to.

So the next question becomes... If I love writing so much why aren't I doing it more often?

Usually because well... we love it... almost to much.

What we put on paper feels so much like a part of our soul, that it is hard to send our stories out into the harsh world to be criticized. So a part of us feels 'we can't write it otherwise it will be judged.'

And do you know the one thing that I realized that help me get over that and put my stuff out there?

My stories are tough little boogers. They aren't flail little things that will faint at the first whiff of critique. They are hardy and hail.

It turns out they are far stronger than I am!

My stories would rather be out in the world, strutting their stuff and taking their lumps rather than being cooped up inside my head.

Of course work on your craft so that you can tell your stories better, but take it from me folks, your story is going to do just fine out in the big bad world.


And don't forget my book "Plain Jane" is out. Below is the book trailer. Also you can read more than 25% of the book for FREE at SmashWords:

Plus of course email me at writingnodrama(at)aol(dot)com for workshops on... you know... craft stuff!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Self-Publishing Is Where It's At!

The stigma is gone, guys. #finally

Thank God!

Now I have made a lot of money off my writing. The only problem is I can't tell you how. As a writer, my life is bound by confidentiality agreements. So iron clad are they that I can't even tell a new agent about them.

Which found me in an awkward spot this year. I had to let my agent go last fall. I really can't blame her for not being able to pimp my work since she can't point to anything on the shelf to claim my sales track record.

And I wasn't satisfied with a five or heaven forbid 4 figure advance. Not out of arrogance, but because I know how the house handles publicity and marketing if the advance isn't in the 6 figures.

Um, basically they don't do anything! Nothing. Nada. Sure your book is out. A few thousand copies, buried on the shelf, spine out.

I knew unless I got a hefty advance, they would be no help. I also knew if I sold the book to a house that little bit of money, forfeited my creative freedom. They would want to wash out my voice to bring it into their imprint's 'fold.'

Great, I give up creative control and basically get nothing back for it.

And for years self-publishing has been such a taboo. A taint have you. That no publishing house would ever touch that book let alone anything else by you if you dared publish something yourself (without permission from the publishing gods).

Which I always thought was retarded. Remember, I came up from the screenwriting side where Indie Film is huge. And a major source of fresh material for studios locked into their 'fold' mentality.

Ah, then came along And Kindle. And now Indie Publishing has gained the stature it deserves.

To the point where houses are now looking for you to have a following and sales record before they risk throwing down some cash.

Like I said #finally

So I present to you, "Plain Jane" A thriller in the "Kiss the Girls," "Hannibal," and "Along Came A Spider" genre.

You can either head over to for the print version (and, of course, leave a glowing review) at

Or read an entire 25% of the book before buying the ebook at

It is gritty, shocking, and #strangely funny.

Also, if you have a self-published book or one published through a house, but isn't getting any support, go follow my marketing alter ego @zerotosold where we are forming an Indie Book Marketing Collective!

And then, of course, GO WRITE 2 PAGES :-) #sorry #hadtogetthatinthere