Writer’s Wednesday

To continue with the on-going project of re-purposing a magazine to a story idea, I used the next pages (which mean to date, I’ve only skipped one page). Have the creative challenge has become how to use the pages in my story.

Since I haven’t done a lot with character developing, I focused on that this week.

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For Marchesa – of course I left the eyes because that’s a basic element for my story. When the characters aren’t formed clearly in my head, I’ll often pick a random birth date and use the traits of that horoscope. I picked one thing to link her and Samuel – an interest – they both like Don Knott’s movies – the reason for those pictures and they are both seeking a relic – the map. Her favorite food is chili cheese fries with an egg on top. Born to Die – a Lana Del Ray song goes with the theme of her character and will be on the playlist. I just found the black rose card and will incorporate that somehow. I placed my items around the page to leave ‘words’ I thought added to her character. IMAG0041

For Samuel – must is the same as Marchesa. The motorcycle is the type of bike he rides. He loves hot dogs…. all kinds of hot doges. I’m using the moral on the Queen of Hearts card as his character growth.

What are some of the ways you develop your characters?

Writer’s Wednesday

I’m still working on pre-writing/brain storming for my story – Love Blinds – yup got a title 🙂 This week, I added a snapshot of a scene that sets the relationship between Marchesa (the heroine) and Derek (her demon handler – bad guy). Samuel (hero) has just asked her to go away with him. He’s hoping if he can get Marchesa to himself for a few days he can make see it’s possible to leave. Only Derek shows up…and wham…

This is in the beginning of the story before Samuel realizes the depth of the hold Derek has on Marchesa. The scene is also to give the reader a clear understanding of why she isn’t just leaving with Samuel. That she’s not too stupid to live but the stakes are HIGH…

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This add was the next in the magazine. I like “A new way to Face (clearly I added every day). As Samuel is offering her this by ‘just letting go’ and ‘coming to a beach all our own’ Eye’s across the top are just something I had in my bag of goodies and since eyes are the key theme and have been featured on all the pages up to this…I added them. I wrote the snapshot on the bird paper as a challenge of a way to add them to the scene.

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I did remove three pages to get to the second page of this week’s prompt. I liked this because again her eyes are a focus. I also like the A fragrance to seduce the senses at the bottom under my add. I feel this needs more but as right now I’m not sure what… 

So far I’ve enjoyed this form of brain storming, it has led to some interesting twist in the development.

What are some unique brain storming/pre-writing things you have done?

Writer’s Wednesday

I’m continuing my using/recycling a magazine into a writing prompt. Last week was vague as I just started to brain storm but this week I felt the story coming together some what. I came up with the character’s names. I narrowed the premise down a bit… Samuel(my hero) is catching Marchesa (my heroine). She’s running because she can’t trust Samuel enough to risk her daughter’s life. I haven’t really found an angle with Marchesa’s eyes that I’m thrilled with yet…

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There is a secret obsession which I haven’t developed yet but I fell in love with the idea… the rest I’ve talked about

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Time is going to be a major factor in this story. Marchesa’s time is running out… why I haven’t developed yet but she’s desperate…. she needs to make sure her daughter is safe and she bring herself to trust Samuel.

These pages followed the those of last week. Next week my goal is to do 4 pages of prompts. Now that I’ve developed some basic blocks, I’m excited to continue to use this as food for my plot bunny.

Writer’s Wednesday

Today I’m going to start a new series for Writer’s Wednesday on writing prompts…I know some writers use prompts daily to ‘start’ the juices. I’m not that but I do occasionally like to do prompts, mostly when I’m ‘stuck’. I use the prompt as a free writing tool to let my mind wander (like it doesn’t do it enough on it’s own that I need to encourage this behavior).

The series I’m doing is how to turn a magazine into a writer’s prompt journal. I came up with the idea last week as I sat at the beach relaxing and thumbing through the pages of the latest InStyle magazine. I often use magazines to make story boards/pages for a story I’m working on but I realized a lot of the pages sparked different ideas. For example, here is the second page of the magazine….

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I used both pages for this prompt

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I added the admit one ticket I had in my storyboard stash

 

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She’s going to be my focus for these prompts…

 

 

 

My plan is to focus on the same character through out the magazine. I don’t know her name yet (I struggle with names) but I do know that

  • she has a daughter – one of the phases above the admit one ticket is… she lures men to their death to protect her daughter. I’m not sure what that means exactly.
  • I know her eyes are going to have something to do with the story…
  • My hero is aware of the stakes because one of the lines in my free writing is…He has one chance to save her … 

I’m going to definitely use the next two pages and I plan on doing those this week so make sure to check back to see how the prompts are going.

Do you use writing prompts? If so what kind are they and when?

 

Writer’s Wednesday

I haven’t shared a “tease” in awhile and since I have strawberries and rum calling my name (No, I’m not drinking this – yet. I’m still in coffee and doughnut mode) here is the opening for my latest WIP – The Jester.

The Chapter One

Estella looked inside the blood soaked box. “Shit. This is bad.”

When the doorbell had chimed at two minutes after midnight, she’d assumed it was the jester’s first prank before leaving Shadow for the human world.

She never thought she’d be staring into Sam’s dead eyes. Looking up, she scanned into the dark. Of course, she saw glowing eyes and shifting darkness, she lived in Shadow. Minutes past midnight meant every nocturnal creature was prowling…and hunting.

Slamming the door, she leaned against the wood and muttered a protective spell. Who killed Sam? And why leave his head for her?

She mentally went through the list of Shadow residents. None of them stood out as likely candidates in Sam’s murder

Heading upstairs to her bedroom, she picked up the telecom. She pressed Zek’s number and after a dozen buzzes, he answered.

“Whhhhaattt,” he slurred. She tried to decide if it was a drunken or I’m-still-asleep lisp but it was too hard to tell from one word.

“I have trouble.”

After a long stretch of silence she pressed the disconnect button and threw the telecom on the bed. As she pulled on her clothes, her mind raced. Why had she called Zek? He’d proven he couldn’t be trusted. Yet, she’d called.

Shaking her head, she started toward the bedroom door when a shadow formed. Her heart slammed into her ribs with enough force, she half expected to see it laying on the floor in front of her. Someone had broken through her ward.

 

Hope you enjoyed 😉 I’m off to finish the sauce for Rum Runners this weekend. I’d love to hear what everyone else is working on – writing or otherwise.

Book BFF

I have heard/seen a lot about book boyfriends lately. As a writer I hear other authors talking about creating the dream book boyfriend, but what a book girlfriend – a bff.

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As I create my heroine, I always keep in mind – is this character friend worthy? I always ask myself is this someone I would want to hang out with? Take a cooking class with? Paint my dining area with? Someone I would vent to about my crazy day job?

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And  of course, drink a glass of wine with.

So when I read a book, I want to see myself hanging out with the heroine. Some of my book bff include:
Nicole St. James from Angel of Darkness by Cynthia Eden. She’s snarky. I love snarky friends.
Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Lula – actually, I prefer Lula. I could myself having a lot of fun with Lula.
One of my all-time book bff is Vika Lukas from Last Kiss Goodnight by Gena Showalter. While the hero would make an awesome book boyfriend, I just couldn’t because I like Vika so much I didn’t want to take her man.
I’d love to hear about some of your book girlfriends.

Writer’s Wednesday

Here is the UNEDITED opening for my new WIP…Mock cover

 

“What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is up for grabs,” Jennifer giggled as she snatched Geoff’s doughnut.

“There’s an entire case of them.” He pointed the counter.

“Good, now I don’t feel guilty at all.” Jennifer sunk her teeth into the chocolate cake donut and her crystal blue eyes danced with merriment.

Standing, Geoff smiled. He couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid to think he’d wanted another woman. Guilt curled its ugly fingers around his stomach and squeezed. No, he wouldn’t let ghost from the past ruin their day. Jenn had forgiven him. End of story. “Do you want more coffee? Or another donut for yourself?”

“Are you trying to get me fat?”

Geoff shook his head and put his hands up in surrender. “You’re beautiful and perfect the way you are.” Leaning over he lightly kissed her forehead and the faint springy smell of honeysuckle from her soap filled his airways. “Love you.”

“To the moon and back,” she completed.

As he walked to the counter, he stopped and turned to his left. From the corner of his eye he’d sworn, he’d seen – nothing. Just people enjoying their sunny Saturday morning.

“A madcap coffee,” he ordered.

The woman nodded, tears filling her eyes. “Please sir,” she whispered handing him a folded piece of paper.

It seemed as if opening it had sucked all the air from room making it possible for his lungs to function and sent his heart into over-drive.

Geoff,
You are a man who holds so many lives in his hands.
You either walk out the back door.
Not a word to your wife or anyone.
Or I blow up the entire coffee shop.
Ask the wonderful barista for a view of the beautiful bomb I created for just this occasion.

Geoff lifted his eyes and the woman held up her arm. It was a bomb. No doubt.
The sweet scent of honeysuckle from Jenn’s soap lingered in his lungs as he stepped out into the alley.

Writer’s Wednesday

Behind the scenes…
Sagging Middles
This is part 3 of my sagging middle series. This week let’s look at some of the reason’s your middle might be sagging. Lack of suspense/doom/hardship is one reason, the secret is a good way to combat that sag. Lack of action is another major middle flab but the ‘what if’ can tighten that up like a 1000 crunches. But if your middle is caving because… well… because your characters are suddenly – BORING. You know they kick butt in the beginning and you have a rock the readers socks ending but right now they are lacking their bikini ready body because of sagging middles.

Here is a character builder that could tighten up the middle. Keep in mind this exercise is NOT meant to be part of your WIP. It’s a middle tightening exercise design to get those characters in shape for that rock star ending you have planned.

Your character does ‘stuff’ off the pages or before the pages begin. This exercise looks at those. Now even if you are one of those plotters who do ten page character sheets, chances are this exercise can help you discover something.

It’s an interview…not with the character but with two people the character interacts with off the page. For example, if it’s a small town setting interview the grocery store clerk. I was a waitress and a cashier believe me when I say I spent A LOT of time people profiling.

What would the cashier have to say about her moods? Is she happy? Does she say hi or ignore the cashier? Is she a weekly shopper, daily shopper, or monthly shopper? Does she buy a candy bar every time? Does she read gossip magazines while standing in line but puts them back when it’s time to check out?

Now if you’re writing a suspense maybe the stalker uses one of these character ticks to spook your heroine. For example, say your heroine buys a 3 Musketeer every shopping trip. It’s the only time she eats the bar, it’s her reward for enduring the shopping trip. The stalker leaves a 3 Musketeer bar in her car. Or a copy of the magazine she read in the line. Now if the stalker isn’t after your heroine because she’s the one protecting the victim these could be used as a ‘scare’ tactic. ‘Leave my intended victim alone or I’ll hurt you because I know what you do.’

If you don’t write a suspense, the interview can be used to amp the romance. The cashier knows the hero, she tells him that the heroine has a thing for 3 Musketeers and gossip magazines. The hero then makes a ‘I know you’ basket and includes these things. Aww, what a guy. 🙂

The idea here is by looking at your character through a different set of eyes, you’ll learn things about her/him you didn’t know before. Things that will add depth to your deflating character and boost your sagging middle.
Next week I’ll talk about interviewing someone from the character’s life before the pages started.
I’d love to hear if you have used these types of interviews.

Writer’s Wednesday

Last week I started a series on boosting your sagging middle with several examples of different spins you could put on the ‘I got a secret’ technique. This week it’s the “what if” question. This works great for those middles where you know you have solid key events, you just need a little shot of caffeine to get you through.

The key to the “what if” technique is to unleash the muse. Don’t limit the possibilities. Sometimes the wilder the “what if” the better it works. For example, let’s say I need a distraction for my serial killer, something that gets him out of the house away from my victim because I have a great scene but the killer has to walk in. I could just have him ‘leave’ go into the black hole known as a scene break. Which isn’t bad but it slows your pace and a slow pace equals a saggy middle.

What if... they all had doughnuts and lived happily ever after?

What if… they all had doughnuts and lived happily ever after?


So I list the “what if” possibilities for my serial killer. If I had limited myself, I would have never came up with the birthday party. My serial killer has a twin sister, who he happens to love. So I started to “what if” possibilities that included her. I decided she has a child. A child with special needs. My serial killer feels for the child because he knows what it’s like to be a ‘freak.’ He realizes that it’s the child’s birthday. He’s torn between killing my heroine and attending the party. In the end, he goes to the party. This was unexpected and it gave my killer another layer besides a crazed lunatic. The scene was intense because he kept bouncing back and forth between wanting to be there for the child and his sister and the need to return to his victim.

Common questions to ask the “what if”…
-there is a family illness not life threatening (remember you’re looking to boost a sagging middle not change the plot)
-there is neighbor event (block party, bomb scare – a false alarm)
-someone makes an unexpected request (mom calls and HAS to be taken to store)
-It’s an anniversary of an event that means something only to the character.

****Key with the “what if” technique. The purpose is to boost the middle NOT change the plot. Sometimes you might stumble across a “what if” that does change the plot of the better BUT I can’t warn enough about using caution with this. The “what if” plot bunny is a slippery fellow, he often leads down a dead end tunnel.

Do you use the “what if” technique to boost a sagging middle? If so what are some of your favorite “what if” questions?

Writer’s Wednesday

The Middle –

While donuts are awesome to eat they are every writers nightmare. A story that circles around an empty hole

While donuts are awesome to eat they are every writers nightmare. A story that circles around an empty hole


Man and woman meet. They like each other – a lot. They decide to give it a whirl. SOMETHING happens. They deal with the SOMETHING. SOMETHING almost rips them apart. The SOMETHING is resolve. They happily ever after.
That’s the ‘basic’ formal to every good romance from a pantser point of view. And I know many plotters who follow the same formal only with pages and pages AND pages of details. One thing that pantsers and plotters have to deal with is the ‘SOMETHING’ or sagging middle.
It doesn’t matter if you have to come up with the ‘SOMETHING’ at the plotting stage or when you are staring at the words Chapter Five. It has to be done.
So how do you write a ‘SOMETHING’ that does sag? That hasn’t been used 2 million times? You want a ‘SOMETHING’ that will keep your reader engaged. A ‘SOMETHING’ that is worthy of the awesome characters you’ve created.
One thing that will determine the answer to these questions and shape your ‘SOMETHING’ is the genre and length of your book.
For example, I write suspense romance. So my ‘SOMETHING’ is going to deal with murder. But still I don’t want my ‘SOMETHING’ to be a serial killer who had a bad mom…. I want a bigger ‘SOMETHING’ – a better ‘SOMETHING’ – a ‘SOMETHING’ that make my reader go “oh shit, I so didn’t see that coming.”
I have 7 techniques I use to try to amp my ‘SOMETHING’ up to make rock my reader and make my characters shout ‘you’re the boss.’
The first one is – Keep Secrets.
While this one is used heavily, the key to make it work is have the secret be totally unexpected.
Today let’s look at the secret child. Your hero and heroine have a history and there is a child about the same age of when the heroine left. Your heroine tries to keep the child a secret. Why? She doesn’t know how to tell the hero that it’s his…I’ve read some great books using that standard idea.
BUT
‘SOMETHING’ different
The child is his sisters. The heroine and the hero’s sister were best friends. The sister was raped by her boyfriend – a real creep but one that has money and power. The sister begs her best friend to take the child after it’s born and leave. This opens a bag of gummy worms…
OR
The child is the hero’s only it’s by another woman. The heroine leaves to seek a career. Only a year later her best friend shows up with a baby in tow. She hooked up the hero after the heroine left but his heart has been and always will be with the heroine. Now the mother is sick – dying sick – so she ask the heroine to take the baby. This is a jumbo bag of gummy worms….
I’d love to hear of any of the secret child ones that you’ve read love or wrote.