What makes a good story?

This is every authors nightmare. Getting the story and plot correct. After all, getting this rigth makes or breaks your book.

So what does it take to write your perfect story?

  1. An idea of a plot.

Every author starts with a basic idea. From this they either write a whole plot or a more simpler plot, expanding the idea as much as they need to. It’s at this stage, that the story begins to build.

2) The beginning.

Now, this bit can be a bit sticky. The start must be right to draw in the reader. Get this bit wrong and kiss that reader goodbye. They say to start with some type of action – a fight, dialogue. I admit some of mine are more narrative, but sometimes the action isn’t required right at the first line. Whatever you do, don’t start with the weather – that is always overused.

3) The middle

And you thought the beginning was hard. The middle bit is the part which must carry the reader onwards and towards the end section. The pace must be enough to keep their minds intrigued. And this is where most authors struggle. They know where to begin and where to end, but the middle? How the hell do they fill in the gap?

Think about the plot and characters. How do they fit together? Are they matched and synched? This is where you can add all the extra info you sorted out and plotted. But make sure you don’t just add all the actual plot in one go. Spread it out.

I write dark romance which touched on most taboo subjects most writers shy away from. However, there has to be quite a bit of lighter notes. So, the middle is where I have my couples learning more about each other. Dating, going out. Happiness is the key. Give them enough happy moments to bring them through the darkness, I’m going to throw at them later.

3) The end

Ah, the bit we writers enjoy the most. This is where we have been heading with all the trials our mc’s have put up with.

Whenever you have a plot, you know where it’s heading – how it’s all going to end. And this is where the magic happens. That perfect ending – no longer fits. And so the screams begin. The ending you have ploughed through the beginning and the awful middle it, doesn’t go anymore.

So, you sit and stare and rewrite the whole ending in your head. But, you also realise the ending is so much better.

The meaning of the above?

Write the book, the way you want. Simple. The rules can be broken if broken correctly. No book is better than another – each must draw the reader in and readers like all sorts of things.

Board, Writing, Chalk, Enlightenment

What makes a good villain?

The villain – don’t underestimate your baddie.

The baddie has to be just as developed as your good guy or gal. They require good and bad points and a way for your reader to identify with them.

Yes, readers do need to have some sort of love for your villain. I’ve skimmed through loads of books when the villain is on stage, because they just don’t appear real.

They need some good motivation for being evil. Did they lose the girl to their best friend? Did their best friend bully them and now they are getting their own back? Were they abused as a child and that’s all they know? Got into the wrong crowd? There are lots of reasons.

Add in a description. Give your readers a way of imaging them. Maybe not a full description but enough to wet their taste buds.

Give them the past your have come up with. Not all in one go – all that narrative can turn a reader off, but in bits and bobs where required. Have they abducted someone? Add in some memories why. Have they killed someone? Again, get some thoughts running through their heads. A person rarely kills without something in his mind.

You might even give them a love interest.

Above all else, most baddies I come across have something in common with the hero. A shared past or partner. Same upbringing – hero comes out better then them. There’s the jealousy.

In a twist, you might start with a hero who turns evil. Or the villain becomes the good guy. Play around and give your readers a hook.

Most baddies aren’t stupid. They are more clever than anyone takes them for. That’s why they get away with things. They make your hero look good.

So, go and plan out your bad guy or gal. Make them lovable. Make them cry out for attention. Give them a backstory your readers are dying for.

Show verses Tell

This can be the bain of a new writer’s life. Show verses tell. What is it? How does it affect our writing?

Let’s examine this more closely. A book which tells the reader everything can be to the point and doesn’t leave the reader with much to imagine. The telling can slow down the pace, making the plot slow and boring in some cases.

A book which shows gives the reader a reason to continue reading. They can imagine every scene and relive it in their head. The plot and characters become real to them, to the degree they fall in love with them.

So, how does this work, I hear you ask. Easy, think about everything you are writing. I’ve read lots of books where the character mumbles, mutters, shouts, gets frustrated, angry, happy – great, they need too. However, these words are redundant in writing. Yes, on occasion I use them but as a beat and not a dialogue tag. The way you write should bring these emotions out.

Examples – I can do loads if you want.

Happiness. Okay, every character at some point is happy. Below is two version of describing a happy person.

  1. “Oh, my god, I love it.” As Sarah glanced at the ring her happiness shone around her.
  2. “Oh, my god, I love it.” The ring glistened in the morning light. As Sarah’s chest filled with a heat, her eyes danced as she held out her left hand which tingled as he slipped the ring in place.

Now, the dialogue indicates shes happy at what just happened. Therefore the beat in number 1 isn’t required. Instead, number 2 shows us how she’s feeling. You can see in your mind how happy she is as he proposes. It’s like you are there in person witnessing the event.

But what if she said no?

  1. “But I can’t marry you.” The ring should have made her happy. Instead, Sarah shook her head as she let the sadness in.
  2. “But I can’t marry you.” The words were forced out as Sarah’s throat constricted. Turning her back on him, she crossed her arms, slumped her shoulders, and lowered her head.

Again, number 2 gives you an image in your mind. You can almost feel her heartbreak and are left wondering why she said no.

Now, showing isn’t hard. No, it’s not – don’t argue back. There’s an easy way to figure out the emotional response you want. Yes, it is. Stop arguing back and I’ll tell you. All you need to do is put yourself in your characters shoes – yes, they fit, and imagine how you’d feel.

Which brings us to another fact. A rather important one. If you feel nothing when you write, your readers will have the same response. It’s a well known fact that adding your own emotions makes the book. So, those funeral scenes, death scenes – I always cry when I write them. Weddings, engagements – I feel the joy. When I add any funny moments – I have to laugh. If I don’t, they go. And it’s not just once. Every time I read the manuscript through, those emotions return. The last paragraph in my Fareious three book is a happy ending. I’ve read it several times and every time my eyes water. I won’t say why. But this is the exact response you want from your readers.

If an author doesn’t feel this when writing it does show in the book. I’ve read a lot of books by new and well-known authors. I find both types which have that missing oomph. And the ones that aren’t up to scratch? Are the ones who tell. I have no image to go with what’s happening. Nothing to give me those emotional responses. The characters do nothing to make me love them.

Right, now go and do some writing. But remember. Show not tell, is one of the best things you can do. And if you want exercises to do – I’m happy to send you a few. Just contact me. In fact, I might do a few more blogs on the different types of emotions. Any interest?

Pinterest

I’m going to let you know how I got that amount of unique visits, and no adverts.

I opened my Pinterest account years ago. It was a personal one and I rarely used it. Then earlier this year I upgraded to a business account. Again, I ignored it.

The last few months that has changed. I changed my boards. I keep the ones of my interests and set up ones for my books. One for each series. Added quotes and pictures of things which inspired me when writing the novels.

Then I added more boards. I write dark romance, so I added a wedding and special events board. As I’m branching into paranormal, I added a supernatural board. This is where I add the potential pictures which might influence me when I begin certain books. If they do, they’ll be moved to the accompanying board.

You see, it’s not just about what you are writing at the time. Any other author knows, ideas pop into your head at any point. We write them down, but words aren’t enough. Pictures help. So, I add to to the spare boards. Then, I can look back and go, yeah, that’s what I wanted.

Here’s an example. I have a novel planned where my female main character will be involved in a photo-shoot. I’m not giving out anymore details but the photos that I’m thinking off, are in the appropriate board. When I start that book, I’ll have the ideas waiting for me to refresh my memory.

Simple. Right?

But remember that boards just on your books and ideas will get boring. I do crafts, so there is a board to cover that. I enjoy reading and have a board of all the books I’ve read and given 5 stars to. I read too many to post them all – just go to my Goodreads page to see the rest. I enjoy walking and wildlife – add in a wildlife and landscape board. I love, keep and breed rabbits – guess what – there’s a board. Anyone who visits my area, will learn a lot about me and I add in my own photo’s too.

I now get several pins saved everyday. My followers might not change too much, but my monthly figures are shooting up. 4k in one day. And not a penny spent.

Just remember to post new pins on a regular basis. Static boards get boring. I’m trying to post a few every day – but some days just don’t happen. Yes, it’s more work, writing the book is the easy bit, marketing and getting your brand out there is just plan awful. Lucky for me, I know a man who can help, but even then it’s still down to you to make the effort. Even paying someone, you need to do some work yourself. It’s your book. No one knows it as well as you.

So, now go out there and build your brand. Not your book.

Now, if only I can manage Facebook as well. Twitter is going better. But remember – no spamming book links. That will get your followers unfollowing. Interaction is the key.

And if you want to look me up – here I am.

What Type of Romance to write

Part Two

Wedding, Couple, Love, Wedding Couple

Contemporary Romance

This might be one of the more natural romances to write. The setting is in the modern-day. No thinking of having to world build, or get any historical facts right. If you set the story in an area you know, then you’ll be on roll.

Your characters will be people that you might come across in real life. Research can come just by you sitting and watching the world go by. The way people interact and talk. Cary that notepad with you at all times. The number of times I’ve picked up things at railways stations or bus stops is unbelievable.

Plot – again the modern-day makes it easy. Read the newspapers and watch the news. If celebrities are proposing – how are they doing it? Have you been invited to weddings recently? Same-sex marriages are no legal, so no need for any gays to hid in the dark. They can now show their feelings. Social media makes it easier for people to stay in touch, arrange things. Make the most of it. When I’m at events, my phone isn’t being used to check Facebook. No, I’m making notes.

The end – Now, these type of books always have an happy ending. Make a hash of that, and bye-bye readers.

One quick mention of the dreaded sex scenes. Contemporary romances can have all the sex you want. But most are clean or have less detailed scenes. Too many and you head in the erotic area. Don’t overdo them. One decent scene will be enough.