Sunday, 25 June 2017

An Easy Way To Find The Premise of Your Story

The premise of your story is the back bone of the novel and helps keep you focused while writing. It's also helpful when you have an idea and want to flesh it out.

Plus, it gives you a quick answer to that dreaded question;

"So what's your book about?"

But before you write a knock out premise, you need to identify the major story elements, which are:
  • Character
  • Situation
  • Objective
  • Opponent
  • Disaster

1. Character: pretty straight forward here, it's your protagonist.

2. Situation: This includes setting and external forces, ie: what kind of life does your MC have? Do they live in a futuristic version of New York or a stately English manor in the late 1800's.

3. Objective: What does your MC want?

4. Opponent: CONFLICT! What is preventing your MC from getting what they want.

5. Disaster: Identify the worst thing that can happen to your characters. It can't be rosy on the road to their goal. There should be something hanging over their heads as they navigate their way through the story.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's CREATE THAT PREMISE!

Basically, you're going to bind all those elements together in one sentence, and that my friends, is the premise of your story.

This is very handy for when people ask you what your story is about, you'll have a quick answer that makes you sound like bourbon and evening jackets.

As an example I'm going to use an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a new YA mystery. Let's start with the 5 major elements.

Character: Drusilla Timmons, 19, fake medium
Objective: restore reputation and get rich
Situation: England mid 1800s
Opponent: Murderer
Disaster: ghosts 

Now, let's put it together using this formula:

Situation > Character > Goal > Opponent > Disaster

When her fake séance is raided, con-artist Drusilla Timmons loses credibility and desperately accepts the task of helping a handsome widower find his bride's murderer, but when she visits the reclusive manor the wife's ghost is suddenly real and the bloody finger is pointing at the husband.

Or you can frame it as a question:


In a reclusive English manor, fake medium Drusilla Timmons needs to pull off the séance of her career to help bring a killer to light, but when the ghosts are suddenly real can Drusilla keep her wits and solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim?

I hope this helps! Have fun writing your premise!




Thursday, 15 June 2017

3 Traits Your Villain and Hero Should Share






A great way to show this in your story is to showcase the following elements that both your hero and villain should share.

1. Personality

We all have unique personalities. Some days we're awesome and some days we're quick to temper and kind of miserable.

When writing your villain, you're actually using the personality of the hero, but spotlighting all less desirable traits, thereby showing what your hero could become if he makes the wrong choices and vice versa.  


In the Harry Potter series, Malfoy is basically the snobbish rich kid, but deep down he's insecure and wishes to be the best wizard. He tries to accomplish this by cheating and buying his way through school, but Harry has to rely on skill and hard work.

2. Values

Heroes and villains can have the same value systems, in fact stories are richer for it as opposed to having a soulless bad guy. The reader will have a greater connection with the villain if his motives feel rational. When both the villain and the hero fight for what they believe in the drama is two fold.



Consider, Anne of Green Gables, Anne perceives Gilbert her main competition in the classroom, however even though they both work hard for their grades, Gilbert takes a more cheeky approach to Anne's more serious attitude. This results in making her infuriated, creating perfect drama in their shared scenes.

3. Goals

This is probably the most dramatic trait you can create between your protagonist and antagonist. A shared goal is what creates conflict and provides a reason why these two characters keep crossing paths.



In the comedy, Pitch Perfect, our heroine's choir is up against two other groups (one cheating and the other is unworthy) for the illustrious grand prize.

Why is this important?

Because the easiest way to get to know your characters is to find out what they want and why. In order to create worthy opponents start making a list of the things they have in common. You'll discover this provides a framework for adding depth to your characters and the plot.


Who are some of your favourite hero and villain pairings?



Thursday, 1 June 2017

Five Favourite Things I Just Discovered


Here are five things I recently discovered that are amazing and might make your life more fun too!

1. Audiobook SYNC

Listening to a good story on the commute to work fuels me for the day. Free audiobooks for teens (or anyone else who wants to read/listen to really good books) all summer long. Check them out here!



2. Cabbage Patch Kimchi

Seriously, I love this stuff, especially with rice and chicken or even on buttered bread. It's good for sore joints (yes, I have sore joints) and makes you super healthy or something like that. I get mine from the Farmer's Market. Here's the website.



image by Katie Power

3. Fresh flowers

Okay, I know this isn't a new thing, but it's been a long winter.

Bringing an armful of lilacs or a few sprigs of lily of the valley into my house not only freshens the air but instantly soothes the atmosphere. It's impossible to be grumpy around fresh flowers.

Studies show that people who smell fresh flowers in the morning have a 43% higher chance of falling in love that day or winning the lottery.




4. Meditation

Even if you're only doing ten minutes a day, take the time to clear your head of every thought except, breath in, breath out. You'll discover this daily exercise heightens your awareness and improves fatigue. Plus, you'll most likely come up with a solution to that pesky issue you've been stressing about.

5. Departures

This series on Netflix has become a favourite with me and my son. Psst...we're only on Season 1 so no spoilers in the comments... ;)



This is a travel show like no other. Scott and Justin travel the world for a year, staying mostly with friends living abroad or camping. It's the opposite of glamour, but is rich with unique excursions that only locals would know giving you, the viewer, an authentic experience as if you've ventured along with them.
Learn more here.






Sunday, 28 May 2017

Book Launch DIADEM OF DEATH

It's been over a month since DIADEM OF DEATH was launched so I guess it's time to post a few photos...

I had the lucky fortune to share the launch with my Blue Moon Publishing sibling, Mark Burley!



The staff at Halifax Chapters were exceptionally enthusiastic and helped Mark and I launch our books in style!




This is me reading with my eyes closed, which is a talent not many people have.




Mark and I signing copies and feeling like real author people.




Mark doesn't have the ability to read with his eyes closed (like me) and not only that, he also needs glasses ;)




But enough about us, here are the real stars, the books themselves...

                   



"Eric - Mom and Dad are gone. I don't know what happened, but I'm going to find out."Eric might not be getting along with his family - or anyone else, for that matter - but he's pretty sure a boarding school in another country isn't the answer. Skilled in parkour, running helps him deal. So be it, he decides. Do the time and get out. Flow like water. But when he gets a cryptic message from his brother telling him their parents have been abducted, and then his brother disappears, he realises they weren't punishing him, they were hiding him. To find them, Eric has to discover the secrets of his parents' research, but the conspiracy he uncovers threatens more than just his family. With help from unlikely new friends, a hack-first-ask-questions-later approach to computers, and a dangerous plan, he soon learns that some secrets don't want to be found, and others have a way of revealing themselves at all the wrong times.


(A NEFERTARI HUGHES MYSTERY #2)




Nefertari "Terry" Hughes is looking forward to spending the school break with her boyfriend, but when her archaeologist father announces he?s working on a project that will take him to Egypt, all hopes of having a romantic summer are buried.Terry accompanies her father to Alexandria where she?s reunited with her first crush, Awad-all grown up and an expert in translating hieroglyphics. He confides that the team is in a race to find Cleopatra?s lost tomb before a secret band of rebels steals Egypt?s last Pharaoh and her diadem.But sabotage and a deadly accident put everyone on high alert, and Terry isn?t sure whom to trust. As the line between ally and enemy begins to blur, Terry has to keep her wits about her and figure out who wants the diadem badly enough to kill.







Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received


Writing can be a solitary adventure— which is exactly the way we writers like it!
pinterest.com

By nature, most writers are introverts and enjoy the company of being alone with their characters. But every once in a while we need a little wisdom to help us along this winding path to the bookstore shelves.

I’ve been writing for ten years and have published seven novels. Over this time I’ve collected a few tidbits of advice. Some I’ve found through others and some are from my own experience. I hope one of these resonate with you.

1. Try to write every day even if it’s only one page. All those pages add up and it helps foster the habit of getting words on paper in a timely fashion.

2. Write the book of your heart and take as long as you need.

3. Ignore trends. Write what you love, what you want to read.

4. Don’t edit while you’re writing. This is the most free your writing will be, let it flow. Even misspelled words, leave them there. It’s all about moving forward.

5. You are writing for your characters. You are the only one who knows their story.

6. Be grateful for the gift of imagination.

7. Writing is hard. Respect it as such.

8. Even though it may appear differently, there is no such thing as an easy success, no matter how famous the writer. Remember that we’re all in the same industry and we want it to be thriving.

    9. Don’t forget about the weather.

10. When in doubt, add a food scene.

pinterest.com

Do you have any writing advice to share?


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Cover and Trailer Reveal for DIADEM OF DEATH



On April 25th DIADEM OF DEATH, the second installment of the Nefertari Hughes Mystery series, will be released into the wild! The wonderfully talented Emma Dolan who designed ASP OF ASCENSION, once again exceeded my expectations for the cover.

Psst...at the end of this post is the spectacular book trailer made by the multitalented and all around cool guy, Tom Ryan.




What would you do for immortality?




Terry Hughes is looking forward to spending the summer with her boyfriend Zach before he goes to college in the fall, but when her archaeologist father announces he’s working on a project that will take him back to Egypt, all hopes of a romantic vacation are buried.

With her friend Maude’s company for consolation, Terry accompanies her father as they join his colleagues in Alexandria, where she’s reunited with her first crush, Awad — all grown up and an expert in translating hieroglyphics. He confides that the team is in a race to find Cleopatra’s lost tomb before a secret band of rebels steals Egypt’s last pharaoh and her diadem, a golden crown believed to possess powers of immortality.

But sabotage puts everyone on high alert, and Terry isn’t sure who to trust. As the line between ally and enemy begins to blur, Terry has to keep her wits about her and figure out who wants the diadem badly enough to kill — because one wrong step could mean the difference between discovering a tomb or being buried in one.


Available to pre-order from Chapters/Indigo.

Check out the Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

And now enjoy the official book trailer!






Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Most Common Characterization Mistake Writers Make and How To Fix It


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self-a·ware·ness
ˈˌself əˈwernəs/
noun
  1. conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
    "the process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness"


One of the most common characterization mistakes writers are guilty of is making their characters too self-aware. Inner monologue is a great tool, it lets the reader in on secrets, gives the character dimension, but it can also be the biggest stumbling block to the story.

There's nothing less satisfying than a character who analyses every decision, weighs the pros and cons, and keeps coming back to the same inner struggle over and over again. The reader gets it, there's a theme, but repetition kills the tension.

The good news is that this can be easily fixed!

Beware of using inner dialogue to provide an ongoing narration rather than what it really is, a response to immediate events. Keep it authentic!

And just like over analysing the decision, your character should be a little clueless about their faults, strengths, dreams/goals. These are qualities the character is supposed to discover through their struggle as the story progresses. By the end these traits will come to the surface and that's when the wonderful self-awareness happens in the hero's journey.

Okay, so how can you fix this?

Here are things your character should NOT do:

1. While in the middle of a crisis, they shouldn't be providing a narration as if they're an outside source watching with an emotional detachment.

2. They shouldn't label their emotions. Instead of your character thinking, "I'm so angry!" The anger should manifest itself in your character's actions and choices (without them realizing it).

3. The shouldn't analyse all the possible reasons behind all their emotions. "I'm angry because my boyfriend doesn't love me anymore." No, look at reason number 2. The analysing shouldn't come until they've made choices that lead to disaster. No one in real life figures it out that quickly so why should your character?

4. When your character is in a highly emotional scene, their self-awareness should be negligible. This is why when you're angry you shouldn't send that email right away. You wait until you're less emotional and thinking more clearly. Your character shouldn't use calm logic when they're being dumped by their lover. The place for this growth can begin during the following scene to provide a few subtle sparks of self-awareness (this hints at the coming revelation and is more enticing to the reader). 

Remember it's not just their flaws, their strengths should be waiting to be discovered as well.


Now go make your character clueless!




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