3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid

note-book-1492516-640x480Complex plots draw a reader into the story, craving that moment of awareness when all is unveiled at the end. The main plot alone can have many layers. These layers create depth in the story.

There is one particular kind of layer called a subplot that takes you on a journey through the eyes of another point of view character. Not all stories require a subplot, but it can add another dimension to your novel.

What is Subplot?

subplot is a secondary plot, or a strand of the main plot that runs parallel to it and supports it. … Not only does it show various aspects of the characters, connecting the readers with them, but also it is a story within a story – a sort of a subplot. (literary devices.net) ”

What is the Subplot’s Role?

It’s first and most important role is to support the plot. It may offer underlying threads to the spiritual thread of the book, but it must bring something to the overall plot that enriches it and completes it. It adds a multi-layered effect that intrigues readers and keeps them coming back for more.

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid:

  1. Parallel Plots- This occurs when the plot and subplot merely share characters and a point in time. The subplot could stand alone and offers very little to the plot itself.
  2. Dangling Plot Thread– This occurs when a subplot does not feed back into the main plot at the end of the novel, supporting it’s conclusion. If it doesn’t impact the end of the novel in some way, it is left dangling with little purpose. It also happens when the subplot is incomplete and left without resolution.
  3. Competing Subplot- The subplot is supposed to strengthen the main plot, but when it competes with the main plot it creates the opposite effect. A subplot that overtakes the main plot in word count or interest level weakens it.

What do you think is the most complicated part of creating a subplot?

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3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains

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Photo by Olly Bennett

One of my very favorite parts of a book are its villains. They create the drive to will a hero/heroine to survive the worst the villain and life can throw at them. Their journey to survive and overcome are inspiring.

When it comes to inspiring the reader with a hero/heroine’s survival, the villain is key. Not just any villain will do, but the worst possible foe, with great skills in bringing about their evil schemes.

Some of the best ever villains have similar qualities exhibited in stories. Susan May Warren teaches the importance of showing an almost insurmountable ability to do evil, when pitting him against the hero/heroine. This is of huge import when trying to make a believable villain.

There are other important elements to a villain as well.

As you brainstorm villains for your stories a few tips will help you to create a villain that draws the reader to keep turning pages.

3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains:

  1. Brainstorm A Lair. A villain needs a place for his evil to have a home world. Writing mentor Rachel Hauck shared this insight with me. If there is a villain point of view, this might be a place where s/he reflects on their crimes, or looks at mementos. If not, it can be a place that others discover to uncover the plots or evil intentions of the villain.
  2. Brainstorm Incidents That Place The Villain Next To The Hero/Heroine. Placing the villain next to the hero/heroine without them being aware of the evil that is so close creates tension and a feeling of danger.
  3. Brainstorm a tell or unique behavior for your villain. This can be as simple as a smell, or sound that brings a sense of foreboding in the hero or heroine, even when they don’t know what caused it. This tell can be used at different times to create an emotion.

Who is your favorite villain of all time? Why?

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming

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Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Group work in the writing community can be wonderful, or frustrating. It becomes frustrating when individuals aren’t on point when you brainstorm your story, or you end up following story threads that eventually won’t work in your story. But the rewards of a group brainstorming session can be substantial.

So, how do you get brainstorming sessions to be effective ways to expand your story options? Gather your courage to share your story with others and ask for their help.

Brainstorming with other writers.can bring new life to an author’s stories. The challenge is often in finding the right group to brainstorm with and keeping the brainstorming session focused enough to be helpful.

Over the past few years I’ve watched some brainstorming groups succeed and some fail. Each group that failed got bogged down in one of three areas. Here are 3 tips to successful group brainstorming from my observations.

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming:

  1. Select group members carefully. Keep the group small- 6 or less to allow everyone time to bounce ideas. Find group members who use similar methods to write, providing a commonality of terms and knowledge.
  2. Identify the focus of the session. A complete book is too broad of a topic to brainstorm successfully in one session. Instead, focus on one thread of the story. This allows everyone in the group to focus on the area of greatest need. If the whole story idea is the focus, recognize that it may take a few brainstorming sessions to complete it.
  3. Record ideas and follow-up. During the brainstorming session, record ideas without passing judgement on them. Occasionally, redirect the conversation back to the thread you want to explore. Have a follow-up brainstorming session to further develop the ideas from the first session. This follow-up will deepen your story.

What works for you in group brainstorming?

3 Tips To Create Story World From Star Wars

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Photo by Spydermurp

Star Wars has captured the attention of the masses for years. The story world is so rich that it seems to stem from imagination itself.

From books to block buster movies, the series amazes us time and again. Although I am not a huge speculative fiction fan, I do love Star Wars.

If an author could create an intriguing story world like Star Wars, they’d have a great shot at being a best seller. What can we learn from the creator of Star Wars?

3 Tips To Create Story World From Star Wars:

  1. Create Character Diversity – Star Wars is rich with a variety of different creatures and personalities. Personalities can be created from the rich pallet of your own world and put in the skin of the characters your create. Think of the Pod Racer Business man, he reminds me of a car salesman.
  2. Scene Diversity – Showcase the world your characters live in by setting scenes in a variety of places. In Star Wars we see a wide range of planets and terrains. It makes for a more interesting movie. The same is true with our story. Variety in scene locations allows the author to use metaphor effectively and build an understanding of the story world.
  3. Rich Artistic Experiences – All of the qualities of artistry can be found in colors, costuming, textures, sounds, music, smells and more. Star Wars brings this to life in amazing ways. An author can create an artistic pallet with story world as well. It will leave a reader clamoring for more.

3 Secrets To Creating A Story Readers Can’t Put Down

Photo by Kadri H

Photo by Kadri H

Authors look for that perfect formula to keep readers engaged in their stories. The qualities that make one book a best-seller and another at the bottom of the sales list can be illusive.

There are many secrets woven into the recipe for a can’t-put-it-down novel. Just the right blend of these ingredients can transform a ho-hum story into a best-seller.

Although there are many ingredients necessary for a best-seller, there are 3 Secrets To Creating A Story Readers Can’t Put Down that stand out. If you make a purposeful effort to add these to your novel, it will drive readers to keep reading.

3 Secrets To Creating A Story Readers Can’t Put Down:

*Cliffhanger Scene Endings. At the end of each scene and each chapter it is imperative to create a sense of uncertainty going forward. The reader must long to find out what will happen to the hero or heroine. Creating the perfect cliffhanger can be as simple as leaving the action hanging, showing what the hero/heroine has to lose going forward, or creating a mysterious element that a reader can’t wait to solve.

*Characters Readers Want To Spend Time With. Some of the most beloved stories have larger-than-life characters that readers love. For example, in Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Series, we all fell in love with her characters that were once orphans and created their own family. As each family member fell in love and tried to stay alive, we journeyed with them. Create characters that draw readers into the story’s family.

*Keeping The Mystery Of Discovery Alive Throughout The Story. Wondering how the story will unfold keeps a reader’s mind engaged in the story. Be unpredictable in your plot, intersperse small surprises about the characters or the story, create a uniqueness that makes readers wonder what is coming next.

What book were you unable to put down?

3 Tips To Brainstorming Through Blank Page Paralysis

Photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

A story is a complex structure with multiple elements, each key to the overall success of a novel. Many key parts of story structure I learned through My Book Therapy’s coaches Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, and Lisa Jordan.

Their instruction helped me understand the spine of a novel and the elements required for a novel to be publication worthy.

Once all of the key elements are in place, an author still must put flesh on the bones of the story. It can be an overwhelming task. Is it any wonder that sometimes along the way writers get lost?

Do you struggle from Blank Page Paralysis?

Staring at a blank page, waiting for brilliance to strike can be frustrating. Instead of staying stuck, try the following strategies.

3 Tips To Brainstorming Through Blank Page Paralysis:

*Brainstorm From Setting. Determine the setting for the next scene. Brainstorm the sensory details and what is present in the setting. Determine who is there and what the mood is of the scene. As the setting begins to come to life, it becomes easier to visualize your character there and what their goal is next.

*Brainstorm From Character. Identify the Point of View character for the next scene. Brainstorm how they are feeling, what the goal is for them in the scene, and how the setting reflects their mood. Then brainstorm who and what is in the scene with the POV character that could cause obstacles to them reaching their goals.

*Brainstorm From Plot. Focus on what will happen in the coming scene that moves the plot forward. Determine where you need to be at the end of the scene and how the objectives of the Point of View character feeds into the plot. Brainstorm what could happen in the coming scene. Put no filters on the possibilities. When you are finished, select the one that best moves your story forward.

Need A Brainstorming Coach?

Holiday Brainstorming Session Sale 

December 6~16th

*Register for a brainstorming session between December 6-16th and get a $15 discount (Session may be scheduled to occur before January 31, 2017)

*Session sale price of $35 can be submitted through PayPal.

*To Register send a message through the contact form below. Use Sale Code: Holly616


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How Do You Get Out Of Blank Page Paralysis?

3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

The journey of an author is never easy. There are the ups and downs of rejections, contest critiques, and writer’s block.

The profession itself is full of potholes, not to mention the crazy roadblocks that come with everyday responsibilities. Family, faith, friendships, holiday shopping, buying skiis for your high schooler. . . yeah, okay, that last one is all me.

My family has also struggled with health concerns and I deal with chronic pain. Sometimes writing seems next to impossible, but there are 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey.

Don’t take my word for it. Nope. These amazing words come from one of my writing mentors that has helped me along the journey.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times Bestseller with several books under her belt. Here are just a few:

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Rachel is a brilliant writer. I absolutely love her metaphors and rich stories that tug at your heart. All of her craft expertise has brought her great success, but there is one thing she taught me that is pivotal to our writing journey.

Without these three words all of her Bestsellers would have remained an idea, unrealized. It seems simple, but without this no writer can be successful.

What are these 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey?

Simple Really.

BUTT IN CHAIR

When you don’t feel like writing and you want to play candy crush. . .

BUTT IN CHAIR

When you want to give up and burn your rough draft. . .

BUTT IN CHAIR

It may sound trite, but the truth is that most of my ideas waiting to be published are only going to be accomplished if I constantly commit myself to writing.

Everyday.

No matter what.

Even if it is just for a little while, the words add up to whole manuscripts and eventually I finish a book. It is the small moments, the two hundred words here, three hundred words there that push me forward.

Rachel has given me a lot of advice. Her craft teaching and spiritual encouragement have been a huge part of my journey, but these 3 words. . . if I follow this advice, I will finish books.

What do you do to help you keep your BUTT IN Chair?