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?

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 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?

 

 

How To NaNoWriMo Through the Holidays – 3 Cold Turkey Plans & Strategies

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Photo by kindhelper

So you’ve signed up for this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo and the holidays are staring you down, threatening to derail your whole plan. Take heart, there are ways to keep on track, even during the holidays.

It won’t be easy, but it is completely doable. Groan, right? Well, NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart. You’re a warrior writer, right?

During this holiday you can do some cold turkey writing to keep you on your word count goals for the month. The key is to plan now and pick the plan that works the best for you.

How To NaNoWriMo Through the Holidays –

Photo by Vaughan Willis

Photo by Vaughan Willis

3 Cold Turkey Plans:

  1. Prewrite your goal. This one is just like it sounds. Divide up the writing you would normally do during the days you will be vacationing for Thanksgiving to do in the days ahead of time.
  2. Schedule writing for your strengths. If you write earliest in the morning, ask someone else to prep the turkey. If you write best in the evenings, ask someone to clean up after the meal. Plan your writing time by your strengths. If you know that you will not want to write after the family comes over because you want to see them and chat until late into the night, then plan to write in the morning. Be purposeful to avoid failing to meet your goals.
  3. Post-write your goal. Take the word count you would have had during the holiday and divide it over the few days after the holiday is over. Try to get this all done within a few days after the holiday, or you will feel the task to finish the month is insurmountable.

3 Cold Turkey Strategies:

  1. Write crazy family dynamics into your story. Be inspired by the crazy family dynamics during the holidays. Use a quirky family member to build on a character. Use someone’s dialogue patterns to make one of your characters more unique. Let the characters you interact with, even that crazy lady who almost ran you over on Black Friday in the Walmart parking lot, inspire uniqueness in your story.
  2. Add a festival or community activity into your story. Community is built in your story through its culture. Add a touch of what makes your story character unique by adding a community activity or festival to your novel. It can be the May Day Parade, or Cat Fish Days, as long as it is part of what makes your community unique.
  3. Build the sensory details in your novel. Scientists have discovered that smells are the strongest memories. What does your character’s story world smell like. Think of all of the wonderful holiday smells and foods. Add some of these sensory details into your novel to expand your creative pallet.

What is your favorite part of the holidays?

How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel – Help! I’ve Fallen Into The School Bus

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

If you are reading this blog, chances are I survived the back to school rush of 2016. Whew!

Four kids make back to school a challenge. There’s all of the Open Houses, school supply lists, clothes shopping, and new schedules. As luck would have it, my four children are attending three different schools, making it even more chaotic.

If you are a last minute shopper, or forgot a few items, you just might be duking it out Jingle All The Way style in isle ten. And if you are looking for a TI 84+ calculator. . . sorry, we got the last one.

This past week has been full of real life conflict that is enough to make any mom want to move to Australia with Alexander. Just like us, our characters’ lives are full of real life conflict, too.

Have you built that into the ebb and flow of your novel. Characters seem real when we give them the experiences we go through every day and they must navigate the potholes.

Here are a few tips on How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel that make it easier for readers to identify with your characters.

How To Add Real Life Conflict To Your Novel:

*Brainstorm a list of real life situations your character might face at the time of year your story takes place. It helps to focus in on the time of year when your novel takes place. List holidays, professional busy seasons, personal hobbies that might draw a character away from their goals, and even key times for other characters when they are not as supportive due to outside pressures.

*Select the events that are highest in conflict in conjunction with genre suitability. At Christmas, a chic-lit novel might have shopping woes and complicated to shop for mother-in-laws. Although those might work in a suspense, it would be much more helpful to make a character more vulnerable, having to shop after dark when there is a chance their stalker would wait for them in the parking lot while their arms were weighed down with packages. (For more on plot conflict and escalation techniques check out my book here.)

*Intensify the conflict by making us care even more. If a character has to chose between the dangers of facing that parking lot when your life is at risk and not finding a special gift for your mom’s last Christmas, the tension increases. The reader cares about the character’s safety and the last Christmas for a mom and her daughter. Using these competing values is a trick I learned from Susan May Warren in her book Deep And Wide: Advanced Fiction Techniques.

What was the crazy part of your back-to-school season?

3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory

Photo by talktofrank

Photo by talktofrank

When I was in middle school, one of the boys had a shaggy green mohawk that flopped over the sides of his shaved head. To this day I remember him. He stood out in my mind.

The characters in our novels should stand out from other characters if we are to leave an impression on readers. Dory from Finding Nemo was so beloved they decided to make another movie based on this character.

What can we learn from Dory? Let’s take a peak:

Isn’t the tiny Dory adorable, too?

3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory:

  1. Make the character’s flaw endearing. Notice how Dory’s inability to remember things in this early clip makes her look cute, not annoying. It is important to show flaws in a positive light for readers to love a character in spite of, or even because of their flaws.
  2. Make the character’s flaw something we can relate to. In the case of Dory, she struggles with short term memory loss. This is a common problem for many elderly and also those who have been through a traumatic brain injury. It is something that we can relate to as we see it happen to those around us and we are empathetic because of the difficulty it can cause in their lives.
  3. Show the character trying to overcome their flaws. Dory is trying to practice what to do in order to overcome her struggle with short term memory. For her, making friends might be difficult because she just can’t remember who they are and that can have a crushing impact on her relationships. To overcome this, she is practicing how to play with other children.

Characters who stick out in our memories leave lasting impressions. Try these 3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory in your novel.

What are some of your favorite flawed Characters?