Saturday, July 30, 2011

Plugging Holes

By Keith N Fisher

When the tenants move out, the owner of a rental unit will often bring in a crew, to prepare the walls for painting. The process involves plugging nail holes with spackling paste. If the tenants were abusive, the procedure includes the use of wall joint compound and perhaps sheet rock patches.

Frequently, the crew must get close and rub their fingers on the walls, in order to find all the nail holes. Sometimes they miss a few.

Occasionally in our hurry to plot a story, we leave holes that sometimes don’t get plugged. I want to tell you about one that I found.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about re-reading the Deathly Hallows in an effort to refresh my memory before seeing the movie. I also watched the previous movies with my family, launching me into Harry’s world. While working one night, and thinking about the story, I stumbled onto a supposed plot hole.

Spoiler Alert!

Okay, so this might spoil the story, but if you haven’t read the books by now, you might never read them.

When Lord Voldemort went to eliminate baby Harry, he killed James and lily first, then turned his attention to Harry. The curse rebounded and killed Voldemort’s body instead, but because of the horcruxes in which he’d placed part of his soul, he didn’t die. He lived in lessor animals until the time he found Professor Quirrell.

Eventually, he was brought back using a spell, and some of Harry’s blood. After coming to himself in the graveyard, that night, he turned to Wormtail and said, “Give me my wand.”

Later, we learned that Voldemort’s wand and Harry’s wand, have twin cores and we assume that is why, the two wands locked.

So, here is my question. What happened to Voldemort’s wand? What happened to the wand that chose him at eleven years old? The Wand that shared the same phoenix feather as Harry’s?

Let me explain. When Voldemort tried to kill Harry and lost himself, the wand would’ve fallen to the floor. He couldn’t carry it out. What happened to it? How did he get it back? He didn’t have it in the first book. The memory of Tom Riddle didn’t have it in the second book. It wasn’t an issue in the third book, but when he got another body in the fourth book, we see Wormtail giving him his wand, the phoenix feather wand, the twin of Harry’s wand. So, who kept it for thirteen years? How did Wormtail get it? Remember he was kept busy being Ron’s pet rat.
When the wands locked in the graveyard, Voldemort became obsessed to find out why, and determined he couldn’t beat harry with the phoenix wand. In the fifth book, he tried another one, but to no avail. The obsession continued.

In The Deathly Hallows, we learned about wand lore and the fact that wands choose the wizard. Either it will work in tandem with the wizard or it won’t. There is a big issue made of the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world. Voldemort steals it, but it’s not really his.

Okay, back to the question. I was curious, so I invented several scenarios. In one, someone from the Order of the Phoenix came to the house in Godric’s Hollow, found James and Lily Dead, and took the wand. It probably would have ended up in the Ministry of Magic somewhere. Perhaps that’s how Wormtail got it.

Now that I’ve seen the movie, however, I have another theory. There is a scene where Snape arrived at the house, right after Lilly was killed, and his heart broke. The scene left me with another theory. Snape took the wand, but there is a flaw. Snape didn’t contact Voldemort until well after he’d returned. So how did Voldemort get his wand back?

All of this talk about wands brought up another question, are you ready? If the elder wand became Draco Malfloy’s when he disarmed Dumbledore, and Draco’s wand became Harry’s the same way, then what about all those other wands? In almost every book, Harry disarms somebody. Look at Dumbledore’s Army in the fifth book. They disarmed each other several times.

Okay, you can say it has to happen in real combat. So, what about all the wands from the battle to keep the prophecy? What about the wands of the wizards who came to get Harry in the coffee shop in the last book? That’s just a few of the incidents. If the wand chooses the wizard and wands become the property of the victor, then why don’t wands change hands all the time? See it’s a plot hole.

End of Spoiler Alert

I know I’m splitting hairs, but it’s been fun to explore the question. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because if the truth were told, no writer can find all the holes in a plot and plug them. Like the patching crew in a rental unit, writers sometimes miss the holes.

As writers, we need to run our fingers over the wall of our plot, searching for holes we might’ve missed. As I said, its impossible to find every hole, and there will always be an alert reader, who finds the ones we missed. I hate it when my critique group finds a hole in my plot. It would be much worse if a reader finds one after the book is published.

Remember the plot when you edit, and try to plug the holes. Your book will be better for it.

By the way, I loved the new movie. They left out all the negative stuff about Dumbledore, but it followed the story line for the most part. They added some things like the embellishment of the windup scene, but I liked it. Also, I’m glad they did the epilogue.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thoughts Through the Years

by G.Parker

In case you haven't been reading our blog for very long, let me give you a few facts.  This blog was started in 2006 after the founding of AI, which was started through LDSstorymakers, in connection with the writing conferences.  I remember everyone talking about starting one, what to name it, how Darvel created the design for the strip and how it has morphed from a simple daily support to what it  is today - the same.  Grin.

It has changed in writers.  I think there are only a few of us original starters.  There was a time when I wrote two a week, but we decided that it was too much.  Once a week is plenty, believe me.  I'm sure those of you who really read our articles find that reading one a day is good enough - when you have time.  Some of the names of our former contributors you would recognize as published authors:  Danyelle Ferguson, Nichole Giles, to name a couple.

Through out our course the desire has been to assist the aspiring LDS writer, regardless of what genre, or audience they wrote for.  Being aspiring authors ourselves, we know what it is to struggle with juggling jobs, families, and all the other things we try to do in our lives while trying to keep up with the drive to write.  

Sometimes we feel that we touch the reader.  Other times we wonder if there's even anyone out there.  It's the whole sending the thoughts into the void - not sure if anything is ever going to come back.  Sometimes we get comments, and we love it.  Regardless of how many people actually read our thoughts or suggestions (some of which are VERY well done, like as with Connie's notes from different conferences and Keith's accounts of other note taking) this blog satisfies part of our craving to write and be published.  

Blogging is the publishing world in miniature, and while it's only a small part, it's still a part that helps with the drive and ambition.  Anyone who desires to be a writer now has a blog.  It used to be a rare thing, now everyone has one.  Some of us have several, since a blog usually has a theme.  

Blogging is not the same as writing a book, though many blogs have been turned into a book, like the movie Julie and Julia was based on.  But the point is that blogging helps us be connected to the world in general.  Puts thoughts and feelings out there for the world to have and examine and use if desired.

I hope you've enjoyed our blog.  I believe it will probably continue for many more years.  Even if those of us who started it go on different paths, there will always be someone who is willing to step up to the plate and keep the tradition going.
Thanks for reading, we hope our blog continues to be one that helps and uplifts. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Moment's Pause

by Cheri Chesley

My daughter and I had some alone time a few months back. It was just me and her and the car. While she sat back quoting her favorite movie, I got to thinking. And we talked. And talked. The talking turned to brain-storming, and, before I knew it, we had plotted out an entire story.

She got to name the characters, and put in a couple of key scenes, but the rest I basically put together--except I can't take full credit for it because she helped me come up with the idea. I never would have considered such a story had it not been for her unique enthusiasm and the essence she added to the story.

I submitted the book to my publisher this week, so now I play the waiting game. Fortunately, being so young, my daughter doesn't trouble herself with that kind of thing. She doesn't suffer the angst of rejection just yet, but I'll gladly take that one for her. At the moment, I'm still a little deluded by the idea of joint signings with my little girl to let something like rejection dampen my spirits. :)

And all because I took a moment's pause from my regular projects and had a conversation with my daughter. It's pretty awesome, when you think about it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Developing Your Writing Talent

By Keith N Fisher

Last week I talked about the phases we go through in becoming the writers we want to be. Then I went to church and heard a lesson on developing your talents. I realized what I should’ve written last week, so I’m going to share it this time.

In the book, Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell, the author talks about studies made where they analyzed what made some musicians great, as opposed to good or mediocre. They found that in every case, the separation happened because of ten thousand hours. All the great ones put in at least ten thousand hours of practice.

The author went on to compare other successful people, He talked about Bill Joy, the author of the current versions of Unix computer systems and Java, he is co-founder of Sun Microsystems and is sometimes called the Edison of the Internet. Yep, he spent ten thousand hours learning to program at night.

As long as we are talking about computer geeks . . . You guessed it, Bill Gates started programming in high school and stealing time on the computer. His mother said about those times, “we always wondered why it was so hard for him to get up in the morning.” Yeah, ten thousand hours.

Are you familiar with the early career of the Beatles? They played in strip clubs in Hamburg for eight hours a day. They were forced to develop a style and play songs they had never heard. They passed through the crucible and emerged as one of the most popular and entertaining bands in history. They found a style all their own, and learned the craft during more than ten thousand hours in Hamburg.

The interesting thing about the study, mentioned above, is they didn’t find any natural born anything. None of the great musicians rose to the top without putting in the practice. And to quote Gladwell, the people at the very top don’t work just harder, or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

I’ve written about this before, although I didn’t go into detail. I think I’m getting close to my ten thousand hours, are you?

While listening to the lesson on Sunday, I wrote down the six steps to developing a talent. I customized the list for writers.

1. Discover your talent
2. Develop it (be willing to spend the time) ten thousand hours?
3. Have faith in yourself, and God.
4. Learn the skills. (Learn the craft. Go to workshops and conferences).
5. Practice consistently. (Again we go back to ten thousand hours.)
6. Share your talent with others.

It was mentioned that talent is a kind of stewardship. I believe our God will hold us accountable for those talents we neglect. If you were given a desire to write, then do it, but do it with the goal of touching hearts and changing lives. The old saying, you reap what you sew applies here. Many of you are well on your way to putting in your ten thousand hours. Some of you have reached it. Some are getting the hours while reaping the benefits of being published.

Putting in ten thousand hours will not guarantee a contract. It will guarantee you will be a great writer. There are countless famous souls who reached the top of their game, and every one of them have the same thing in common. Ten thousand hours.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Good, Better, Best

by G. Parker

In general conference in 2007, Elder Oaks spoke about choices.  He mentioned that there were good choices, better, and best.  (Kind of like the levels of kingdoms, you know?)  Good being honest and what you need to do, better meaning doing more of your service and striving harder, best being the one we are all striving for.  The best choice in all situations.
Monday night we had planned on going to see Thor at the local dollar theater.  One of our sons had been really wanting to see it, and since we'd already seen it and liked it, we thought it would be a good family night option.  Upon arriving, we discovered it was free, as a local auto sales company was sponsoring it (which was cool) but there were only 2 seats left.  Dang.  There were six of us, so that wasn't going to work.  We were debating on what to do, go home or whatever, when my daughter suggested we go see Soul Surfer
I'd been wanting to see it.  Both my daughters had already seen it and loved it.  When hubby said he'd be willing to see it, we all filed in.
Now there is quite a difference between these two movies.  Both of them are 'clean' and have a good story line.  Mostly good moral message, and action.  Of course one has more than the other and sports a main character that is (in my daughter's opinion) 'delicious', but aside from that, on the surface it wouldn't seem that big of a deal.
After seeing the movie (apart from what I feel is lackluster acting on Carrie Underwood's part), I think we made the better choice.  Thor would have been good, but Soul Surfer was better.  I guess I would have to admit perhaps not the best...that would have been a regular family home evening lesson, right?  I don't know... 
But I thought it was interesting how there could be such a dissimilar choice between two movies.  I think it is much like writing - reading.  There are lots of choices out there to read for enlightenment, knowledge, entertainment and uplift.  Good choices are simply books that entertain and are enjoyable.  Better books would be those that were clean and knowledgeable.  I'm thinking the best books would be ones that inspire to better thoughts and behavior and strove to uplift the reader.
It's why we are writers.  We are striving to be the best writers, and have our work be the best.  Right?  So in your contemplation of your writing, consider your goal.  Are you trying to be the good, better or best writer?  Is your book going to be thought of as entertainment or uplifting?
Just my thoughts...Also - I hope everyone has a great Pioneer Day weekend.  In Utah or's still great to be part of such a heritage. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How are You Derailed?

By Cheri Chesley

Re-post from 2010

I had a plan this morning. I'd get up, put up my post and get on with my day.

Then I checked my email.

And I've spent the last hour and a half looking for my eyeglasses prescription.

A while back, I dropped my glasses and scratched the protective lens coating. I needed to replace them, but I've been putting it off. Today in my email there was a reminder from the site I get my glasses that they're having a big sale the next two weeks. But I need my prescription.

And I can't find it. And I'm letting it get to me.

But let's turn this around and use it as a lesson. How often are we so easily derailed when it comes to our writing? It happens to me all the time. I check my email, go to Facebook, do my networking--but by the end of the day I haven't done any writing. Sigh.

There are good distractions. Family. Even keeping up our networking with our writing friends is important. But it has to be done in moderation. I'm trying to limit my visits to FB to three times a day. Once in the morning, once while the baby is napping, and once in the evening. In the meantime, I can focus on my kids--since they pretty much don't let me do anything else lol--and I can write when they go to bed.

But sticking to the plan is difficult. As I type this, my daughter is next to me moping about how her best friend is gone for the next two weeks, and will miss her birthday. I know I need to talk to her about this, but I also need to get this post out. Focus, focus. :)

In short, life is full of distractions. The trick is finding your focus, and working hard to stick to it. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Point of View

by C. LaRene Hall

One of the Most Important Tools a Writer Has – this workshop was taught by Janette Rallison.

“When publishers are talking about a fresh voice it is point of view. Rules: They exist for a reason. There are no rules to assure good writing, but there are rules to avoid bad writing.” Noah Lukeman

1st person – Advantages – it has a very intimate feel, and it is the easiest POV for new writers to master. It is easy to show main character’s thoughts. Disadvantages – all action must be seen by your main character.

2nd person – YOU, it is hardly every used in books.

3rd person – most books are written this way. Advantages – People like to read third person stories because it is easy to superimpose yourself in this kind of story. You can have more than one POV character. The story can follow the action, and it’s not limited to one person. Disadvantages – It is easier for new writers to make errors in this point of view.

Omniscient – Tricky POV to do. Advantages – The author can dispense finformation to the reader that the characters don’t know. The reader gets to know the inner workings. It’s like a fly on the wall, or a camera. Perhaps the author doesn’t want to give away the main character’s internal thoughts for artistic reasons, or in the case of the main character. Disadvantages – It’s more boring. You don’t know who the story is about. The writing seems sparse and emotional.

The Big Mistake: Ping-Pong Point of View or Head Hopping.

1. It’s hard to make work. Switching back and forth in POV is tricky, and you don’t need to add one more thing tht can, and probably will, go wrong.

2. Since 90% of unpublished manuscripts have this problem, you don’t want your manuscripts lumped together with all the people who haven’t mastered the craft.

3. Jumping back and forth is confusing to the reader.

4. More often than not, you never get into one person’s POV deeply enough to let us know who they are and what they want.

5. A trick to help your POV in 3rd person . . . write in 1st person and then change “I” to a name and it will work perfectly.

6. You can change POV at the end of scene or chapters. POV is the one who has the most at stake in that scene or chapter.

Don’t write it, unless your character would actually be thinking about it.
Don’t let the author’s point of view slip into your character’s internal thoughts.
Don’t leave the point of view out.

Your story needs
1. dialogue
2. action
3. internal thoughts

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Patience is Part of the Craft

By Keith N Fisher

I read the Deathly Hallows again. Since the new movie was just released, I figured it would be prudent to remember what’s supposed to happen. Before I see the flick. I feel sorry for those people who see the movies, but have never read the books. There is so much more story in the book.

Besides, sometimes my imagination of a setting is much better than depicted by the moviemakers.

Anyway, while reading the book, I noticed a few writing and craft errors I hadn’t noticed before. I’m not going to refer to them directly because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I noticed them, I think, because I’m in the middle of editing one of my manuscripts and the mind grows oversensitive.

I’ve always contended that you can find errors in every writer’s work, no matter who he/she is. Some authors get lazy and nobody corrects them, because of who they are, Some authors, make honest mistakes that aren’t caught. The whole thing can be discouraging to unpublished writers.

It takes time, and a lot of practice, to become a great writer. Another truth is, some people are born storytellers. The problem arises when someone with a good story has trouble writing it. Have you noticed there are eight stages every writer passes through on the way to perfecting the craft?

Stage one-inspiration.

An idea hits and the person decides to write. The manuscript sucks. The person keeps writing.

Stage two-rejection.

The writer discovers he needs help. The story wants to be told.

Stage three-assimilation.

The writer learns about craft through conferences, workshops, and books about writing.

Stage four-transformation.

The writer is getting better, makes changes in their manuscript.

Stage five-second rejection, denial.

This usually comes when a critique partner finds a problem. The writer disallows the opinion. The editor doesn’t understand. After all, I made all those changes, didn’t I? This is a dangerous time because the writer sometimes gets argumentative.

Stage six-humble recognition.

After a great amount of soul searching, and more rejection, the writer discovers the critique partner might be right. Besides if one reader has trouble with the manuscript, others will also.

Stage seven-depression.

Why did I ever think I could write? By now, writing has become a way of life and cannot be given up. A writer must continue.

Stage eight-cognition.

The writing is getting better all the time. The writer actually edits his own sentences as he writes. He has written several manuscripts.

As in the case of many authors, sometimes a writer gets published at stage one, sometimes they travel through many more stages than eight. Some writers combine stage one with stage eight. It’s a matter of talent. It’s important to learn patience in the beginning, and remember a few things.

Great storytelling does not necessarily, equal great writing. Also, the reverse is true. As in some author’s case, getting published often comes down to being in the right place, at the right time, with the right story. Isn’t it better to have written a great story well, then to have trouble getting a second book published, because the story is mediocre and the writing sucks?

The most important lesson for most of us, I think, is to keep an open mind during step five. Getting angry is never a good idea, especially when that anger is turned on those who are honestly trying to help you.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Potter Mania

by G.Parker

Okay.  If you have been totally disconnected from electronics and clueless to what is going on in the world, then you will NOT know that this is the day the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise movie comes out.  Officially it was at midnight, and there was much craziness in the cities with parties and celebrations galore.  If I were 20 again, (and had money to toss) I would have been interested in doing the whole big movie marathon that the megaplex theaters were holding.  But alas, I have a brain that requires a little more stimulation than that, and a hubby who doesn't think that's a value related to the money spent (which I'd have to agree with at this point), so I didn't go.
I don't know how many of you are even planning on seeing this last movie.  Personally, I loved the first one, thought the second was okay, but then they started going a little weird.  The 6th one was a little better, and I liked how they did the first half of the last one.  So, I'm looking forward to this one.  My hubby wants to see it only because they appear to show the fight between Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix, that insane murderess who threatened her children.  He loves that part of the book.
The reason I bring up this insanity (and really - I think it has gotten out of hand, but I suppose no more than when Star Wars was out) is in tribute to the writer who started it all.  I wonder how she feels to have this last installment done and be at the end of the amazing run?  I think it would be a strange feeling.  When did the Harry Potter books first come out?  1997.  That means, this character and these line of books have been in the public eye for almost 15 years.  That's quite a legacy.  I understand she's garnered quite the income from it as well.  And not just from the books, the movies have been wildly popular (ahem). 
There have been many authors who have made it from book to big screen.  One of my favorites is Michael Crichton.  He wrote some amazing novels, and almost all of them made it to a movie.  I'm not sure why, exactly, but perhaps because he was able to do such a good job with it.  I read somewhere that it wasn't J.K. Rowlings narative ability, it was her way with words.  Perhaps that's the same with Crichton.  Many of John Greshams books have been to the big screen as well.  One of my favorites is Pelican Brief, but that's possibly because it has Julia Roberts in it.  Grin.
So, perhaps I mention this to encourage, maybe it's only because I'm jealous.  But whatever my reason, let it be an inspiration for your reason to continue writing.  Look around you - there are many successful writers that never have their books make it to a movie.  That does not define success.  I have a friend that self published his first novel.  He has since sold over 40,000.  A lot of them have been in ebook format, but does that matter?  In my opinion he is successful.  He has something to look at and say, hey - I did that.
I want to be able to say that, so I continue.  I don't expect to have any kind of popularity that the Harry Potter books have had, I don't write that kind of genre.  But at least my daughters will have something clean to read, which is why I wanted to publish in the first place, so that will make me a success in my own eyes. 
What is your estimation of success?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What would you say?

By Cheri Chesley

Re-post from Writing Fortress 2010

This is not a current situation, but something that still holds true.

It’s pretty clear by now I love words. Today, though, I want to talk about one word in particular. That word is NO.

As a mom, I have no problem telling my kids no. I’m pretty good with it, in fact. They’ve come to anticipate the “no” before the “yes.” Not that I’m a mean mom; I just don’t believe in overindulging my kids.

But this is a different no, and I struggle with it horrendously. And as I extend my networks with the intention of meeting new people and getting my name and book title out, I worry that I may be using that word more than others.

Let me explain. Today I got on Facebook to check messages and get updates on my author friends. And immediately someone opened up a message box and started talking to me. In short, he wanted to meet. Immediately I thought of everything we all know about internet safety. For all I know, everything on his page that made me accept his friend request in the first place could be lies. For all he knows, I’m a 40 year old serial killer looking for victims under the guise of an LDS wife, mother and author.

I searched for that instant feeling of foreboding, and it wasn’t forthcoming. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to trust this guy. Just because the spirit doesn’t instantly let me know someone is bad news, as it has before, doesn’t mean this person is safe or harmless—or even honest.

But saying NO outright seemed harsh. What if he’s a nice guy looking for friends? What if he’s got 16 nieces who’d love to read my book? And my thoughts called to mind something I’d heard before, about how women have such a hard time hurting people’s feelings. We’re too nice, and because of that we often find ourselves in dangerous situations. So why is the word NO so hard to say?

I thought about it for several minutes. What’s the worst thing he can do? Un-friend me? Start spreading lies about me? (Okay, I admit—that one gave me pause) Call me names? This is a challenge I’m sure will only happen more as I continue to extend my network.

In the end, I chose to refuse to go meet him. And I told him why. But I did suggest he come to one of my signings after my book comes out, which is no more or less than I would do to anyone I have “friended” on Facebook.

What is the best solution? What do you do? Do you only friend people on Facebook that you already know, or that are referred to you by someone you know? Do you only friend people who say they are LDS? Maybe I’m cynical, but that can be a lie too. And if they post things I don’t agree with, do I “un-friend” them? Just because they do not agree with my beliefs doesn’t make them evil.

Where does using good judgment end and simple judging begin? Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All You Need is Love

by C. LaRene Hall

and A Bunch of Other Stuff taught by Sarah Eden. This workshop kept us all entertained and yet I learned a great deal.

Romantic elements are important in any genre. Love is a universal human experience and emotion. Love is a basic human need. Including romance in your story adds depth.
In a romance, the stories basic question is will the couple end up together? If the book focus isn’t will the couple end up together it is probably not a romance. The story question answer is always yes. They end up together in a committed happy relationship. The love story is what drives the plot. It is never secondary to any other plot line. 2/3 of story is romance. The romance is the point of the story. Reader expects to read about love.

Common romance pitfalls that are hard to get right –

1. Love in a vacuum. Nothing going on in their life except this romance. There has to be something else.

2. Your characters have to have something else going on in their life, but don’t let subplots take over.

3. Romantic tension relies too much (or entirely) on the physical. There has to be more.

4. Little or no romantic tension.

5. The characters have to be together.

6. Weak sources of conflict.

7. The love has no foundation. If the only source is good looks that’s not much of a foundation. The reader needs a change to get to know your characters and they need to get to know each other.There has to be a foundation.

Romances are character driver – the reader has to like your character. The reader has to care about the characters. If you don’t put something in that is unique it will read like every other romance.

Every great romance or romantic plotline needs –

1. An Emotional connection – romance is all about emotion. The characters have to have a connection to each other. There has to be a reason why they love each other. Because they are both totally hot doesn’t work.

2. Emotional connections require interaction and time. The reader needs to see strengths and weaknesses in characters; realness. Perfect characters are not real. It’s hard to relate to someone who is perfect. In a romance, you want the heroine to be like you or your best friend and you want to fall in love with the hero. Remember, it’s a matter of balance Let your character be real. The reader needs a reason to cheer for the couple as individuals and together. Your reader needs to want them to be happy. The reader already knows how it ends so you need to pull them in so they know what happens.

3. You need fulfillment – the story needs to range from shallow to deep. This is what will give it depth. You connect them to each other. Find out what your character is lacking. One needs to compliment the other. The deeper the need, the deeper the connection should be. They need to have similar interests, and same end goals.

4. Figure out what your hero and heroine need in a significant other. Someone who completes us. If they have needs it makes them a deeper character. If needs conflict it is hard to work out but automatically brings in tension. With roadblock it gives you a plot line because of conflict, and especially if the other person loves them anyway.

5. The couple is something to each other that no one else is or can be. Their relationship has to be unique. Love triangles are popular. Even if you know why they end up together no one else can be what they are together. In a love triangle someone has to win. When they end up together the reader can recognize why it turned out that way.

6. If their connection is not unique, it will lack impact and will not be satisfying for your reader. This is the reason their connection must go beyond love at first sight, infatuation, or physical pleasure. It has to go beyond or you haven’t done anything unique.

7. Start romance with intrigue, a connection from the beginning, even though it is tentative and hilariously unwelcome. Curiousity – the way the both help out each other’s loved ones builds that emotional connection.

8. In what ways are they the only ones who could be right for each other?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Living in a War Zone?

By Keith N Fisher

I have no words of wisdom about writing today except, keep the faith. While thinking of subjects for this blog I realized, I went through the whole weekend and never wrote about Independence Day. I figured I should write something, so . . .

What did you think of the fireworks this year? Not the commercial ones displayed by municipalities, I’m talking about the at-home do-it-yourself kind. I tried to nap before going to work on Monday and was kept awake by all the bangs, cracks, booms and whistles outside. Much of it reminded me of gunfire, but as I left for work that evening, I was surrounded by explosive displays that reminded me of the videos I saw on the news after the US invasion of Iraq.

There we were, in our own neighborhood, living in a war zone because of the celebration. Later, a friend told me how much he spent on fireworks to entertain his grandkids. I wondered how much my neighbors spent on their own displays. Then I factored in all the other neighborhoods. I came up with figures that boggle my imagination.

Don’t think I’m not a fan of fireworks, I am. There’s nothing like lighting the fuse on a colorful marketing ploy, and standing back. The next half-second brings the big pay-off with loud bangs, whistles, and sparks flying. You have to wonder, however, if it’s worth the often fifty-dollars each, price tag. This year, new legislation allowed us to buy certain aerial kinds that delighted the connoisseur. Perhaps that’s why so many localities resembled war zones.

With all the frenzy, it made me wonder . . .

In this day of budget worries, whole neighborhoods are being foreclosed. Politicians claim our national debt is out of control. The economy is causing unemployment, and people want to cut our government purse strings. Yet, with all this hoopla, we still find money for fireworks.

“But, it’s all about patriotism,” you say.

I remember when showing our patriotism meant traveling eighteen miles to a specific store. Fireworks were sold there, by the piece, like penny-candy. We’d shell out our cherry picking money and come home with bags, full of delightful specimens, (no illegal firecrackers, and no sparklers). It was all about the red, white, and blue—that special day of independence. It was cheaper then. Life was cheaper then, but if I didn’t pick cherries during a specific year, I didn’t get any fireworks.

Before you miss my point, you should know I’m not, anti fireworks. Consider this,

And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof, through the night, that our flag was still there.

THe detainees, and those who were imprisoned aboard ship that night, really thought their nation was in peril. They knew if the flag fell, it would indicate their comrades had fallen. The lights in the sky provided hope because they could see the flag still flying.

Other than a little missed sleep this year, I have no problems. Even with the new regulations, I’m pleasantly surprised. There were very few incidents of wildfires and accidents this year. What could be better? Well . . .

Each year, at Christmas, I hear stories about families who donate their entire Christmas budget to charity. The whole concept is fascinating. So . . .

I’m proposing an Independence Day outreach. Who can deny the warm feelings of love expressed at Christmas when a needy family is helped? Currently, victims of war and natural disasters in the world need help. That’s not, to mention the suffering of US citizens.

Let’s turn our nation’s birthday into, a gift from democracy holiday. Since we are so affluent, lets show it. What better way could there be of transplanting freedom across the world? We could be known as the country that cares. I know, many others collect money for those victims, including two ex-presidents, but . . .

Well, okay. I’m plagued with hope that someday, we will have peace. Still, there were a lot of cool fireworks this year, don’t you think?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Chaos of My Brain

by G.Parker

Okay, maybe I should title it, "How to Make Sense From the Swiss Cheese of My Brain," but titles are the subject of this blog, so you get the idea.

I recently finished an excellent book, but I thought, 'that wasn't the same one I picked up.'  When I'd checked out Tristi Pinkston's book, I thought it would have something to do with the old west, or a woman detective.  The title of her book is Agent in Old Lace .  What comes to mind when you see that title?  Do you picture a modern day story with a girl who ends up being guarded by FBI agents in her apartment?  One of which has to dress as a woman to complete the protection?  Like I said, it's a great story -- I just felt misled by the the title.

When you are contemplating  the title of your book, sometimes the title comes first, sometimes it comes during the writing, and at other times it's a struggle.  I know that with one of my stories I had a real hard time coming up with a title.  I mean, it's kind of a big deal.  You want something that leaps out at the reader going through the spines in a library, or a bookstore, or online.  Then we get into the whole cover thing, but that's a completely different blog that I don't want to cover right now.  

Romance stories always seem to have something about love in them.  Love to the Rescue, The Beating Heart, etc.  So, it's a little easy to tell they are romance.  Suspence stories tend to have titles that are one worded or John Greshams, The Runnaway Jury, The Chamber, etc.  There's a writer out there that is going through the alphabet for her titles like A is for Alibi.  They make it simple to know and recognize what the content of the book is going to be.  If you are reading a series, it will be even easier to know where you're at.

Anyway - suffice to say Tristi's book was great, I encourage everyone to go read it. (I'm a little slow, I'm sure most of you have already read it.) I just felt a little misled.  Perhaps she had a hard time coming up with a title and that's what came to her.  Who knows.  I have a series I'm writing that has ended up with the titles all having to do with some kind of flower.  It has actually helped in shaping the stories, knowing what the titles are.

How have you picked out your titles?  I'd like to hear. 

Thursday, July 07, 2011


by Cheri Chesley

Lately I've wanted nothing more than to take my manuscript, laptop and memory card someplace quiet and secluded (and internet free--don't hate me)and finish all the ideas swirling in my head. This current work in progress has been kicking my butt. And even though it's not remotely related to what I'm writing, I'd take my scriptures too. I need the inspiration. :)

I've had some incredible inspirations for the story, but I can't seem to make the time to tie everything together. So, I've created a fictional place in my mind where I want to go to finish everything up. These thoughts have brought to mind a poem I wrote many years ago:

The Enchanted Room

Far up in the tower, is a room known just to me.
It's where I go for solace, and to think of what will be.
It's where I go to express my creativity,
and wonder about life with much sincerity.
Does anyone else use this room, I wonder,
to do what I do here?
Or do they merely sit in it,
and enjoy the atmosphere?
When I go back to the real world,
I leave my thoughts within the walls.
They are there to greet me when I return,
and for them I will never fall.
I am certain that this room, my one and only place,
surely must be enchanted, for I can even see the face
of my soul.
There are many doors in here,
I wonder what they hide.
You may say, "Then, just open them!",
but believe me, I have tried.
This room is much like me;
it has its own secrets it hides
behind those locked doors,
as do I.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

But You Promised:

by C. LaRene Hall

Genre Promises and Reader Expectations by Tristi Pinkston was a fun class.

What is the promise you are making to your reader when you write in a specific genre? Why is it important to keep your promise? You must follow expectations of the genre otherwise; your readers will feel you lied to them. You want the readers to be comfortable. You want them to know what they are getting.

If multiple genre – The second word is the main or key genre.

What are the different genres, and what are the promises or expectations that go along with each?

Romance – Boy meets girl or boy notices girl. Include first impressions. Then you have to have conflict. Something that is going to keep the two of them apart. Something large enough to focus on conflict. Then realize feelings. Show relationship strong enough to overcome what has happened to them. When you get to the end you have to have a happy ever after. A moment of realization. If you don’t have this moment you don’t have a romance.

Historical – Characters should be fictional because you can do what you want to them and then you put them in a setting. The setting for historical is very important. See how the characters react to the historical event they are witness to.

Regency – Setting is crucial. You have to see where they are, how they dress, what they do for a living, and modes of transportation. This helps your reader see that era.

Mystery – Something mysterious is going on. You want to mislead. You want clues. You want to be able to figure it out. Don’t make it obvious. You want lots of clues. With suspense we usually know who the bad guy is. Show emotion and response to the hunting. Someone being hunted, then they help save themselves.

Coming of Age – Character grows up in a significant way or an emotional growth. Some kind of event that we know he learned what he needed to learn. It can be adventure, romance, but the key factors are the character is flawed in maturity and they learn to be more mature in what they experienced.

How can you shake things up a little and deliver a truly different story, but still meet your obligation to your reader? Shaking it up a little more – when writing a romance you might investigate where they meet, something unusual. Have realistic conflicts but not the same old.

Every book should have some form of character growth. You have things that happen throughout the course of a year to shift the way you are. You grow and so should your characters. The readers will expect growth. It doesn’t have to be monumental. If the character hasn’t changed, why write the book?

The more you learn the rules, the more you know the rules, the more you learn how to break them. Once you learn to bend the rules you can break out of the patterns.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Take Courage Dear Writer

By Keith N Fisher

I watched a documentary on PBS the other day. It claimed women just aren’t recognized for their contributions as artists. The feminist program discussed the sacrifices women have made to answer their callings as artists. I noticed they didn’t discuss women writers.

A couple of years ago, Tristi Pinkston made a presentation at a Storymakers conference and talked about how hard it is for women to be a wife and mother and still find time to write. At one point, she asked me to share my feelings from a man’s point of view. I believe I said it’s hard for fathers, too. I think all artists and writers, women or men, struggle in that way.

While watching the program, I recognized the feelings they were trying to convey. During the past couple of years, I’ve undergone a forced renovation in my life. Through loss of job and personal upheaval things have not been easy. I’ve tried to lean on my family and my writing to get through, but I’ve also run headlong into other people’s expectations.

One of the artists in the program talked about her struggle with her now ex, husband. He felt he needed more from her, and was unwilling to share his needs with her art. They reached what she felt was a fair and equitable divorce, but he dragged her back into court. He sued for custody of the children and called her mothering into question. She struggles with validation and feels a need to prove herself to everyone by being the best artist she can be. I think there might be a lesson in that.

Another artist on the program talked about her membership in the Mormon Church. She has been blessed with a “forever family,” and they understand her quirks, but there were undertones of strain about the time she takes for her art.

One of the major points of the program was the claim that male artists are paid more, and get more recognition, than do women artists. That might be true for painters and sculptors, but there are more published women writers than men in the world. Especially, in the LDS market.

I’m not trying to downplay anyone’s struggle. The truth is, we all have demands on our time, but I’ve noticed something in my culture. You see good husbands are characterized by how much they help around the house in the hours after they return home from the workplace. The unstated expectation is, he should take over while Mom has a few hours for herself. That’s a little hard to do and write, too. I should point out that I fail miserably at that.

In our culture, men are expected to make a living. If their family must go without some luxuries, it better not be because they work at mastering a craft like art. After all, the odds of success are astronomical.

My point in writing about this subject is to call attention to the plight of artists everywhere. Men or women, Artists, teachers, ministers and the like are paid less and gain less respect than do other occupations. There is a reason the phrase “starving artist” was first coined. Of course almost everybody gets less than sports figures. Seems like our value system is messed up.

I wish I could tell you that it will get easier, but I know several successful writers who still struggle. The best advice for everyone is keep trying to make it work. The Mormon artist I wrote about has sold so many pieces of art that she honestly can’t remember working on some of them. She takes gratification in her success. It does become worth it.

During the Whitney Awards this year we honored the writer of many works including two hymns in the LDS hymnbook the author is Susan Evans McCloud and my favorite hymn she wrote is Lord I Would Follow Thee. It was said by the presenter that she often had her little girl come to her and say, Mom, Stop typing.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week

Friday, July 01, 2011


by G.Parker

Have you ever noticed that sometimes those that have, get more?  It's kind of a gospel principle, I think.  We're told that those to whom much is given, much is expected.  There's also the little parable about the talents that those who didn't increase them had the talent taken away and it was given to those who had.

I think in some ways, it's the same for us regular people.  Not that many of the amazing authors we know and love are 'regular', because the mere fact of what they accomplish make them anything but.  However - one of the dear authors I know just published a low sodium cook book, on top of all the other projects she has going.  My husband has been on me to publish a cook book for the past year.  I told him it takes so much time to get them all edited and tried and have photos...  but I'm beginning to think the time is right.  
It's crazy, cause I feel like I have too much on my 'creative' plate right now.  But isn't that how we want it?  Aren't we taught that busy hands keep idleness away?  We are a people that work.
Now that I'm back from a wonderful vacation (of which toooo much time was spent in the car driving...I'd really love it if someone could invent the transporter from Star Trek, please????) I should feel all rested and ready to get the brain in gear, right?  Sigh.  I have written more in the past couple of days than I have in several months, but unfortunately, it's been blogging items and not my current work in progress.  So, I need to get the whole priorities thing going.  I've got lots to do, so down to it.
Have a great 4th of July, by the way - be thankful to be part of a country that allows us to write and think what we wish without penalty.  ( far)