Current/future reads

I’ve been volunteering at the Scottish Book Trust – a non-profit promoting reading, writing, and literature – and I noticed an unproofed copy of a book on someone’s desk.  Being between books, I asked if I could borrow it.  The book was the debut novel by Veronica Roth.  It was titled Divergent and takes place in a dystopian Chicago where at 16 everyone must choose one of five factions, conform to all their ideals, and forsake their families in favor of them (if they choose a faction different from their family).  It was a story about people who dared to be different, heart breaking choices, love, and bravery.  I read it every chance I got and finished quickly, then I messaged the author and thanked her.  I have been told that this book is similar in feel to The Hunger Games, but having not read that particular book I can’t confirm this. I would, however, highly recommend this book and I can’t wait till the next one comes out.

 

On another note, I’ve bought my flat mate  (one of my sisters) four books for Christmas, another sister sent us a book to share, and my flat mate bought me three books.  It’s driving me  nuts because I currently have nothing to read and I know there are eight books I want to read, wrapped and under the tree and I can’t read them.  I suppose I’ll concentrate on my writing for now and just feel good knowing I’ve so much to read after Christmas. Any recommendations on books? What books are you getting or wishing for this Christmas?

By the way, the Christmas books are:

A Nora Roberts’ trilogy (not saying which one as my flat mate doesn’t know)

Two Kresley Cole books

A Mercedes Lackey Five Hundred Kingdoms book (I’d highly recommend this series for anyone who enjoys romance and fantasy)

A Mercedes Lackey/Andre Norton fantasy

and

Game of Thrones (no I haven’t read it yet)

Happy reading,

Rose Connelly

Creating the Story: The Plot

Every writer plots in a different way. There are people who take a story idea,add characters, perhaps have a basic idea of the beginning, middle and end, and just sit in front of a computer and write.  Perhaps one day, when I have dozens of books under my belt, I’ll be able to do this, but for now I use a different, slightly more structured method.

I start by writing a very short summary about my story. Something perhaps like: Seraphina and Jake, a Scottish witch and a paranormal debunker who could be a strong medicine man, but refuses to believe ‘magic’ even exists, meet when he comes to her small village to interview her for a book.  They are incredibly attracted, perhaps even fated to be together but, because of what she is and what he believes, there is friction and mistrust, and anger between them.  Jake’s coming awakened a sleeping evil that wants to possess his soul, his body, and his magic in order to walk in the world again.  In order to protect the village and defeat the evil, Jake and Sera must come to respect and trust each other, she will have to learn to accept other’s help and he will have to believe that the paranormal exists and, ultimately, accept his own heritage and the magic he possesses.  (This is actually the basis of the novel I’m currently working on). This summary gives me a basic place to start and will help me when it comes time to write my query and my synopsis.

All right, now I go back to the information I’ve compiled about my main characters, my secondary characters, and my setting.  I take out a notebook and ask myself what the plot has to lead to and how can I get there. In the case of the preceding story I actually have two, simultaneous plots running.  As a romance, I obviously have to have my main characters fall in love (that is what everything has to lead to). I also have to incorporate the evil creature and the escalating path the danger take.

From my character outlines I already know the kinds of things they like, what their hangups are, what their hobbies are, etc… which means I know what they will want in a partner and what they will have to learn/overcome to make a relationship with the other main character work.  I can now do what really comprises the bulk of my early plotting: open a new pack of note cards and start creating scenes. You may already have several scenes that you know you want to use so create those scene cards first. Now, you don’t actually have to write out the entire scene (it probably wouldn’t fit on a 3 X 5 index card), just sketch in some basic details. Like: Sera and Jake have gone into the forest so she can collect plants, they get a bad feeling, chase something, and find an animal dead of no apparent cause.

Once you’ve created the scenes you already know, start on ones you don’t. Don’t panic because you should already have some idea of what you need to include. For instance: Jake is investigating Sera so he will likely interview her and talk to the villagers so you’ve got a few scenes there.  He’s also going to have to come to believe in magic so what events could happen for that to occur? When Sera and Jake first encounter each other I’ve already said there is anger and mistrust so there will obviously be a few scenes where they argue: where and what about? Keep doing this until you have as many note cards as you can make at this point. Lay them out on a flat surface and arrange them in sequential order. Obviously, there will be gaps, but that’s fine. Now ask yourself how you get from one scene to another? You already know that there are certain things you need to include (e.g. what does Sera come to like about Jake-the way he treats villagers, his humor, liking of sci-fi, the fact that he opens door for her, worries about her even when he’s angry at her, etc…) so you will need scenes that convey this.

You could probably keep making scene cards until you’ve got hundreds and feel free to do this if you want to. If nothing else it will help stave off writer’s block as you will always have an idea of what does or can come next.

Just a note: I make up a lot of scene cards, but I don’t consider them the absolute last word. As I write new things might pop up, I might feel like something needs to be done differently, a character could surprise me (which I love). I may end up not using a good quarter of my scene cards, but they are a great tool to start you off and lead to a cohesive, structured plot.

Check out this wonderful article that appeared in Writer’s digest for some common plot fixes: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/10-minute-fixes-to-10-common-plot-problems

Happy writing and I’d love to hear how you do your own plotting.

Rose Connelly

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