Golden Tour Badge copyWelcome to today’s stop on the GOLDEN blog tour! I’m so excited to share a guest post from Melinda Michaels. Check out her fabulous trailer, read her cozy post, and don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom!

Buy GOLDEN on Amazon

A Writer’s Spot: Where I Write

Just recently I purchased a sweet little desk where my laptop sits charging. My notes and scribbles are neatly organized in a wire step file and on the wall above it are framed pictures of myself, my husband, and our friends and family. It is clean, neat and refreshing to finally have a spot for my writing to take place.

And I barely use it.

For the longest I imagined what it would be like to have a spot, a perfect writing nook to call my own with a desk so beautiful and antique that it would take a month to write an elegant sonnet just to describe it. It was going to be fantastic, but until then I wrote in places that were less then poetic.

The first time I thought of that special spot was when I was writing my first book. I was skipping a class at college, sitting in the passenger side of my friend’s Nissan, ignoring the guilt for not going, to all classes, English. It was freezing, since it was February and we were poor college kids who couldn’t afford to run the car and waste gas, but it’s where I started. After that, I wrote in frat houses, dorm rooms, on the arms of couches and at kitchen countertops. I wrote at work, when I should have been doing the job I was hired to do and at family gatherings when I should have been engaging in family activities.

But my dream for that perfect spot never left me. When I finally had the resources it was going to be a place to make all others envious. It was going to be where I wrote my greatest story.

When I got married and we were looking for houses, I always had that spot in the back of my mind. We finally found a place and bought a beautiful piece of property with a house on it. The house, in need of a complete gut was where I was finally going to have it. I could put my desk here, I could set up my books there, this window will be perfect to gaze out of when I’m struggling with writer’s block, drinking my tea and being blissful. But renovations are not for the lighthearted and finished projects are nice to dream about, until you have to use power tools.

So my husband and I ripped out all the carpet and walls and electric and that’s where I’ve been writing for two years. In the cold, sawdust filled rooms that are stuffed with contractor trash bags and pieces of two by fours with nails sticking menacingly towards the ceiling while I dance around in flip flops, trying to make it to a wooden stool my mother gave me that is now covered in splattered paint. I wear a winter coat in the cold months, laptop on my knees and I write. Golden was finished and edited in these gutted rooms. Roses, the sequel was also finished and as I start the third, I’m reduced to the laundry room, the last room to be renovated. Upon the completion of our two year construction job, I thought I’d better buy that desk and set up my office so I could FINALLY write in an appropriate place, like a real writer.

Only I don’t really like it.

It’s nice and all, I don’t have to wear wool socks and I can breathe clean air, without spackle dust kicking up every time I take a step, but it just isn’t home yet. Even as I write this, I’m in the almost finished second bathroom, sitting next to buckets full of black water, tinted from raven grout. My toes are cold and the garbage bags are threatening to fall over, but I like it here. I’m sure I will get used to my desk and all those hopes I had for it, but for now this is where I belong. On my stool.

In my spot.

Enter the GOLDEN giveaway!

About the Author

Melinda Michaels Author Photo

Melinda Michaels is the author of Golden and currently lives in Milford, Pennsylvania. A self-proclaimed historian with a rare sense of humor, Melinda finds an immense amount of joy in knowing useless facts, exploring historical places and drinking copious amounts of coffee. When she’s not writing she can be found researching obscured time periods for her own amusement or refurbishing old furniture.

Melinda loves Philadelphia and visits often to enjoy the city with her husband Andrew. Together they have three rambunctious pets. Archie the Beagle, Winston the Boston Terrier and Beatrice the cat.

Golden is the first in a Young Adult magic realism series.
Find Melinda Michaels on facebook, twitter, or her website.

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edit1My original intention in writing this post was to provide helpful information as you move into the last phase of writing your novel. And I’ll do that, of course, but I’ve also found quite a few satirical posts on what NOT to do as a critique partner or beta reader. So I might have to include one of those as well.  Here we go.

You’ve finished your amazing WIP, spent hours revising it, and now it’s ready to query, right? WRONG. Anyone who knows anything about writing and getting published will highly advise against sending out the first draft of your ms, especially if it hasn’t been put through the rounds (yes, plural) of CPs and beta readers.

Agent Sarah Negovetich gives a really simple description of the difference between Critique Partners and Beta Readers:

Critique Partner(CP): This person often reads your book in it’s early draft form, usually in portions either as you write or edit. They provide general feedback on characters, plot, setting, etc. They may also point out grammar issues, though probably not since it’s still early in the process. CPs can often serve as a sounding board and help brainstorm through issues. Because this is a partnership, you are expected to return the favor.

Beta Reader(Beta): This person reads the entire manuscript, usually after you have put it through several rounds of editing on your own and through your CPs. Betas provide similar feedback to CPs, but since they are seeing the whole manuscript, they are often better able to point out overarching issues and strengths in the novel. Some authors serve as Betas for each other, but most authors use independent readers who don’t expect to have their own work read in exchange.

Now that we’re all on the same page about that, check out these posts by Chuck Sambuchino at Writers Digest on what you should look for in each of these.

5 Things to Look For in a Critique Partner and Peer Reviews: Seek Quality in Your Beta Readers, Not Quantity.

From my experience, the most important element to take away from either of these is to find readers who get your manuscript. Find readers who complement your style, who write in similar genres, who critique AND compliment. You get the picture.

“But where can I find such people?” you might ask. There are some great resources for matching up writers!

Check out How About We CP and post a profile with what you’re looking for/what you can offer.

Similarly, there’s an entire form dedicated to critique partners at You can search profiles, post your own, or get help from forum mentors!

Even the fabulous Maggie Stiefvater hosts an annual Critique Partner Love Connection!

And of course, there’s always the lovely writing community on Twitter.

On the Beta Reader side, there are Goodreads Beta Reader groups or profile based groups like Find Your Beta Reader.

Now that you’re equipped with such might resources, go forth and find matches! To leave you with a bit of CP humor, check out this post from Ava Jae on How (Not) to Be an Awesome Critique Partner.

I’ll see you in two weeks!

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Today I have another gorgeous cover to share with you! Jessica Dall’s OFF BOOK is such a neat adventure, containing a story within a story. Come swoon over this lovely cover, then head on over to Goodreads to add OFF BOOK to your TBR. You won’t want to miss this one!

Off Book coverAdd OFF BOOK on Goodreads


Twenty-year-old Eloise has learned all she can from the School, where characters live until joining their novels. No one knows genre and plot structure better than her, but despite her knowledge, she’s yet to be assigned to her own story. All her friends are off starting their lives with their authors—and if Eloise doesn’t get assigned soon, she’ll fade away, forgotten by all.

When she is suddenly offered a job at the Recording Office, she takes the chance to write her own future. Suddenly living among the post-storied, Eloise meets Barnaby Fitzwilliam, a former romance novel hero who hasn’t lost any of his in-story charm. But just as their relationship begins to get serious, everything Eloise has been taught gets turned upside down when she’s sucked into a novel she was never meant to be part of.

Now, caught where the only rules are made by the authors and truly anything is possible, Eloise must find her way back home—or else her life might end before she ever gets the chance to live it.

Set in a world dictated by Authors, OFF BOOK explores the story beneath the stories we all know and love, taking readers and characters alike on an adventure just waiting to be written.

Request to be part of OFF BOOK’s blog tour!

About the Author

Jessica Dall

Jessica Dall finished her first novel at age 15 and been writing ever since. She is the author of such novels as Grey Areas and The Bleeding Crowd, the Broken Line Series, and a number of short stories which have appeared in both literary magazines and anthologies. When not writing, she works as a freelance editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.

Find Jessica Dall on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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I’m super excited today’s cover reveal! If you haven’t read any of Katie Hamstead’s stories, you need to go look her up right now. She’s a wonderful storyteller and writes amazing books! DECEPTIVE CADENCE is a fantastic read, beautiful and heartfelt, and it keeps you guessing until the very end! So without further ado…the DECEPTIVE CADENCE cover!

deceptive-cadence-revealAdd DECEPTIVE CADENCE on Goodreads


Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .

Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.

Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.

But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.

Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?

About the Author


Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter, and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Find Katie Hamstead Online:

Website  | Facebook  | Twitter  | Goodreads

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CharactersMy last post reviewed must haves for constructing a plot, a topic that was hard to focus on without mentioning the development of characters. Though some books may be classed as literary, more character focused, others could be considered more plot-focused. But truly successful storytelling relies so much on a careful balance between the two. And that leads to the articles I’d like to share today. My favorite go-to posts focus on how plot and character go hand-in-hand.

First up, REUTS Sr. Editor Kisa Whipkey explains the basics between plot-focused, character-focused, and idea-focused storylines in her post Which Comes First, Character or Plot?

“This is the literary equivalent of the chicken and egg scenario. Plot needs character in order for it to resonate emotionally with readers, and character without plot is really just someone standing around doing nothing. But which comes first?”

Author Debra Vega points out that plot and character aren’t independent of each other, but work together to create a successful storyline in The Symbiotic Relationship Between Character And Plot.

“It kind of aggravates me when people—writers included—differentiate between plot-driven and character-driven stories. Basically, because character and plot are not mutually exclusive entities.”

Furthermore, not only are plot and character pieces of a machine that should work together, they’re inseparable! Author Nathan Bransford weighs in on why Character and Plots are Inseparable.

“Writers sometimes say they start with a compelling character and go from there. Often it’s just a sketch of someone who intrigues them, and they build a world around that character. Plot? An afterthought! [But] how is that character’s conflict revealed? Through the plot! What good is an interesting character if they aren’t doing anything?”

Another fantastic resource is author Ava Jae’s blog. She’s written dozens of articles examining character development specifics, delving into the nitty gritty of building “real” characters. If you’re looking for tips and info, check out her directory on Character Development.

So even though we may focus on one of these aspects at a time as we’re drafting and developing a manuscript, it’s important to consider how they work together as a whole. As mentioned before, the best stories have plot and character intricately laced together to create a well-rounded story.

Share your thoughts and/or tips on character development and how plot plays into it in the comments below. Because of Easter break and family visiting, the next post in this series will be April 22, 2015. We’ll discuss the importance of CPs and Beta Readers! See you then!

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Today I have another playlist! (They’re kind of my fave.) Now I haven’t had a chance to read DARE TO DREAM by Carys Jones, but it’s definitely on my TBR. And now that I’ve listened to the fantastic playlist, I can’t wait to dive in! So have a listen…if you’ve read the book, let me know what you think about the song choices in the comments below!

Buy DARE TO DREAM on Amazon

Add DARE TO DREAM on Goodreads


Flares – The Script

Things We Lost in the Fire – Bastille

Undefeated – Daughtry

Radioactive – Imagine Dragon

Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift

Hurricane – 30 Seconds to Mars

Ghost – Ella Henderson

About the Author

carys jones author picCarys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

When she’s not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science-fiction films or playing video games.

She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.

To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.

Find more of Carys Jones on her website, like her on facebook or follow on twitter.

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Hey, everyone! Today the blog is hosting a cover reveal for the sequel in the Gateway Series titled THE GATEWAY OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS by Heather Marie! LIGHT AND DARKNESS releases April 13th, 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press, and is the follow-up to the YA supernatural thriller THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME. Before you jump to the awesome cover below, here’s a note from Heather Marie:

Hi hi! Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out the cover reveal! I’m so psyched to share the Light and Darkness cover with you. It went through a lot of changes before the final version was chosen, and watching it develop into what it is now was seriously exciting! If you enjoyed book one, you are in for a treat. I had way too much fun writing book two, admittedly more fun than the first, because Aiden and the gang go through some intense twist and turns throughout the entire story. If there’s one thing I love, it’s definitely hearing from my beta readers just how crazy and exciting the journey was for them. It’s my hope that you feel the same way and I can’t wait for you to read the final installment in the Gateway Series! With that being said, thank you again for reading Aiden’s story, and now let’s get to the creeptastic cover reveal, shall we? Enjoy!



by Heather Marie

Release date: April 13th, 2015

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press


eBook: 978-1-62007-848-8

Paperback: 978-1-62007-849-5

Hardcover: 978-1-62007-850-1


The battle of good vs. evil wages on for Aiden Ortiz in this final installment of the Gateway Series: The Gateway of Light and Darkness. With the Dark Priest defeated, and the Brethren of Shadows refusing to forfeit calling upon the Darkness, the Brethren are determined more than ever to discover a way to banish the Men of Light for good. And as the Dark Priest’s curse invading Aiden’s veins continues to take on a life of its own, he finds himself in a standoff between his own kind, and the Brethren that want to recruit him for all the wrong reasons. Accompanied by fellow Gateway, Julie Martin, and his best friends Trevor and Evan, seventeen-year-old Aiden prepares himself for the battle of his life.

Protecting those he loves, and learning to put aside his differences for his father in order to learn the ways of the Light, Aiden begins to realize that the thing endangering their lives might not be the threat of the Brethren alone, but the thing taking shape inside of him —readying to unleash itself upon them all.

Giveaway (Open to U.S. only)

Enter to win THE GATEWAY OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS on Rafflecopter

About the Author

heather author picHeather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back. You can find Heather Marie online at: Twitter, Facebook, and

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One of my favorite things for creating visuals and imagining a world is music! I’m excited to have a guest post from Melody Winter in which she talks about the tunes behind SACHAEL DREAMS! If you haven’t read this lovely story yet, be sure to get your copy today! Take it away Melody!


Add Sachael Dreams on Goodreads

Music plays an important part of my writing process. I become slightly obsessed while trying to seek out songs that fit the feel of the chapters. It also works the other way though—and there have been times when I’ve heard a song and it’s influenced the way the story goes. I love to discover the perfect song for every chapter and the list below pulls out my favourites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Overall theme for Sachael Dreams:

The Sea – Melanie C

This is the perfect song for the whole book. Melanie C has a haunting voice, a theme that runs throughout many of the song I’ve chosen.

‘As the tides they bring me home . . . Feelings I should leave alone to the ocean. A moment of calm, I won’t be rocked by you . . . I am the one, I am strong, kept my head above water. . . . Your love is like a hurricane . . . I won’t be scared, I’m not afraid.’

Prologue: Dark Angel

My Heart is Broken – Evanescence

This is Lilith’s song. It’s heartbreaking, desperate and has a massive fear of loss. And within this song we hear the name of this chapter – Dark Angel – very fitting considering Sachael’s are considered Angels of water.

‘I will wander ‘til the end of time, torn away from you . . . I close my eyes and drift away . . . I will never find a way to heal my soul. Sweet sleep my dark angel . . .’

Chapter 1 – Estelle’s Promise

Only Time – Enya

Whenever Estelle does a submergence I always put on music by Enya. Her voice captures the serene and emotional moments perfectly. Even the instrumental tracks evoke a feeling of complete relaxation. This fits the moment when she always thinks of her father.

‘Who can say why your heart sighs . . . who can say when the roads meet . . .who can say when the day sleeps that the night keeps all your heart . . .’

Chapter 4 – Northern Star

Beautiful Mind – Melanie C

Another of Melanie C’s song which fits Clarissa, Estelle’s mother, perfectly. Suffering with depression Clarissa sinks into her own world. She lives in the past, her memories are all she has . . . and Estelle.

‘Heart torn down the middle, time slows her pace, smiles just a little, takes her away . . . A thousand stories never told, a million dreams she won’t let go . . . lost in her beautiful mind.’

Chapter 6 – The Meeting

Gotta Be Somebody – Nickelback

This song fits for when Estelle’s meets Azariah. That amazing moment when you meet someone and have that weird instant feeling that there’s more going on than you ever thought possible.

‘I wonder what it feels like, to find the one in this life, the one we all dream of, but dreams are not enough . . .’

Chapter 7 – City Visit

Clone – Metric

This is when Estelle travels to York and all her memories of her three years spent living there come flooding back. The beat of the track also sounds like the constant drum of the train on the tracks.

‘My regrets . . . only makes me stronger yet. Nothing I’ve ever done right, happened on the safe side.’

Chapter 8 – Seduction

Trust – Christina Perri

Another meeting with Azariah, and a time when Estelle has to begin to trust him.

‘Memories won’t stop stinging, promises I couldn’t believe in . . . I knew better then . . . to trust myself, to trust someone else, to trust the doubt in the back of my mind . . .’

Chapter 10 – Elpis

Tune into my Heart – Little Boots

I love this song. The mood lifts as Azariah brings his brother to meet Estelle. A carefree day on the beach see’s Azariah confirming his commitment to Estelle and sealing their relationship with their first kiss!

‘Communication’s never simple . . . I know the journeys never easy . . . when dreams become the reality it’s never quite the same.’

Chapter 11 – Missing

Down – Jason Walker

Ever get that feeling that everything you’ve been promised falls flat at your feet. This is how Estelle feels here.

‘I’m not ready to let go, ‘cause then I’ll never know what I could be missing . . . But I’m missing way too much, so when do I give up what I’ve been wishing for . . . ‘

Chapter 13 – Sunrise

Sleep Baby Sleep – The Broods

This see’s the morning after a restless and disturbed night.

‘Sleep, baby sleep, what are you waiting for, the morning’s on its way . . . I lie next to you . . . the beauty of this mess is that it brings me closer to you.’

Chapter 14 – Sachaels

Run for your Life – Matt Cardle

This song fits perfectly for Azariah. He’s telling Estelle what he’s like, how he really feels about her, but also warning her that she should run from him.

‘You’re worth more, you’re worth more than this, you can take the leap without the risk . . . there’s no time, there’s no time for this, take your love and start again . . . So run for your life, run for your life, if you leave me behind, you’ll get there in time . . . One day you’ll understand I’m not who you think I am . . .’

Chapter 15 – Andromeda

Love like Stars – Ben Montague

Ben is one of my favourite up and coming singer/songwriters. All his music fits Sachael Dreams perfectly. But this one is perfect for a night together under the stars – just like the one Azariah and Estelle have.

‘See the future written in the sky . . . the time has stopped, the world is still, I feel my heartbeat tickling slowly, I catch my breath and hold on to tonight . . . This is us, I don’t ever want the day to break, this is us, we are never gonna fade away . . . we love like stars . . . Close your eyes and stay with me, stay with me inside this moment, I promise you I’ll never let you go . . .’

Chapter 17 – Caught

Search and Destroy – 30STM

This is Orontes’s song. He spends his life trying to find Sachaels and ultimately destroy them. It also gives us a few clues as to Orontes and the way he thinks.

‘I’m no hero . . . guilty as charged . . . found my faith, living in sin . . . I’m no Jesus, neither are you my friend . . . sick as my secrets, never gonna tell . . . ‘

Chapter 19 – Obsession

Uninvited – Freemasons ft Bailey Tzuke

This is Estelle’s song for when someone starts showing more than a friendly attention to her. It’s not wanted, but it also confuses her.

‘Like anyone would be, I am flattered by your fascination with me . . . but you, you’re not allowed, you’re uninvited . . . You speak of my love like you have experienced love like mine before . . .’

And the last line always gets me: ‘I don’t think you unworthy, I need a moment to deliberate.’

Chapter 20 – Revelations

There’s Never a Forever Thing – a-Ha

An amazingly strong song that captures a person’s unwavering support for Estelle and the situation she’s found herself in. He cares about her so much, and worries about what she’s keeping from him.

‘Close your eyes and don’t you cry . . . it’s alright. Lie back, leave the lights on, it’s alright, I’ll be here through the night, with you ‘til the first signs of light . . . hush, wipe your tears away . . .’

Chapter 22 – Admittance

Your Star – Evanescence

This chapter sees Estelle finally open up, and what she says has dramatic consequences. Will the one person she needs to believe her turn against her or support her. I see ‘your star’ as the moon.

‘I can’t see your star . . . How can the darkness feel so wrong? And I’m alone now, me and all I stood for . . . so far away . . . why can’t you feel me calling your name? Can’t break the silence, it’s breaking me . . .’

There are other songs, I have one for every chapter remember, but these are the main ones for Sachael Dreams. The final ones I can’t list as they give too much away due to them fitting the nature of the chapters.

The complete list will become available on my website if anyone wants to see the other songs that make up my playlist for Sachael Dreams.

But for now . . . happy listening.

About the Author

Melody Winter Author Photo

Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.

Sachael Dreams is her debut novel, and the first in her New Adult Romantic Fantasy series—the ‘Mine Series’.

You can view more of Melody Winter on her Website, Twitter or Facebook.

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Steinbeck quote plot bunnyBy now we’ve covered ideas, how to piece those ideas together using outlines, post-its, or what have you, and what tools are available to help organize the blot bunnies running rampant in your head. And with that, it’s time to further develop that framework into a functional story. A story with purpose. A story with an amazing plot.

According to Nathan Bransford, you shouldn’t do anything, shouldn’t even start writing, until you have a plot in mind. But how do you know if you have a complete plot and not just some vague idea or theme? In his post, Do You Have a Plot, Bransford tests us and also explains how to know when we do or don’t have a plot. As he says, “The complications are everything.”

If you’re a pantser like me, sometimes the elements and organization of plot aren’t an immediate focus when I’m writing. I develop scenes in chunks, some of which don’t come in chronological order for my story. And in the first drafts of a manuscript, this is OK! But regardless of what appears to be haphazard drafting, I always have a direction, a purpose in mind. Most writers are (or should be) familiar with the following plotting diagram. This is definitely the basic pattern I keep in mind when constructing a story, and most, if not all, successful stories mirror this set up.



But what exactly does all of that mean? Well, as is the purpose of this blog, I’m going to share an excellent breakdown of this chart from Author/Editor Cait Spivey. In her post Using Stages of Plot as a Framework, she expands on each stage of plotting with great detail and even GIFS!  If you aren’t already following her blog, you should be. It’s an excellent source for writing and editing tips.

So combining elements from both previous sources, it’s important to realize that our story isn’t just a shopping list of events that happen. There has to be conflict, roadblocks, ups and downs, raging rivers of diversion (with purpose) that keep the story moving forward. One simple, but excellent example of this is from a short presentation by South Park creators and writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in which the point out the importance of ‘therefore’ and ‘but’.

So remember, a story needs conflict and causation. Each scene should propel the story forward, create problems or solutions for our characters. And what about the characters? What good is a plot without them?! This leads us to the next topic in this series: Characters in Writing. See you March 25th!

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Lots-of-post-itsEver feel a little like this guy? I know I do. When I first thought that I might like to write a book, I had a single image in mind. I didn’t know exactly what the story was, but for some reason I knew what the title would be. So I wrote it on a piece of paper and tucked it into a folder. A few weeks later, I remembered the folder and the idea, and started brainstorming names for the main characters. I still had no idea what the story was really about, so I wrote down some names and filed it in my folder. You can see where I’m going with this. I wasn’t yet a seasoned writer, I had a job, toddlers, owned a business (separate from my job), was attending grad school, and hadn’t seriously thought about writing. Over weeks an months, ideas flitted around in my brain, and I jotted them down and filed them away. When I was finally inspired with a storyline and actually started writing, I had a mess of notes and still just the framework of a plot line.

Although I’d written business and marketing plans, a bazillion college papers, and other pieces, I’d never taken on a project of such magnitude. One of the first things I did was search out methods for organizing and creating a story. I found information on writing using the Snowflake Method. This process starts with short, simple plot statements and/or character development and expands little by little. As with all writerly processes, this may work well for some and not so well for others. This seemed like a valuable possibility for building characters and plot, but it just wasn’t for me.

Another popular method focuses on using outlines. There are a couple different outlining styles to choose from, outlined best in the Writers Digest post Choosing the Best Outline Method for You. Initially, for me, this wasn’t appealing. I’ve never liked writing from outlines. When outlines were required for high school and college papers, I always wrote my paper first and created an outline from the finished project. However, after writing my first book on the fly (pantser all the way), outlining has come in handy as I’ve planned the next two books in the series.

I’m sure there are other methods, but these were the most useful for me. I’ve seen a lot of writers use cork boards and pinned notes in a scene grid, or some variation of that. This is also something I’ve tried recently as I make sure my story is fleshed out and that nothing falls through the cracks.

As far as writing goes, I still use good old fashioned Word, but I’ve been looking for something that would make writing more efficient. When I write or edit, I’m constantly trying to remember what page I’m on, while scrolling to find another section to make sure details match. If you have an outline or not board, this is helpful to an extent, but when you add content, the page numbers change adding to the mess.

Now I’m sure there are a lot of programs for writing, but from what I’ve heard, Scrivener is one of the top choices for serious writers. It’s definitely a powerful tool that seems super efficient in layout and process. The lovely Cait Spivey put together a live walk-through of how she uses it, and it looks pretty amazing. Thanks Cait!

So what are your experiences with outlining, plot building, and Scrivener. Are there other methods or programs you find useful? I’d love to hear about them! Stay tuned, this series continues Mar 11th with “Constructing a Plot.”

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