Opening Scene True Grit

Have you ever thought about the opening scenes of movies? If you pay attention, you will start to notice how they often begin with a sort of wide angle view of the world in which the story takes place. In Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope, we get text scrolling which gives backstory, but then we see a planet, then two, then the edge of a planet, up close and personal, and then, WOW!, we see a ship fly by. Then it’s firing. Right away we know that this story is set in outer space and there is a battle or war going on. We get a ‘wide angle’ view of the setting and situation before it cuts to C3PO and R2D2 in the corridor inside one of the ships. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLgsf8Pei6Q In True Grit, we get voice over giving backstory as the camera starts from a distance, then slowly moves in and gains focus on the porch of a …

Beginning a Story or Scene ‘En Media Res’, or using a Wide Angle Read more »

If only authors could sprinkle magic fairy dust over their manuscripts to guarantee a tightly spun plot that draws the reader in and captivates them for the duration of the book. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? I’d head down to the nearest Magic Shop and stock up. Unfortunately, that particular magic fairy dust doesn’t exist. Sad, but true. Writing is plain hard work. And building a cohesive story requires mind-numbing thought, blood, sweat, and tears, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. What’s the difference between a book that works and one that doesn’t? The answer isn’t always easy to identify. A lot of things can make a book fall apart. Weak character development, plot elements that don’t make sense, subplots that don’t tie into anything, no subplots at all, an antagonist that’s one dimensional, lackluster secondary characters, a scattered theme, an unsympathetic protagonist… The list goes on and on. So, without a handy incantation to …

Let the Solar System Strengthen Your Writing Read more »

Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. :Samuel Butler Finding Voice Finding your voice is perhaps one of the most difficult things a writer must do. It’s not as if you’ve lost it and it’s hiding under the bed, waiting to be rediscovered. And you can’t copy someone else’s. Your voice is the single most important element in your writing because it makes your work distinctly yours. It’s a combination of your style, your phrasing, your unique vernacular, and how you create tension and build plot. Put it in a blender, mix it up, and voila!, you have voice. Everyone’s process of writing and finding their voice is different. This is how I developed Lola PI, and in the process developed my voice. Know what kind of book you want to write. I wanted to write a book for women, and more importantly, a …

Developing Voice Read more »

High Concept is a buzz phrase that’s both abstract and difficult to wrap your brain around. What does it mean exactly? In a nutshell, a high concept idea is the hook and a high concept story is a great hook written with unique details that give flight to the idea and make it original. High-concept ideas are what agents and editors are looking for, the one line pitch that sparks interest and defines a book. If you can sum up your book in a tantalizing way, you’re on your way. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of a high concept book. It will have mass commercial appeal. It can be summarized succinctly (preferably in one sentence) so that it is immediately clear what the book is about. This is the hook and is important to the publicity and marketing team. Give them a concrete idea that they can run with. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer grows up to be …

What is High Concept? Read more »