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Why are (Insert Name of famous Card Company Here)Movies so Predictable?

December 24, 2018 I’m not a fan of Christmas movies. I’m not a fan of all  Christmas movies, I do like Die Hard (best Christmas movie EVER) and the Grinch, but that’s about it. My loved ones, on the other hand, are major lovers of all things Hallmark. Here’s the whole storyline in a nutshell; a single, career woman who is too busy for love, but she has to move to a small town where a local, handsome bachelor teaches her the true spirit of Christmas. It starts snowing, they kiss, and there is a dog. The End. 

Did I miss anything? Didn’t think so. Yes, there is a place for story lines like this, people want to feel cuddly and cozy, and they want simplistic, feel-good stories with a happy ending. It’s fun to watch these movies with a cup of hot cocoa and baileys, hold the cocoa, and some cookies, while snuggled up with a blanket and a cat. But, there is no place for predictability in your writing. There ARE formulas to follow when writing of course; whether it’s romance or thriller, or mystery, there are certain elements that each genre contains.  Here are two easy tips to follow so that your writing doesn’t become stale like the leftover holiday treats currently sitting on your kitchen counter.

1) Approach your story as a reader

The above tip is probably obvious, but it’s the most important step when writing effective plot twists. If your reader can predict where the story is going, you’re sunk. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie and being able to know what happens before it happens. I do this quite frequently as a viewer/reader; we’ll be watching a movie and I’ll get up to pour some more wine (I have to drink wine while watching holiday movies…it’s the only way I can stand it) and as I leave the room, I’ll say to my husband, “Then her fiance comes back, she leaves with him, she returns when she realizes he’s the wrong guy, the Christmas guy and the main character kiss and live happily ever after.” UGH (insert eye roll here) I hate always being right.

When you’re plotting your novel constantly put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Which direction would you expect the story to go? What twists and turns come to mind? Write all of these down and then throw them in the garbage and delete them out of your manuscript forever. If you think there’s the slightest possibility that the reader can figure out your plot twist, you’re probably right. Change it.

2) Ensure your twist is believable and necessary – and makes sense

Plot twists are sudden, unexpected changes of direction, but they must still be realistic and believable. No matter how unpredictable your plot twist might be, a plot twist doesn’t make sense or further the story is not effective. Readers won’t be impressed and they may even get frustrated and stop reading. Don’t resort to hacks, and never introduce a plot twist just for the sake of including one. Remember Sharknado? Yeah. Well there you go, see what I mean?

There you have it, two sure-fire ways to make sure your writing is unpredictable, but meaningful. Happy writing! X LLB

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Read, Read, Read At Every Age!

July 11, 2018-I am a huge believer in reading to kids, even while they are still in utero; you can never start too early! Reading is a love that can be lost unfortunately and needs to be reignited every now and then. For adults, it’s especially tough because let’s face it, life gets in the way. Between paying bills, working, and carting the kids off to different events and activities, the first things to go are the things that we enjoy, such as taking a break to escape into a book.

Reading is so critical because not only does it allow us to be role models to the little ones watching our every move, but it encourages us to live more than one life. Reading expands our minds and imaginations, and it does the same for our children. Literacy is crucial especially right now in the digital world that we live in; most families don’t make time anymore to read to their kids before bed or take turns reading chapters as a family after dinner. We are in such a hurry for everything that our lives are moving at an alarming pace and we are forgetting what matters. Your kids are going to remember the nights you snuggled up and read with them, they’ll remember the books that they laughed at and cried with, they’ll remember the time you took to read to them, and they will be forever grateful. Reading is not just a past time, but a responsibility that we should not take lightly. So, read. Read as much as you can and read whatever you can get your hands on. And, read to your kids because their future love of books depends on it.

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Let’s Talk About Middle-Grade Novels! A Quick and Dirty Guide

November 3, 2017- There seems to be a lot of confusion around three little words…Middle-Grade Novel. Let’s dive into the basics and explore what elements make up a middle-grade novel.

  • Middle-grade books are for kids in grades 4, 5, and 6-ages 9,10, 11.
  • This is a diverse group of readers, and the middle-grade word counts are as follows: books for younger kids are 20,000-25,000 words and the books for the older kids usually contain 35,000-40,000 words.
  • These books are usually large print, fast reads. A great example of a younger middle-grade novel is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a great example of an older middle-grade book is our very own Unfrogged by Tamara Botting.

Middle grade interests include the following things:

  • PEERS– I capitalized this word because it’s the single most crucial thing to middle -graders and it’s important to know that kids care what their friends think above anything else at this age!
  • Family-The child is the main character, the child is in the middle, and everything revolves around him or her. For example, parents are getting divorced what does that mean to the child?
  • Self Concept– How do I belong? Who am I? Kids at this age are just starting to figure this out and ask the questions that will eventually shape them into adults.
  • Puberty-Looks, development, gender, opposite sex and relationships.
  • Future-Upon who does the future depend?…It depends on the main character of course!

So if you’re planning on writing for middle-graders, keep the above things in mind!

LB

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