January 7, 2019– This is a bit long, but helpful!
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
September 7, 2018– Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a romance. Romance novels have a long and interesting past. Romantic fiction is a genre that explores some of the most powerful emotions ever known to humans. Lust, love, and greed are just a few of the motivators in romance novels, and we all know that we would do just about anything for love (to quote Meatloaf). Myself, I admire people who can write romance because I’m sure as hell not one of them!
What is a Romance Novel? Here’s how most A romance novel consists of two people who meet, have a problem with building their relationship, but in the end, they live happily ever after while gazing into each other’s eyes while riding off into the sunset. Umm…not exactly! See? This is why I can’t write romance.
Here’s what a romance novel, IS NOT:
- Always a happy ending. Yes, they must have an optimistic ending, but the characters should deal with trauma and problematic events. Here’s a sample: She stared out the window and watched the rain slip down the cold pane of glass. She knew she’d never see him again, but she knew that she could never forget him.
- Always conflict-free. Come on, seriously? A good romance novel is first and foremost about the characters, and we have all experienced problems in our relationships, life, and work. Why should your characters be any different than real people with real problems? Everyone has had at least one bad romantic encounter!
- Soft porn for lonely women. No. This isn’t the case at all. Not all romance novels have sex scenes and not all sex scenes border on pornography. Romance novels encourage women to go after what they desire, want, and need. They’re not for lonely women, they’re for women who enjoy this genre. That’s all.
Now that you know what Romance Writing isn’t you can start writing about what it is.
August 20, 2018- Memoir writing is difficult and time consuming. That said, there are a lot of authors that have been successfully published in this genre. Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re bold or insane, here are some tips!
- Is your life interesting enough? This is a question that you must answer truthfully. When authors submit their manuscripts to me that are memoirs, I ask them if their life is interesting enough to anyone other than themselves and their friends and family. Everyone thinks their life is great, and we all think that we have riveting stories to tell. More often than not, this is not the case, unfortunately. Celebrities often write memoirs because they have lived an exceptional life in one way or another. They have lived a life that most people never will and that’s what makes us want to read their stories.
- Remember what it isn’t. Your memoir is NOT an autobiography. A memoir focuses on a SPECIFIC time or theme, such as the summer of 1972, for example. This helps your readers get to know you better and that one experience in your life better and on a different, deeper level.
- Tell the Truth. Especially if people in your memoir are still living. I’ll never forget an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing a man about his book. He told the story of being detained in a concentration camp during the war and that he met his future wife when she gave him an apple through the fence. It turned out that the story was completely fabricated. There’s no need to lie, being honest and genuine is your best bet.
Memoirs explore the truth of your life through your eyes. No one can tell your story and that is your power. Happy Writing!
August 3, 2018– Normally, I would advise against self-editing especially if you plan on submitting your work to a publisher. It always pays to send in your most polished writing, and the cost of getting your manuscript professionally edited is absolutely worth it! But what about the publisher? If they like my work don’t they pay to get it edited? Yes, of course, we do, but it’s always a breath of fresh air to have a manuscript submitted that requires less editing, and that is pretty close to almost perfect.
My advice, if you can’t afford to hire a pro to edit your ms before sending to a publisher, can be found in this excellent infographic from our friends at NowNovel.com. Check out the tips below!
June 13, 2018- This is a fun, yet valuable infographic about how to create relatable and lovable protagonists. This is most suitable for middle-grade novels. Happy Writing!
June 6, 2018- I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks in writing and I don’t particularly practice them in my own writing, but there can be a time and a place for them when used properly. Here’s a quick infographic to help you decide when, where, and if you should use flashbacks. Do you use flashbacks in your writing? Why? Comment below.