3 Questions Wednesday with You

Our regular 3 Questions Wednesday has met with a last-minute cancellation. So, since you’re here,

Who is your favorite author?

Tell us about your favorite author in the comment section. Or, maybe you’re an author. 3 Questions Wednesday is a wonderful way to promote a new release or even a book that’s been on the shelf a while. We have openings, starting in May!

Whether you’re Indie-published, or traditional, or even a wannabe-published, you can take part in our Wednesday interview.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Intriguing, right? Include your answer in the comments.

And about the book:

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Use your imagination on this one. If you don’t have a book written, use a favorite character from your favorite book!

Now, you know what it’s like to take part in our 3 Questions Wednesday interview. What fun!

Want to schedule an interview? Click the “Contact Us” tab near the top of this blog and let us know. Something’s blowing in on the March winds! We have big plans for March. We’re giving away a book with every post! Each Monday and Friday during the entire month of March, you—dear reader—will have the opportunity to win a book. It’s March Madness!

So, keep us on your calendar, and be sure to come back next Wednesday for another 3 Questions Wednesday Interview. It could be your favorite author.

Writing Emotional Scenes

by Rose Allen McCauley

Randy Ingermanson aka “The Snowflake Guy” is the first teacher who started me thinking about the perfect emotional scene—one that makes the reader so identify with the characters that they can’t stop reading!

I’ve been a lifelong reader since the age of five. When I first started writing as an adult, I knew a little about plot and characters, but Randy’s premise is that if your readers can’t relate to your plot and characters it doesn’t matter. Why would they spend time reading about something or someone they can’t identify with? That set me off on a path to find and read as many emotive writers as possible.

This leads us to the first lesson in writing emotional scenes.

Read and study the writers who touch your own heart.

My favorite writer of emotional scenes and characters (along with many other readers!) is Karen Kingsbury. I met her at one of the early ACFW conferences and bought A Time to Embrace (about a marriage about to disintegrate) and the first book of the Redemption series (containing adultery and murder.) Although I didn’t have any personal experience with any of those topics, Karen wrote such believable, flawed characters, often with kind hearts, that I wanted to keep reading about them and rooting for them!

Another author whose characters I can easily relate to is Deb Raney.  Her first book was A Vow to Cherish about a woman with Alzheimer’s whose husband has many decisions to make. Again, I had never faced anything like that, but the love and caring between the husband and wife made me want to keep reading to see how they handled it.

I hate to even try to name other authors out there who write great emotional scenes because there so many of them, and we each have our favorites as well as favorite genres. If you are not sure whom you want to try, I suggest you ask a friend with similar tastes in books or look through a CBD catalog or read the back cover blurb in bookstores or the library or online.

A second lesson in writing emotional scenes is Show instead of Telling. Parts of all books have some telling for smoothness or brevity, so some narration or description is okay.

But, instead of: Mark was angry when he got off the phone with Sharon.

Try this: Mark punched the button to disconnect the call, pulled his arm back and let the phone fly in a pitch that would’ve made Hank Aaron jealous. The phone ricocheted off the couch and clattered to the floor.

“That woman!” he spat out.

A third way to keep the readability factor going is to use foreshadowing to show that something you mention in an earlier chapter is going to factor into a later chapter—just make sure you follow through with that promise!

A great example of this is what literary greats refer to as Chekhov’s Gun: “If in Act One you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act.”

Use objects, people, phrases, and even situations to set up your reader for what will eventually become a pay-off if they keep reading.

Great writers are also known for using evocative words to describe the scenery to suggest mystery or danger, so make sure you use all of the senses and keep editing until you find the perfect words to describe each scene or character.

Another way to keep your readers reading is to make characters have to decide between two, or more hard choices. We’ve all had to do that in real life, and so can sympathize with the character who has to make a hard decision—often one that is going to affect someone they care about.

Most of us like characters we can sympathize with, and some people even like characters they can love to hate! We all have different personalities, so keep experimenting until you find characters and writers who keep you coming back for more. To me, the main thing that makes me want to read the same author again is if I keep thinking about the characters after I finish the book, because they have become so real to me! Like the Velveteen Rabbit! I think that is the reason many of us love series.

I once read that Elmore Leonard wrote,  “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” I hope my thoughts will help you do that by using some of these tips to write emotionally charged scenes.  And if you are like me, you will find it is a lifelong pursuit!

Here’s a writing prompt in case you want to try to add some of these tools to your writing box:

Pretend you are writing the follow-up book to Where the Red Fern Grows, or Charlotte’s Web. Write the opening paragraph in a way that grabs your reader by the emotions. Feel free to share your work in the comments below. 

Click to Tweet: Most of us like characters we can sympathize with, and some people even like characters they can love to hate. Writing Emotional Scenes via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writingtips

3 Questions Wednesday with Kristen Hogrefe

Author Kristen Hogrefe

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Kristen Hogrefe! This is an exciting and very busy week for Kristen, as her third book in The Rogues Trilogy released yesterday! Congratulations, Kristen.

Let’s see how she answers our three questions—

Who is your favorite author?

Kristen: Limiting myself to just one is nearly impossible, because I enjoy so many genres, but I consider Elisabeth Elliot one of my spiritual mentors. Her books, including Keep a Quiet Heart and Let Me Be a Woman, are ones I re-read.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Kristen: One day, I hope I’ll have the ability to research and write either a non-fiction or fictionalized account of my Uncle Billy’s story. I never met him, because he died in Colombia as a child, but through his childlike witness to the people group my missionary grandparents were reaching, many came to know Christ. My mom tells me that on his grave, a church was built. I think there’s a powerful story to tell, but I don’t know if I can do it justice. One day, I hope to be brave enough to try.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Kristen: I actually did have the opportunity to spend a full two weeks with a “character” from my book! At the very end of the story while Portia heals in Orvieto, she stays with an Italian woman named Maria who teaches her about Italian culture and serves as her guide. My real-life Italian friend and colleague Maria Constantine traveled with me to Italy so I could research the settings in The Reactionary. We spent several days in a lovely Air B&B in Orvieto. There, she taught me some Italian phrases and ultimately gifted me with a deep appreciation and love for Italy as we explored the city and surrounding areas. You can read more about some of our adventures on my blog at KristenHogrefe.com.


Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.

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The Reactionary

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.

BUY LINK [AMAZON]

Four Beginner Mistakes that Kill a Good Plot

by Kristen Hogrefe

Between wedding preparation and inspiration from Marie Kondo, I’ve been enjoying the minimizing challenge to get rid of stuff and create space. One part of this adventure took me to a dresser drawer where I had stowed my first writing attempts from childhood. (Forgive me, Marie, but I couldn’t part with these.)

The reason for keeping them isn’t because they’re good. They’re hilariously awful, but they show how far my writing has come.

As I perused them, so many plot mistakes jumped off the page. Though beginner blunders, they can still creep into our stories and wreak havoc on our plots if we let them.

#1: Over-villainize the villain.

We get it. The bad guy is bad. However, the bad guy (or girl) must have a motivation for what drives him to villainy.

A recent case that still has people talking is the villain or anti-hero Thanos in the Avengers saga. He sincerely believes that wiping out half the population will make the world a better place and cure the resource problems. Twisted? Absolutely. But the audience has no doubt what’s driving this madman who considers himself a humanitarian at heart.

#2: Make the good guy too good.

The flip side of the villain coin is making the hero/heroine too perfect. I’ll never forget some feedback a friend gave me on a first draft. Although she liked my story, her one complaint was about the love interest.

“Kristen, he’s just too good. Give him a flaw. Give him something he has to struggle with or that annoys her. That’s real life. That’s real love.”

Let’s not fall into the mistake of transposing our own ideals on our characters. If we want readers to relate to them, they’re going to have baggage, personal demons, or a backstory that people find sympathetic.

#3: Dump the backstory at the beginning.

Speaking of backstory, I’m not sure why we writers sometimes feel the need to explain everything. The whole point of plot is to tease the reader to keep reading, to keep wondering.

When we start with backstory instead of action, we “tell” readers everything up front they want to know. As a result, they’re not interested in reading further and usually shelve the book.

#4: Bore with too much description.

This mistake is one that marked many of my adolescent attempts and one my writing students often make. On page one, they interrupt the action with a mirror-length description of their heroine. It usually reads something like this:

Amelia gazed in the mirror at her long blonde tresses that fell in gentle waves past her waist. Her fairness was the envy of every maiden in the kingdom.

She brushed a hand along her floor-length, velvety blue gown which matched her diamond-colored eyes and sighed contently at the vision she made.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but if I had a coin for every time I’ve read something like this, I’d be booking a flight to another bucket-list destination today.

Jesting aside, this example illustrates how description can both stop the action, and when combined with mistake #2, kill the reader’s interest.

Takeaway for Today

My goal here is not to discourage anyone. If anything, it’s to laugh at our beginner mistakes and even “thank them” (cue Marie Kondo) for what they have taught us.

In all seriousness, though, I do thank God for the gift of writing He’s given us and the creativity to write a plot that will entertain and speak truth to readers. When we work to avoid mistakes that will steal our writing’s effectiveness, we steward our gift well.

Writing Prompt: What beginner mistakes would you add to this list?

[Click to  Tweet:] A few beginner mistakes can kill a good plot and make readers put a book down. Learn how to avoid them and let your plot soar! 4 Beginner Mistakes that Kill a Good Plot via @InspiredPrompt with @kjhogrefe #amwriting #WritingLife


Author Kristen Hogrefe

Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Website


The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.

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