Who’s Driving the Story?

by Fay Lamb

As the Tactical Editor, I use the analogy of a car to describe the elements of fiction. So, when I saw this topic, I couldn’t resist writing about it.

For me, it’s not just the “who” driving the story but the “what.”

In my car analogy, I explain that plot is the vehicle that drives the story. Without a main plot, the author isn’t going anywhere at all. The road upon which the plot vehicle travels is the genre. So, of course, the plot vehicle must be equipped for the journey with devices like suspense or mystery, full-on terror, or maybe a scenic route with bumps in the road. The main plot drives the road from Point A to Point Z. Minor plots are all intersecting roads, but make no mistake, all intersecting roads lead to Point Z.

Conflict is the fuel for the vehicle. If the plot vehicle isn’t filled with the proper fuel, the story is going to sputter and halt, and the readers are going to get out and walk away. Conflict must build in each scene until its resolution at the end of the story. A reader must, therefore, measure the amount of fuel necessary to reach the end of the journey, taking into account those scenes in which more conflict—or fuel—is needed.

Then there are the actual drivers. These are each character with a point of view (POV)—one POV per scene and in most stories, no more than three POVs per book. A character takes the wheel for the scenes that belong to him or to her and moves the story forward as the conflict puts up roadblocks to prevent the character from reaching the desired destination.

When the journey has been reached and the conflict has been emptied from the tank, the characters will get out of the journey and start a well-earned vacation.


Writing Prompt: Start a story, using the photograph above. Remember that the vehicle drives the story. The driver is the POV character. Why is the car parked in that location? Who was driving it? What happened to them?


Click to Tweet: “If the plot vehicle isn’t filled with the proper fuel, the story is going to sputter and halt, and the readers are going to get out and walk away.” Who’s Driving the Story? Via @InspiredPrompt and @FayLamb #amwriting #MondayMotivation

3 Questions Wednesday with Gail Pallotta

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes  author, wife, swimmer, and bargain shopper, Gail Pallotta. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Gail: Loves God and people.

That sums up life, for sure.  Now about travel…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Gail: Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go there, and I enjoy setting books in tropical places as well as the mountains. It would be great fun to have a book that’s set partly on a Hawaiian beach and Diamond Head. Perhaps there could be foul play on the Diamond Head hiking trail.

Can I go? As long as there’s no foul play for real. 🙂 Last question:

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Gail: “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less.” When I think of my life, I’d have to say it’s built on hope, some for little things; others, big. I believe it keeps us all going, and I put mine in Christ. Here are the words to the first verse and chorus of “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less.”

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweet frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;

all other ground is sinking sand.

Great hymn with awesome lyrics.  Thanks so much for dropping by!

Readers, Gail is offering an E-book of Hair Calamities and Hot Cash to one person who leaves a comment below. 

Click to tweet: Author and bargain shopper Gail Pallotta talks about writing and a giveaway. #amreading #mystery


Hair Calamities and Hot Cash

“A comedic romp from small town to big city in search of missing money, hair catastrophes, and love. A truly fun read”– Cynthia Hickey, author of the Shady Acres Mystery series

What happens when a New York stockbroker crashes his car into Eve Castleberry’s North Carolina beauty shop … on the same day the young widow’s defective hair products are causing wild hairdos?

Soon Eve finds herself helping the handsome stranger hunt the thieves who stole his clients cash…and hot on the trail of two of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals!

Romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.

Buy at: Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo 

Pelican’s Prism Imprint 


 

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former Grace Awards Finalist and a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner, she’s published five books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. She loves to connect with readers. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.gailpallotta.com/mainphp.html and visit her website at gailpallotta.com.

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre

Genre: What is it, and why do you need it?

According to Merriam-Webster, genre is: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.

The most general genres:

  • Epic
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • Novel
  • Short story

Classic genres may include tragedy, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, adventure, mystery.

Other major book genres are: drama, romance, action-adventure, thriller, young adult (YA), and dystopian.

I could go on all day, creating and populating these lists. Yes, there are that many, and I haven’t even mentioned the sub-genres. I could probably even come up with some sub-sub-genres.

Over the next few weeks, as sugarplums dance in your heads, you fuss over what to put in the children’s stockings, and marathon cookie bake (maybe that’s just me), we’ll be addressing genres here at Inspired Prompt. You needed a distraction, right?

Maybe you just completed NaNoWriMo and you need to sharpen the genre of your manuscript to get it ready.

A new year is beginning in just a few weeks. Maybe one of your resolutions is to finally start that book! But, how do you know what genre to write? Start writing and hope to find a niche?

It’s usually better to know up front, before you begin. The superheroes of Inspired Prompt are here to help guide you through the maze. Umm. Humor is another genre in fiction, by the way.

So, how do you figure it all out? Here’s a clue:

What do you like to read? If you love mysteries, you’ll probably write mysteries. I love historical fiction. Most of the books I’ve written have been…you guessed it, historical fiction. But I also write suspense. Historical suspense is another genre I loved to read, as a young adult.

Should you stick with one? You may want to begin with one. Become an “expert,” then try something else. Don’t be surprised, though, if you end up back at the first one. Some famous authors never write anything else. Stephen King, for instance, and Nora Roberts. Hey, it works for them.

Like the adage KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), sometimes it’s best to stay with what you know. Unless you’re miserable there and end up being a square peg in a round hole. Yes, this paragraph is overrun with clichés, but I hope you get the picture.

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre? It’s what we’re talking about in December. [Click to Tweet]

As we introduce our subtopics, I hope you’ll get involved by asking questions or sharing your own experiences and expertise.

If we have helped you with your writing, please let us know. That would be as special as a gift. Yes, one of the best of all gifts is to know that what you’re doing is of value to someone else.WRITING PROMPT: Suspense or romance? Add a sentence to this prompt to give it either a suspenseful slant, or a romantic one: The man outside Mary’s door stood with his back to her, but there was something familiar about him.

A Few Minutes with Linda Shenton Matchett

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

Interesting writing rituals?

Linda: I don’t know that it’s an interesting ritual, but my desk has to be clear and organized before I can start writing. I don’t work or think well in a cluttered environment. The first thing I do when I sit down is file extraneous papers, stack the folders or put them away, and arrange my research materials. Then I turn over my hour glass, so at the end of sixty minutes I remember to get up to stretch and walk around.

What is the book about?

Linda: Set during WWII, a young woman suffering from a degenerative eye disease is the main suspect in her fiance’s murder and must prove her innocence. The themes I explore are recognizing our value as God’s creation/children and trusting in His perfect will and timing.

Favorite part of the book?

Linda: Singer Dinah Shore makes a cameo appearance, and I enjoyed researching and writing that scene.

Message for readers?

Linda: God wants what’s best for us, and if we allow Him to lead us, we will find joy no matter what.

Where can readers find you online?


Murder of Convenience

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first in Linda Shenton Matchett’s exciting new “Women of Courage” series.

Click to Tweet: A Few Minutes with Linda Shenton Matchett, author of historical #Mystery via @InspiredPrompt #Saturday interview

First Saturday Extra: Indie Author Traci Tyne Hilton

Today, we are super excited to welcome popular Indie author, Traci Tyne Hilton. She’s published over 20 books and teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.
Traci, tell us a little about yourself.
Traci: I’m a mom first, publishing nut second. My two daughters are teens now, but when I started writing novels, they were toddlers! Everyone told me time flies, but I had no idea. Keeping that balance between mom and obssessive publisher is hard work. My indie friends harass me for not having good enough focus, and my kids ride me for being on my laptop all day long. But what can you do? I wouldn’t give up either role.

When and why did you decide to go the Indie publishing route?

Traci: I fell into indie publishing. The short story is that I participated in Nanowrimo for a few years as a young mom. In 2009, I completed a novel and achieved my award of a free Createspace paperback. After you make your paperback Createspace asks you if you want to make your book available for sale on Amazon. I said: “Why not?”

A few months later I was encouraged to make it an ebook, so I did that, too. It sold ten thousand copies that winter and I was hooked.

Do you hire an editor or use Beta readers to try and perfect your work? 

Traci: Not the first time! Whoo-boy, did I learn my lesson!

But even now I seem to have a hard time keeping a good proofreader–the really talented ones book up fast and get too busy for my somewhat spontaneous needs, lol.

Please share three marketing tips for our friends considering Indie publishing.

Traci:

  1. Buy ads.
  2. Buy ads.
  3. Buy ads.

and a bonus for you all: Buy ads. Buy all the ads you can at all the sites you can. Keep close track of sales on the days your ads run to figure out which sites work well for you, then buy more ads at those sites.

What mistakes did you make when you first started out?

Traci: Well, I already mentioned I didn’t have any editing whatsoever when I launched my first book!  Don’t do that! The indie world is way too competitive for that kind of rookie mistake these days.

Also, take your work seriously as a business. Have a plan and work it. Your success will come from the consistent release of quality books, and that, in reality, is just a lot of work.

 Any final words?

Traci: I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of both the indie literature community and the Christian literature community. It’s been rewarding, challenging, and immensely satisfying. If I could do anything different at all it would be to spend every penny I have ever earned on editing and advertising. Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

So glad you dropped by! We loved having you as our guest and I know our readers will gain a lot of insight from the interview. Thanks again!

 


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Maura Garrison Mysteries, The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven Romantic Mysteries. When not writing she has been known to knit socks, play the spoons, and teach Sunday School.

She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. She blogs at TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com.

An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Oregon Christian Writers, Traci teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.

Traci attended Fackelbararnas Bibelskola in Holsby Brunn, Sweden, and earned a degree in History from Portland State University. She lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy teens, and their pets, Doctor Watson and Kitty Biscuits.

Learn more about Traci at www.tracihilton.com


The Book of Judges

All things work together for the good for those who believe. Too bad Maura Garrison, a private investigator, isn’t a believer. The murder she was hired to solve hinges on its parallel in the Old Testament book, Judges, but she was just dumped by her pastor-husband so the Bible is the last thing she wants to turn to for answers.

Rick Styles, Maura’s husband, is a popular marriage and family counselor with a thriving writing and speaking side business. He’s also the member of a city council committee dedicated to getting homeless children off the streets of Portland, Oregon, a worthy goal that seems to have attracted the attention of a sick and twisted killer.

She’s working the hardest case she’s ever faced during the hardest time of her life with few friends she can count on and only her cat Rhoda for support. Solving this crime means digging deep into issues Maura wants desperately to avoid, will she be able to see her way through this tangle in time to stop a serial killer?

The Book of Judges: A Maura Garrison Mystery is classic Christian murder in the spirit of Chesterton, Sayers, Peretti, and Rushford.

Hilton’s prose is beautiful and clever. She draws readers into the story with vivid descriptions of places and emotion states. –The BookLife Prize

Hilton opens up a thought-provoking mystery in The Book of Judges, exploring the idea of forgiveness and belief through Maura’s personal relationships. A must-read for mystery lovers! –Reader’s Favorites

Links:  Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iTunes