Expectation and First Scenes

We talked about expectation last week, but I didn’t mention the most important place to set up expectation: the first scene.

The problem with expectation is that while you can manipulate it to some extent, you can’t control it. If your reader thinks she’s getting a romance and she gets a ghost story, she’s going to be upset. She wants to be surprised, she doesn’t want to be disappointed. That means the first scene sets up the expectation for the rest of the story by using

PoV Character & Internal Monologue
Conflict & Dialogue
Scene Ending.

The voice of the PoV character and her internal monologue will set up the tone of the story, the setting will tell the reader what kind of people the protagonist is apt to encounter and what kind of environment she’s in (urban, rural, cold, hot, safe, dangerous, etc.), the conflict and dialogue with other characters will set expectation for future events, and the ending that propels the protagonist into the next scene pulls the reader into the story. At least, I always hope it will.

So here’s the first scene of Lavender’s Blue. If you want to play along, tell me what expectations you have for the story based on just this scene (I know you know a lot more about the story, you probably know more about the story than I do at this point, but pretend, please.)

Continue reading

How Long Does It Take To Get Dressed?

Bob and I are trading the master back and forth. To show the depth of our intellectual discussions as we craft this masterpiece, there’s a scene where Vince and Liz are in bed, and he gets a call to go catch a dangerous speeder who’s endangering the populace. Bob was in Vince’s PoV and he said it took them a minute to get dressed and into the Jeep. I changed it to five because who the hell takes a minute to put on underwear, jeans, a T-shirt and shoes and get into a car? He changed it to two. And then this ensued:

Continue reading

This is a Good Book Thursday, May 26, 2022

I’m still reading Lavender’s Blue. We’re close enough to the end of the first draft that I don’t have time to read anything else except Lavender’s Blue. I’ll have something more interesting to talk about in June. I hope. In the meantime, you guys are always interesting, so over to you.

What did you read this week?

Carry Your Towel and Wear the Lilac to Work on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

So it’s Working Wednesday, but so much more because this is also the day we remember the glorious Terry Pratchett and the fabulous Douglas Adams. These two brilliant men created amazing worlds–Discworld and the Hitchhiker’s Galaxy (Guide to)–and unforgettable characters, so when you’re ready to take a break from working, these are your guys. You can read them, listen to them, and even watch them since movies were made from their work. If you haven’t read them, you must, if only so you know why you must carry your towel and wear the lilac today.

Remember, no matter what your job is, it’s not as bad as Moist Von Lipwig’s

And if you’re feeling down, don’t worry, Marvin feels worse about his job than you do.

And of course, the end of the world. Maybe.

What was your work like this week?

Writing Blurbs

So let’s talk about blurbs, those short pithy book descriptions that are supposed to make you want to buy the book.

But before I do that, I need a favor: Look at the fourth rough draft of the Lavender’s Blue blurb below and tell me what you think. Then I’ll tell you what I think about blurbs in general and show you the four drafts of this one. Because I need a blog entry, that’s why. Also I need feedback on the blurb because it’s not right yet. Continue reading

The ABC Structure: The Day My Sister Shot the Mailman and Got Away With It, Of Course

The ABC Story

This is how Crazy For You got started. In 1996, Ron Carlson gave my graduate class a writing exercise based on a Joyce Carol Oates story that was structured by using 26 sentences, the first one beginning with A, the second with B, and so on. When I sat down to write the story, I thought Carlson was giving us busy work. When I finished it, I knew he was a genius teacher because writing that exercise showed me that any structure will work as long as it is a structure. So here it is from the Carlson Workshop, my Alphabet Exercise: Continue reading

Happiness is Great T-Shirts

In Lavender’s Blue, Liz wears a lot of t-shirt, in fact, she collects them. I’m obsessive about the details in my books, so all of the T-shirts have to be real, preferably something I own. There are many fine ones, but this might be my fave:

It’s because I’m a word freak, but I’m good with that.

What covered you with happiness this week?

Continue reading

Questionable: What Do You Do If Somebody Guesses Your Twist?

Emily wrote:
The question of plotting and twists is something that comes up a lot in the realm of fanfiction, because as a writer you’re getting feedback and comments and speculation on each chapter about where things are going, and the question is, do you alter your plans for the overall story because someone has correctly predicted the ‘twist’ that you had coming up (some writers do change course), just to surprise your readers, or do you hold to what you originally intended?

It depends.

There are really two different things you’re looking at here–twists/reversals and expectation–and their placement in the narrative as either surprises or turning points.
Continue reading

Argh Demands an ABC Exercise

MAY 20, 2022 AT 10:12 AM EDIT
So… if we, your readers, were to work on your alphabetic exercise… it would start something like this:

As dawn was breaking over the burning river, the last Viking zombies returned to their aluminum boat en masse.

(Guantlet dropped. Someone pick up w B)😎

MAY 20, 2022 AT 10:33 AM EDIT
But they were oblivious to the shapeshifting dragon lying in wait.

Office Wench Cherry
MAY 20, 2022 AT 10:41 AM EDIT
Before Bob could even say anything, Jenny picked up the automatic rifle she kept with her for just such occasions and opened fire.

Cherries” she muttered.

“Damn Cherries.”

Deborah Blake
MAY 20, 2022 AT 11:44 AM EDIT
Cherries tend to be crack shots, however, at least with sarcasm and book recommendations, so Jenny was able to hit the shapeshifting dragon right where she was aiming, taking out the medallion that caused it to be able to shapeshift in the first place.