Posted in Writing

The Mud-mire of Writing

Do you get stuck in places within your story/manuscript? Do you sit and wonder what went wrong during the writing of your story after everything had been going so smoothly? Why did you get stuck all of a sudden? Why the brick wall that popped up and hit you head on?

Maybe it has to do with information being in the wrong place. As you know, a novel/story is broken down into three acts with act two being broken down into two parts (the chase and the attack). What happens when you are writing and part of what you wrote should be in another act and not the one you are currently writing in? You get stuck. The story is no longer clear in your mind. The result is, you sit in front of your manuscript wondering what to write next, or you try to figure out what happened that put a stopper in your otherwise smooth writing experience. The answer could be, part of what you wrote belongs in another act. So, try to move your text in question by trying in out in another act. If it is something that belongs in act three, and you have not written act three yet, save it off to the side for later.

Another answer is that it does belong in the act you are currently writing, but it is in the wrong chapter. For example, for a couple weeks I was stuck on a couple of back to back chapters. The story was making no sense to me. The clarity was not there, and up to that point it had been. Then I realized that one of those chapters belonged in front of a chapter three chapters up, so I moved it. This particular chapter had two scenes in it. Both had the same two characters in it, but time elapsed between the first scene and the second. When I moved the chapter up three chapters, everything began to make more sense. Then, when I started reading the second scene within the moved chapter, it made no sense anymore. I sat and played around with the chapter in my head and after about five minutes, I realized that the second scene within that chapter belonged in another chapter further down, so I moved the second scene in that chapter down two chapters and put it as a second scene within its new chapter. A-HA!!! Now everything made sense.

So, next time you get stuck, before you delete and start over, move your text around.

Posted in Editing

Plot Holes

Have you ever read a short story or a novel and somewhere along the way the story/plot didn’t make any sense? It felt as though information was missing, or there was a lack of consistency. The result of all that is you scratching your head in wonder, putting the book down, or leafing back through previously read parts to see what you missed.

That gets too distracting. So how do you as the writer avoid making those same mistakes as a writer? In your own writing, some of the inconsistencies you may be aware of and some you may not be. For the ones you know of, write them down in a plot holes log. For the ones you are not aware of, you will catch those later in your editing.

To expand on this, here is what I do. In the writing software I use, Scrivener (You can find it at, I create an extra file labeled Edits. Within that file folder I have various files for the different types of editing I will do later. One of those files is called Plot Holes. When I know of a plot hole that I need to address later, I write it there. When I am finished with my manuscript later, one of the things I do is go to that list and fix those plot holes one by one. THEN I start reading my manuscript from page one and go straight through to the end. Along the way I am searching for any more plot holes I may have missed. I make note of them in the manuscript with my red pen and move on. When I get to the end of the manuscript, I go back to those plot holes I made note of in red pen and fix those. Please note…..when I am reading for plot holes like this, plot holes are the only things I am searching for as I am reading. DO NOT fix anything else or make note of anything else during this process because you will lose track of what you’re doing, and you don’t want to start over. If you have to stop to run an errand or cook dinner or something, mark your spot and go back to it later. Trust me, this is the process I used and it served me well.

Posted in Characterization

Character Flaws

What holds you back? What is one of your character traits that works against you more often than you care to admit.

Are you:

  • Stubborn
  • Anxious
  • Naïve
  • Arrogant
  • Selfish
  • Paranoid
  • Gullible

When I was younger, and for many years, I was very naïve. I hadn’t had the experiential knowledge of many things that would have allowed me to make the correct decisions. In other words, I hadn’t learned anything about life. Worse yet, it took me a while to get past that naivety. Some individuals learn life’s lessons quicker because they are willing to rely on new information without letting their own opinions get in the way. Well…I wasn’t one of those people. I had a stubborness to me which made me more headstrong than most. The result is that I didn’t listen to good advice. Because I didn’t listen, I ended up hurt (not physically, but a lesson learned type of thing). It cost me financially at one point. That was one instance. Another example came in the form of a relationship. I became involved with someone I had no business getting involved with. I let my heart guide me and not my common sense and certainly not the advice of others to the contrary.

I should have listened to what others were saying. I should have listened to that conscience of mine. But I didn’t. I truly though I knew better. I learned my lessons in the end, but it took a long time to get to that point. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but it did. The silver lining came when I FINALLY learned. When I learned my lesson, that’s when things started to change for the better. I now knew how to avoid those missteps. I knew what to look for. My story changed and the ending was GREAT.

My character flaws at the beginning were naivety and stubborness. Over the course of my life (or story), I was presented with challenges that created setbacks based on my own behavior (character flaws). In the middle of it all, once I ended up hurt, these instances made me rethink what I was doing. I was able to go back in my mind and go over what wasn’t working, THEN I was better able to correct and attack my issues head on and take them in a more positive direction by changing my behavior. THIS IS THE PATH YOU MUST TAKE YOUR CHARACTERS ON when you are writing you story/novel/book. The character flaw(s) in your main character is a large part of what carries them on their journey throughout the story. If they don’t learn anything by the end of the book, how are they able to overcome the antagonist?

Posted in Fiction

Your Odyssey

Everyone has an odyssey of sorts. If you are still in your 20’s, your odyssey is still in the beginning stages. If your are older, say in your 50’s, your odyssey is still in progress, but you have quite a life journey up to that point even more so.

We all have experiences that lead us somewhere. Maybe yours led you exactly to the point at which you wanted to be, even though how you got there wasn’t the road you wanted to take. Or, maybe it was. If you’re a writer, your odyssey is chucked full of material from which you can choose to include in your story. This goes along with a post I did earlier that talked about writing what you know. Today I want to touch on the variety of events in one’s journey/odyssey. I’ll use my own as an example.

My odyssey is in 2 parts. The first part started out in the beautiful state of Michigan, which is where I’m from. There isn’t a lack of places to camp and swim because of the huge coastline due to the lakes we have access to year round. As a result, my family camped quite a bit. The explorations, hiking, bike riding, fishing, and swimming added to the adventures. One summer at the age of 16 was the last camping trip me and my family went on together. An incident happened involving me. A moment of tragedy can happen in an instant but last a lifetime. This began the beginning of my second odyssey. From this point forward there was much I had to overcome, and it wasn’t easy. I, like many human beings, made right decisions and wrong decisions. These decisions helped me to learn and grow from. They gave me something to reflect on and use in order to mature and end up at a place in my life that leaves me saying to myself, “I made it. The journey was rough, but I made it.”

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t still decisions and mistakes to be made, but at least now I have some concrete lessons to base my decision making process on. I’m more informed. Even more, I have something I can reflect on by using these experiences in my books, which is what I did in my novel The Triunix of Time. The book isn’t about my life, but some truths lay within it. In your stories, you will embed your own truths, as many writers do. What I found by doing this is that these bits of truth enrich the story itself because you are leaving your mark. Your feelings regarding them come through to the reader by way of your story characters, your descriptions, and the like.

Don’t use all of your odyssey in one story/book (unless you’re writing an autobiography). Use them as they apply to the story you’re writing. This way, in future books/stories you will have more to use.

Posted in Fiction

An Eerie Scent of Roses (Part III)

When I got home, I called both phone companies and had my landline phone number changed and my cellphone number changed. Unfortunately, my new landline number wouldn’t take effect until tomorrow afternoon. I couldn’t bear the thought of another night like last night, so I unplugged the phone again, and kept my cellphone off.

            The next day was a typical Monday, rainy, boring, and grey, and it drug on forever. The rain made my job as bookkeeper even less exciting. I wanted the day to end. Don’t we all on days like that? I couldn’t concentrate on the numbers I was computing, and I was so tired that it looked like all the digits were jumping off the page and running into each other. I guess being frightened and worried about what will happen next can really weigh on the brain. Then, I had a break in my boring day; the inner office mail came. I rose and took it from Cindy, our inner mail clerk. Great, maybe that will take my mind off this caller. As I opened the first envelope, I noticed a sickening, sweet, smell of roses; the note read:


You’re mine. You belong to no one. Just me. No one will touch that golden blond hair or have the pleasure of looking into those emerald green eyes. Your heart shaped face beats to the rhythm of my soul, and always will.

            Numbness took over and I sank in my chair. My stomach turned sour. Was it someone at work? At that moment, Dan walked past my door, stopped short, and said, “You look like you just saw a ghost. I something wrong?”

            “N-no, I’m fine, really.”

            “You don’t sound fine. Are you sure you’re alright?”

            He came in, sat in the chair to the right of my desk, and gave me a creased eyebrowed look. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong.”

            I didn’t want to tell him anything. I didn’t know who to trust.  Part of me had my reservations about him, but he had this look about him. His full lips and light gray eyes was captivating. His look of genuine concern touched me. Then I caved and unfolded the whole story from beginning to end. When I finished, I watched him carefully, hoping to see some sign of guilt on his face. But I didn’t see anything. Maybe he’s just very good at hiding his emotions. Oh, really. Now I’m grasping for straws. I sunk my face into my hands. Seconds later, I heard my office door close. Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I looked up to see Dan kneeling beside my chair.

            “Don’t worry. I’ll help you find him.”

            “But for all I know, you could be him.”

            “I’m not, and you have to trust that. Okay? I understand how you feel. It’s hard to trust anyone. But sometimes you just have to.”

            “I know,” I said. “You’re right.” But was he?

            As he got to his feet, he gave me a kiss on the cheek, squeezed my hand and said, “We’ll beat this. Don’t worry.”

            I looked after him as he turned and walked out of the room.

            I got out of my chair and stood in the doorway looking in the direction Dan was walking. From behind me, I heard Carl, the janitor, say hello. I turned to see a short, chubby faced little man smiling at me as he fumbled with his keys. I smiled back and said, “Hi, Carl. What are you doing?”

            “I’m looking for the key to get into the cleaning closet. Gee, that’s funny.”


            “I’m missing the key to Mr. Dodge’s office. Who would want that?”

            I walked over to him and held out my hand saying, “Maybe you just missed it. Here, let me look.”

            As he gave me the keys, I noticed a tattoo of a rose on the top of his right hand. I froze. In a shaky voice I said, “D-do you l-like r-roses?”

            “Oh yes. They’re my favorite flower. Do you?”

            “I-I-I…” Dropping the keys, I fled down the hall. When I got to the front desk, I told Sabrina, the receptionist, that I wasn’t feeling well, and that I would go home early.

Posted in Writing

Story Starters

What do you think about when you’re standing at the top of a mountain? What’s going through your mind? Is your imagination poking at your brain? Is fear setting in? There weren’t any side rails along the road on the way up, so you’re wondering how you’re going to get back down without going over the edge. Getting up there was easy. What if you get stuck on the way down (if you climbed up)? Questions questions.

Story ideas start with questions. Usually they’re ‘what if’ questions, but that doesn’t mean they have to be (see above questions for examples). I like the ‘what if’ questions only because that’s what my brain goes to automatically. Below are some ‘what if’ questions you can steal. Remember, one what if question can create more than one story.

  • What if you were eating in a Chinese restaurant and received a fortune cookie made gold?
  • What if someone knocked at your front door? You answer it and it’s your late grandfather. You give him a hug and immediately that takes you back in time to his era.
  • What if you’re walking to the elevator in the busy office building you work in, and you suddenly realize you’re alone. You’re the only one in the whole building.
  • What if you stumble upon your parents who aren’t your parents but they look like them?
  • What if the spiritual realm became visible only to you?
  • What if a one hundred dollar bill was found stuck in your second story bedroom window and you know it’s not yours?
  • What if you bit into a cookie and found a ring inside with an inscription?