Tag Archives: Games

Goals and Obstacles in every scene – Rule #18 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #18

18: Give your characters clear goals. Always. Every scene. And provide obstacles to those goals. Always. Every scene. If the POV character in a scene does not have a goal, provide one or cut the scene. If there is no obstacle, add one or cut the scene.

I have talked about this with almost every beta partner I ever had.  Why?  Because my first few beta partners spoke to me about this, and when I started listening, things started coming together for me.

This is where we start having to ax out “Little Darlings” – those scenes where two characters have a nice conversation, but NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

Make sure every scene has conflict, and if it doesn’t chop it out.  If it is important to you, you can always post it as an “extra” on your website.  [Smile]


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Battleship- A lesson in poor storytelling and great story telling at the same time

Hubbs just came home with “Battleship”. Yeah, he’s always good at picking out a nice romantic move for me. Bring on the explosions! Oh Yeah!

Anyway… I did not have high hopes for this movie because it was not in the theaters long… so let’s dissect why.

This movie is about aliens coming down to Earth and trying to blow everything up. For that part … well done. Excellent special effects and awesome aliens and ship designs.

But a story needs more than that, right? Characters and plot and people to root for.

Well, this movie had all that, so I was wondering half way through why I wasn’t enjoying it. Then Hubbs said, “I’m not really worried about any of these characters. I just don’t care.”

You know what? He was right.

However, at the end of the movie, a bunch of characters came in that were beautifully introduced at the very beginning of the movie, and all of the sudden you had someone to root for.

This is a horrible movie, with a great ending.

So what’d they do wrong? Let’s discuss.

Main character: We didn’t like him. Not in any shape or form. They tried to give him a “nice side” by having him break the law to get a girl a burrito so she will talk to him (don’t ask) but it just didn’t work.

The next problem is: right after this happens, the story swishes ahead years later, and he and that girl are going to get married. Huh? How’d that happen? We missed out on all that part of the story, so we were never engaged in their relationship. We didn’t feel any emotion or worry about either of them when they were in trouble because we never felt emotion between them. Make sense?

Next problem: I have no problem with a tramp troupe beautiful woman when it works. Transformers, for instance. (The first one… I try to forget the others were ever made) The troupe pretty girl worked there. In Battleship, they force-fed the beautiful girl in there that just didn’t need to be there for the story…and then they out of the blue made her a psychiatrist or something so she could be one of the secondary hero’s doctors to give her a place in the story, where the secondary hero could have done it himself. Sorry, didn’t work for me.

Poor choice of main character.

You will understand this if you’ve seen the end. The guys at the end would have been much better main characters. The end was awesome. What a testimony to retired armed forces, and good old fashioned building materials. Right?

We were on our feet, we were cheering. Oh wait, sit down, cutting back to the dumb bimbo again. Okay, back up on our feet! We’re back with the other guys!

The people at the end, to me, were the heroes… Good old fashioned heroes. These were the guys I wanted to see.

Get rid of the troupe hunky main character – especially one as unlikable as him

Get rid of the senseless bimbo factor, unless she really has a role other than driving a car and running in a poorly fit bra.

Keep the secondary hero that has a REASON for having a bad attitude. Yeah, I like the soldier without any legs. I understood why he was a jerk in the beginning. I wanted him to win. I was rooting for him.

Keep the guys at the end. (I can’t tell you who or it will be a spoiler)

Yeah, the movie would have been shorter if they’d done this, but the first half before the aliens got there was boring and pointless anyway.

I want to see a movie with the unexpected heroes at the end. People up against incredible odds, that you really and truly WANT to root for. They totally rocked!

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, totally. Awesome action… but with the exception of the end (which was great)… look at it as a learning experience about how to NOT write a story.

And yes… I’m going back to take a quick peek at a character that my betas have been saying is a little unlikable. I understand what they mean, now.

Oh!–Don’t forget that J Taylor Publishing is giving away five copies of the Make Believe anthology. Hop on over if you’d like a chance at a copy! http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/blog/?p=1125

Road to Publication #23: – Never Ending Edits

Well, I submitted the Arcs, and like I thought, a few of the things I asked for were turned down. Basic mistakes like punctuation and spelling were all a no-brainers and fixed (I hope).

Wait — OMIGOSH!  I just looked at my countdown button and there are only 21 days left until I am officially published!  Holy freaking cow!

**Ahem** Sorry… Shaking off the freak out.  Back to business…

Okay… those final edits… Here’s what happened.

The Chapter Headers, which I wanted in Edwardian Font, were changed to an awkward Arial Bold that just made me cringe… So if you read it on kindle, imagine that being beautiful scrolling letters that make you feel like you are outside. Funny thing is, The PDF version looks fine, so it might be different depending on the E-reader.

I also was turned down on the Ellipses. I knew they would say no, because I am reading another one of J.Taylor Publishing’s novels now, and I found exactly the same problem in that novel.

In a closing ellipsis, JTP’s standard format is a space before and after… no-matter where it falls on the page. This means that if you have the sentence, “I tried to do it but …” the “…” could very well drop to the next line, and appear all by itself. To me, that completely ruins the mood of what you might be trying to do, but that is the publisher’s choice. They want all their novels in the same format. I need to understand and live with that.

One section of the book had part of the scene removed in editing, and I had to “bridge the gap” because it was obvious there was something missing. It was easy… just added a scenery sentence, but in doing so I accidentally repeated the word “eased” in two back to back sentences. They asked me what I wanted to do and I changed one “eased” to “settled”. Good catch JTP. Thanks!

Finally: A single word came in to play again. The editor had changed one word in a scene that I really liked. I tried to get my original word back, but they declined. The word that they choose just didn’t work for me, but after asking around for suggestions, I found another word that we could both agree upon and BAMO! Yay! We are finally done.

So, I guess they weren’t completely unending. They just felt that way for a little while.

The Arcs are now complete, and the next time I will see Last Winter Red it will be published as part of the Make Believe Anthology.

Ahhhh. Published. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It’s Six Sentence Sunday! 7-29-12 #SixSunday

It’s Six Sentence Sunday!  If you’d like to hop on board this little blog hop, or just look up more great six-sentence excerpts, visit SixSentenceSunday.com

Today I am featuring six from my own work, tentatively titled “Connect the Dots”.  I am working on revising this for submission to an anthology in the next few weeks.

The main character, Jill (an adult)  is writing a letter to Santa

I picked up the pen, and began tapping it on the paper again.

Another line of scrolling black dots appeared across the sheet.

I eased back down into my chair.

What do I want … really?

The pen began to scribble, streaming across the lines with barely a thought from the woman holding it.

Sixteen little words stared up at me, the blue ink solid and demanding on the white ruled surface… permanent.