Tag Archives: Protagonist

Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 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 #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.



Rule #8 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 #8

8: Show, don’t tell. Much vaunted advice, yet rarely heeded. An example: expressing emotion indirectly. Is your preferred reader intelligent? Yes? Then treat them accordingly. Tears were streaming down Lila’s face. She was very sad. Can the second sentence be inferred from the first? In context, let’s hope so. So cut it. If you want to engage your readers, don’t explain everything to them. Show them what’s happening and allow their intelligence to do the rest. And there’s a bonus to this approach. Because movies, of necessity, show rather than tell, this approach to your writing will help when it’s time to begin work on the screenplay adaptation of your novel!

I have to admit that I am guilty of this, and when I’m writing, I don’t even realize it.  I KNOW not to do this, and I can pick it out in someone else’s novel in a second.

So why is it in my own?  I’m not really sure, to be honest, but when a beta reader points it out, I always scratch my head and say, “How the heck did that get in there?”

Let’s reiterate SHOW DON’T TELL.  For instance:

Tell:  The vicious dog barked at the fence

Show: The dog’s lip curled up as he snarled, his teeth biting through the chain link fencing.

In the second example, we don’t come out and say he is vicious.  If you’ve done your job well enough, your reader should be able to figure that out.  Also, you will notice, there is quite a different emotional reaction in the second sentence, isn’t there?  That’s the magic of show rather than tell.  The shown image sinks in and resonates with the reader.

Pluck out a telly sentence from your own novel and try to change it up.  How did you do?

JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

A review of Sweet Blood of Mine by @John_Corwin

Jump aboard!  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!  I really enjoyed this story from so many angles it’s not funny.

This is a story about an overweight geeky teen boy who suddenly becomes a soul-sucking incubus. (Don’t blame him.  It’s hereditary.)

The only problem is… no one told him anything about it, and he has no idea what’s going on.

I loved the world-building in this novel, and the voice is AWESOME. The main character seems real, and deals with his “changes” in a realistic way.

The only thing I can fault in Sweet Blood of Mine is the beginning, which is a bit long and drawn out.  I was so interested in the character’s voice though, that I kept reading.  The writing is fluid, and very well done.  And, in the end, I’m glad I kept reading because I ended up just LOVING this story, and cheering the main characters on as these two teenagers set off to on an adventure to save the boy’s father from the nasty supernatural bad-guys.

I’m going to dock one star for the overly-long beginning, but once you get past that, and his abilities flare up, this is an action packed roller-coaster ride of fun.

Oh yeah – here’s a warning.  This book is free right now, and this is a classic case of free done well…  There is an excerpt of the next book in the last few pages. And guess what I did?  Yep – I clicked that Buy it Now button.

This is a perfect example to me of how giving away a free book can work.   This book was so good that I didn’t hesitate to pick up the next one.  Be warned – there’s a whole series of these suckers, but at $2.99 a download, I’m good with that. If you like to romp around in the YA world (just inching toward new adult) I would HIGHLY recommend this.

Review of “The Glass Man” by Jocelyn Adams

Strap yourself in.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I actually finished this book last year, and it was in my top five reads for 2012.  I never got around to reviewing it, so here’s a quick overview.

My opinion? I want to be Jocelyn Adams when I grow up.  Well, not completely, but I would love to have the “flow” that her writing style has.  She is really “readable”.

Have you ever read a great book, but it was easy to put it down?  Well, Glass Man is a great book that your husband has to pry out of your hands to make sure you go to bed at night… I call that “flow” because there is no hard break in the writing… as a reader, you just keep reading without knowing what’s going on.

Glassman is a story about a girl with supernatural powers and has no idea why she has these powers.  She is being chased by “The Glass Man” – a man who killed her entire family when she was young, and has been hunting her ever since.  Yep, this is one of my favorite tropes – the CHASE NOVEL.  Wahoo!  Action abounds!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end, with a few very minor nit-picks.

Nit Picks:

#1 is the language. Yeah, yeah, stamp me a prude, but I cannot relate to a heroine with a gutter mouth.  I’ve said before, using the word sh*t or even the F-bomb if you fall and hurt yourself is okay.  It’s natural.  But riddling the dialog with profanity bothers me.  I have to subtract a star for this.

#2 is that the main character is wearing a ridiculous outfit for a long time during the climax near the end of the story. Why Why Why? Is all I have to ask.  The narrative, which is otherwise outstanding, high energy and tense, is challenged, and at times ruined by the dumb outfit that the bad guy made her wear. I just don’t know where the author was going with that.  Maybe it was supposed to be comic relief, or maybe titillation… for me, it just made me roll my eyes.  So for this, I need to subtract another star.

Now let’s chat for a second about the character of the Glass Man.

Best Villain I have ever read

 Like EVER

Wanna lesson on how to write a villain?  Pick up Glass Man.  I mean DANG.  I actually found myself rooting for him most of the time.  He is just so darn bad you have to love him… and I just love a hot sexy villain.  He’s not bad… he’s doing the right thing!  Who cares if everyone else thinks he’s a psychopath?????

Pure brilliance on the villain, and I would LOVE to see a prequel that was based solely on his character.  There is a mention of an earlier event with the MC of this story where the villain actually “won”.  I would LOVE to see that made into a book.  Let’s cheer on that bad guy. Yahooooo!

Okay, so, if you didn’t catch my enthusiasm, I was trying to say that the villain was awesome, and for him alone, I will give this book an extra star.

So that’s a total of four stars for the Glass Man.  If you like paranormal stories, and can get in to a chase novel with a dash of romance and two supernatural being kicking the crud out of each other, you will just LOVE this.


Write a Story with Me # 33 – What? OH NO! She didn’t! by Danielle Ackley McPhail

Last week Janelle took off — literally, leaving the old lady with Mommy bleeding to death and in a ton of trouble.  What’s gonna happen?  Here’s Danielle Ackley McPhail’s first contribution to our story!

33- Danielle Ackley McPhail – Wait, she’s who?  What?  OH NO!  She didn’t!

Morana watched her unsuspecting daughter go, her lips tightly set and her eyes sad. She remembered more than a time before the faeries were looked on as vermin…she remembered when they had been kin with humans. When all kind were linked and not separate.

How dark and grim the world had become since that time.

With a sigh she turned back to her patient. Poor Natalia, forsaken by all and sundry; all but Morana, and now that the last witness was gone it was time to see to mother and babe.

Queen Morath of the fae shed the weight of her borrowed years, shed her human form, the aches and pains and the blurring of her eyes. All fell away like flakes of skin to dust leaving the most beautiful and powerful of fae standing over the human woman, who sprawled upon the floor in her own blood, the babe’s cord still trailing from her body, wet and glistening.

“tsk…let’s clean you up, my lovely, shall we?” Nearer to human height than the diminutive size the fae had become in the after-time, Morath bent gracefully down, folded the delicate membranes of her wings back and safely away from the mess on the floor before reaching out one ivory-pale hand to trail through Natalia’s hair and down the curve of her back. Magic sparkled in the air at the touch as like recognized like deep within the two races now drastically different. Queen of life and death as well as fae, Morath ordered the woman’s lifeblood back within the confines of her veins and wicked away both sweat and blood normal to the birthing of children, and with it the memory of that night’s ordeal…all of it. Natalia remain unconscious—blessedly so—as the faerie queen scooped up the woman’s son to cradle in immortal arms.

The child cooed and burbled, making the faerie queen laugh before she grew somber once more. “Come, Verval. For your own safety and theirs, you need be the price for my healing.”
And Morath rose in a cloud of glittering motes, secreting the foretold boy away before any harm might come to him or his parents for bearing him.

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One —Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

Part Thirty-Three — Danielle Ackley McPhail

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Siv Maria Ottem— TAG!  You are “It”

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

Work in Progress Challenge Part two. And I Promise to be honest

Okay… here we go.  If you are wondering about the title, I don’t want to get into it again.  Check out my post from yesterday (or click here)

First, Thanks to Roger Colby at Writing is Hard Work for forcing me to do this giving me this opportunity.  Roger’s novel “This Broken Earth (The U.S. Of After)” is available now.  Please check it out.

Without further ado… Here is the Work In Progress Challenge.

1.        What is the Title of you Work In Progress?

Oh yay!  That’s an easy one.  Well, Maybe not.  The novel I am polishing up right now it is tentatively called Fire in the Woods.  But I am also considering “115 Degrees of Perfect”  I could explain either title, but if I did, I’d have to kill ya, ‘cause it’s top secret stuff at the moment.

2.       Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

Oddly enough, I got this idea over a weekend while considering another project.  Jenny Keller Ford cued me in on an anthology.  At the time, all she knew was it needed to be a HEA or HFN (Happily ever after, or Happy for Now) and under 10,000 words.  My brain stewed on this over the weekend, and what I came up with was the premise of Fire in the Woods.

However, I was unable to use it because when I actually saw the writing prompt (it was a picture of a woman in red standing in the snow) it just wasn’t a fit (Which is okay, because Last Winter Red, the story I did write to fit that picture – is being published)

Anyway… This original idea was squiggling and poking me for a few months until I had to write it or give up my sanity.  I’m glad I didn’t try to write this in 10,000 words, though.  The story is too complex.

3.       What Genre would your WIP fall under?

Hmmm.  This could be a tough question.  I want to say Sci-Fi, but when people think of Sci-Fi they drum up images of Star Trek and Star Wars.  That’s not what this really is.

I think it is really more like a Contemporary Urban Fantasy.  It takes place in present-day New Jersey (in the USA)  The main character is a seventeen year old girl, who gets taken on a roller coaster ride when she meets a mysterious boy in the woods.

4.       Which actors would you choose to play characters in a movie rendition?

This is a question that I usually try to avoid.  One reason is that I do watch movies, but I don’t pay attention to actors/actresses names as much as I used to.  In this case, though, I can answer it for at least one character.  The character of David could definitely be played by Taylor Lautner.  Jess and Maggie (two characters) actually mention how much he looks like Taylor.

Maggie is a bouncy haired-pretty blonde eighteen year old.  Anyone want to fill in the blanks?

Jess, the main character, is a little conservative, but I purposely gave her the “any girl” appeal.  The reason is, that Fire in the Woods is written in first person (that means she refers to herself as “I”)  Since I was using this POV, I wanted anyone reading to be able to fit themselves in her shoes.  So, in answer to this question… she would have to be a no-name actress so people could look at the screen and see “anonymous”.  This would help keep them in the story as the “I” character (Did that even remotely make sense?)

5.       What is a one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

ERGHHH.  Admitting to skipping this and coming back to it later.


Okay, I’m back.  One sentence, huh? ERGH!  I hate things like this, but everyone really should do this.  You need to be able to spit out your plot in one sentence if anyone asks you in passing.  Especially for that random publisher you might meet in line at the grocery store – Don’t laugh… it does happen.  Why not be ready?

Okay, yes, I’m stalling.  **sigh** okay, here we go…

Fire in the Woods is about a teenage girl who meets a boy in the woods, and ends up on a roller coaster ride chase across New Jersey to save the boy, and ultimately, the world.

Hey!  That actually sounded pretty good.  Yay for me!

At this point, I am going to stop because I know that I frequently don’t have time to read really long posts.  So in honor of your time, I will finish this up tomorrow, when I’ll answer some really odd questions.  And maybe you can help me with a few.  ???

Until then …

The Big Announcement! Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #4 The Big Announcement!

I am so excited to announce that I’ve just signed a contract with Still Moments Publishing to have my story Connect the Dots included in their 2012 Christmas Anthology.

This is totally unbelievable.  In January, I posted a big boisterous banner proclaiming that I WOULD BE PUBLISHED by the end of 2012.  It was quite a lofty goal for me, and now I will have two stories coming out this year.

I’m giddy with glee.

Hey, Canada.  Look South.  See that big bright light down in the USA?  That’s me smiling!

Oh, guys.  This is just so dern cool.  You have no idea.

Click here to see my query blurb and promo page for Connect the Dots.  Yeah, No explosions.  I was a good girl for Christmas.

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #3 — OMIGOSH! You Gotta be kidding me!

You know the drill.  This is all I’m allowed to say.

Need a Hint?

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #1

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #2

Six Sentence Sunday – A blast from the past. This is funny.

It’s Six Sentence Sunday again.  Today’s is gonna give you a giggle. I’m going to allow you to wallow in my ineptness.

If you haven’t heard, Six Sentence Sunday is a group of people who mostly post their own work, but I just shoot out six sentences of whatever takes my fancy.  Sometimes what I’m writing, or sometimes what I’m reading.  If you want to find out more, click here.  Visit Six Sentence Sunday Site.

I’m still reading Oracle by JC Martin.  I didn’t want to post another 6 sentences from the same work, so I was sitting here at my desk, and I saw a printed copy of my early novel HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT hanging out, feeling abandoned.

I thought it would be fun to open it up to a random page, and just pick six sentences.

Now… I wrote this well over a year ago, maybe even two years, as last year at this time I was editing it.  I laughed when I read this passage.  I am going to curtail my inner-editor and post it exactly as it is printed.  Mistakes and all.

Yes, thank goodness, I have come incredibly far in a little over a year.

At his feet, an arbor bug struggled to scale a small mound of dirt.

Harris sighed as he watched it.  Why doesn’t it just walk around it?  After it fell back for the third time, Harris flattened the mound with his foot, and the small creature continued on its way.  He closed his eyes and smiled, actually finding gratification in helping something so small.  Would Daniel Hyelven have done that?

OMIGOSH!  Can you stand how much tell is in those six sentences?

Did I really use the word “it” four times in the same line?

This is really embarrassing.   I just couldn’t believe it, but I thought it would be worth a laugh.

I just love this story, and someday I will go back and fix it.  After looking at this paragraph, I know it will be a huge undertaking. 🙂

Hope you got a good giggle!