How to Make an Old Plot New

Your fresh ideas make your story unique! Don’t miss the video!

Andrea Lundgren

Plots have been recycled ever since stories have been told, reusing themes like sacrificial death, the poor becoming rich, the ugly becoming beautiful, and other archetypes. Even great works like those of Shakespeare or Jane Austen can be traced to other influences, ideas, and concepts, but how do you make an old plot new? How do you avoid making it seem like fanfiction or a warmed-over version of something that’s already been done?

  • Recognize that it can be done. Nothing defeats creativity faster than a feeling like what you’re doing is pointless. From Hamlet to Sense and Sensibility to Wicked and Ever After, new versions of old stories can be enjoyable, original, and fun.
  • Look for something different you can bring to the tale. It could be selecting an alternative narrative method, like turning it into a graphic novel or musical, or it could be changing the point-of-view from someone…

View original post 267 more words

Friday Five: Killer Dads in Literature

Dads in literature.

Well-Read Twenty Something

Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there!

Since my own father passed away six years ago, this day is rather bittersweet. Bitter in the fact that I miss him more than ever on days like this, but sweet because I love thinking of all the wonderful qualities he had as a father (I also make it a point to watch his favorite movies, drink Guinness, and eat double fudge brownies, which all help making it sweet). My dad also instilled my love for fiction, especially my love for Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and the older I get the more I find out that his favorite authors and books are quickly becoming my own as well.

It’s usually difficult to find excellent father’s in literature, but there are a few who stick out to me as exceptional.

1.Jean Valjean, Les Miserables 

OK, I may or may not be watching…

View original post 555 more words

Dangerous Visions, Excellent Advice

The chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage.

Writing in Overdrive

A number of years ago, I taught a couple of writer’s workshops at the William Saroyan Writer’s Conference, and Harlan Ellison was Guest of Honor. Harlan is one of the three writers I point to as the reason I’m a writer today (the other two are Ray Bradbury and Madeleine L’Engle). I was glad for the opportunity to tell him how much his work has meant to me over the years. Here’s a photo of Harlan and me (I’m the shoulder for Harlan to lean on):

image

I was recently rereading Dangerous Visions, the ground-breaking science fiction story collection Harlan edited. I first read the book in 1967, when I was fourteen. The book came out just months after one of Harlan’s most powerful stories appeared on newsstands in the March 1967 issue of Worlds of IF. That story was called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” and…

View original post 163 more words

When Writer Fear Strikes

writer fear, woman in despair, writer in despair

Focus on Promotion: Statistics, Strategies, and Sales by Martha Reed

bookbrowsing

Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to guest post on Bookbrowsing. I’ve been so focused on promotion that I haven’t taken the time to analyze my sales. The data I uncovered for this blog has been tremendously insightful. I’ll use it to shape my marketing efforts going forward.

In February of 2017, I published NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book Three in my Nantucket Mystery series through my Indie imprint, Buccaneer. From the get-go, I’ve tracked the sales results of my promotional efforts to see what worked best. Here is the analysis of those stats.

Baseline Availability

I used Amazon’s CreateSpace to publish NO REST as a trade paperback, and as a Kindle (.mobi) edition. I did not opt for the Kindle Select program, because I wanted my distribution to be as broad as possible.

I used Smashwords to create the other retailer e-book files I needed (.ePub for Apple…

View original post 600 more words

Listen To Your Characters

characters in conversation

characters in conversation

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
Ray Bradbury

The Writer’s Surprise Gift

Writer’s know when they are in the zone and the story flows. If you use an outline to hit the main beats of your story, you’ll know what you want to accomplish in the scene.
Your characters may be sitting on a park bench in the snow, digging a ditch as Nazi prisoners, chasing the bad guys, or any other scene you have imagined You begin a dialog between characters and all of a sudden they are saying things you hadn’t planned or considered.

Listen To The Characters

If you are into your story and know what makes your characters tick, when words start coming, listen. Your characters will add new dimension to the scene.
You already know to dispense with banalities–hello, it’s a great day, etc.–and get right to the conversation. Think of your dialog in the same way as the scene: start late, leave early.
Tweet: Think of your dialog in the same way as the scene: start late, leave early.
Dialogue that begins in media res (without preamble) is a strong way to begin a scene, drawing the reader in. Dialogue that ends early is a structured way to end a scene or chapter, often with a cliffhanger moment to keep the reader turning the page or, at the end, waiting for the next book in your series.

Add To The Story

As a storyteller, those unexpected words from a character can foreshadow a later moment in the story, add depth to both characters, complicate the plot, deepen the relationship within the story, and other story dimensions.
The benefit of having a rough outline is that as the dialog hints of story change you can make notes in the outline that further incorporate the discoveries as your characters speak. Those surprise moments from the characters often lead to other conversations later in the story.

Character Talk

In order for your characters to have conflict within their conversations, you need to know them inside and out. Know the backstory that is never mentioned that would prompt a character to think, respond, and say the words. Know how the two characters relate to each other with friendship, love, annoyance, hate, or unsuspecting naïveté.
The better you understand your characters, each one, the more surprising words will pop out unbidden. Then listen.

Zara Altair

Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos, are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.

Authors Go Wild with Free Books

May 2017 Book Promotion Crime Mysteries Thrillers Suspense

May Promotion!

A quick note to let you know the May promotion starts today!

Authors to Readers selected 20 authors in the Crime, Mystery, and Thriller genres. You know that’s a wide variety of books to read. Visit the promotion from today through May 12th for free novels and special promotions from each author.

Each author was personally invited and, then, vetted for quality.

Enjoy the reads. If you like the stories, show your appreciation and leave a review.

Forward this email on to your crime, mystery, and thriller loving friends. Share the joys of reading a favorite genre at a price you can’t beat–Free.

If you haven’t read The Used Virgin  or The Peach Widow this is your opportunity to read another Argolicus Mystery. The free version of The Peach Widow disappears at midnight, May 12, along with all the other specials. Be sure to visit today!

Thanks!

Zara