The Death Star problem

Writing sequels…from Phill Barron

The Jobbing Scriptwriter

I was 10 when I first saw Return of the Jedi and, like the rest of the trilogy, loved it. It was the film I’d been waiting three years for and every frame of it etched itself onto my heart.

But even then, deep in my prepubescent lust for all things Star Wars, I recognised a problem … the second Death Star. The same thing again.

I didn’t know what a plot was, but I knew doing the same one twice was … well, a bit shit.

But it also kind of makes sense.

I’ve always found it weird in Batman comics when a supervillain almost succeeds in their nefarious schemes only to be thwarted at the last second by a combination of Batman’s awesomeness and pure dumb luck. It almost worked, if one variable had been different, if Batman had been one second longer defusing the bomb … different…

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More Mysteries for April

 Enter the world of Argolicus!

More Mysteries for You

Once your books are published, connecting with other authors is an excellent way to get your books in front of more people. The simplest way to do this is called cross-promotion. Join with one or several authors to promote each other’s books.

This month I joined with other crime writers. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t like mysteries. Here’s you chance to check out new writers in the mystery and crime genre.

Go to our April Crime Authors page to explore a variety of stories.
Along with The Peach Widow you’ll find more fun reads for free or low price. What better way to relax in this Spring Break time?

Fans of Argolicus may like these books:

A.K. Lakelett has a new Occupational Hazard series and the first book is The Good Riddance Project: A Project Management Mystery.

Cecelia Peartree offers the 5th in her Quest series with A Quest in Berlin. Reminiscent of the master Helen MacInnes, a couple plunges into danger in post-war Berlin.

Ryn Shell pairs two young girls in Australian history in Billabong Escape as an Aboriginal girl and a rich white girl become unlikely allies against inner-city crime.

Fans of female private investigators will love Judith Lucci’s Michaela MacPherson and her retired police dog Angel as they tackle international human trafficking in The Case of Dr. Dude.

There are more books, so head on over to the April Crime Authors page and find a book.

Don’t forget to tell your mystery-loving friends about this special promotion.

Independent authors rely on our readers for support. If you read any of the books please read a review. Retailers such as Amazon count reviews, the more review, the more a retailer features the book. That means authors like me are grateful for each and every review.

When you leave a review, you help other readers make a choice about purchasing the book.

Thanks again!

Zara

Get To The Story: The Beginning

Get to the story, tips for beginning a novel
Picture

L—d! said my mother, what is all this story about?
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman  Laurence Sterne

When readers begin your story, they want to know certain elements, and very soon. Gone are the days when the scenic, lingering beginning of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native will draw in a reader. In modern preference, readers want to know the genre, the protagonist, and the story right away.

New authors may struggle with introducing required story elements without getting to the story.

The other day I began reading a “suspenseful spy thriller.” Chapter One consisted of a finely detailed conversation “introducing” the main character in his everyday world but without one iota of suspense. The chapter was filled with finely detailed descriptions of the setting, the protagonist’s appearance including down-to-the-buttons attire description, tools used with experience, and backstory about a family member. I began to wonder if this was a romance presented in the guise of a thriller. If it had been billed that way I would not have purchased the book, much less started reading. OK, I’ll give the author a break. Maybe the story starts in the next chapter.

Nope! Chapter Two presented the “save the cat” details of the protagonist caring for an ailing family member and a long description of a native talent built to professional standards. Now I was curious: when does the story start?

Finally, in Chapter 3, the intrigue starts. The author had already lost me. My curiosity drove me to find where the story started but I had lost interest in the story. I stopped reading.

The Pitfalls of the Beginning

In the first few pages of your novel, you need to get the reader into the story. I am certain that the author of the spy thriller believed she had met story essentials by portraying the protagonist’s normal life, showing that he was empathetic, and illustrating his unique talent. In doing so, she left the story behind.

In a recent article literary agent Peter Miller described his pet peeve in opening pages of a novel:

I enjoy when writers can find a balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”
Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

Writers need to find the balance between the “accounting” and the initial intrigue that makes the reader wonder what will happen next. In order to get your reader to keep reading get them to care about the character and their story dilemma. Readers want a sense of this is only the beginning how is it going to get worse?

Other major novel beginning pitfalls:

  • The tone of the narrative immediately. Reassure the reader that the genre you promised is what is in the story.
  • Minimize descriptive details at the beginning. No laundry lists of features either of the protagonist or the setting. Sprinkle details as the story progresses.
  • A gratuitous hook that is there just for excitement but is not part of the story–often a sex scene.
  • Backstory – the protagonist thinking or dreaming about what happened before.
  • Adjective and adverb heavy sentences.

Start the Story

No matter how many books your read or formulas you consider for writing a story, at the beginning engage your reader. Reassure them that the story you promised feels like the genre they want, gets your protagonist in action right away, and delivers a dilemma that keeps them reading for more.

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.
She consults with a select group of writers as The Story Bodyguard.

Tips and Tools for Book Launch Success

book launch for a new book

Save Your Favorite Images and Media on WordPress.com, Anytime

New feature for WordPress.

The WordPress.com Blog

We’ve added a new media section to your WordPress.com dashboard, allowing you to bulk upload, edit, and tweak your media files. Let’s look at the changes:

Upload Media in Bulk

Add new items in bulk by going to MediaAdd New to activate the file picker. You can also drag and drop items right onto the page.

Edit Media

Now you can edit media files as you add them to your post or directly from the media section. To modify media information like the title or caption, select the items you would like to edit, then click Edit.

In the details view, you can update the title, caption, and description. Any changes made in these fields will be saved automatically for you.

Edit Photos

If you have a photo that needs to be cropped or rotated you can now update this here, too! From the media detail view…

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Writing Advice from Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler

the psychopathology of everyday life – Adrian McKinty’s blog: Writing Advice From Raymond Chandler

“A long time ago when I was writing for pulps I put into a story a line like “he got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water.”  They took it out when they published the story.  Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing: just held up the action.  And I set out to prove them wrong.  My theory was they just thought they cared nothing about anything but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, they cared very little about the action.  The things they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half open in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death.  He didn’t even hear death knock on the door.  That damn little paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just wouldn’t push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell.”

Using my Magnum voice

The long process of story and rewrite as only Phill Barron could tell.

The Jobbing Scriptwriter

One of the problems with writing a film script is the length of time it takes to write/produce versus the length of time it takes to read/watch.*

A script of 110 pages may take an hour/hour and a half to read# but it probably took the best part of a year to write from spark of conception to final draft. Sometimes longer. I have a script due to go into production which began life in 2009 or maybe even 2008. The first six months was an intense period of rewriting and thrashing things out. Everything since then has been periodic rewrites to accommodate various cast members as they get attached or to please an array of investors/producers/whims as they appear and disappear.

Coming back to a script after a couple of years of not thinking about it is an enlightening and terrifying experience.

“Why did I think that

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