Sunday, March 25, 2012

Does your story pop?

Does it have the wow factor?

If it doesn't jump off the page and grab the reader, its not going to make it. Agents and publishers read query letters looking for something different. Readers surf Amazon finding stories that grab them.  It comes down to the premise.

Two questions need to be asked: Has it been done before? Is it different from the others? Tired premises are like cliches. Everyone has heard them before. Here's a few I can think up.
  • Divorced, alcoholic detective solves murder.
  • Astronauts crash on mars.
  • Vampire invades small rural town.
How do these sound compared the above?
  • Divorced, alcoholic detective solves murder with help from an angel.
  • Astronauts crash on mars and find subterranean world that parallels earth.
  • Vampire invades small rural town and runs for mayor.
Okay ,maybe not the greatest examples, but you get it.

 Ron D. Voigts is the author of the Penelope Mystery series.  His latest book, Penelope and The Movie Star, is still available until the end of March for 99 cents.

Monday, March 19, 2012

There you are!

This week's blog is brought to you by the word there

There is probably one of the most overused words in the English language. As a location it doesn't really tell anything. I can't tell you where it's at except probably not here.  Someone tells you the book you're looking for is over there. If they don't point, look or nod to some location, the information is useless. Confucius said, "No matter where you go, there you are."

It's a pronoun, but I be darned if I know for what.  Most pronouns have an antecedent, but I'm not sure what it is for there.   "There are many roads that lead to Rome." What does there refer to? Rome? Many roads?  

Not sure. Is it wrong to use? No. Is it good writing? No.It's a weak word and falls in the genre as passive sentences.  Finding a better sentence without there will strengthen any writing. Yes, sometimes you can't avoid it, but see if you can write it better.

There (intended) you have this week's blog.  I did  want to mention my interview on Kris Wampler's Blog. If you get time, stop by and take a peak. Also, check out Kris's book Love Train available at Amazon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Big Secret to Writing Great Scenes

I've been writing for over 15 years and it wasn't until last year that I gave this serious thought. A lot of times I see this in beginning writers, but it also appears with veterans of the keyboard. Ironically this is the type of thing you do not easily find in books on writing. Here are two scenes I came across recently.

In the first one, John Doe is driving home from his girlfriend's house after spending a boring evening with her parents. The drive is long and rainy.  Foremost on him mind is the big meeting with the boss. When he gets home, Sally calls to let him know he forgot his sunglasses.

The other one has the detective, sidekick and perhaps a few friends sitting in a bar (or  restaurant or an office) discussing the case and what the next step will be.  By the scene's end everyone parts ways, perhaps with a idea of what to next.

What is wrong with these two scenes?

. . . . . . . . . . .Times up!

Nothing happens. From the start of the scene to the end, the status quo is maintained.  To write a good scene, something has to happen that directly affects the plot or a subplot.

The next thing is change.  Something changes when the scene has ended. Things are not the same as before. The change in most cases will complicate things or at least carry an existing complication further. Occasionally it may resolve a conflict, but create a new one.  Exception is the book's end that resolves the big complication.

Finally, the change involves choices.  A decision is made that will affect the course of the story.

Back to the first scene. John Doe is driving home from his girlfriend's house after spending a boring evening with her parents. The drive is long and rainy. A tire blows out. He looses control of the car and careens into a ditch. (something happened). With no cell phone signal, he decides to start walking. Soon a Lamborghini driven by knock-out gorgeous woman comes by, and she offers him a ride  He hesitates knowing how jealous his girlfriend Sally can be but decides to take the ride anyway. (A decision was made.) When he finally has a signal, the cell phone rings and it's Sally calling to tell him he forgot his sunglasses. At that moment, the woman driving the car happens to say something about going to his home. Sally hears her and gets the wrong idea, They fight. She calls him a two-timing jerk and hangs up.  (Something changed).

I'll let you figure out how to fix the talking heads.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So, what's going on?

I continue to watch Penelope and The Movie Star statistics on Amazon. So far they have been dismal. It seems as if March shut down sales. On the hand, perhaps dead time is to be expected in this business. Many times I've seen on forums for Amazon, and Barnes and Noble postings, asking if anyone else has seen sales decline. I have no explanation why one week is good and another not.

On a positive note, I have had a "borrow". As part of KDP Select I will get a piece of pot. Yippee! Currently for March Amazon has $600,000 put aside. I've also reduced the book price to 99 cents for the month. That means if the payouts are what I have heard they've been in the past, chances are a good I'll make more money on a borrow than on a sale. Next month the price goes back to $2.99.

Also, next month I have a blog tour coming up, starting April 20. I'm excited to see how that turns out.  Coordinating the tour is Bewitching Book Tours.  I've hear a lot of good stuff about them. My daughter who has a book blog called Bittersweet Enchantment ran a promo last month. Check out her website!

Those are some new things going on in the world of Penelope Mysteries.