Wednesday, July 23, 2014

6 Days and Counting--AKA Why Aimee Went AWOL

Okay, guys, I know I’ve been completely letting the team down in terms of blogging this year. I promise, in a few days you’ll understand why, AND you’ll see that there’s going to be lots of new, fun, and chock-full-of- info posts coming over the next few weeks and months.

Here’s the deal: Some stuff is happening and has been happening, and I have news. BIG news. But it’s news I’m not at liberty to share until the 29th. (Cue Aimee groaning “This is KILLING me!”)
So, until then, keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook feeds for clues. And please accept my apologies for disappearing. It won’t happen again.
I hope…
Your Turn: What have I missed in YOUR life since April? Or, tell me what you think I’m going to say next week?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Read My Dear-Teen-Me Letter

That's right, I've being hosted as the author over at Dear Teen Me. This is such a special moment for me because that was the website that inspired Breakable. But also, I just plain love what they do over there.

If you're interested, head on over and see what I would say to my sixteen-year-old self!

Aimee

Apologies - It's Overhaul Time!

Hi guys, I know I have been seriously AWOL this year, and I owe you lots of new content. But fear not! It cometh!
 
Before I can get to that part, though, I need to do some work on the website. You may see copies of old posts coming up in your feed, and so forth. If so, please accept my apologies in advance. In order to more efficiently streamline content, I'm combining two sites back into one...
 
#TechnologyFail
 
See you on the other side - a lot more often! Ha!
 
Aimee

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Interview with TRINITY STONES author, L. G. O'Connor!

I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Liz over the last few years through our online contacts. So I'm so excited to introduce you to her, and her debut novel!

L.G. O’Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. A corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. Her debut novel, Trinity Stones, the first book in her Angelorum Twelve Chronicles urban fantasy / paranormal romance series published by She Writes Press will launch on April 22 and be available wherever books are sold. She is currently preparing the second book in the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, The Wanderer’s Children, for publication at the end of 2014. In addition, her adult contemporary romance will launch later this year. A native New Jersey girl, she lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls and loaning herself out for the occasional decorating project. When she’s feeling particularly brave, she enters the kitchen . . .

Find and connect with Liz in any of these places:


Thanks for stopping by, Liz! Your debut novel TRINITY STONES is releasing today and I'm so excited for you! I was lucky enough to get an early copy to review, but for those who haven't had the chance to pick it up yet, what is it about?  


Thanks, Aimee! It's great to be here. Your blog was one of the first blogs I followed when I started on my road to publication, so it's truly special to be a guest here today. TRINITY STONES is an adult paranormal romance / urban fantasy novel. It's the first of four books in The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, which is really one story told in four parts.  



TRINITY STONES starts the story with Cara Collins, a single investment banker with an anxiety disorder, who mysteriously inherits $50 million on her 27th birthday. Up until that point, she’d between dealing with an awful work situation and the fact she can’t seem to get over her close friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon, a married man she can never have.


The first thing she finds out when she inherits the money is that she must keep it secret or those close to her could die. As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race.


In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai. But when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear. In doing so, she realizes it’s not just her heart, but rather her destiny, that is entwined with the two men in her life.



What inspired that story for you?


The seed of the story started with Cara and Kai’s relationship. There are a handful of people in my life with whom I have strong ties, and feel like they’ve been placed there for a reason. I love the concept of attraction and love binding us to someone even when, intellectually, it doesn’t make sense. I’m not a believer in coincidence, so I have to wonder: Is it destiny? Is it something beyond our own consciousness driving it? What bigger, better thing is going to be the outcome of that relationship? Do we sometimes play the role of an angel for someone else?  



You're a member of the popular She Writes group. Can you tell us more about that - how did you connect with them, and what made you decide to go with She Writes Press?


Yes! I found SheWrites.com, a writing community with over 20,000 members, through a writing course I took at New York University in 2012. My professor was a member, and she suggested that I join. The community consists of both published and unpublished members. It’s an excellent and supportive resource for writers at every level. I highly recommend it!


She Writes Press (SWP), which is affiliated with SheWrites.com, started a little over two years ago, and is run by Brooke Warner formerly of Seal Press. What’s awesome about SWP is that it really offers writers a ‘third way’ to publish. It’s a hybrid/partnership publishing model falling somewhere between traditional and indie publishing. Just to clear up any confusion, there are other publishers claiming to be partnership publishers who are really just glorified vanity presses. She Writes is not one of those.

As an author, what publishing with SWP means to me:


·         I’m part of a community of SWP authors—also releasing this spring—who I can lean on for support and learn from. That has been the BEST part.

·         I keep my copyright and rights to my work with no obligations to SWP for future work

·         I keep 100% of movie and audio rights with no obligation to pay a royalty to SWP (Audible here I come!)

·         My work is vetted to traditional publishing standards

·         My work is available through the traditional distribution channels via Ingram Publishing Services (Distributor for Big 5), appears in their online catalog (Edelweiss), and is sold by their sales team to bookstores, libraries, etc.

·         My royalty rates are higher than traditional publishers (and Createspace!)

·         I’m eligible for reviews by both traditional and self-publishing review outlets


The downside? There’s an upfront cost attached to publishing with SWP vs. traditional publishing, but it covers your cover design, interior layouts, proofreading, and all your distribution set-up and metadata management.

Aimee, your readers are welcome to shoot me an email directly at lgoconnorbooks (at) gmail (dot) com to learn more.



What's the best part of your writing life right now? And the most difficult?


By far, the best part is connecting with readers during pre-launch! Also, the unbridled enthusiasm of my beta team, friends, and family leading up to the launch has been fantastic and so uplifting. I’m hoping for almost 100 attendees at my Barnes & Noble event on May 3rd where I live in NJ. If anyone out there is from the Garden State, please stop by! My website Press & News page has all the details.

The most difficult thing lately has been juggle everything else while editing the second book in the Angelorum Twelve series. As you can imagine, I’m on a deadline to launch this fall/winter. In the meantime, I’m writing a prequel novella to Trinity Stones, called Hope’s Prelude, that I want to release on digital before the second book comes out.


Did I mention I also work full-time? *laughs* I just take it one day at a time, attacking my ‘top 3’ things for that day and hoping my husband still remembers me when I crawl into bed every night.



Do you have any advice for authors considering this route to publication? Anything you wish you'd known before you started? 


I loved this route for my first book, since I wanted that extra hand holding and someone else to do the grunt work involved in production. My advice: Don’t be afraid. I won’t say it’s been easy, but overall, I feel like I had more creative control, and got to market faster than if I went 100% traditional. That said, I’m all for multiple paths to publication. I’m considering a traditional path for my adult contemporary romance series with a May-December theme. The full manuscript is currently in the hands of an agent that I really want to work with…


There’s not much I wouldn’t done differently… 



And finally, what's your next project? And when can we expect to see it?


I have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, maybe too many!

For the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, I’m barreling toward production with the second book, The Wanderer’s Children for launch later this year. I also mentioned Hope’s Prelude, if all goes well, that should hit the digital shelves late this summer. While a good 25% of the draft for book three is complete, that will be a 2015 release for sure.  


My adult contemporary is a May-December romance between an older woman and a younger man set right here in New Jersey. I finished it during National Novel Writing Month this past November. I’m super excited about it! Trying a new genre was a nice break. There are two novelettes that follow it, which I’m also writing as we speak. I’ve also identified a second novel based on one of the characters in the book. Release date is TBD.


I’ll be posting progress on all my projects on my website www.lgoconnor.com


Oh, and one more thing that I’m really excited about: I have a digital only YA-approved version of TRINITY STONES that I originally wrote for my teenage nieces. It’s for those who want an adult read without hot love scenes (just sayin’). It’s available exclusively through me. Requests can be sent via email to lgoconnorbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.   


Aimee, thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate all your support!

My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by, Liz!
Your Turn: Any questions for Liz? Ask them in the comments! Otherwise, if you want to pick up TRINITY STONES you can take your pick:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple iTunes / or grab an author signed copy here: www.TrinityStones.com


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - The Plot "W" Round-Up

The previous posts in this series can be found here.

We've finished identifying all the critical plot points! Now it's time to take a step back and make sure we know how to put them together.

The truth is, the wordcount between each plot point will expand and contract for different writers and genres. They'll also overlap. What I'll show you today is the structure I've found works best for me.  Maybe it will work for you too, but hopefully you'll at least get an idea of how to figure out your own.

If you google "Plot structure" you'll get all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. Some are very straightforward: 




Others will look like this.








Still others might feel like this:









But in the end, most agree on two things: Good plotting requires peaks and troughs.

Personally, my Plot W usually looks something like this:

If you view the length of the arrows as wordcount, events in the first act are fairly swift. The protagonist's story  moves quickly through set-up and she experiences a dramatic down-turn in her circumstances early on.

The second act tends to be the longest, with the most drawn-out trough. The Protagonist learns a lot during this period and tension is developed through a series of smaller wins and losses.

Then, towards the end, the protagonist's journey becomes dire. At that point it's a swift and steep climb to the end.

In terms of the plotting elements we've discussed in this series, they fall roughly in this design:


Note that the very first element, (B1 - World Building) occurs simultaneously with the other beginning elements.

In practice, many of these plotting elements will overlap - particularly those at the very beginning.  And I've left the indicator for The Black Moment off because that changes depending on the book. But I'm hopeful this will give you some idea how I see these elements working together, and how I've come to structure them in relation to each other.

So, that's it folks! We now have a solid, structured plot development plan to help you move from beginning to middle to end.

If you have any questions, jump into the comments and let me know. Otherwise, keep an eye out for some later posts in this series where we'll discuss how these plot points look in different genres.

Your Turn: Do you tend towards a certain 'shape' for your plot, or is each book different?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - Endings #3 - Ribbons and Bows

All previous plot posts can be found here.

Source
Bloodied, panting and with soot smudges all over their face, your protagonist staggers out of the ashes of your climax to pump his / her fist at the world and say "I DID IT!"

But there's still another five-to-twenty pages to go. 

Yes, there is.

You aren't finished yet.  You've got some loose ends to tie up.  There's still some pay-offs to pay out. You're embarking on those final steps, tying the bow on top of your plot package. Nudging your reader and saying "Don't worry, I didn't forget..."

Okay, okay, I'll get on with it.

You have one goal for the final chapters (or epilogue, if that's how you roll): Resolution.

There are only two critical elements for resolution, but I'm throwing in a third that (in my opinion) makes for a really satisfying read:

#1 Thing Most Professionals Say a Resolution Needs - The tying up of loose ends.

There will always be one or two questions left unanswered by the end of your climax.  Whether new information comes to light, a previously unattainable character is freed, or your protagonist 'wins' something they didn't have before, one way or the other you've got to use these pages to make sure your reader isn't jumping on Google the minute they're done to find out "Whatever happened to Aunt Ruth and Lassie?"

#2 Thing Most Professionals Say a Resolution Needs - Safety / Sanctuary

Even in a book that's part of a series, even if the overarching conflict hasn't finished, these final pages should show the protagonist in safety.  Even if it's only temporary.

This is where you want to dissolve tension. This is the big pay off. We've just watched them win, now reassure us that they're being rewarded for being such a great, noble protagonist.  Show them in love, or in victory, or safely shielded from the people who still want them dead.  However you choose to achieve it, make sure that (like the Almost Lull) there's a definite sense of sanctuary about their circumstances.

3# Thing Aimee Thinks Your Resolution Needs - A Prose Mirror

I'm not the only one to say this, but I don't run into it every time I'm studying craft, so...

Remember that first chapter, those opening pages? Somewhere back there is the mental image your reader associates with the beginning of your book. 

If possible, bring the book full-circle by mirroring that scene, circumstance, or setting in the closing pages, or somehow bringing the reader back to the beginning of the emotional circle.

You and I both know everyone doesn't do this. Not every book makes it possible. But most do - and it doesn't have to be trite:

Maybe in the opening pages your detective was in the car on their way to a murder case.  So maybe at the end they're in the car telling (or being told by) the same colleague those last few details that needed to be cleared up.

Maybe your Cowboy was struggling to train a stubborn horse in the opening pages. Maybe at the end, the son whose custody he's fought to win is in the ring with him learning the ropes with an equally stubborn mule.

I'm being overly simplistic to get the point across, but you know what I mean.  If it's possible, bring something from the intial impression of your book into the end.  Whether it's a setting, a saying, an object of importance, who cares? What we're looking to achieve is the sense of 'full circle'.  This is completion. The satisfying feeling of a job well done.

It's the opportunity to close the book on that...er.... book.

Now - we're almost done!  Next Post: The Plot W Round-Up

Your Turn: Last chance for questions about any of the Critical Plot Elements posts, or to give me ideas for examples you'd like to understand better. Comment here or email me.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - ENDINGS #2 - Climax!

You can find all previous posts in this series here.

Source
We're rolling into the final stages of your book! The countdown is on, the stakes are high, the protagonist is primed to win or lose.  These are the pages your reader has been waiting for since the very first chapter. Every comment they make about your book from here on out will be colored by their evaluation of these scenes.

No pressure.

In an ideal world, everything that happens in the next 5-50 pages (depending on what kind of climax you've built to) will be surprising - but predictable in hindsight.  Ideally you've laid a trail for the reader that they couldn't quite decipher until they read these scenes and then they're jumping up and down and screaming "Of course! Why didn't I see that?!"

There are some exceptions to the rule, but if your genre's different to mine, you're (hopefully) an avid reader of it and have a much better idea than I do what elements make for a satisfying climax.  So I'm not going to focus on events here, but rather on elements that a lot of novice writers may skip or include through inexperience.

THE MUSTS:

Emotion. I'm not talking about your characters being emotional, I'm talking about bringing the reader to a heightened state of tension.  Depending on your genre you'll primarily use love, grief or fear to drive this, but regardless of which emotion you're aiming for, it's critical that your focus is on the emotional journey.  Make no mistake, its the feelings the reader experiences in these pages that will make or break their final opinion of your book. And that means you're better off making them feel angry than nothing at all.  Capeche?

Active Protagonist. I can't stress this strongly enough.  It means one thing: Whatever events lead your book to its conclusion, regardless of who is involved, the protagonist must be instrumental in bringing it to pass.  They don't have to do it alone.  They don't personally have to 'win' every conflict.  But when the reader sighs with satisfaction and looks back on what just happened, they must see that the deciding factor between victory and defeat was the protagonist's contribution - otherwise, why have we focused on this person the whole time? 


THE MUST NOTS:

Off-Screen Action.  This is simple: If it affects the ending, you should write it in scene.  Having one character walk on stage and inform the other characters / reader isn't enough. This does create certain challenges for first person / third-person limited points of view.  But that's why you're a writer.  Get creative. The reader has been waiting for this through the whole book.  Don't steal part of their thunder by leaving important action off-screen.

Deus Ex Machina.  I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again: If you don't know what this is, for goodness sake, google it. Study it. Look for it in literature - because it is out there. And it's NOT satisfying for the reader.

Wikipedia defines Deus Ex Machina as: ""God out of the machine"; a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object."

Did you catch that? "...NEW event, character, ability or object." If your final problems are solved by introducing anything in those last pages, head back to the drawing board.  If you can't get rid of that event, character, ability or object, find a way to weave it (or foreshadowing of it) into the earlier text.

There's a very fine line between laying a trail of smoke (something that the reader can see only in hindsight = good) and throwing something totally unpredictable into the mix at the last minute.  If you do the latter your reader will feel cheated.

ONE MORE THING TO CONSIDER:

This is a personal observation, rather than something I've learned elsewhere, so I'm separating it out.  But I'll tell you that my reader heart really despises a final explanation that hinges totally on dialogue with the villain.

If you're as old as me (or older) you'll remember the old Batman and Robin television show wherein at the end of pretty much every episode the villain would put Batman in an apparently impossible position, tell him everything they'd done and why, then walk away so the now fully-informed Batman could save himself (perhaps with Robin's help).

While this technique ticks all the answer boxes in minimal time, there's a reason most movies / books nowadays don't use it: it's unrealistic and not really very satisfying. 

Today's readers are more sophisticated, more analytical.  If your villain reveals all his / her tricks at the end without being forced to do so it feels...well, forced. 

Deep down we all know our opponents in real life hide things from us.  They don't want to share information, they want to outsmart us.  We take that knowledge subconsciously into our reading.  We like to see our protagonist outsmart our villain.  We like to have the trail laid so maybe we can outsmart the villain.

In every final conflict, there's going to be some form of reveal. I'm not suggesting your villain shouldn't give anything to the conversation.  But the better, stronger, safer bet is to have laid the trail throughout your prose. Let the protagonist piece together whatever they need to win. And just give a little space for final details to be ironed out.

And please, whatever you do, don't have your villain walk away from the protagonist. I used to watch those old Batman shows and think "Why didn't the Riddler just shoot Batman there when he had him, instead of setting up a lazer beam that would take two minutes to cut through the steel beam Batman was on before it cut the caped crusader in half?"

If your villain has to walk away to provide the opportunity for your protagonist to win, you're not writing smart enough.  In my opinion.

Now, if you've written a plot that forces the villain to walk away or lose, well... you're on the right track.

Next Post: The "Plot W" Round Up

Your Turn: I've been asked to explain how the plot structure might apply to different genres, which I plan to do in a blog post at the end of the series.  If you have a question regarding applying these structures to your genre, or anything else you aren't sure of, feel free to ask the question here and I'll answer it - or find someone who can.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - ENDINGS #1 - Crisis

Source
You can find all the previous posts in the critical plot elements series here.

I've used the terms 'climactic chapters' and 'climactic events' a lot in this series.  We're now entering that territory.

The first time I wrote a book it was a surprise to me that the climactic events didn't start in those final pages when everything was drawing to a close, but rather, several thousand words earlier.

Reading Techniques of the Selling Writer (no, they don't pay me to keep plugging that book - I just found it SO useful) helped me to understand how and when the actual end occurs.

So, here we are.  The beginning of the end.  And even though there's thousands of words left to go, we're on the uphill march to victory (I hope).

What's the first element of your ending? 

Crisis 

Not just any old, run-of-the-mill crisis, mind you. This isn't just a delay to the protagonist's plan.  It isn't just a complication.  This a knock-down, drag out, change-the-feature-of-the-landscape kind of crisis.

Depending on your genre, this kind of crisis could be anything from an overprotective parent showing up, to a psychopath with a nuclear bomb threatening to bust the globe open like an overripe melon.

The problem isn't important - how your protagonist feels about it, is.  Because this crisis MUST achieve three things:

1. It must make the current state of affairs untenable.  The protagonist and other major players must be forced to act and act fast because things literally can't go on as they are.

2. It must narrow the field of options.  Ideally in the grand, breathless, climactic moment we want to see your protagonist left with only two options - good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no.  The crisis should go a long way to eradicating most (if not all) the options available.

3. It must be unexpected, unavoidable, and preferably life-threatening. 

An excellent example of a crisis is in The Hunger Games. ***Spoiler Alert*** Suzanne Collins did a great job of creating a crisis that appeared to be climactic - Katniss and Peeta victorious over all the other tributes and therefore, the winners of the Hunger Games... except the Gamemakers changed the rules.  Now, suddenly, Katniss and Peeta are pitted one against the other and forced to come up with a new plan for victory.

However you choose to do it, whatever your genre, make your crisis a no-turning-back moment.  The beginning of the end.

Next Post: CLIMAX (Part One)

Your Turn: Can you think of any other good examples of a crisis in a novel?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - INTERLUDE - The Black Moment

Source
Like the inciting incident, this black moment is unlikely to be the only black moment in a novel plot. But this moment should be the black moment - the portion of the story that takes your protagonist to the darkest place in your pages.

I marked this post 'interlude' because there's a range of philosophies on where and when the black moment should occur.  But as long as you've got one just before, or during the climactic events, you'll be fine.  Tune in to the Plot W Round Up post at the end of this series if you're uncertain where your climactic events begin.

What is 'The Black Moment'?

In short, the black moment is a perfect storm of emotional despair, circumstantial defeat or discouragement, and personal crisis.  When the black moment occurs, it should plunge your protagonist to the bottom of the barrel emotionally - and make it appear to the reader that their story just couldn't get worse.

The black moment IS an emotional, internal crisis.

The black moment ISN'T a series of events or circumstances (though events or circumstances may trigger a black moment).

The black moment ISN'T NECESSARILY the point in your climactic events during which the protagonist appears to have been defeated.  (As noted earlier, there are a plethora of options for how and when to engage the black moment and the bottom of the climactic roller coaster is only one of them).

EXAMPLE OF A BLACK MOMENT NEAR THE END OF THE BOOK - ***SPOILER ALERT***: In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver when Grace has infected Sam with the meningacoccal virus and believe's he's dead.  (Though, in my opinion, Ms. Stiefvater didn't make full use of the intensity available to her).

EXAMPLE OF A BLACK MOMENT PRIOR TO THE CLIMACTIC EVENTS: In Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after Ron and Harry fought and Ron left.  Harry and Hermione hit bottom emotionally for a while and wonder if they're ever going to figure this thing out.

EXAMPLE OF A BLACK MOMENT EARLY IN THE BOOK: In Stephanie Meyer's New Moon, Edward leaves Bella and she takes the emtional plunge just a few chapters in.  Love her or hate her, Ms. Meyer has (in my opinion) achieved something rare in her choice to combine the black moment and the inciting incident.  Bella's emotional hole drives the entire novel from that point forward.  Her climb out of despair literally lasts through to the final pages. 

I'm sure you get the picture by now, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

The most important aspect of the black moment isn't its location, but the reader's awareness of (and empathy for) the protagonist's emotional darkness.  Every book needs a moment that tears the reader apart because they just want the person they're rooting for to get a break.  If your book doesn't have it, you're going to have a hard time selling it.

Next Post: The Beginning of the End - Crisis!

Your Turn: Can you think of an example of a really impactful or harrowing black moment? What about it made you want to keep reading?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - MIDDLES - #4 The End of the Middle


Source
There comes a time in your story where your end is in sight.  I don't mean the scene before your climactic events kick off - I mean drawing Act II to a close.  Zipping up your middle.

If you've followed this series so far, you know we've taken several steps towards this point.  But there's still another element to go before dragging the reader into the breathless events of the end: The Almost Lull.

The Almost Lull is not meant to be boring.  It is not meant to let the readers eyelids droop.  But it is a time of sanctuary or preparation.   A break in the tension that allows the protagonist (and the reader) to breathe.

It's a time of 'sequel' - when the protagonist gets to consider where they've been, where they have to go, and what they expect from it.

In order to do this right, I believe you need three things, two for the protagonist and one for the author:


Key Elements in the Almost Lull

PROTAG: Physical Safety

Physical safety is pretty self explanatory, but indulge me in a couple nuances.

Safety in this case doesn't mean 'completely untouchable'.  We're looking to reduce tension, not dissolve it altogether.  So, keep the overarching pressure on, but give the protagonist a scene or scenes in which their physical (or emotional) danger is at bay.  But make sure the reader knows this moment won't last.

The most likely tools here will be a time limit (either implied by the protagonist's plan to move ahead, or already in place), or the future plan (i.e. the protagonist's plan to achieve victory means things must move ahead soon).  But whatever mechanism you use, make sure the protagonist knows - or learns very quickly - that things will soon change.

EXAMPLE: If you're a fan of The Hunger Games, consider the moment when Katniss is hidden with Peta. She knows she's relatively 'safe' from the other players at that moment, but there are other problems - and she's got to reengage eventually.  Safety is tenuous and won't last forever, so the anticipation of danger is on a slow boil, rather than lukewarm.


PROTAG: Focus on Decision Making

During this time of safety or rest, the protagonist's focus should be on making a decision - one that forces them to weigh up what has come before - and what they anticipate will come in the third act.

This is the perfect time to remind the reader of anything important, to lead them through the logical reasoning that brings them to the end (and to throw in a dash of 'This Terrible Thing Might Happen').  But at all costs you (the author) must avoid the final element...


AUTHOR: Avoid Repetition

What?! You say? How do we remind the reader of what's happened without repeating?

It's a simple rule of thumb - and one you should use throughout your text, but most especially here:

Use a feather, not a mallet. 

Don't have your protagonist say (or think) "Remember when this happened, then this happened... well I guess I'll do this then..."

Instead, let your narrative assume the reader remembers all the events leading to that point.  Talk to them like someone who has all the same information.  Talk to them as if you'd talk to yourself... but with word pictures of course.  Let them see the protagonist's reasoning, rather than stepping them through events.

For example, DON'T:

Tori remembered that night when Dan admitted he'd cheated on her.  The feelings of betrayal and grief were overwhelming.  She felt like a favorite dress, thrown into the goodwill bag to make room for a new, glittering gown. 

How could she possibly raise a son whose father treated her like trash? But how could she give up a life that was half her?


For example, DO:

Tori's hands drifted to her swollen belly.  The baby kicked.  The tiny jab offered reassurance - and a bruising reminder of how he'd arrived in her life.

Would her son be better off in a home untainted by betrayal? Or would her love make up for his father's abandonment?


I'm being overly simple for clarity.  Hopefully you see the point. 

In the DON'T example, the narration simply repeats events - things the reader has already seen and heard.  It lowers tension in a bad way because the reader wants to skim, to get to something new.  (It's also a melodramatic metaphor).

In the second example, the reader gets a taste of Tori's simultaneous joy of motherhood right alongside the painful reminder of betrayal.  They see her dilemma and are drawn into her consideration of adoption.  They stay firmly in the story - reminded of the past, but not forced to rehash it.

Use this technique everywhere in your writing, but use it intentionally here because this is the point in your story where we transition from What Happened to What We've Been Waiting For.

Next Post: The Black Moment - Staring at the Bottom of the Barrel

Your Turn: Can you think of an 'Almost Lull' moment from your favorite book?