Thursday, July 31, 2014

Have you entered a first chapter writing contest lately?

Greetings fellow writers.  Contests, whether for published or unpublished authors, are a great way to get your writing in the front of an editor or agent.  To stay on top of the current publisher needs, it's smart to at least take a serious look at a score sheet.  Here is an example for contemporary romance, and judges score these categories from 1 to 10:

PRESENTATION: The entry is presented professionally, using 1” margins, double-spacing, and plain font. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.
Comments:

Score: ________

OPENING HOOK: The story opens with a hook that grabs your attention and pulls you in. The beginning tension and/or conflict is clear or hinted at.
Comments:

Score: ________

CHARACTERS: The protagonist(s) is/are likeable or at least intriguing. Their emotions and actions/reactions are realistically motivated. Characterization is shown well through actions, dialogue, mannerisms, etc. Dialogue sounds realistic and natural.
Comments:

Score: ________

WRITING STYLE: The writing is tight with no unnecessary verbiage or extraneous information. There is a good balance of narrative and dialogue. Background information is used to move the story forward either through characterization or plot. Point of view is clear and there is no head-hopping. The writing ‘shows’ more than it ‘tells’. Multiple senses are incorporated throughout the story—taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. The story is well-paced.
Comments:

Score: ________

ROMANCE: If the hero and heroine have met within the submitted pages, the tension or chemistry between them could lead to a believable romance. If the hero and heroine have not yet met, there is still a hint of a romance in the future.
Comments:

Score: ________

CONTEMPORARY-
Contemporary romance novels is a wide range of settings and novels, but should be free of paranormal elements. The author brings you into the setting of the here and now. You find yourself rooted in the here and now without nostalgia. The author use the setting and traits of modern life pull you into the story. The voice is contemporary. You feel you are in the town or family. They use modern technology like Facebook or apps on the tablets.
Comments:

Score: ________

GENERAL IMPRESSION: The story entices you to keep reading.
Comments:


Score: ________

Friday, July 11, 2014

Writers' and Readers' Obsession with Futuristic Novels

     At a time when the vast majority of people in our nation can buy everything we need, something in our brains wonders what it would be like not to have easy access to necessities-- water, food, shelter, shoes, and clothing.  Prosperity is a good thing, right?
     One of my favorite actors, Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on NBC's PARKS AND RECREATION is a woodworker.  In his article, MAKE YOUR OWN DARN GIFT, Nick writes he has too many gloves.  "I purchase leather gloves online that appear to be a good deal or just because I like their look.  Their nice cut.  Well-shaped fingers.  Add to the cart. Click to complete the order.  Here they come."
     In my futuristic novel set in 22nd Century Earth's second ice age, A BRAND NEW ADDRESS, Yardley mends socks to go with the boots she plans to give to a younger neighbor.  She is about to get the boots when she learns from her bother Dad's fiance' Pinky already gave them away.
     Simple socks, boots, gloves, and basic necessities are prized in futuristic novels.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where to Start a Novel

When a writer outlines a book, the nagging question is where to start.  The functional form of a thriller (my version of romantic suspense) is to start as late into the action as possible.  My character is thrown into a personal crisis midst great physical danger.   As I begin the second book of my Intervenus series, Betrayal at Crater’s Edge, taking place in futuristic Venus, habitable with an atmosphere, the hero, Marchand LaFond, is asked to help Dr. Scott O’Riley regain his own heath.  The neurosurgeon worked for evil BioMinds on Ice Age Earth.  Scott showed remorse over brain procedures dictated to him, and Marchand is loyal.  This quality is a major component of Marchand’s protective self-concept.  Marchand trusts the doctor whom he saved during the space race to Venus in book one, A Brand New Address.   Here is the start—Marchand’s goal is to help Scott regain his health, but an unexpected patient death arouses his reluctant (because he’s loyal) and sets him on a plan of action to find out what’s really been happening in the nearby crater.  The resolution is forced quickly when Scott’s associate, Vito Savage (from book one) decides Marchand must be killed to keep things secret.  I like my beginning hook.  It makes sense after having built the basic book’s structure.  Marchand’s opening threat of change answers the story’s question in Betrayal at Crater’s Edge.