Monday, December 17, 2012

Coming up with stories

This past week, I spent most of my writing time coming up with stories. I actually came up with five ideas, wrote two storyboards and one synopsis.

This week and next I will take the two most developed of those ideas, and write good synopses and the first three chapters for each book.

Now, why did I come up with multiple ideas if I'm only developing 2? Two reasons...I'm saving the others. :) But also...I like to task batch.

When I'm drafting, I love to draft. When I'm proofing, I proof the cereal box. The same is true when I'm coming up with story ideas. When I'm working on ideas, I like to work on ideas.

I have a system. I start with a concept that I turn into a one-paragraph story idea. I turn that idea into a could, might, must and should list which I turn into a storyboard. And the storyboard becomes a synopsis.

You need a specific set of skills to write a one-paragraph story idea. Your brain needs to be very open when you create your could, might, must and should list. And you need to be in organization mode when you're doing a storyboard.

So since you have to employ a specific skill set and also have to "set" your brain to work a specific way...Why only do one idea? LOL

With your brain set to stretch and reach, why not let it do all the stretching it wants to do? When it's in organization mode, why only organize one idea?

The next time you're working on an "idea"...try working on a second idea too. And in the week or two weeks you've set aside to develop your might just end up with two stories rather than one!

Happy Monday


Monday, December 10, 2012


Over the past two weeks, I wrote my first ever anthology. I've written short stories for my website, around 10,000 words. I've written estories for eharlequin, but I'd never written an anthology.

I discovered a few things. Plotting an anthology is exactly like plotting a book. (Duh,
susan!) You scoff, but I know a lot of writers who don't believe the story needs to have depth. I know writers who believe the hero and/or heroine don't have to grow...that there's not enough room in the story for both characters to grow.

The truth is...there is. You just need to keep in mind the constraints of your page count. You also need to have scenes do double and triple duty. You have to think through your story.

But that wasn't a hardship because that's exactly what I do for my longer books. I remind myself that I am in the entertainment industry. I remind myself that readers like a story they can sink their teeth into. They like characters they want to read about. They like good secondary characters. They like a good setting...I'm reading BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE, the anthology with Heidi Rice, Kate Hardy, Aimee Carson and Amy Andrews...their "setting" is a blizzard that strands four couples over the holidays. Loved it! matter how long or short, a story has to have all the components to be something that pleases your readers. True, single titles have to have a bigger, broader story that gives the novel added depth, category romances have to focus on the romance and anthologies have such a short page count that you have to really work your words to death...but you can do it!

Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your talent. Then, work. Never expect a free lunch. :)

Happy Monday

Monday, December 3, 2012

FRA-GI-LE ... It must be Italian

There's nothing like a good Christmas story to stick with us and become part of our holiday tradition. My daughter and I watch WHITE CHRISTMAS like it's our job over the holiday. The boys are big fans CHRISTMAS STORY. And the whole family loves HOME ALONE.

How does a story get to be good enough to worm its way into our traditions? Well, for one, the story usually has heart. It appeals to something in us that wants everyone to be happy...especially the little girl or abandoned heroine or baby having her first Christmas or family losing their home or uncle suddenly saddled with raising his niece or nephew.

It hooks us "into" the holiday by being wrapped in tinsel, with twinkling lights everywhere, billowing snow and air so cold the characters' breath mists.

It reminds us of the best parts of our childhood...sleigh rides, the scent of warm sugar cookies, painting cookies with icing with our mom or gram, snuggling under the covers dreaming of gifts.

But most of all it reminds us to love. In a romance it's easy for us to get love in through the hero and heroine overcoming their struggles...but it helps if your H and H are bringing love back to a dying town, or giving love to a suffering child, or rescuing dogs no one else wants.

Because love -- especially love in the Christmas season -- isn't just about romance.  It's about the big picture. It's about saving someone else at your own expense, sacrificing, giving with no hope of receiving.

In final analysis, that's what Christmas is all about...and if you want to write a Christmas story...THAT's what you gotta get in there.