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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Michael Connelly

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Craig Sunter
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Craig Sunter

Today we are going to shift gears back to craft. Last week we talked about the single largest problem with most first-time novels. There must be a singular core story problem that is resolved in Act Three.

All good stories must have an overall goal.

Now, this of course doesn’t mean there are not a lot of subgoals along the way, but all tributaries eventually deposit into the same river (core plot problem). If they are not related to this problem? Likely you have a plot bunny (or ten) in need of caging.

Yet often emerging writers will toss around this word “character-driven story” when they really don’t understand what this term means. All too often they mistakenly believe it is a pass to skip plotting. Nope. Sorry. So today we are going to discuss what a “character-driven story” really is and what it isn’t.

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Now we all know there are all kinds of fiction and some genres naturally lean toward being “plot-driven”. We don’t want to read a mystery where we are never told whodunit and are instead exploring the detective’s fatal character flaw.

We want the killer uncovered and brought to justice. Thrillers? Same deal. Stop the SUPER BAD THING from happening (I.e. Militant vegans launching the super weapon that turns all bacon into tofu).

Now, this doesn’t mean these stories cannot also be character-driven. They just don’t necessarily have to be. Yet, often what will separate the forgettable detective book from, say a Harry Bosch book, is this added layer of character depth that just gives the story this delicious je ne sais quoi that leaves us wanting more.

We walk away from the story feeling as if we have bonded with living person, not just some writer’s imaginary friend. But the character-driven story must work in tandem with PLOT. Plot is the fire that heats the crucible. No fire? No test.

The World View

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Whenever we begin with our protagonist, this character (like real living people) has a distinctive world view that is born of his/her backstory. This world view is created by millions of variables colliding to make one special distinct personality.

Who were the character’s parents? Was the character adopted? Abandoned? Abused? What did his parents do? What was their world view? Does the character share this view or is he opposed to it? What traumatic events forged this adult (or teen) personality?

Y’all get the gist.

A character who was born into a military family that moved every two years is likely going to hold a vastly different world view than a character born on a family farm in Iowa. Both will be different than a character raised by a grandmother in a Kentucky trailer park because dad died when his meth lab blew and mom is in prison.

Story Challenges then Smashes the World View

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As Author God, we get to choose the protagonist’s world view, but THEN it is our job to then smash it. How do we smash it? We create the perfect problem (story) that is going to shatter what the character believes to be true.

For instance, let’s look at a mystery-suspense that is also a very character-driven story. In Connelly’s book The Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller is a rock star defense attorney. He is a product of his background with a famous lawyer father, a man so great in his field, Mickey is a mere shadow. As we can tell from this quote, Mickey is a product of his rearing…

“You know what my father said about innocent clients? … He said the scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you fu*& up and he goes to prison, it’ll scar you for life … He said there is no in-between with an innocent client. No negotiation, no plea bargain, no middle ground. There’s only one verdict. You have to put an NG up on the scoreboard. There’s no other verdict but not guilty.”

Haller screwed up once. He defended an innocent man but the evidence to free the guy just wasn’t there and he lives with the guilt that he talked an innocent man into taking a plea bargain for life in prison because it was the only way to save him from the needle.

When the story begins? Mickey has no interest in guilt or innocence. He doesn’t want to know. And, better yet, to avoid innocent men? He actively courts the worst of the worst as clients—pimps, drug dealers, outlaw bikers, etc.

But then he takes the case for Louis Roulet and everything changes.

Roulet is not just any case. In the beginning, Mickey takes him on because he is rich. He really doesn’t care if the guy did the crime or not. That is not his purview. But then, as the plot unfolds, Mickey realizes that Roulet might be responsible for the crime his innocent client is now serving time for.

The PLOT PROBLEM challenges Mickey’s worldview. It forces him to change, to question who he is, what he stands for and what he really believes. Now, this book might have been fine as a straight up mystery suspense if we just cast a very different character and focused more on solving who really was beating and raping the victims.

But, what makes this book stand head and shoulders above other mysteries is we are there to witness the evolution of Mickey Haller. He begins as a man who claims justice doesn’t matter and evolves into a man willing to die to do what is right.

Connelly didn’t write a book where Haller spends 100,000 words questioning why his father never loved him, why he has a hole in his soul and feels nothing for his fellow man, why he isn’t a better man *queue violin* Why? Because that is not a story, that is self-indulgent tripe.

How a Character Can “Find Herself”

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All right, but some of you might be yelling, But Kristen, this is still a mystery suspense and it partially plot-driven. What about my story? My protagonist wants to “FIND herself”.

Hold on. We are getting there.

Hate to tell you this, but this story will also have a core plot problem. There must be a challenge to the worldview that is eventually resolved. Seriously, no one wants to spend 15 hours reading navel-gazing. Even in these types of stories there is a core plot problem complete with stakes and a ticking clock.

A good example? The 1999 romantic comedy Runaway Bride.

Maggie Carpenter is a feisty, spirited woman who just cannot seem to have success in relationships. She has left three men at the altar already and had it not been for the plot problem? She very well could have left far more.

But what happens?

Columnist Homer Eisenhower Graham or “Ike” gets a scoop from a drunk at the bar about this woman who leaves all these men at the altar. Ike then writes a flaming tabloid about Maggie, but he screws up. He gets a lot of the facts wrong and is fired for not doing his research. He is given the opportunity to redeem his reputation by doing a follow-up story on Maggie.

Now, Maggie is lost, but she doesn’t realize she how lost she is until Ike, believing he yet again is missing the real story does some digging and talks to those who know her. He challenges her that she is running because she is mimicking the men she loves (as evidenced by the way she eats her eggs). She is morphing herself to be each fiancés dream girl and losing herself in the process.

Why hasn’t she pursued her dreams? Does she even know what they are? Does she even know who she is?

The story problem forces Maggie to confront the ugly truth about herself. Instead of risking failure reaching for her own dreams, she is hiding behind the men she dates. She is driven by fear.

The stakes are love. Will Maggie ever find love? When she uncovers who she really is, can she marry Ike (or anyone) as a distinctive and whole person?

But the core story question is, Will the Runaway Bride ever tie the knot? And since this is a romance, the question is (more specifically) Will the Runaway Bride tie the knot with Ike?

If our story merely ended with Maggie leaving for a yoga retreat in India on a journey of self-discovery? That is a crappy story. And again, there was a problem that forced this journey of self-discovery in the first place and this is a problem in need of a satisfying resolution.

So when you are looking at your protagonist, ask the hard questions. Who IS this character and what is his/her worldview. Then, craft a problem that will challenge and smash that view and replace it with a superior lens.

What are your thoughts? Does this help clear up the idea of “character-driven” stories?

I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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Blogging for Authors February 3rd, 2017

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For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on

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Okay so on Monday I talked about 3 Mistakes that Will Make Readers Want to Punch a Book in the Face. One of the mistakes involved the twist ending. Very often a writer believes she has written a twist when in fact, it is NOT a twist at all, it is a twerk.

Twisting the reader? YES. Twerking the reader? NO.

You’ve heard the literary term MacGuffin? For the sake of a simple analogy, I’m adding a new one and it is called a MacGyver 😛 .

How is a MacGyver a twist?

We know MacGyver is in a bad spot and he has two choices. The obvious one. A gun. Blast his way out. Or he has is det-cord, glitter, and coffee stirrers.

OMG! How can he ever survive?

MacGuyver uses what he is given and fashions the glitter, det-cord and coffee stirrers into a small incendiary device that creates the right distraction for escape. How? Because he paid attention in science class and knows that the components that make up glitter include copolymer plastics, aluminum foil, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides. He also knows the burn rate of det-cord and the tensile strength of coffee stirrers.

The cheap ones. Not the good ones we steal from Starbuck’s.

Using his knowledge and resources in his possession, he creates the “event.”

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This is how a twist and MacGyver are a lot alike.

A twist cannot happen unless the elements are there, provided by the writer either all at once or over the span of the story.

Also, all of MacGyver’s solutions come organically from who he is. We KNOW he is a geek who rocks at applied science, so it is no surprise that he fashions a glitter bomb. He doesn’t suddenly develop a skill set he never before possessed. His solutions are are not predictable, but they are always logical.

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Twisting is not twerking. Readers LOVE a twist. Twerking just pisses them off….and makes them feel dirty.

Today we are going to explore a some components of a good twist. I’m going to use an example from my favorite author, Michael Connelly. If you have not yet read The Last Coyote I apologize for ruining it, but in fairness you have had since the 90s to read it.

Components of a Good Twist

Easter Eggs

A good twist whether that is within the story or at the end requires a collection of clues. We as writers are God, but our powers are limited. We can only create results from components. Meaning we cannot spontaneously create dynamite. Dynamite is C3H5(ONO2)3.

This means that over the course of the story, we must sprinkle around some carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen for the character (protagonist or antagonist) to gather. From THESE components (which could fashion everything from water to pencil lead) our character then fashions dynamite.

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In The Last Coyote Detective Harry Bosch is on forced leave and going stir crazy. He decides to look into his mother’s murder even though it is a cold case over 30 years old. His mother was a prostitute who was strangled with her own belt (a belt Child Harry had given her as a gift) and her body dumped in an alley.

Throughout the story, there is emphasis on the belt (with silver shells), the earrings (gold) and necklace (gold). There is also emphasis on a set of fingerprints that have never been matched, but that belonged to the killer. Even though his mother’s death DID involve a lot of powerful and corrupt people (who are taken down throughout the story) they actually did not murder his mother.

Much of the story begins with a Christmas card Harry received from his mother’s best friend (Meredith Roman) who was also a prostitute. She was his mother’s best friend and a surrogate aunt to Harry. He’s ignored the card until now. He is in trouble with his job, in forced therapy and has to reexamine his life.

Roman sent the message that starts the investigation and by the end of the book, it is clear who the murderer really was…the woman who started it all.

Harry’s mother had found her “White Knight” and her way out of being a prostitute. Elated by the news, she’d run home to tell her best friend. Meredith felt betrayed and abandoned and snapped, killing Harry’s mother in a fit of passion.

How do we figure this out?

A number of other factors, but namely that women generally strive to coordinate (a notion later suggested to Harry by a female character who was studying the crime photos and found the choice of accessories “odd”).

At the time of her murder, his mother was wearing a dress that didn’t require a belt. So the long-held theory that she was strangled with her own belt falls apart. Her earrings and necklace were gold, so why a belt with large SILVER shells?

Before, police never could figure out exactly where his mother was killed. But in the beginning of the book we are told that the two women often borrowed each other’s clothes. This makes the likely crime scene the friend’s apartment…a place detectives at the time would never known to look.

Once Harry opens his mind to the idea that his mother would have never worn that belt, that someone else might have used it as a weapon of convenience, he then can explore a new avenue never before imagined. He takes the card (the one from the beginning of the book) has the prints lifted and compares them to the prints lifted off the belt.

BINGO.

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But Harry had to have all of these other elements in order to make the connection or it is no longer a twist. It would be cheating. He would have to know that the women shared clothes, that the friend had been rejected before by the man who eventually proposed to his mother. He would have to ponder the meaning of the gold and silver mix. He would have to have the card with the prints embedded in the paper.

Additionally, these insights are logical. They are logical in context of chronology. It is logical that in the 1960s a female would not have been part of the investigation, thus this “feminine” angle was logically overlooked.

They are logical in terms of character. It is logical that Dr. Carmen Hinojos (a police psychiatrist) would note the discrepancies from a female POV (thirty years later).

It would not have been logical for a hard-boiled, chain-smoking male detective to say, “What? My mother didn’t match accessories? Clearly this is a fashion felony! We must investigate!” *swishes out of room for a half-foam sugar-free latte*

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After the Obvious, Only the Inevitable Remains

Throughout the book, all of the obvious players are taken out. The hard-nosed DA who was tough on crime (but who was seeing a hooker and who stood to lose his career in scandal). The shady detectives who buried the case. The high-powered political broker who was counting on the DA to make it all the way to the White House…save for his secret. The angling pimp, and on and on.

Remember, after all the obvious is discarded, all that remains is the inevitable.

We were served the killer in the beginning (Roman). But, in the beginning we lacked enough information to solve the problem (same as our protagonist). But as the events unfold, we come to see what was right in front of us all along.

Good Twists Evolve from Character

Yes, good twists evolve from the components provided, but they also arise organically from character. 

Like MacGyver cannot help himself from choosing to make a glitter bomb over using a gun, Heironymous Bosch cannot help himself from seeking the truth, no matter the personal cost. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Even though the obvious suspects have gone down, the killer has not.

This propels Harry into Act Three.

Act Three is where the protagonist undergoes metamorphosis from lowly protagonist to hero. The difference is a hero continues when most mere mortals would have been satisfied with the answer.

Harry has no one. He was an orphan and Meredith Roman is the only family he has left in the world, but truth trumps all.

A Solid Story Can Stand Without the Twist

Jenga Cat hates your plotting.
Jenga Cat hates your plotting.

In all fairness, The Last Coyote would have still been a good book had it just been about taking down the multitude of powerful people who’d buried the murder of a prostitute.

Very often new writers hinge the entire story on the twist. Remove the twist and the book collapses. That is because it is a twerk and NOT a twist 😉 .

I know that most of us love the movie The Neverending Story but this is a prime example. The story is beloved because of amazing puppets and pioneering efforts of CGI. Story?

Meh.

The protagonist (Atreyu) sets on an adventure to stop The Nothing from devouring the realm. He is sent to the Swamp of Sadness and we all cried when his horse, Artax died. Boy comes across a giant turtle who is off his meds who tells him he can only find his answer at the other end of the world and it is a billion gazillion miles away.

Dramatic music cues. Unlikable boy hero sinks into swamp…until a LUCK DRAGON rescues him and flies him exactly where he needs to go.

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Without intercession from Falkor the Luck Dragon, the entire story falls in on itself. Additionally, there are no Easter Eggs provided for this intercession. It just happens because the screen writers got themselves in a major plot problem and invented the Luck Dragon lest they be fired.

Also, we as viewers could never have predicted this change in events. Remember a good twist is not obvious but is logical. This radical shift in events is not birthed from the characters. Atreyu does nothing active but is rather whisked along by serendipity.

If your novel comes with giant Jim Henson puppets and CGI? Feel free to ignore my suggestions. If not? At least consider them.

A good rule of thumb is we can always use coincidence to get us INTO a problem, but not OUT of one.

To review. THIS is a twist.

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THIS is a twerk.

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So what are your thoughts? Do you see these as being necessary components of a good twist? Are there some others you can think to add? Are there some ways twists are blundered? What are some of your favorite twists?

I love hearing from you! (btw NEW CLASSES LISTED BELOW 😀 )

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Upcoming Classes

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

I am trying something new and offering an open and interactive workshop. Is your first page strong enough to withstand the fire?

Battle of the First Pages

June 16th, 7-9 EST. Cost $25

This is an interactive experience similar to a gong show. We will upload the first page and I will “gong” when I would have stopped reading and explain why. We will explore what each writer has done right or even wrong or how the page could be better. This workshop is two hours long and limited seats available so get your spot as soon as you can!

So You Want to Write a Novel 

June 17th, 7-9 EST. Cost is $35

Just because we made As in high school or college English does not instantly qualify us to be great novelists. Writing a work that can span anywhere from 60,000 to 120,000+ words requires training. This class is for the person who is either considering writing a novel or who has written a novel(s) and is struggling.

We will cover the essentials of genre, plot, character, dialogue and prose. This class will provide you with the tools necessary to write lean and clean and keep revisions to a minimum.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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If you’ve been writing any amount of time you have been there—THE SUCK. This is where no matter how hard you try, you just cannot seem to move your story forward.

Though “normal” people might laugh at the above meme? Writers know that quicksand is freaking everywhere. You think you’re on firm footing and then down you go and the more you struggle, the worse it gets.

From personal experience combined with my experience with hundreds of writers the process can look like this.

Shiny Idea Time—You get the coolest idea ever conceived of and cannot believe such genius has never before been put to the page. It’s as if angels have come down and handed you a golden feather that will whisk you to the realms of literary nirvana.

First 20K Words—You’re flying high. You wonder why you ever had such difficulty with word count before. You cannot stop the flow. Perhaps you forget to eat, don’t want to sleep and you even dream of the world you’re creating.

20K-30K—This is when the pace begins to slow. It’s okay though. Perhaps you’re simply tired. It’s okay. This…THIS is the story idea you’ve been waiting for.

31K—Your pace slows dramatically. If you’ve ever been driving and suddenly had a flat tire? You know the feeling only this is in the brain-fingetips connection. There is a THWUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP…and your mental steering wheel jerks wildly. You might try to ignore, but eventually? You pull over to see what’s wrong.

But then? Nothing seems wrong. That’s weird. Mental tires all look properly aired. Maybe more caffeine is in order.

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Perhaps you make it to 40K but by then? All the glitter is gone and you wonder what the hell happened. At this point, you likely will be visited by other story ideas. They see you on the side of the creative highway bewildered and seeming to need a ride. Though you don’t yet have your thumb out, these other newer and shinier ideas are quick to pull over and chirp, “Hop in!”

Just abandon that old clunker and GO!

It’s all so tempting. Especially since the longer you stay trying to fix your broken down WIP, the more shiny ideas come passing by. When you started your journey, the road was free and clear for you to floor your brain and write like the wind! Now? You can barely concentrate on where you placed your mental jack because temptation whizzes by every other minute.

I think this is a fairly accurate prediction regarding word count. If it weren’t then NaNoWriMo would be a cinch. But, alas, there is something about making it to 50K. It’s a number that leaves most who attempt such a feat broken down wondering what went wrong.

Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.
Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.

Before you call a tow truck for the WIP and sell it for parts, I’d like to offer you some insight and maybe even some solutions to get you speeding down the Imagination Express once more.

Problem #1—The Antagonist is Weak or Nonexistent

This is one of the reasons I love teaching my Bullies and Baddies class (and yes we have one coming up SOON). After years of working with writers, it became clear to me that many didn’t understand—truly understand—the antagonist. It doesn’t help that a lot of the teaching on the subject can be terribly confusing.

I’ve heard classes where instructors used the term “antagonist” and “villain” interchangeably, but that is grossly inaccurate.

A villain is only ONE TYPE of antagonist.

All stories must have a strong core antagonist, because the antagonist is responsible for the story problem.

No antagonist, no story problem in need of solving. Too often, new writers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the hero and don’t give near enough thought to the opposition.

Problem #2—Plot Weak or Nonexistent

If a writer has failed to understand the antagonist (opposition) and truly know what this opposing force wants then the plot will simply disintegrate. When we’re crafting any work, we have to create a problem that is strong enough to bear the weight of the word count.

For instance, I’ve consulted many writers who had an excellent idea…for a short story. The problem was inherently too weak to sustain the bulk of a full-length novel.

Instead of plowing forward, often we can make some really simple adjustments to buttress that core idea. But if we don’t? It’s like trying to drive 90 pulling a crappy trailer. The wheels eventually WILL go flying off.

Often when we’re stuck, it’s the subconscious mind hitting the breaks. It’s trying to tell us our plot needs to be more robust or even clarified, which dovetails into my next point…

Problem #3—Too Many Ideas Crammed into One Book

Some writers might not have enough heft to the plot and others? Perhaps you’re loading on far too much. It’s not uncommon for me to talk to writers who are jammed up in a bad way only to find out they are trying to develop five ideas in one book.

Since the author failed to articulate what the book was about in ONE sentence (truly understand the antagonist’s agenda), then the author was at liberty to explore whatever cool rabbit trail presented itself.

This isn’t particularly bad, but it does require we STOP, get focused and maybe tease out those other ideas for subsequent books. You might think you only have one book, when you have two others freeloading and bogging down your momentum.

Problem #4—Wrong Protagonist

Casting the wrong protagonist is really easy to do, especially if we failed to properly develop the antagonist. Remember at the core of most great stories is an antagonist who’s essentially the shadow self of the protagonist.

For instance, in The Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller is a sleaze bag defense attorney. He represents drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and gang members. He has grown jaded with the justice system and prides himself on his ability to manipulate.

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His greatest fear is representing a truly innocent man. What is the perfect story problem for such a character? Present him with an irresistible case that tosses him into what he fears the most.

Representing a truly innocent man.

This means that Connelly had to create a crime (case) where the client would undoubtedly look guilty and who would have enough cash to make Haller question any misgivings about taking on the case. Without a case where an innocent man is involved? The Lincoln Lawyer falls apart at the seams.

If Connelly had cast a lawyer who was all about truth, justice and the American Way? The plot would have been meh.

An attorney who works pro bono searching for truth is expected to risk everything to save the life of an innocent man. This would have been the wrong protagonist to cast for such a plot.

Fiction is the path of greatest resistance and Connelly, being a master, cast the one guy who probably would have run screaming from this case had he know was he was in for.

If your story seems to be sagging, check and make sure you’ve slated the right person for the job. Sometimes some quick fixes to who this character is or even giving that character some additional baggage might be enough to get you unstuck.

Problem #5—You Are Just Over Thinking

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STOP IT! This is the one I am most guilty of. It’s why I am a HUGE fan of fast-drafting because then we simply don’t have time to over think every step we’ve made.

All writers have two different phases:

Oh, wow! I wrote that!

Oh. Wow…I wrote that.

We all think we are geniuses…only to later read the exact same section and become convinced we are little more than brain-damaged chimpanzees banging away on a keyboard. It happens, especially when we are in the thick of the story. It is tempting to go back and perfect, but resist the urge to go BACK. Feel free to correct typos or make notes (in a different color) but do not change your writing.

Your subconscious could be planting seeds and what looks like a weed might just be the greatest plot-twist EVER germinating. Just leave it alone and stop being so hard on yourself.

Remember, no unfinished-but-perfect book has ever hit the New York Times best-seller list, but a lot of crappy finished ones have 😉 .

Truthfully, if you finish and just cut yourself a break you will likely go back to those parts you were going to chop and see they aren’t nearly as bad as you’d imagined. Remember that while your subconscious is there to help you? Your ego is a selfish passive-aggressive diva who can’t stand that something might be prettier than she is.

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You really want to be hard on yourself? Fine, just do it in the correct places. Instead of nitpicking the life out of your prose? Get your @$$ in the seat and keep pressing. And just so y’all know? While I have one finger pointed at you, three are pointing back at me.

Before we go…

I have three classes to help you out with all of this. W.A.N.A. classes are all easy to use from home. All you need is an internet connection and pants are totally optional. Recordings are included in case you miss or you just want to refresh the information.

If your antagonist is weak and you need help learning to plot? Bullies and Baddies. If your story idea is jumbled, confusing or unformed? Your Story in a Sentence. I’ve been doing this a long time and I can almost always tell what is wrong (or right) with a plot by the log-line. The first ten signups are guaranteed to have their log-line shredded and fixed in class and for FREE.

Worried about the strength of your actual writing? Are you starting your story in the correct place? Take my First Five Pages class. Right now I am offering double pages for all Gold and Platinum signups (and I have only done this once before and that was almost a year ago). Friends, family and critique groups can only offer so much. So if you want a set of ruthless eyes on your work? I am here to help!

What are your thoughts? Do you nitpick your work to death? Is your computer filled with stories that started out golden then fell flat? Do you struggle with being able to just FINISH? Have you thought you might have cast the wrong protagonist? Are you stuck?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.

April’s WINNER of my pages contest is:

C.E. Robinson! Please send your 5000 word WORD document (double-spaced, New Times Roman, one-inch margins) to kristen at wanaintl dot com and CONGRATULATIONS! *throws confetti*

ONE MORE CLASS!!! 

May 16th I am holding When Your Name Alone Can Sell—Author Branding. We can have the greatest book in the world, but if no one knows it exists? Yeah. These days discoverability is a NIGHTMARE, but I am here to help you learn how to get your work seen…so it can then be loved. Best of all? I’m not trying to change your personality. I’m here to give you the time to do what you do best…WRITE.

Also, for more help with branding and social media, if you don’t yet have a copy… make sure to pick up Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.