Top Ten (Okay Eleven) Things You Should Know About Your Own Book, Part Two

Faith HunterFaith Hunter
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Picking up from four weeks ago, I have a new post on the top things you should know about your own book. It is simple stuff, but if your WIP is missing that vital something, that special element that sets it apart from other unpublished books on the market (or hopefully someday on the bookstore shelves) perhaps you’ll spot it here. The better we know our books, the more likely they will interest an agent or editor, and the better they will interest the reading public. Knowing our books better can make us more confident writers, and take us to the next level in our writing. And if we discover that we can’t answer a question or two, that is an area of weakness that we can address now, before an agent sees our baby.

09. Where does your story begin?

Most wannabee writers forget that the story begins the moment the conflict appears on the page. This opening of conflict needs to be fresh and new. Often a first novelist will open the story in a well-used (over used) device. Perhaps with the main character on the couch or in bed and the phone rings or the doorbell rings, bringing with it bad news and the introduction of the conflict. At which point the story starts. Or the opening is an info dump that tells the readers the information the writer thinks his audience needs to understand his book, instead of giving the bare minimum (which is wiser) and letting the readers discover that same stuff on their own, bit by bit, through the narrative and the unfolding story. Of course, not every book can have the story begin on the very first page, but in today’s market, that is the best way to actually interest an agent or editor in the book. It’s part of the hook that can grab your reader and help your book walk off the shelves.

BTW, Misty talked most recently about conflict here: Conflict

 08. How do you intend to maintain the tension throughout the story?

Story arc and the flow of conflict and plot are taught all the time, but while I’m actually writing, I usually just remember two things: a. something new has to happen, or the character has to discover something new, and react to that new thing, every ten pages. Ten pages is about as long as the average reader can maintain interest in a story without the need for the new. Next time you find yourself suddenly disinterested in a book, stop and count back the pages to the last interesting that happened. Betcha it’s around ten pages. So when we study story arcs, we need to remember the ten page rule of thumb. J And b. The character has to care what happens or the reader won’t care. The character needs to want something important that is perpetually denied him, something to fight for, that he achieves (hopefully) by the end of the book.

07. What stands in the way of your protagonist?

See para above. Your protag wants something that is denied him or her. To create conflict and maintain tension (again see above), he needs to be denied that by the developing plotline.

Okay. Now I’m going to be honest. I hate this stuff. I am the kind of person who learns by example, so I’m going to answer the above questions from one of my own books by way of example.

Jane Yellowrock, book one, Skinwalker. And yes, there are spoilers.

Where does your story begin? Page one, when Jane, who kills rogue-vampires for a living, rides into New Orleans on her Harley to see a lady about a job, except the lady is a vamp and a pretty boy makes a pass at her the moment Jane steps from her bike. In this opening, I set up the main character (rogue-vamp killer), the conflict (hunt, down and kill a rogue-vamp who has begun to kill the local citizens, local cops, and turned on the vamps themselves for sustenance), two of the most important secondary characters, the vamp Katie and the pretty boy undercover cop, Rick LaFleur. I introduce on page one the genre and subgenre: urban fantasy. Page one gives the reader a lot, and by page five, the main character is in danger.

How do you intend to maintain the tension throughout the story? Jane has to learn new things just to stay alive: things about the vampires she has hunted but never understood, things about herself that that she had lost in a traumatic amnesia, and how to track a thinking, sentient being, when she has previously only hunted and killed mindless revenants. Something interesting happens every ten pages or so. Jane has to build new relationships along the way, frankly, something at which she sucks. And she has to (gets to) discover herself and her past, things she lost long ago.

What stands in the way of your protagonist? Jane has a steep learning curve, about her new job, her new bosses, her new city (New Orleans) and herself. The creature she chases is smarter and faster than she is, and he’s psycho crazy too, with a brain that no longer functions as it should, but is warped by the magics he uses. And when she finally traps him and kills him, that act robs her of a deeply needed, lost, personal history. It is a bitter sweet ending, leaving Jane with more problems than she started. But really, isn’t that the way of life?

Wanna try?

Faith
www.faithhunter.net

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29 comments to Top Ten (Okay Eleven) Things You Should Know About Your Own Book, Part Two

  • Cool structure! I’ll try! For Hell Mary:

    09: the story starts on pg 1, Mary shows up to save the soul of thomas, a tv producer. He refuses and wants, instead, to renegotiate with the original demon, so she leaves him to hell.

    08: Keepting the story going: Thomas doesn’t end up in hell, he ends up working for the first demon that Mary encountered, “killed” and took the hellfire power from. Now they’re hunting her (killing her mentor, sending twin girls to pretend to need help, trying to suck the hellfire power out of Mary, killing one of the twins, and killing a bunch of people with power like Mary’s and trying to bring hell to earth, plus she meets a priest who has visions and a good vampire to whom she’s attracted but also worried about, ’cause he’s a vampire and his demonic powers, like she does.)

    07: What mary wants is to get rid of the hellfire ’cause she murdered someone to get it and she feels guilty. So she wants the guilt to stop. She can’t get rid of it, though, because if she does, the demon will get it and kill a bunch of folks. If she keeps it and uses it, it might get out of control and burn the world. So, how does she get rid of it/not use it and protect the folks she loves and herself? She also wants to make sure the demon she first encountered doesn’t come back, and she’d like to kill Thomas (perhaps figuratively, perhaps not) because he made a now-succesful tv show based on her.

    For Knightspelle> (the one with Sarah)

    09> Story starts with Deor’s grandmother’s dead and the disappearance of Deor’s magic. (Starts at a funeral). She discovers that she’s got to find her faerie family if she’s going to keep her magic, so she goes to faerie with her mother’s journal. (Her mother died when Deor was about 4, so the journal is all she has).

    09> Keeping the story moving> Once in faerie, she’s almost not let in, and must find a job (to keep a visa), and finds out that changelings like her are getting attacked. She tries to find her father, with few leads. The head of the police and heir to the throne, Rafe, finds her suspicous. She acquires a job as an adjunct professor. One of her students is murdered in her (Deor’s) office. She’s attacked and almost killed. Faerie seems to be attacking her because she has regular episodes where she faints or has horrible nightmares and pain.

    10> She wants to know her identity. In the way are the people who know who she really is (the lost heir to the kingdom) who want her in their power, people who think she’s dangerous and are trying to protect the king (and don’t know who she is), and a man she’s dating who does know who she is and is manipulating her. By the end, she finds out who she is, which creates the problem that she now can’t simply go back and have a normal life. And she has papers to grade.

  • Very helpful information, Faith. I’m going to ask a question, though, one that I bump up against all the time when I think about stuff like this. I don’t really follow the approach you lay out here with any of my books — I establish voice early on, I begin with SOME conflict, but usually it is something tangentially related to what will become the book’s central conflict. And I know that you would never tell me, or another writer, that I’m “doing it wrong.” I also have read enough of your work to know that while you may apply these rules again and again to your own work, your books never feel formulaic — each is unique and new and different and utterly readable. So I guess my questions are, a) How much leeway do you think aspiring writers have in approaching some of the issues you raise here? And b) How do we keep our books from feeling formulaic when we follow the “rules” too closely?

  • Pea, I adore the answer to Hellfires’ 07. I think you have a great handle on your own book. For Knightspell, the opening at a funeral is always highly conflict oriented. Excellent!

    David, I hate rules. But I’ve had books that didn’t sell or that were missing something, that felt formulaic. That felt two demnesional. If a beta reader can’t pinpoint the problem, and putting it under the metaphorical bed for a month dosen’t help, then I resort to the bubble outline or grape outline. And I ask myself questions. What does she want? What stops her from getting it? I play with the idea like puzzle pieces, spelling it out in different ways to allow my mind to break free of whatever is shackling it. I don’t do it every time, of course, but I do it when I’m stuck. It’s also an exercise I’ve used to help people get over the nerves of a pitch camp or an elevator pitch.
    Rules? We don’ need no stinking rules!

  • That’s a great answer, Faith, and incredibly helpful. I think it points to a larger message I sometimes forget to convey in my own posts. What we offer here on this site are hints, tools, resources for problem-solving and manuscript tinkering. They’re not Gospel. Again, great post, and thanks for responding to my questions.

  • I’ll give it a try! These questions are really helpful to get me to focus as I try to nail down the basic plot and story of the novel I’ve started.

    09. Where does your story begin?
    On page one, Keely hides outside the captain’s house, spying on her. Keely will meet the captain the next morning and because she believes she needs to gain information to make the meeting successful, she uses her skills and equipment to eavesdrop despite her guilty feelings about doing so. We are introduced to the protagonist and the main secondary character, and get a hint of Keely’s internal conflict—her desire to start a new life versus her reliance on the ways of her old life. The plot conflict shows up via dialogue (on page 2) that Keely hears while spying—the recent rise in crime, the admiral’s desire to take a stronger stand to stop it, and the captain’s reluctance to use more force.

    08. How do you intend to maintain the tension throughout the story?
    Keely wants to start her new life serving as an Enforcer (police) under Captain Laris, a woman Keely admires. Since Keely was raised to be a Killer and has no experience with “normal” life, she struggles with her efforts to fit into the team. The rising crime on the planet results in murder, making everyone suspicious of Keely’s presence. As Keely works to solve the crimes and earn the trust of others, information about her past—information that affects the captain—comes to light. Through her investigation, Keely realizes that the crimes are all related and uncovers a high-level conspiracy with ties to her Killer past, but before she can tell anyone she is kidnapped.

    07. What stands in the way of your protagonist?
    Keely wants to change her life and earn the trust of those she admires. She also yearns for family and friendship, although she hasn’t really articulated that to herself. Because she was a Killer, most people are afraid of her, and no one trusts her. Because she’s never lived a regular life, she has no idea how to mitigate their fear and earn their trust. When the killings start, others start to suspect that she hasn’t abandoned her old ways. It seems like everything that happens is designed to make her fail in her attempt to start a new life.

  • Thanks, David. I often forget to say how (in what way) tools are helpful, and that using them is not obligatory. :)

    Sisi, I love the idea of a killer now working for the law! I also like when the external plot works against the better (more socialy acceptable) traits of the main character. This sounds lovely!

  • I find Thing #8 and the “Ten Pages” thing intriguing, and it makes sense (at least for a genre where you want things to be constantly moving; different people will get bored at different rates and I’ll bet some genres need to move even faster than something interesting every 10 pages). But I’m not sure really how to apply it to my own work. Because… well… what’s 10 pages? I’ve stopped tracking things in terms of pages, because how I format the text can dramatically alter how many pages. So, what’s that 10 pages in wordcount?

    I’m not going to do the answers to this question because I’ve only just finished chapter 2 of what I expect to be between 30 to 50 chapters on my current WIP… so I can’t really analyze most of it at that level.

  • Faith> Thanks!

    Stephen> I’ll jump in (and maybe I’m wrong) but 10 pages is about 2500 words. For me, that’s about one chapter (though some of my chapters drift up to 3500, but often those have more than one scene). So, Faith’s point makes sense in that at least one new thing must happen in each chapter. My protag or antag has to go one step forward or backwards, get new information, or (I use the Faith school of “I got stuck, what do I do) someone has to die. :)

  • Stephen, What Pea said.

    Pea — Thanks! Kill off a character. Yep. It always stirs things up. In fact In my WIP, I need to kill off a bunch of people. I have too many characters…

  • Thanks. That does give me something to chew on. Pretty consistently (both over the two chapters of this current WIP and the 24+ extent chapters of the last major novel project I took on) a chapter for me is typically between 4,000 and 4,500 words on average, so that’s just over half a chapter for me. So, by that metric… I need to have two interesting things happening per chapter.

  • Here’s my try:

    09. I’m pretty sure my character’s story begins on page one. The day Janni, former princess and now simple landmaiden, begins her year-long landmaiden’s journey. That first page, she nearly gets run over by a man on his horse, and she winds up stuck with him for the rest of her journey.

    08. A quick skim through the manuscript says that yes, I *think* I managed this, though sometimes more frequently it’s about every six to eight pages (this is YA). Other times it’s a solid 10 or 11. If I got this right.

    07. Ever since escaping her murderous uncle as a small child, Janni hasn’t wanted anything to do with her birthright. She only wants to be a landmaiden. Custom dictates that she travel for a year to gain experience, but from the start she is worried about risking her secret. That anxiety eats at her and influences her behaviour, especially the more she learns about her traveling companion and her uncle’s plans. The further the journey progresses, the more she must face her former life—especially as she learns things she didn’t know about herself and is frequently shown signs that the very Land she serves wants her to be queen. Worse, more people know she’s still alive than she thought—and some of them want her dead.

  • Oh, Faith. Why do you always pose questions that make me think? Here goes – this is for the new shiny, not for the previous WIP which was called Winter’s Dawn, but that I’ve sent out to agents as Kinslayer Winter. This new WIP doesn’t have a name yet.

    09. MC [no name yet] is riding home to her convent, happily expecting to complete the last portion of her oblate service and take her final, permanent vows. She finds a man wounded, dying of gangrene by the side of the road. She gives him the last mercy (cuts his throat to hasten/ease his death) but before she does that he begs her by the goddess’ secret name to deliver his badge to [Name pending] and tell no one else about it or him. Because she’s bound to do what someone asks her in the goddess’ name, she takes the badge even though it means she now can’t make a complete confession at home, which is vital to her final vow process.

    08. In order to fulfill her vow, the MC has to wrangle her way into the Abbess’s political trip to the capital, further delaying her own process of taking final vows. Once at the city, she finds out that by delivering the badge she has involved herself with a heretical group, attracted the dubious friendship of an exiled general, is being used by the princess to cover visits to her lover, and may have abetted the assassination attempt on the Emperor during a tricky political negotiation that could lead to a multinational war. MC wants to be a good Sister of Mercy, quash the heretics (except she starts to suspect they have a point), prevent a war, go home and take her vows (except she’s starting to see the allure of pretty dresses and having men like her.)

    07. Everyone she meets has an agenda. As an orphan raised in the convent, she was taught to be obedient, self-effacing and helpful. Now that’s making her everyone else’s tool. Her own agenda (go, home, take vows, keep life simple) is getting booted further and further down the road. It’s also getting muddied as she discovers desires she didn’t think she had (a desire for adventure, to be seen as pretty by a man, etc.) She has to figure out who is lying to her, which side she’s on and who’s actually on that side with her, and in the process stop a war and find out if she really is cut out to be a Sister of Mercy for life.

    This definitely helped my thought process – I haven’t written more than a few test scenes yet on this and I’m working on an outline. The problem I’m running into with the outline is that it’s easy for the MC to seem like the least pro-active person in the book. She keeps getting batted around by other people and she’s letting it happen. I was seeing it as a writing problem, but now I’m seeing it as a story problem – finding her ability/will to be proactive instead of reactive or passive IS part of the MC’s internal conflict. Now, I’ve got to figure out how to make her interesting to other people. I don’t want her to come across as a damp rag.

  • Stephen, yes — it’s all in the math! (scratches head) I hate math, but you know what I mean.

    Laura, I love books that open with the unknown and then go all to hell in a handbasket. :) I have no idea what the YA numbers might be, but I suspect that as long as something is happening internally for the protag, it all works out. The last question makes me think of this as quest-type book, but I feel that it isn’t. Perhaps a more fantasy-coming-of-age book? Like a Harry Potter but with more traditional medieval fantasy world?

    Sarah, FIrst — totally adore the new title of Kinslayer Winter. Soooo much conflict there! (I suck at coming up with titles, so I really appreciate when someone does it well.

    Your new WIP, I like. The fact that the internal desire (vows) and the external conflcit (also vows) are in opposition is nicely done. As to the problem you are facing in developing her character, sometimes if the character’s internal dialogue is condeming herself (passive self) yet she somehow manages to do the right thing (which is active but in a passive way, maybe?) it can work. As if her subconscious makes choices and does the right thing while her conscious mind is all confused.

  • HUGE PS to this post:
    Our own AJ Hartley’s work DARWIN Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact has been nominated for awards:
    https://sites.google.com/site/ncslmayabookaward/
    and
    http://www.sibaweb.com/siba-book-award

    Carrie Ryan is also nominated for the SIBA award for The Dark and Hollow Places:
    http://www.sibaweb.com/siba-book-award

    WHOOT!!!!! MWers GO GO GO!

  • As a smaller case addendum — the publisher of How to Write Magical Words made the list too:
    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, There’s A Body In The Car by Fran Rizer (Bella Rosa Books)

  • Wow, congrats and good luck to all of the nominees!

    Faith – yes, fantasy coming-of-age. :)

    Sarah – I agree, Kinslayer Winter suits!

  • Thanks, Faith, both for the compliments and the advice. I’ll keep it in mind as I work out the plot. Also, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due – I knew Winter’s Dawn wasn’t working, so Emily brainstormed key terms with me until we came up with Kinslayer Winter. I think she was the one who suggested it first. :)

  • I once was a dedicated follower who lost her way, what a great thing to come back now! I went back to read the post preceeding this one and I have to say that I have learned some things (again! I love learning!) I have currently written a novel but have some issues with it and I’m trying to tweak it with no luck — I know that it’s missing stuff and I know how it goes, finding the satin ribbon to tie those two peices together has been a frustrating and ongoing battle with myself. However, a couple of things that were noted here have made me stop to think a little more deeply about what’s really going on.

    Thanks Faith!

  • Thanks, Faith. I appreciate the encouragement.

    Congatulations to the nominees!

  • ajp88

    Since my novel has several POVs all with [hopefully satisfying] arcs, I’ll just pick the one I’m tying up now. Forgive the long winded post…

    09. Where does your story begin?
    In his first paragraph, Jaycen Tallart wipes the sweat from the brow of a sickly woman and tries to recall just how long she’s had this fever. In a page or so, you learn that the woman is his mother who has been catatonic since he was a child, bedridden for years, and gripped in fever for months all stemming from the day his father walked out on the family. Jay began to steal to feed the three mouths his father left behind including a newborn sister who now, 8 years later, works with Jay as a distraction. Through his thoughts and interaction with Ana, his goal is established: another year stealing in the marketplace with his sister by day and by night robbing the mansions of the wealthy and notorious alone then he will move the family away from the bustling city to a simpler life and perhaps allow himself the time to find love. Jay’s appearance is only revealed at the end of the chapter when he himself, the ‘master thief,’ is robbed by a crone pickpocket that distracts him with a looking glass.

    08. How do you intend to maintain the tension throughout the story?
    I constantly up the stakes. That final moment where he allows himself to be distracted just long enough to become a victim is the first hint that perhaps he isn’t as masterful as he thinks. In his next chapter, he sneaks into one of the wealthy homes mentioned previously and narrowly escapes with his life and the gold he sought. When he gets home, his mother has passed (effectively cutting one of the cords that has held him to this city). In the following chapter, he and Ana bury her and return to the marketplace to steal. Jaycen loses his little sister and is assaulted by a street performer who tells him that he stole from the wrong man. In the next, he attempts to pay a ransom. Instead, the crime lord he stole from forces Jay to work for him…by stealing from and sabotaging rival crime lords (drugs and brothels). Following harrowing thefts, his last job is given: to rob the royal palace. Upon completion, they return Ana to him with her throat cut and thus ends his story for the first book.

    07. What stands in the way of your protagonist?
    The repercussions of the life he chose and the lack of control they bring. Stealing is all well and good until the moment you’re caught. At every turn, Jaycen struggles with the feeling that he has never had a handle upon his life. Thieving was the only way he ever felt any amount of power and personal influence on his environment so he became too engrossed in it and lost sight of the safety parameters that had once kept their family safe.

  • Great post, Faith. Sorry not to respond sooner but I’m kind of laid up. Love the point about newness every 10 pages! Will keep that in mind.

  • Late post – the every ten pages idea finally answered why I don’t like a thriller I’m currently reading. I’m 1/3 of the way through and finally had to admit to myself that I don’t care. On paper I would care – the plot concept has lots of stuff I like (Templars, mystery, clues, etc.) Except nothing new has happened since chapter 1. The conflict was set up well there but now it’s all the same. Sure, guns get fired every once in a while, but there’s not enough real forward motion internally or externally to sustain my interest for another 250 pages. Maybe if the info dumps were done better, or severely trimmed, but this just isn’t working for me. I’ll keep it in mind for my own writing. Something NEW has to happen – even being shot at can become dull if it’s repetitious.

  • I’ll have a shot too, if only to see if I’m on a similar track:
    9. Page one, the MC runs off to see the entrance of a political delgation. But I suppose there are four or five page ones as the story is told through 4 or 5 POVs. Each character has to start at their story start.
    8. My chapters are in the 10 page ballpark (some as short as 7, some as long as 20). I do make it a point to have each chapter progress something about the story. I can’t bring myself to write a chapter of nothing but catch up. Though I have been brought up by a couple of my beta readers about not spending enough time going over what has happened and iterating the consequences. Maybe I have too much new happening too often? I’ll have to revise and see.
    7. Main MC is a young princess, sole heir to the throne (aren’t they all?) and obviously the rules of inheritance mean she can’t accept vassals even though she holds the title (she can’t hold land, that’s what men do) so raising an army is problematic because the best political marriage would be to the son of the duke responsible for the civil war she is trying to end and that doesn’t appeal to her. Each of the other major characters are generally held back due to insanity, hostage children, lack of soul or excessive misplaced distrust of the faith they are supposed to embody.

    It is tough with so many characters and not that I compare myself to George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan, but I can see why they take so long to tell their stories and write their novels (obviously Jordan will be taking a lot longer now that he has passed on RIP).

  • ajp88 – I may be reading this wrong. And perhaps this isn’t yoru main character’s POV. And if so, please disregard my comments and try again. That said — Your story isn’t really a story in the sense of *genre* writing. It is more like literary story writing. In genre writing, the character is faced with a problem to overcome and the novel is about his overcoming that problem and growing in the process. In literary writing (a very dark literary version) the character is faced with a hopeless situation that just keeps getting worse and worse (despite everything the character tries to do to fix it) until the character is left with nothing. If you intend this to be a genre (fantasy) story, your first novel needs to end with some goal accomplished, and some positive momentum somewhere near the end, even if the very last thing is negative. Of course this is just my opinion, but I think agents will shy away from a totally negative novel unless the writing is simply so sublime that it can be considered litarery fantasy. If this is indeed your main character, May I suggest that you rethink this character and story arc, and either provide something positive, or make it a secondary character whose unrelenting negative life will be a counterpoint to the main character. Again — just my opinion based on very limited info.

  • AJ — how you are well and healed soon. And CONGRATS!!!!

    Sarah, it’s a rule of thumb that sounds easy but is hard to make work for the reasons you just named. If I kill off a character every ten pages, it loses its impact. One must push the conflict and the danger it presents to the character every ten pages, not simply toss in literary hand grenades and let havoc fly.

    Sjohn — Multiple POVS are an excellent way to build tension in a deft hand. I fully admit that I do not have that deft hand. :) I also have that problem of having so much happening that the reader gets left behind. My editor and agent constantly tell me to *show consequences here!* That said, make sure that your character doesn’t have so many problems that they become absurd. The character needs to have success often enough to make the story fit the believability needs of the readers, and you need to show backstory enough for the character’s actions make sense.

  • ajp88

    Faith, thanks for the response. He is one of the POV characters and it is a dark fantasy story. He does end the novel with a goal accomplished by stealing from the palace, something that’s never been done before and a bit of a personal goal for him. Sadly what he gets for finally completing that hurdle isn’t at all what he expected. A major character with a solid chunk of page time but he isn’t THE main character. The overall plot I have projected as a trilogy but in order for the character to logically take part in the grander scheme of things he needs (or rather, I think he needs) to have the ties to his little city life shattered. So his arc in the first story is absolutely dark and depressing, the second vengeful and on the upswing, the third romantic and triumphant. I hope there are readers out there like me that don’t mind a dark story, even crave it. For those that don’t, hopefully the other POVs with positive first book arcs will suffice.

  • sagablessed

    I’ll bite.
    9) I actually open with with a prologue. Cherie is have a farewell party with the other US Marshalls when she is kidnapped by the antagonist, and then murdered to help the antagonist pay the Cost of a spell. Chapter one is when we meet Roger and his girlfriend, Kirsty. She falls suddenly unconscious, and then we meet the protagonist, who rushes to the hospital. (I may change that however, after reading your post. It made me think that maybe I am writing formulaic.)
    8) Each chapter there is a new problem that needs solved: some magickal -the enemy keeps moving up the deadline for bringing death to her victims, as well as assaults on on Roger; some detective-work -what David and Roger think they know of the enemy in almost every other chapter they find is wrong; some family oriented issues that need to be adressed. David is also having health issues that impeded his ability to help.
    7) What stands in the way of the protagonist? Learning to let go of the past-ie his deceased husband-and acceptance that his nephew has grown up.

  • sagablessed

    Sorry about the smiley face.
    Wordprss put that there on its own.

  • AJP, I love dark secondary characters and I know a *lot* of readers do too. This works great for that!

    Saga, I use smilies all the time and it’s fun when the system puts them in! :) I think your character’s personal issues are even better than the proposed plot, and will add a lot to the manuscript.