Christina Henry — Talking to Characters


BLACK SPRING(1)I wish I had some really interesting, profound statement to make about the process of creating characters in fiction.  I’ve read lots of well-written and well-considered pieces about finding out who your characters are and their motivations and how all those things can make your story better and more interesting.

I’d genuinely like to write one of those pieces for you. I’d like to tell you that I did this writing exercise or that I carefully craft each character and have background histories for all them even if all of that information doesn’t make it into the story.

Unfortunately, my writing process might kindly be termed “intuitive” and less kindly be called “half-assed”.

Take Madeline Black. The heroine of my BLACK WINGS series just appeared in my head one day. Well, I probably shouldn’t say “appeared”. That implies that I saw her, and I didn’t see her. I heard her. More specifically, I heard her talking to Beezle, her popcorn-eating home guardian.

Up until that point I’d had some vague idea about writing an urban fantasy about a grim reaper, but when I was considering the book the main character was always male. Then I heard Maddy’s voice, and suddenly all those vague ideas went away. I knew Maddy was an Agent of Death, which means she collects the souls of the dead for an entity known as the Agency. The Agency is a huge paper-pushing bureaucracy that drives Maddy insane, and she inherited this much-less-than-fun job when her mother died. She also inherited Beezle, a gargoyle who is supposed to watch over Maddy and the house but mostly watches daytime TV and filches snacks from the kitchen.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they talk. You can gather superficial information  – like where that person is from, based on things like accent and word choice. You can also learn a lot about the way they think and their attitude toward the world in general. When Maddy talks you can hear that she’s smart, but she’s also got what’s known as a “smart mouth”, and a smart mouth tends to run when it isn’t always the smartest thing to do. That told me a lot about who Maddy was, and why she might make certain (potentially not-so-wise) choices in a crisis situation – like, say, when a giant monster is rampaging through a north side Chicago neighborhood.

In fact, the more Maddy talked, the more I learned about her – that she desperately wanted to be strong, but that she was terribly vulnerable. That she felt like her life was a box of obligations and she was stuck inside it. That when things change she thinks with her heart and not her head. And once I knew all these things about her the story just seemed to grow organically from Maddy and her personality. I didn’t have to think about a plot; it just unfurled before me like a lovely yellow brick road, and all I had to do was follow it along.


Bio pic (1)CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the BLACK WINGS series (Ace/Roc) featuring Madeline Black, an Agent of Death, and her popcorn-loving gargoyle sidekick Beezle: BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING. She is also the author of the forthcoming dark fantasy ALICE (summer 2015).

Christina was born in New York and now lives on the North Side of Chicago with her husband and son. She sees no conflict in rooting for both the Yankees and the Cubs.

She also enjoys running long distances, eating large quantities of cinnamon rolls, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with zombies, samurai and/or subtitles.

Beth Bernobich: Hello, Story


BethBernobichAs I said in my last post, not all writing advice works for all writers. We each find the approach that works best for us, and for the project at hand.  But! I do believe it’s useful to share our approaches with each other. Maybe we add a new technique to our writer toolkit. Maybe we try out this other technique and learn it doesn’t work for us.

So in the spirit of sharing, here is how I turn my ideas into stories.

Ideas. Those wispy scraps of “what if” that float through our brains. Most of my ideas are fragile things that never survive discovery. That death of the story can be quick, as quick as me noticing the idea, only to have it fade into nothing. Or I might jot down a few notes about a possible story, to find the story feels dead in my imagination. But that’s okay. Ideas are like gnats on a pond. Lots and lots of them buzz around.

Idea plus people. I call this phase the “what if this person did this” phase. This, for me, is the true seed for a story, when the idea makes the leap from the abstract into characters moving through their world. Stories can still die at this point, but less often. So. I wait and let the ideas and images build until…

Full-color video in surround sound. By this point I’m getting snippets of scenes and dialog, all colored by emotion, invading my brainspace. Here is where I take the first tentative step in putting those images into words.

Step one is to write as much as comes easily to me. That might be a single scene, or it might be three chapters. I pour the words into my document without stopping to think about prose or worldbuilding. Research, edits, plotting can all take place later. Here I’m trying to capture that first sense of story and character that fell into my brain.

TheTimeRoads.CoverSometimes, the story dies here. I write a chapter or two and find that the inspiration dies out. Or sometimes the story lives, but I discover I don’t have the skills to do it justice. In the first case, I delete the document. In the second, I file the document under “future ideas” and leave it to simmer. (So far, I’ve never regretted deleting a half-born story. Either it comes back later, better and stronger, or I never think about it again.)

But other times, this initial burst of writing calls up all kinds of new details about my characters, their world, and their personal history. Here is when I know if the opening is the right one. Here is when I find out the ending.

Up to this point, my approach is what writers call pantsing—figuring out the story by the seat of your pants. And if that works, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that outlining is required.

But I have discovered through experience that pantsing the entire novel seldom works for me, so here is where I take a step back from and work out the story’s overall shape. I save my existing scenes and chapters in one document, then open up a new one and start jotting down a very rough outline.

I know the opening, so I write a brief summary of what I’ve written so far.

I know the ending, so I write a page, or sometimes a couple pages, about what I think happens there.

Then I write anywhere from six to ten milestone markers to connect the opening to the ending. Each “marker” might be as short as a single sentence, or long as a page, with dialog and other bits of real prose.

Then I stare at those paragraphs. Frown at the cats. Chew my fingernails. Walk around the office. Research some plot points and tweak the outline. Shut down the document and go re-read one of my favorite books. Meanwhile, more details about the characters and their story are flooding my brain, so I add them to my notes document as well.

At some point, I start writing again. I check the so-called outline from time to time, but mostly I let the words spill out. The outline is just my launch point. It can change. It will change. And that’s okay. The important thing is getting words onto the page.

This approach has worked for me for the past five books. Will it always work? Maybe, maybe not. I no longer worry about that. I used to write my books in sequential order, only revising once I had a complete draft. Then I realized it was fine to stop partway through and revisit the outline. Then I realized that it was fine to write the scenes out of order.

So I write. Here and there.  A patchwork of scenes that get stitched together until I have a story that runs from end to end.

What works for me might not work for you. And that’s okay, too.

What matters is finishing that first draft.


BIO: Beth Bernobich is a writer, reader, mother, and geek. Her short stories have appeared in, Asimov’s, Interzone, and Strange Horizons, among other places. Her first novel, PASSION PLAY, won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Epic Fantasy in 2011. Her newest release, THE TIME ROADS, is available from Tor Books October 14, 2014.

The Insanity of a Writer

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

BrokenSoulFBcover Good morning All.

I want to share my feelings with you this morning. And yes, I waited until this morning, Tuesday, Oct 7th,  to post this, because of course — no Internet all night until now. Because this is book release day, and it’s also “if it can go wrong, it will, day”. It’s make or break time in a writer’s career. It’s a day of excitement, after weeks of building up to a book release. It’s a day of … nothingness because although the book went out, nothing has happened. I am still waiting to see how many sold, how well my readers liked it, who will excoriate me personally on a review because they wanted my character’s love life to go another direction, or they hate complex plots, or they wanted a more complex plot, or they wanted a particular character to reappear, or they wanted fewer character to be in the book, or they wanted … something … and I didn’t deliver. Or they loved the book. Loved, loved, loved the book! Are screaming from the rooftop about how much they loved the book! It’s an either-or kinda day. A waiting day.

And I’ll keep on waiting because the book just went out in large quantities, and now the readers need to read it before they can react to it. And only now can I see reviews. Which I don’t read because I get depressed, no matter how great or horrid they are. Because I’m a writer and all writers are kinda nuts in case you haven’t noticed.

It’s a bittersweet day. Exciting. Scary. I didn’t sleep last night, even though I tried to monitor my diet yesterday to hold off my body’s normal reaction to stress or impending stress. But. My body knew what was about to happen, what did happen at midnight. Broken Soul went out. Yeah. It did. And I was up all night with indigestion, that problem caused by stress and poor diet and “writer’s nerves”. Because this week is when the numbers count the most. When I either move up the charts and Jane Yellowrock is a success, or I don’t make the charts and *I* am a failure. Stupid, I know. My character gets the kudos and I take on the failures. I did tell you that writers are kinda nuts. Yup. I am, today.

So, if you see a sleep deprived, harried writer out there today, give him or her a pat on the back or a hug because it might be release day and they probably need it. (Note – if you don’t know the writer well, then keep the physical contact to a minimum or you can get arrested, Just sayin’.)

Have great 7th, Y’all.


R S Belcher: Double Barreled Sequel


Shotgun Arcana cover picMy second novel, The Shotgun Arcana, releases on October 7th from Tor Books. Shotgun is the follow-up to my debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot and takes place in the same weird western fantasy world—the tiny frontier town of Golgotha, Nevada, in 1870.

Shotgun Arcana takes up a year after the events of Six-Gun, and follows my ensemble cast of characters that were introduced in that novel—Maude Stapleton, Deputy Mutt, Jim Negrey, Sheriff John Highfather, Auggie Shultz, Clay Turlough, Jillian Proctor, Mayor Harry Pratt and Malachi Bick. Everyone has changed and grown a bit from the first book, some in good ways, others, not so good.

I also introduce a few new characters this time around, like the infamous pirate queen, Black Rowan, from the Barbary Coast, and her loyal, and pedantic, manservant, The Scholar. Another new addition to the cast is Emily Rose Bright, a young woman who comes to Golgotha on a mission of discovery about her own past, and ends up.

I think my favorite new addition to the citizens of the Golgotha is Kate Warne, a woman with a murky past and exceptional ability. Kate is a historical figure, based off a really remarkable woman who made a powerful impact on American history but is not exactly a household name.

I don’t want to say too much about the bad guys, I’d rather the reader get to experience them first hand in action, but I will say I worked very hard to create a horde of very, very bad folk to give my capable heroes a run for their money. Several of my heroes meet bad guys every bit as capable and dangerous as they are, if not more so, and that leads to some very exciting and fun actions scenes. I’d say this book has a lot more action than Six-Gun did, and it starts that trend right at the jump.

Still, it’s not all just action. Six-Gun has developed a reputation for some rather weighty sixguntarotcoverphilosophy in it as well. I swear that was not my intent when I was writing it, I was just having fun—it just seems to be part of my style, whether I like it or not, I wax philosophical. That continues in Shotgun Arcana. The discussions mirror some of my own struggles internally to reconcile the nature of good and evil, right and wrong and fairness and unfairness we all face daily in our lives. It’s me thinking out loud through my poor characters, but if you enjoy those kind of discussions, I hope you will enjoy them in this novel.

Shotgun Arcana is my first sequel, I’ve never written a second anything ( Hell, I’ve hardly written a first anything, if you consider this is only my second published book) and I wanted to try very hard to let it stand on it’s own, like Six-Gun Tarot. Though I did leave a few dangling plot threads in this one, more than last time, which I’d love to address in a third novel if my readers enjoy this one and want more stories from my little imaginary town. But if this is my last ride to Golgotha, I’m very proud of it. I think it has a lot of things in it I’d enjoy reading about and that I find fun and interesting. I hope that is your experience too. Please let me know if you are kind enough to give it a read; I’d love to hear what you think.

I’d like to thank Misty Massey, and all of the great folks at Magical Words for giving me the opportunity to chat with you and share some ideas about writing. I’m very honored to have been asked. I want to thank Misty for being so patient and understanding for all of the craziness that has been ongoing in my family life as of late. I hope we get the chance to talk again soon. Take care.

Rod RT pic 1R.S. (Rod) Belcher is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter.  Rod has been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s done Masters work in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, and worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly. The Grand Prize winner of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Anthology contest, Rod’s short story “Orphans” was published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 9 published by Simon and Schuster in 2006.

Rod’s first novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, was published by Tor Books in 2013. The sequel, The Shotgun Arcana, is scheduled for release by Tor on October 7th 2014. His novels, Nightwise, and The Brotherhood of the Wheel are to be released in 2015 and 2016, also by Tor Books.
He lives in Roanoke Virginia with his children, Jonathan and Emily.

Beth Bernobich: Writing Advice, the Meta Post


BethBernobichAs you know, Bob, there is no shortage of writing advice in the world—advice about where to start your story, how to build a plausible world, or how to create compelling characters. There’s even advice about the process of writing itself. Should you write an outline first? Is it necessary to write the plot in sequence? When should you revise your work, and how, and how many times?

This is both a wonderful and a dangerous thing.

And yet, here I am, offering even more advice. What’s up with this?

Think of this as meta advice: how to approach the advice you come across. Here goes…

First rule: There are no rules, only guidelines.

Someone once told me you can’t set fantasy in the modern world. “Truefact!” they said. “Nonsense,” I replied.

Lots of rules are nothing more than preconceptions or misconceptions. Fantasy can take place in the past, present, or future. Historical accuracy isn’t a valid excuse to exclude women from epic fantasy. Past tense is a preference, not a requirement. Let’s not succumb to “everyone says so,” because that sets up barricades to richer stories.

Other rules are simply reactions to what often gets mangled by beginners. Prologues. Using dialect. No adverbs, no not ever. Know the reasons behind these so-called rules, but don’t let them stop you from veering off down your own happy path. Do you want to write a nonlinear plot? Go for it. What about a story that’s all dialog? That could be interesting. Speaking of dialog, what if you want your characters to use a futuristic slang? Or to speak in dialect? Why not?

Be bold, be creative.  Have fun, dammit.

There’s only one trick.

TheTimeRoads.CoverSecond rule: The reader gets to decide, too.

Yeah, I know I said there were no rules, only guidelines. This one is more like an immutable law. Take gravity. You choose the route up Mount Everest, within reason, but if you step off the cliff, you will fall.
So. You are free to write whatever you like, however you like. The reader gets final say on whether the results work for them. That cleverly invented slang might make your story incoherent. The non-standard punctuation might alter meaning in ways you never predicted. Or all these elements could add depth and atmosphere. It depends on how well you do it. And it depends on the individual reader. Some might find a book that is half footnotes to be a cumbersome read. Others might find it a delight. You can’t and don’t need to please every reader, but you do need to be aware of your audience.

Which brings me to…

First guideline: Think about what you’re doing.

This should be obvious, but sometimes we get sucked into following a particular piece of advice because we think it’s a genuine rule. We decide to scrap an opening because everyone knows you can’t start with a character waking up. But Octavia Butler started two different novels that way, and both absolutely work and work well. They work because she deliberately chose openings that highlighted her main character’s nature and situation. Lilith was awakened by aliens aboard a spaceship. Shori woke to blindness and a ravening hunger and almost fatal injuries.

Or sometimes the opposite happens. We write a story with a lovingly drawn description of the weather, followed by several paragraphs of backstory. Perhaps a beta reader says, “This is too slow. You need to have some kind of hook to draw the reader in.” If we’re so attached to our first vision of the story, we might reject the advice instead of taking a step back and considering how to make the opening more engaging.

Second guideline: How you write a story doesn’t matter.

You know the kind of story you want to write. You know the voice and character and how the story should unfold. You sit down to write and the second wave of advice rolls over you. Write every day! Outline first! Write in sequence! Don’t edit until you finish your first draft!

It’s easy to panic, to feel that these suggestions for writing process are actual laws of physics, not just guidelines.

First, breathe.

Second, remember that the writing process is individual to the writer and the project at hand. Explore what works best for you and your writing. You might be someone who has to research and outline everything in advance. That’s great. Or you might be someone who flings themselves gleefully into the project, knowing the first draft will be a complete mess that leads them to the real story in draft #2. Maybe you write every day. Or maybe your life swallows you whole during the week, and you only have weekends.

There is no one true way to write. Not when, not how, not anything.

Third, there is also no one true way that works every single time. You might write six novels in a row the same way (outline, in sequence, no editing until the first draft is complete, just for an example). Then you get to novel #7 and you hit a stone wall set about with barbed wire. You panic.


Try a new approach. Maybe this project needs a different approach. You could try writing the last chapter and working backwards. Or you might pause halfway through and revise the first part before you dive into the ending.

Third: Just write.


BIO: Beth Bernobich is a writer, reader, mother, and geek. Her short stories have appeared in, Asimov’s, Interzone, and Strange Horizons, among other places. Her first novel, PASSION PLAY, won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Epic Fantasy in 2011. Her newest release, THE TIME ROADS, is available from Tor Books October 14, 2014.

Darynda Jones — My I Hear Fictional People



My Characters and Me

On more occasions than I can count, my characters have this uncanny ability to make me want things or feel a certain way. This is a quick survey to see which characters influence me most in my day-to-day goings on.   

Who makes you stay up at night?

*Ahem.* Yes, that would be Reyes Farrow, for obvious reasons I shan’t go into here.

Who makes you want to make a fresh pot of coffee?

Oh, man, every time I start writing Charley now, the first thing I think is COFFEE! If I don’t have a cup of coffee right there next to me, I feel naked. Well, sometimes I am, but not usually.

Who makes you want to watch TV?

Aunt Lil, actually. I love her and I’d love to hang and watch the tube with her. She has some great one-liners.

7th HR CoverWho makes you hungry?

I would have to say Angel on this one. He is a teenaged boy, after all, and having had two myself, I know how much those guys can put away. I can just see Angel crunching an apple while trying to seduce talking to Charley.

Who makes you mad?

Mostly the bad guys, although Reyes has had his moments. But not many characters can anger me like the monstrous Earl Walker.

Who makes you laugh?

Charley and Cookie. I love putting those two together in a scene. It makes my day.

Who makes you sad?

Again, I have to go with Angel on this one. I feel for him, for the life he lost. Danged teenagers.

Who makes you feel lost?

Many of the departed in my stories do. I feel for them, for their heartache and lost opportunities, although Charley has a horrid sense of direction and can get me lost as well.

Who makes you feel scared?

Charley! That woman is a magnet for all kinds of trouble and I cringe at some of the stunts she pulls, but she wouldn’t be Charley if she didn’t.

Who makes you feel “kinky”?

Well, if we’re talking Garrett Swopes and Reyes in the same room, all kinds of kinky thoughts come to mind. MÉNAGE! Just sayin’.


DaryndaPicNYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Hold Medallions, a RITA ®, and a Daphne du Maurier, and she has received stellar reviews from dozens of publications including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Library Journal. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at

Sentence Structure — the Musical Soundtrack to our Writing

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

BrokenSoulLoRezCoverWe talked a bit about sentence structure at one of the Cons this year, discussing how important it is to know the various ways to string words together. Sentence structure is one of the most important tools in the writer’s tool box. In fact, sentence structure is the background music to the movie of our book. It sets pace, rhythm, and voice.  It also contributes to the character and narrative voice. It can’t be over emphasized. But it is almost always under emphasized.

Let me illustrate.

The info I (the writer) want to convey to the audience (the readers) in the opening of a short story is:

  1.   Jane Yellowrock has a Harley named Bitsa.
  2.   Jane is riding Bitsa to a meeting withLeo Pellissier (her boss, a vampire, who bit her once).
  3.   Jane is in a hurry, driving through NOLA past Jackson Square.
  4.   It is raining and humid and the city smells different in the rain.
  5.   The storm drains are just now catching up with the hard rain and city waste.
  6.   It is August.
  7.   Jane is late.
  8.   She is wearing biker gear and Lucchese boots.
  9. Jane is a skinwalker. Smells and scents are much stronger to her than to a human.

There are many ways to write this information into pleasing and rhythmic sentences to avoid repetitious structure. I use first person POV, but it easily could be transposed into third.

Poorly written would be this method:

I rode my Harley, Bitsa, through New Orleans. I passed Jackson Square. It was raining and hot and muggy because it was August. The storm drains sucked the rain and trash away. The city smelled better after the rain. I was going to be late to the meeting called by Leo Pellissier, my boss, who had bitten me once.

It reads like a high school kid wrote it between gym class and English class. It’s just plain boring. But the same info can be restructured using gerunds (ing words) and rearranging the info in the paragraph in different ways, as well as changing the sentence structure to impart emotion. It can be personalized by adding character reactions. The version below is written to give emphasis on setting and voice; it is slow and offers more character and less conflict.

I gunned Bitsa between cars and around Jackson Square, the bike puttering, muttering, in the distinctive Harley rumble I loved. August rain splashed up from the steamy pavement washing debris, environmental pollutants, and the human stink of the town into the storm drain system. Pooled rain pelted my riding clothes and old Lucchese boots, soaking the leather. The heated rain filled the air with fresh scents, and if I wasn’t already late for a meeting with my boss, I’d have meandered, enjoying the French Quarter of New Orleans, but Leo Pellissier, Master of the City, wasn’t known for his pacific nature. I carried bad news, and was now late enough that he might threaten to drain me dry. I’d been bitten by those massive fangs once and I’d stake him before that happened again.

Now, let’s try the same info to impart a sense of urgency, as if the music sped up. We’ll do this several ways, mostly by offering negatives and a shorter, choppier sentence structure.

I gunned my Harley, its signature rumble reverberating through the narrow street, along the  close, brick buildings. Bending over the handlebar, my grip slipped in the heated rain. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. I compensated, racing around Jackson Square. Both my bike Bitsa and I were soaked in the August storm, my old Lucchese boots ruined. I was late for a meeting with the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, and the news I brought Leo Pellissier was gonna ruin his night. And maybe mine. I’d been bitten by those massive fangs once. I’d stake him before that happened again.

Notice the difference in the way the setting is presented. The writer offers mostly negatives about the setting and the negative results—grip slipping, loss of control of the motorcycle, tire spinning. There’s more emphasis on the speed and less on the rain itself. The sentences are shorter and choppier. There are fewer compound sentences (two sentences that are compounded into one, most often using the word *and*). Same info, but a totally different tone, based on the sentence structure and the particular info I concentrated upon.

Let’s look at the first few sentences of each example and then try different ways to structure that information (and the sentences) to achieve different ends. Each results in a slightly different emotional tone.

Original: I gunned Bitsa between cars and around Jackson Square, the bike puttering, muttering, in the distinctive Harley rumble I loved. August rain splashed up from the steamy pavement washing debris, environmental pollutants, and the human stink of the town into the storm drain system. Pooled rain pelted my riding clothes and old Lucchese boots, soaking the leather.

Version 2. I gunned my Harley, its signature rumble reverberating through the narrow street, along the  close, brick buildings. Bending over the handlebar, my grip slipped in the heated rain. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement.

New Variation 1: Gunning Bitsa, I bent over the handlebar, my grip slipping in the heated rain. The signature Harley rumble reverberated through the narrow street and close, brick buildings. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. (This one takes the opening off the character and onto the bike and the setting. It’s less personal, and yet shows conflict.)

New Variation 2: The Harley stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. I compensated and gunned Bitsa. Bending over the handlebar, my grip slipped in the heated rain. (This one is even less personal, and because of the tighter and shorter sentence structure, the sense of urgency and tension might be a bit higher. The information order might even suggest a sense of fear. Why? The question arises, why is she riding recklessly in the rain?)

New Variation 3. I bent over the handlebar, my grip slipping in the heated rain. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. I gunned my Harley. (Here I went too far, cut too much info. However, I could leave it if I brought up the danger to/from Leo at the end.)

New Variation 4. My grip slipping in the heated rain, I bent over the handlebar, gunning Bitsa. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. The signature Harley rumble reverberated through the narrow street and close, brick buildings. (I don’t like this one, but it could be personal preference. I like the next one best of them all, as it seems to suggest that urgency I was aiming for.)

New Variation 5. My grip slipped in the heated rain. The bike stuttered, the back tire spinning and squealing on wet pavement. Bent over the handlebar, I compensated. Gunned Bitsa. The signature Harley rumble reverberated through the narrow street and close, brick buildings.

There are myriad ways to structure words into sentences and each way results in some kind of emotional reaction from the reader, even if it’s just boredom—the one emotion we don’t want! But especially in the opening sentences, the writer’s goal is to bait and hook the reader, pulling into the story as fast as possible.

Oh – BLACK WATER, a compilation of 2 Jane Yellowrock short stories came out on Sept 16. BROKEN SOUL will be out on Oct 7.