Sentence Structure — the Musical Soundtrack to our Writing

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

We 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:

Jane Yellowrock has a Harley named Bitsa. Jane is riding Bitsa to a meeting withLeo Pellissier (her boss, a vampire, who bit her once). Jane is in a hurry, driving through NOLA past Jackson Square. It is raining and humid and the [...]

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Aaron Rosenberg: Ending Without Closing

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Endings are hard. We say that a lot, and hear it a lot, because it’s true. Most of us, when we write, choose a story to work on because we’ve had some brilliant vision of the lead character doing something, or have suddenly been overwhelmed by that character’s voice, or just have this great idea of “hey, what if . . . ?” But that initial impulse, that creative spark, doesn’t usually extend to how the story ends. We all know the famous story of J. Michael Straczynski with Babylon 5, right? He sat down with the producers to talk about the idea of doing that TV series and mentioned that he had already envisioned a five-year arc. One of the producers jokingly asked, “Okay, how does it end?” And JMS told them. Because he already had most of the major beats mapped out in his head, including the very [...]

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Jennifer Estep — Plotting While Wearing Pants

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Oh, plotting. You and I aren’t the best of friends. More like casual acquaintances, if that.

When many folks talk about writing, they often talk about two kinds of writers—plotters and pansters. Now, plotters are just what the name implies. These are the folks who plot out their books, which can include everything from doing a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the book to detailed character outlines to creating storyboards of the various scenes/chapters.

And then there are pansters, or people who don’t do a lot of plotting. I am one of those folks.

Usually, when I’m thinking about an idea for a book, I’ll think about my heroine first—her personality, her strengths and weaknesses, her magic and how she can use it to defeat the bad guys. Then, I’ll think about the three big turning points of the story:

1) The first chapter that opens the book. I often think of [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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D. B. Jackson: On Plotting — Keeping Things Fresh

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Last week I began the discussion of keeping books and story lines fresh as we move through a series, by talking about character, and in particular shaking up familiar dynamics between (among) two (or more) characters. I focused my post on the core relationship found in the Thieftaker books: the rivalry between my hero, thieftaker and conjurer Ethan Kaille, and his nemesis, the brilliant, deadly, and beautiful Sephira Pryce. The basic dynamics of their relationship had long since been established in the first two books of the Thieftaker Chronicles, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry. Now, in the third book of the series, A Plunder of Souls, which was released a week ago today, I fundamentally altered those dynamics by introducing a new adversary for Ethan, Captain Nate Ramsey, who antagonized Sephira and forced her into an unlikely alliance with Ethan.

But there are other ways to keep a storyline fresh, even [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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Jennifer Estep — The Writing Life

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Hello! First of all, I want to say thanks to Faith Hunter for inviting me to guest blog on the site this month. Thanks so much, Faith!

So I thought I would start off things by introducing myself. My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m the New York Times bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. I’m also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

All put together, I’ve written more than 20 books, along with many short stories and novellas. Today, I’m going to talk a little about my writing life.

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a writer, they usually ask me a lot of questions about writing and books and publishing. But one of the most memorable comments I ever got was this one: “Oh, you just sit in your [...]

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