Inciting Event Redux

In the middle of the month, Faith talked about inciting events. She’s dead on and if you’ve forgotten what she said, go read it again. I’ll wait.

At the time of reading that article, I was in the middle of redrafting the second half of my current book. I’d had to rip out about 15K words from the draft and shift gears because I’d taken the wrong road. A common problem of pantsing. I’d reached the point where I needed to plot, not only this novel, but a great deal of the rest of the story.

I ripped back to just around the halfway point and started to work through all the players, the connections, the elements that needed to be dealt with, and generally braiding the story together. You might be asking, what does that have to do with the inciting event at the beginning of a book?

I’d […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Travelogue and Narrative

In 1987, I drove across the country with a friend. We camped and hiked and saw some amazing places. One of our favorites was Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in southern Arizona, where we witnessed what remains to this day one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. We camped in the monument for a couple of days, explored some of the backcountry wilderness, took lots of photos, found some amazing wildlife. And, because I was keeping a journal at the time, I wrote page after page about the place, recording my impressions of the terrain, the climate, the night skies.

Six years later, in the spring of 1993, my wife and I spent several days on a barrier island along Georgia’s Atlantic coast. It’s a place that has an arrangement with Nancy’s university, and we were able to stay there for free. It’s an island wilderness, with overgrown […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Genre, Part 1

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We’ve talked a couple times here on Magical Words about genre before, but I want to go back to the basics with it and build on that. After all, this is Friday Fundamentals.

So, let’s start with defining genre.

According to the almighty Google, genre is “a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.”

Well, that makes about as much sense as a butter pick.

So let’s dig a little deeper. There are are four major genres in writing: Poetry, Fiction,

Non-Fiction, and Drama. Since this is Magical Words, we’ll stick with fiction for today’s post.

There are two paths to fiction writing. (See? We’re narrowing it down!) Those are literary fiction and genre (aka “popular”) fiction.

Literary fiction is the “great American novel” that so many aim to write. It’s the supposed standard […]

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The Inciting Event

Before I even start, go ahead and google the phrase Inciting Event.

Don’t bother to read them all. Half make no sense. But I did like one by Lucy Gold at Answers.com. According to Lucy, an Inciting Event is, “The conflict that begins the action of the story and causes the protagonist to act. Without this event, there would be no story.” She has edited the original with a more wordy and writerly addition, but really, it was unnecessary. This says it all, and it’s pretty much how I explain and use the concept.

Understanding the theory of the Inciting Event, and its placement, and executing it well, are, together, the most important things in grabbing readers for your story: novel, short, novella, novelette, or even an epic series of a million words. “Wait!”, you say. “George R.R. Martin’s sixth novel in the Game of Thrones had color pictures and […]

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Predictability

I’ve been doing some reviewing of books off Netgalley. This has allowed me to expand my reading into areas I might not have explored and to authors I might not have known about. I’ve found some gems. But this week, I started reading a romantic suspense and though it was written well enough, I knew in about twenty pages how the book would play out. I skipped to the end and discovered I was right. Now with some books, this predictability isn’t a problem. The journey and the characters will carry me through. This book? Not so much. I didn’t engage with the characters in that twenty pages and I wasn’t interested in knowing more. So that’s a did not finish book.

Predictability as a writer is necessary. There are things a character will not do and if you break out of those limits, then the unpredictability is bad. Readers […]

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Plot Stitching and Seam Rippers

I made it through Home Ec without doing myself bodily harm.

Considering that the girl at the table next to me ran the needle of her electric Singer sewing machine right through her finger (and broke the damn needle off IN her finger), I figured that I dodged a bullet.

One of the tools we used in that class was a seam ripper. It was a pointy little sharp hooked thing that slid under stitches and cut through thread so you could take out a crooked seam. Part of sewing is ripping out your mistakes and putting the pieces back together again. And while I haven’t sewed anything since that long-ago class, years later, I’m thinking about seam rippers, and how sometimes you have to tear things apart to re-stitch them. It happens when you’re sewing a shirt, and it happens when you’re stitching a plot together.

I’m working […]

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A Special Release Day Quick-Tip Tuesday

Welcome to a special release-day edition of Quick-Tip Tuesday. Today is the official publication day for Shadow’s Blade, book III of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson (following Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes). I have a giveaway going on my Facebook page; my publisher, Baen Books, is giving away five copies on Goodreads; I’ve been posting teasers from the book and last week I recorded an interview for the Baen podcast. Pretty standard release time stuff.

I love this book and this series, and would very much like to write more in the Fearsson universe, so if you have not yet started reading the Fearsson books, please consider picking them up and giving them a read. And if you have been reading them (thank you!) and have been waiting with bated breath for this newest volume to drop, now’s a great time to order your copy. We’ll wait. [Cue […]

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