Tuesday, September 22, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon -- Day 101 -- Best of S.D. Skye -- Make it WORSE

Due to my hectic schedule this week, I'm re-running some of the most popular blogs on the site which may be old to some and new to others.

Don't forget the GREAT JJ BOOK GIVEAWAY!! Full details here. 

Just leave a comment on days 100-107 to enter (up to one comment per day). Win ALL 5 BOOKS OF THE JJ MCCALL SPY CATCHER SERIES. This includes the current 3 books AND Advanced Reader Copies at the last two books. You'll know how the series ends before EVERYBODY! Junior will draw the name and I will announce the winner on the site on Day 108.

This blog, with 3,000 views less than yesterday's, has the 2nd highest number of reads. Enjoy! 

Best Writing Advice #1

A  few years ago, when editing my first novel, I bought a book called Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyons. I didn't have a lot of money to spring for a freelance editor at the time so I tried to do as much as I could myself. But as a newbie to writing fiction, what I didn't and still don't know about writing could fill FedEx Field. So, I bought just about every book on the market because perfectionist that I am, I didn't want to miss anything. (Yeah, I was so naive). This one remains among my favorites and I refer to it often.

Anyway, one piece of advice in this book gave me a big "Aha" moment, probably one of the biggest in my writing career, and stuck with me like superglue. This single piece of advice has helped me  consistently craft page-turning novels.


When you're faced with the choice between keeping your character in a "safe space" and intensifying the drama--intensify the drama. Ratchet up the pain! And look for places to do that scene by scene. And this works for any genre, not just suspense and thrillers.

I have a tendency to impose my own fears on my characters. You ever do that? When writing scenes you can physically feel the twinge, the discomfort. So instead of pushing through that pain and doing what I call "writing up" you "write-down" to make yourself AND the character more comfortable. Or even worse, you resist the ratchet in order to make the reaction more "realistic." Screw comfort and realism.They only make the book less exciting and less enjoyable for the reader, or as Ms. Lyons calls it--Flatline.

Don't let your stories flatline, rather take it to the next level. The worse you make it on your characters, the better you make it on your readers.

The practical lesson.

So, in this scene I was crafting for my very first novel, my character, a woman in emotional turmoil over a bad relationship break up a few days before, walks by a bedroom and sees a freshly showered naked Adonis toweling himself off; he's her client. I could write her walking by the room, all aflutter, containing her desire as she should--playing it safe. OR she could step into the room and see what happens. Well, at first I had her walking by the room all aflutter--boooring. But after reading Ms. Lyons' book, she walks in the room--and they go all the way. And this extreme action is the ONE scene about which I get the most "angry reader" emails.  

How could she do that?! 
I couldn't believe it! 

The reader bought into her turmoil, they bought into her drastic decision, and they kept reading to see how it would end. Then they got so emotional they wrote me an email.

My work is done.


Stay-tuned.  More to come.

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