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I’m pleased as punch to share some great news from my writers group, Humble Fiction Café.

Publishing Success!

Death by Dorlana Vann

Representing the death card in Tease Publication’s Dark Tarot Series, this is a two-in-one novel containing Jaclyn’s Ghost and Passage to Mesentia. Two great paranormal novels in one book, click here for details and brief descriptions of both stories. Available now at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II by Colleen Sell

This is a collection of fifty great dog stories. Susan H. Miller contributed The Dachshund That (Almost) Conquered the World, a most enjoyable story for dog lovers everywhere. Available now at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

I encourage you to purchase these books and enjoy the talent of both Dorlana and Sue!

Other Success!

Kelli Meyer was accepted into the esteemed Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. They only accept 16 students each year, so it’s quite an accomplishment to be accepted into this six-week writing program.

Way to go Dorlana, Sue and Kelli!

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Six Common Types Endings

Has this happened to you? You’ve found the perfect book, a true page-turner that you can’t put down. Happily you read until you come to the end, and… well, it’s awful, to put it nicely! And it completely ruins the book.

Recently my friend and fellow Humble Fiction Cafe (HFC) writers group member, Linda Lindsey, offered an outstanding class on endings. I couldn’t possibly go into all the details covered at that class, but I wanted to share with you the six common types endings we discussed in Linda’s class.

  1. Explicit ending – This is the ending that wraps everything up and answers all the questions. This ending will frequently tell what happens to each of the major characters, and is usually very satisfying in its completeness. Particularly well suited for novels (over short stories), when using this ending, it is especially important to watch for plot holes and missing clues. Example: Watership Down by Richard Adams.
  2. Implicit ending – If you like an ending that is strongly based on interpretation, then you like implicit endings. These endings are more common in short fiction. An example is The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clark.
  3. Twist ending – As the name implies, this ending is unexpected or twisted. As a writer, everything you’ve led your reader to believe gets thrown out at the end, and is replaced by a new revelation when well done. If done poorly, your reader will feel cheated. The TV show The Twilight Zone was known for it’s twist endings.
  4. Tie-back ending – This ending ties the end of the story back to clues planted in the beginning. The example provided in the endings class is the short story entitled The Star by Arthur C. Clark, where the story opens with what the main character’s conflict is and ends with why.
  5. Unresolved ending – In unresolved endings, the main conflicts are left unanswered, such as in The Lady, or the Tiger by Frank R. Stockton. The reader is left to ponder the outcome. Cliffhanger endings would also fall under this category.
  6. Long view ending – These endings tell what happens to the characters a significant timeframe into the future. An example is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, which ends telling who married whom, who had kids, etc. out into the future.

The other interesting detail I learned about endings is that in most genres, readers expect a happy ending. Exceptions are stories based on true events or horror. In looking over the stories I’ve written, I don’t always end on a happy note. While I don’t want to reveal the ending to Hope and Faith, I am curious to learn your take. Do you prefer stories with happy endings? What is your favorite type ending?

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I’ve mentioned before, I am a visual person. peperwork

As I do my business development work (writers often have two jobs – one for income; the other, writing, is for pleasure), I spread my pitch points, brochures, introductory letters, and notes over my desk so that I can reference these documents during my conversations with prospects.

If I’m calculating whether or not my family can afford the deluxe vacation or something more economical, I will create excel spreadsheets of the expenditures for the visual I need to make the comparison.

And even though I have created detailed character biographies, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and so it is with me in my writing. I peruse the internet in search of the perfect picture of my character, print it, and make it available as I write. Sometimes I can just look at the picture, and know that my character would never do what I was about to have them do, or vice-versa, that they would actually take it a step further.

In my last posts, I talked about using questionnaires to develop character, and describing character through actions (showing) versus narative (telling). Observing people in public places can also be helpful. What other ideas or methods are there in creating and developing meaningful and real characters?

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One of the benefits to belonging to a strong writers group is the opportunity to learn and advance in writing techniques. Recently one Humble Fiction Café’ (HFC) writers group member, Kelli Meyer, gave a presentation on character development.

Understanding and knowing who your characters are, what motivates them, and why they do the things they do are important details for any writer. If the writer doesn’t know, how in the world can they convey a fully developed character to the reader?

Some of the questions we have to ask ourselves as writers are:

  • Who is your character?
  • What does your character desire (the real desire)?
  • Why does your character have that desire?
  • How does your character change over the course of the story?

Kelli graciously shared with the group some fabulous questionnaires to complete and build character. Following are three links to character questionnaire forms, but there are numerous other questionnaires and information available online.

Gotham Writers’ Workshop
http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/106

The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character (revised)
by Beth Kinderman and Nikki Walker
http://www.geocities.com/poetess47/100questions.html

Elizabeth Terrell
Online Writing Workshop
http://www.elizabethterrell.com/character_questionnaire.htm

For Hope and Faith, I started with a character development form I received from a short story writers’ course given by Glenda Baker of NEWN Magazine, and added/combined questions from some of the forms Kelli provided to create my own questionnaire.

What other resources are there for writers in developing character? As a reader, what is most important to you in character development? When is a character developed enough to feel real?

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My friend and fellow HFC writer, Gary Denton, has an enjoyable blog that chronicles his journey of writing a modern-day sea-faring adventure novel. His most recent post contains a must-see film clip for anyone that realizes the importance of chosing the correct words. Visit his blog, Journey to Good Hope to watch the film. And while you’re there, take a look around Gary’s blog for any and everything nautical.

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What Genre is it Anyway?

It’s funny, but sometimes it’s easier for me to communicate in writing, and especially when it comes to talking about my book. I know that one day I’ll need to be able to “pitch” the story in an effective and concise manner, and I think it’s going to take lots of practice for me. There’s plenty of time though, as first I need to get the book finished!

In the meantime, people ask me what type of book I’m writing and what genre, and I’m having a hard time deciding where Hope and Faith belongs. Here’s a list of the possibilities.

1. Historical Fiction – The novel is set in a particular place (Olney, IL) and at a specific time (late 1970’s/early 1980’s), which is supposedly enough to classify it in this genre. This is not a high possibility on my list though, as the story itself doesn’t emphasize any historic events or people.

2. Romance – This category is a large possibility as Hope and Faith is a story about the love and relationship between two characters. The ending of the story is still up in the air, and it may, or may not, have the “happy ending” so often required in this genre.

3. Inspirational Romance – A subgenre of Romance, Hope and Faith also contains a subdued Christian element.

4. Christian Fiction – Another possibility as it is through one character’s beliefs that she is able to overcome difficult obstacles and move on.

5. Young Adult – The main character in Hope and Faith is an adolescent. She grows up dealing with family dysfunction, which affects the choices she makes in her life, including marriage.

Hopefully this will help answer some of those questions about the story. Based on what you know of the novel, have I missed a potential genre?

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Prologues – Good or Bad?

Are prologues good or bad? There is certainly argument on both sides of the camp, but rather than rehash here, Nathan Bransford has done an excellent job describing Prologues on his blog post, Prologues.

I have debated on whether or not to start Hope and Faith with a prologue. Right now, there is a prologue, but of course, this is a work-in-progress so it may not stay. My reasons for including a prologue are:

  1. It gives a feel for the protaganist’s childhood and family. Since the story starts with the protaganist leaving the childhood/family situation, the prologue gives insight into what that life was like.
  2. There is a major story element that is not re-introduced to the plot until much later in the story, and without the prologue may feel like it was coming out of nowhere.

What are your feelings about prologues? Can they work or are they a distraction? Is it asking too much of the reader to start reading from a prologue and then start again at the 1st chapter? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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