So you can read my books

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Do you need a good story? Of course you do. All authors do.

Well, get a car ...

C ..... conflict

A ..... action

R ..... resolution.

Duh! Right. All novels need those three ingredients.

1.) But sometimes the simple principles are the most profound. And C.A.R. is one of those.

You see, it's just not your novel as a whole that needs Conflict, Action, and Resolution. Each of your chapters needs them as well.

And to carry the locomotion analogy a bit further, each novel must end with a hook, leading the reader anxiously to the next.

Think the teeth in the sprocket wheel of a bicycle : each tooth must seamlessly fit into the next link in the bicycle chain to propel the bike forward. So, too, much each chapter in your novel do the same.

Example :

In the chapter, BLACK MIRROR, SURE DEATH, in the Victor Standish novel, UNDER A VOODOO MOON :

Victor, his ghoul friend, Alice, and the ghost of President John Adams have escaped the ice palace of the revenant Empress Theodora. They did so by entering her cursed Black Mirror which led them to an endless, lifeless cemetery world ... one with seemingly no exit.

Just as they discover that, Alice's stomach starts to growl and her voice becomes the gravel it does only when she is ravenous. And Victor is the only human flesh in that dimension. End of chapter. Makes you want to jump to the next one, doesn't it?

2.) Your novel is much like a onion, too.

Each layer of your novel must bring tears and spice to your reader's mind.

Conflict. Action. Resolution. All three must be contained, as much as you can arrange it, on each page. Impossible?

It better not be ... because one page is sometimes all you are going to have to entice your prospective reader in a bookstore.

3.) You must think of your novel as a microscope :

The throbbing life of conflict, action, and resolution must resonate in each sentence as much as you can craft it to be ... especially the first sentence of your novel and each following chapter.

{Hurricane Katrina lashed the French Quarter as the sobbing mother sat on the curb, cradling her dying baby.

In that one sentence, you have painted locale, time, conflict, action, and a hope within the reader for a rescuing resolution.} All in the first sentence.

{General Eisenhower walked angrily to the prison cell of Adolp Hitler.

In that one short sentence, you have painted locale, time, genre (alternate history obviously) with conflict, action, and a question of what kind of resolution could there be to this scenario.}

4.) Your first sentence is all the introduction to your agent you're probably going to get.

Conflict, action, and resolution must resonate like a tuning fork in that one important paragraph.
5.) C.A.R. not only lets you know what to include but ...

what to exclude : everything that does not pertain to the conflict, the action, and the resolution in each paragraph, page, chapter, and final whole of the novel.

No matter how beautiful the prose or how insightful the character study, if it does not propel the story forward using C.A.R. --

then it has to go. Ouch.

Have a great Thursday, Roland


  1. Looooove this... And what a fun way to remember these principals... CAR is going to be stuck in my head for awhile--how clever! :D

  2. Hey there! I'm finally making the rounds and getting to other campaigners' blogs.

    Wow. That is fantastic advice! You make it so simple! If only it were that easy. But, the idea is so simple that it's hard to forget. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I agree with Morgan, I will always be thinking about CAR now! Thanks!

  4. Great post and great advice. Today is totally given over to writing and I shall be thinking CAR all the way through!

  5. Hi Roland!
    Thanks so much for stopping by yesterday and for the follow (following back!!)

    This is a wonderful post. Thanks for the acronym. It's a great and simple reminder to keep the story moving forward, no matter how much I enjoy creating pretty prose :)

    Happy Thursday,

  6. You can't go wrong with a fast car driven by a hot guy. LOL! Love the analogy though, it works perfectly.

  7. Morgan :
    Thank you for such a comment. I hope it helps in some small way!

    Brenna :
    Good to meet you. Don't be a stranger, hear? That's the thing about advice : easy to give, so hard to follow!

    Kyra :
    Your words make my morning!

    Jen :
    Like you, I love making pretty prose, too! But those pesky readers want a hot story to go with them! LOL.

    Margo :
    I hope your writing goes smashingly! And thanks for taking my words along with you on the journey!!

    Heather :
    I was thinking of the hot lady on the hood. It's a guy thing! And good seeing you here again!! Roland

  8. Wonderful post with such great advice. What to include and what to exclude can be equally important, I think. CAR sums it up.

  9. Excellent tips, Roland! Now I have to wonder if my car isn't missing a few parts.
    I'd also like to point out that ogres are like onions as well.

  10. Great comment about cars. I never really though about it that way before...but I will now:)

  11. Always good advice when I come here. Today is no different.

    Good stuff :)

  12. I am writing CAR on the whiteboard in my office. :) Thanks for the fun acronym!

  13. Really good tips. I think all writing should include CAR - including business letters and serious reports. Life would be so much more interesting!

    Just started writing short photo-inspired stories on Cowbird recently. This will really help. Thanks.

  14. Thank you, Cynthia :
    Writing well is no easy feat, right? It's like packing the one suitcase allowed you on a company trip -- what to leave out, what to leave it!

    Alex :
    Orges and Orgies, too! Thanks for visiting and staying to chat. Having read your prose, I think your C.A.R. runs just fine!

    Mark :
    C.A.R. is just an easy way to remember some writing essentials. I'm happy you liked my post!

    Wendy :
    Good advise is easy to give, oh so hard to follow! It's great seeing you here again!!

    Vicki :
    Your words made my evening. Great success with your publication dreams!

    Stephen :
    I wish you great success with your stories on Cowbird! Thank you for visiting and enjoying your stay enough to talk awhile.

  15. Hi Roland - great analogy .. and again that succinct one liner - we all need ..for our work.

    I'm glad Stephen King thinks JFK was killed and that was it .. as such - though the world would have been very different ..

    Cheers - have a good weekend .. Hilary

  16. Not wanting to sound like I'm repeating myself from the other comment I left, but this is a great principal I should soon never forget for a long time to come!

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