So you can read my books

Saturday, February 25, 2012


We talked about C.A.R. Thursday ...

C ..... Conflict

A ..... Action

R ..... Resolution

Using C.A.R. will get you a good story.

But you don't want a good story ... You want a GREAT story.

To get that great story, your C.A.R. needs G.A.S.

G ..... Goal

A ..... Adversary

S ..... Sex


1.) Goals in great stories are not anemic ...

A.) Primal

Any goal in a great story is primal, high stakes, CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

Love to a loveless man. Food for children to a mother in a world turned upside down. Revenge to a man robbed unjustly of everything that made life worth living.


The reader must see herself in that goal. We all yearn to belong. We all have been mocked and snubbed. We all feel alone in some form or fashion.

Once you have the reader looking out of the MC's eyes, you have her hooked into rooting for her to win ... because if the MC wins, a part of your reader wins, too.

In becoming the MC, the readers become more than they are, experiencing things in a way they might never experience any other way. Each of us is an on-going equation striving to answer itself. Reading is one way we do that.


You're switching channels on the TV and stumble across an announcer going crazy. You pause. The horse in the back of the race has just pulled ahead ... one horse ... three horses at a gallop ... two more. Now, there is only the lead horse.

The runt pulls ahead only to fall behind. The runt closes just a bit. The jockey on the lead horse spurs his mount ahead. The runt stumbles. Your heart goes into your mouth. Then, somehow, the runt reaches into its last strength and pulls even. The two race like that for long, agonizing moments.

Then, the runt pulls ahead by a nose, winning the race.

You had no money on the race, but you feel like cheering. Maybe you do cheer. We all root for the underdog ... remember that in your writing.


1.) "Oh," you say, "you mean antagonist."

Pardon me? Did I say antagonist? Antagonist is for ivory tower discussions of Jame Fennimore Cooper.

I'm talking Adversay, buddy!

Eric Northman, who, when you try to escape his cellar, tears out your throat with his teeth. Then, when your spurting blood ruins his highlighting dye job, repeatedly kicks your corpse for good measure.

We don't need no stinking antagonists! "You wanna mess with me? Here, let me introduce you to my little friend!"

2.) IMPOSSIBLE ODDS : (Remember the Underdog Principle)

Remember Jodie Foster going to interview Hannibal Lector for the first time? Then, he escapes. Who would you have bet cash money on in the real world?

Little Harry Potter versus Lord Voldemort :

Hagrid to Harry: "Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die."

"We bow to each other, Harry," said Voldemort, bending a little, but keeping his snakelike face upturned to Harry. "Come, the niceties will be observed.... Dumbledore would like you to show manners.... Bow to death, Harry...."


1.) Romance is all very well and good. But come on. Picture Eric Northman from TRUE BLOOD. Romance or sex?

For most readers, romance is just good table manners for sex. Witty talk is all fine. Flirting is fun because it delays the pleasure. But the goal is always in the backs of the minds of the readers in the exchange of words and actions.

I get around thatsomewhat with Samuel McCord because he is from both the era of the Revolutionary War and the Old West. And Victor Standish, for all his bluster and brass, is a 13 year old boy, struggling with his first love.

2.) Tension is the key to making music with violins and smitten hearts.

You have happy characters? Look around. You have no readers. Angst is the magnet for readers.

Tension is everything. Look at Bella and Edward ... who are the King and Queen of delayed gratification. A goal easily gotten is cheaply held.

Remember the underdog runt of a racehorse?

Victor Standish loves Alice Wentworth, the ghoul. And she loves him. She also has almost surrendered to her hunger for his flesh three times in the first novel. He knows she hungers for his flesh nearly as much as his heart.

But Victor, who in the past has so often bet his life for food and shelter, has no problem betting it for love ... something he has been without all his days.

Victor knows. Alice knows. All who care for them know : Alice will one day lose the battle to keep from eating Victor alive.

To lose his life for the love he never had? "Fair trade," Victor thinks.

And who are we to say different -- we who throw our lives away for so much less?

Whatever the tension ... it must be for most of the novel. Only at the end may it be released ... but only for a time. For in real life, there is no "happy ever after."


  1. It's nice to believe in happy endings in real life - but then I'm a hopeless (and hapless! LOL!) romantic!

    Huge congratulations with getting through to the latest ABNA rounds!! Lovely Hart from Confessions of a Watery Tart posted a blog about this - so yay for you! Take care

  2. I like that you said adversary rather than antagonist. I've always felt I was writing my stories wrong in that there was no antagonist (as far as one clear evil villain) but there's always been adversity.

  3. Kitty :
    If we stop hoping for happy endings, we will stop trying to make them happen -- and end up in a grim self-inflicted prophesy, right?

    Alex :
    Like you, I feel that it is the quick fix to look for a villain in a situation when it many times is just the nature of the times in which we live, Roland

  4. Great post. (Though it took me a minute to clear my head of thoughts about Eric Northman before I could read it!) It does change the way one thinks about it when you say adversary rather than antagonist. For some reason, it adds power behind it.

  5. What great advice! The line that I will particularly have to remember is: A goal easily gotten is cheaply held.

  6. You know that saying that it will all be OK in the end? Well if it isn't OK then it isn't the end.

    Speaking of happy endings... um... that picture looks like a promise to me. (;

  7. Christine :
    Antagonist feels tepid, academic even. In our conflicts in our novels, the stakes must be primal, do-or-die states : adversary says that to me.

    Olivia Wilde's picture would be hard for me to forget so I can forgive you for Eric Northman! LOL.

    Five more reviews of BLOOD WILL TELL and I will draw from the 10 names of the reviewers for an autographed ALEXANDER SKARSGARD (ERIC NORTHMAN) photograph! How cool is that?

    Brenna :
    Your remembered phrase makes me wonder if Truman Capote ever appreciated the great good fortune he had of having his very first and every subsequent fiction purchased and published!

    Jo :
    That's my philosophy as well! And an evening with Olivia Wilde would be a great promise to me. Victor just chuckled, "Ah, the term 'when pigs fly' comes to mind!!" :-)

  8. I also got a lil' stuck when I got to Eric. Love him. I also loved your breakdown of your GAS factor, especially the relationship between Victor and his love. Thanks R.

  9. Wendy :
    Eric has that effect on the ladies! Yes, Victor and Alice are a supernatural Romeo and Juliet pair. Everyone "knows" it's going to end badly for them both -- they just don't know when. But Victor has fooled the experts before!

  10. Great analogy: You car needs gas! I guess that's why the Fast & the Furious movie franchise has done so well. Nothing like kickin' it with a tank full of NOS and some attitude! ;) GREAT POST, Roland!

  11. Thanks, Jack :
    I try to make each visit from my friends entertaining and sometimes even helpful. LOL. I always am glad you visit and stay to chat. I am at work oops a blood drive!