So you can read my books

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


1.) “Am I Ready?”
     You ask this before you start your project and before every day of writing: am I ready?
Writers get fired up about their project, their next chapter ... and often they just belly-flop into the sea of prose.
But have you finished tying up those loose ends?  Have you thought the scene, the novel through?
Be like a James Bond villain -- get all your plotting and scheming done before you start.
2.) "Why Am I Writing This?"
Asking this will prevent the reader from asking, "Why am I reading this trash anyway?"
Figure out what makes your story worth writing.
Maybe it’s a character. Maybe it’s an idea.
Maybe it’s one scene somewhere in the third act you just can’t wait to write.
Find out why you’re writing this.

If you’re just phoning it in, wandering aimlessly through the narrative without purpose, the audience is going to feel that.
3.) "What Is This About?"
No, not plot.  This question asks what is UNDER the plot, the THEME of your story:
"You dance with the devil; he doesn't change. He changes you."
"There are no small people.  There is just small thinking."
This question insures that your word count adds up to more than numbers but to a story worth the reader's time.
4.) "Does This Make Sense?"
I swear: these blockbusters on the screen must have writers who are smoking the "wacky tobacky."
Bruce Wayne, his spine sticking out of his bloody back, is "cured" just by dropping his body from restraints.  Wow, and my mother went through neurosurgery for her back!
Bruce then leaps and jumps mere weeks later out of a prison pit, half the world away from Gotham, penniless, in the middle of the desert, looking like a mad man. 

The next scene he's back in Gotham City ---
Ah, just how did he accomplish that miracle?  It took me out of the movie.
Well, the 1001 other plot holes before that took me out of the movie, but you get my point.
5.) "What Do The Characters Want?"
Is the villain doing terrible things just to make opportune conflict for your hero? 

What each characters wants must make sense to the reader -- who would want that in the character's place.
The wants must be primal, desperate, and pressing:
You travel to a new town.  Your child vanishes.  Everyone swears you never had a daughter. 
You stand hopeless outside the police station.  A van passes.  Your daughter wildly reaches out to you from the passenger window.  She is clearly scared out of her mind.
The van turns the corner.  A policeman leaves his patrol car, the motor running, the door open.
What do you do?
6.) "What Does The Setting Add To My Story?"
Don't say nothing.  Every locale adds something.  My New Orleans certainly does.  Each city speaks in its voice, hiding its own secrets.
If your background is blah, then you are only half-doing your job as a writer.
7.) "Do I Have This Backed Up In A Dozen Places?"
If you don't, then eventual heartbreak is awaiting you.  Just saying.


  1. Thanks for the post. I ask some of these questions while revising what I wrote.

  2. Kelly:
    It helps make your novel more lean and cohesive if you ask them BEFORE you start the novel or the chapter.

    I'm glad you dropped by and chatted. It means a lot. :-)

  3. Awesome points, Roland. Figuring out the theme to go along with the plot was a big eye-opener for me.
    And you're so right on with character goal and motivation. I ask that in every scene. What do they want, and why?
    BTW thanks so much for joining my blogfest! Looking forward to seeing where and when you book your time trip to! :D

  4. PK:
    Glad to join the time warp brigade. :-) Thanks for visiting and staying to chat!

  5. Hi Roland .. interesting aspects you get us to note here .. so often there's too much in the writing and it needs to be honed.

    The Batman snip makes absolute sense .. and can be taken and put in so many situations ..

    Cheers Hilary