Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why You Need An Elevator Pitch Even If You Always Take The Stairs

"Elevator buttons and morning stares
Stranger’s silence makes me want to take the stairs"

I couldn't resist starting with a little Taylor, partly because every day should have some Swifty lyrics in them and partly because it’s the perfect intro to today’s topic: the elevator pitch.

When I was querying, I was somewhat horrified that I needed to condense my entire novel into three paragraphs that would have an agent salivating. THREE tiny paragraphs to sell a whole novel?  Can’t be done, can’t be done, can’t… fine, I’ll do it.  But I won’t be happy about it.

If you feel the same way, you’re not going to like this post. Because I’m here to tell you you’ll need to go even further. You should also be able to sum up your novel in one sentence. 

Feel free to mount the same argument that I did with respect to elevator pitches. What is the statistical probability that I will be:

A. Riding an elevator with an agent to begin with

B.  Able to determine in the 47 seconds it takes to get from the lobby to the 8th floor that said person is a literary agent representing the exact type of fiction I am writing

C. Able to work up the nerve to discuss my book with this unicorn of a mystical being.

Well, okay, if you attend the odd writer’s conference, it's not entirely improbable; however, it also isn’t exactly likely.  But that doesn’t matter. Because nine times out of ten you won’t need your elevator pitch to land your agent.  You can have the three whole paragraphs for that.  It’s the part that comes next that requires the logline.

You will now need to be able to discuss your book in one sentence each time you talk to: every one of the people you brag to about landing an agent to (who will then follow up with “Cool. So what’s your book about?”), every fellow writer you encounter at a conference, every book store owner you approach about hosting your book signings, every teacher you contact about an author visit, every blogger you want to host you on a blog tour, and EVERY SINGLE possible potential reader that you encounter in the world from the time you sign a book contract to the time your book has been on shelves for years.  

So what is an elevator pitch?

Let’s consider some movies for easy examples (just envision an eager screenwriter facing executives and saying “Okay, picture this!”, probably with lots of enthusiastic hand gestures included):

“Eight-year-old boy is accidentally left behind when his family goes on vacation and must defend his house from a pair of dim-witted thieves.”

“The high school jock, the princess, the goth, the nerd, and the bad boy are locked in all-day detention together.”

“A high-society girl and a penniless dreamer fall desperately into forbidden love aboard the about-to-sink Titanic.”

Any one of those lines conjures an instant image of the tone and possibilities. Note that I don’t have to tell you what actually happens in any of these stories- I really just have to give you the set-up and your imagination is off and running.  That’s an elevator pitch. That’s what will get readers to the bookstore (versus you rambling on and on about how it’s “sort of like The Little Mermaid but without the prince and, oh yeah, it doesn’t take place in the water, and the main character is a selkie, not a mermaid but..”)

When should you write your logline? Right now. If you can’t come up with one for your novel, you may not yet know what the heart of your story is and it would be a good exercise at this point in the writing to stop and boil it down. It can also help to inform your revisions if you know what the essence of your book is before you go all Edward Scissorhands on it. Write your line down, tweak it, memorize it, and then practice it on every person who asks what you are working on. If they start smiling and nodding along, you've got it!  

Until that point, consider the stairs…

Feel free to use the comment box as your practice space- share your logline below!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guestopia: Jordan Link

Today we have a guest post from 16-year-old Jordan Link, author of The Sacrificed. Take it away, Jordan!

Author at 15: Breaking into the Elusive Industry
by Jordan Link

Since being contracted with Entranced Publishing for my young adult fantasy novel, The Sacrificed, two questions in particular have caught my attention: why start so young, at the age of fifteen? Why not wait until you have more experience in the literary world?

I have enjoyed reading since I could remember, long before the time in elementary school when I received my first book log. There was something alluring about a book, fresh from printing, or dusty from weeks spent on the shelves. I fell in love with the odysseys, the adventures that lay before me as I turned each crackling page. But it soon became clear, around grade eight, that something was missing. My own characters, the quests and kingdoms trapped in my own mind, hadn’t yet found their place on the pages of a book.

There is somewhat of a stigma toward young writers in the industry. There is always uncertainty about their level of maturity, and how they will react when they receive their first criticism. They may lack experience and work ethic. The details of their contracts may be more exquisite, since many teen authors are under the age of eighteen. All of these points, under many circumstances, can be proved valid. Thus, it is often times difficult to find a publisher that will overlook ones age, and focus instead on their ability to cast a reader into a world that they will never forget. Luckily, I found Entranced to be that publisher.

But even before one embarks on the strenuous search for a publisher, or, if you’re really looking to submerge yourself into the literary world, an agent, a document of an extraordinary word count must be produced. No, it is much different than the five-to-ten-page research papers that every student, no matter how much they may protest, is required to produce in high school. Writing a novel is a journey in itself, and if a writer is truly entrapped in the mystical worlds that they create, the words will flow easily from their fingers and onto the glare of their computer screens.

My advice for any teen writers who are currently struggling to complete their manuscripts, and who may be reading this now, is quite simple: focus on the quality of your work! Though NaNoWriMo is a great way to fill the blank space of a Word Document, and to gather the confidence needed to pursue a full-length novel, an unedited piece will be the bane of many editors, and, as you will soon see when the rejections begin to pile up, the bane of yourself. However, outlining in excess can restrict your imagination. It may discourage and bore you: often times when I find myself outlining, I end up recycling the novel soon after. Instead, focus on major plot points that you need to fulfill, and keep tabs on questions that the reader might ask throughout your novel.

One big, often-addressed obstacle that can grow in size, brick by brick in the way that a medieval fortress would, is writer’s block. Many writers suffer from it, and writers with lesser experience are even more prone to resignation because of it. They allow it to escalate to an impassable blockade, one that is armed at every possible gate. The little black line that follows every word they type will blink, waiting, until their mouse hovers over the red ‘X’ at the corner of their screens.

No matter what people may tell you, or how much they will discourage you, a true writer will never stop trying. Just imagine where you could be in five years, ten years: typing away in the threshold of apartment with the skyline of a city down below; relaxing on a beach while embracing the sound of an endless ocean.

One person determines where you’ll end up in life: that’s you.

Be sure to check out The Sacrificed now available from all major retailers.

Emerald Hayden lives in the City of Centsia, a half-winged among the other walkers. She has no family, friends, or food: only a grim future filled with tiresome labor in the upper level’s factories. But everything changes when she meets Dusk, a winged from the place that she previously scorned. He opens her eyes to a new possibility: the possibility of the unity of winged and walkers, of freedom, and of love. Together, they decide to challenge the upper level’s supreme, winged council. But when a friend betrays them, they must choose whether to sacrifice their beliefs and save their own lives, or to remain along the thin line that divides the city in two. Success could mean liberty; failure, death.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Writer's Block: Get Over it!

In interviews with writers, I see a lot of questions about Writer's Block: Do you get it? What tips do you have for beating it?

When I was at the UCF Book Festival earlier this year, I sat listening to a panel of journalists. One of them said, "Journalists don't have writer's block. Ex-journalists have writer's block."

And I thought: YES!

You have to understand something first: I grew up with a very stereotypical military father. Sprained ankle? Walk it off. Stomach upset? Drink a Sprite and go to school. No excuses, no whining. It may seem harsh, but it was done with love and it's made me a very strong, independent person and I am immensely thankful for that.

This is how I approach writing. So, you say you have writer's block? Here's my honest advice, that I am also giving you out of love, with the intent of making you a stronger person, a stronger writer:

Get over it. Get over yourself.

Sit down in front of your computer/notebook and write. Write about your character eating a Big Mac for all I care. Just do it. Yeah, it may be crap at first. You'll need to get over that, too. And eventually, it won't be crap. Maybe it will even be good. With some revision, it could be great.

But it won't be anything if you don't start.

Are you a writer? Write. No excuses, no whining.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Like Piecing Together a Puzzle

Writing a story--any story--is like piecing together a puzzle. I dabbled in journalism a while back, and one of the things I loved about writing articles was viewing them as puzzles. Each of the elements--the quotes, the facts, the background research--was a puzzle piece. All I had to do was fit them together to form a compelling story. It's the greatest feeling when all your work finally fits so seamlessly together. There's lots of fun in getting there too.

Writing fiction is a lot like that. The elements may be different, but the hunt for that finished puzzle is the same. The outline of your story--should you choose to do one--is like when you first open that puzzle box and dump all the pieces onto the floor. You survey all the pieces and get a good look at what you're dealing with. Once that's done, you sit at your computer and start piecing it together, keystroke by keystroke.

The way we usually do puzzles is by identifying different areas of the puzzle, and the similar pieces that link together in each area. For example, when we were kids we looked for the blue pieces of the sky or the red pieces of a barn. Here are a few of the areas you should identify when it comes to the puzzle that is your project.   

The Beginning

The first--and arguably most important--pieces fit into place here. This is where you have to know the point in your story where the actions start. A rule of thumb (not coined by me!) is to "start the story as close as possible to the end." Basically this means: don't waste time. Start fast and keep the story moving so you keep your readers turning the page. Without this key piece of the puzzle, you may be lost before you even began. 

Character Wants

Once you've started your puzzle, this is where it begins to take shape. Always ask yourself: what does my character want? What are his or her intentions? These pieces are what drive the plot of your story. They are the pieces that the readers latch onto in order to follow along. When you've fit them together, it is smooth sailing.  A good character sketch should get you on the right track. Those pieces are key to fitting together the pieces of the next section of the puzzle.

Obstacles and Achievements

So, if you know what your character wants, you can piece together his or her character arc. The rising action of the story is usually a series of obstacles and achievements. How your character overcomes each obstacle is determined by what he or she wants. For example, if your heroine is on a course to rescue her true love who has been kidnapped by a psychotic human-gargoyle hybrid, she might stop at nothing to save him, including putting her own life on the line. It's your job to set up the stumbling blocks and then use your character's motives and desires to have her make decisions that get her closer to where she wants to be (or even have her tragically fail).


These are those tricky pieces that you very much want to fit somewhere, but on the surface they just don't seem to have a place. It takes a lot of skill and patience to make these pieces fit. Pay careful attention to these pieces because they can either turn your puzzle into a masterpiece or a muddled mess. On the other hand, don't spend too much time of them, because it is your main pieces that need the most focus.

Climax and Resolution

These are likely the pieces you've had set aside from the very beginning. You know where they go. You've known all along what they look like down to the very last line. These pieces should fit easily into place, but be careful: it's easy to get lazy here, to just jam them in the last remaining open spots. You're exhausted. The end is in sight. But don't give this part of the puzzle any less focus. Take great care to make sure your climax and ending are the best they can be, that they do actually fit. After the climax things tend to cool down and the story's theme or message comes full circle. It's when you answer the question: what was everything for? Your character should reflect back on the events of the novel and the reader should take something memorable from that. Don't make this part too abrupt, but don't draw it out for too long. You'll know when it feels right and when it doesn't. When it's finally done right, it's all the more satisfying when you can stand up and say, "Wow, what a great looking puzzle!"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Inside the editing cave

I've been absent on social media for the last month, as some of my friends have noticed, but online activities went ahead minus me and most were none the wiser. And my inbox grew...a lot. It's like the emails were bunnies and bred.

During this time I was holed up with my laptop editing like a fiend. I had to take an early version of my manuscript and mash it together with a newer version and then weed out all the inconsistencies.

Two rounds of editing later and I'm back in the real world...for now. My manuscript is now  in the hands of my editor and will probably undergo a few more rounds of content edits before it under goes line edits. So I'm bound to disappear into the editing cave again soon enough.

So if you have a writer friend who goes MIA it's not that they don't love you or care anymore. They're probably in crazy editing mode and neglecting friends and family in person as well as online.

So: what makes you disappear offline? And how do you handle your editing?

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Adult Cover Reveal: ENDRE by ST Bende

ST Bende's first book in the new adult paranormal romance The Elsker Saga, ELSKER, has been making waves on the indie circuits. So while we're all eagerly awaiting the release of the second installment in this Nordic love story, we'll have to content ourselves with ogling the cover.

So here it is...

*drumroll please*

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she's knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak -- not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren't even close to ready.

ENDRE releases September 23rd from Entranced Publishing, but if you haven't read ELSKER yet you can find out more here

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Characters Irritate...

There was this recently released YA novel I'd been dying to read since I first saw the cover and read the blurb almost a year earlier (why do this to us publishers?). I finally got to read the book, the book I'd heard was all kinds of awesome and brilliant, and after having been assured by bloggers and friends I'd love it.

I didn't...

The reason? The main character irritated the !*@# out of me!

Ewan McGregor gets angry
Yup this was me after the first chapter... and then after every subsequent chapter.
This experience was new to me. Sure I've read books where I disliked or even hated a character but even then I enjoyed reading the book because I wanted to see the jerk get his comeuppance - kind of like how I handle watching Game of Thrones without throwing a brick through my screen every time there's a scene with Joffrey in it. I'm convinced he's going to get skewered one of these days so I keep watching in hopeful anticipation.

Not so with this book sadly. A main character doesn't need to be likable but they need to be someone we can root for, someone we can hopefully relate to and empathise with - or someone we love to hate, like Klaus from The Vampire Diaries. The problem with an irritating character is that I can't root for them, I can't relate or empathise with them because I just want to slap them every second page. I finished the book hoping the character would die and relieve the fictional world of their existence. Sadly not, and there's even a sequel 0.o.

So why did this character rub me up the wrong way? Oh let me count the ways:
  1. Weak and easily manipulated
  2. Oblivious to just about everything important
  3. Made inane references to cult-classic pop culture (possibly more author's fault than character's)
  4. Made stupid decisions, not bad decisions, just ridiculous
  5. Spent far too much time worrying about getting kissed instead of surviving
  6. Tried too hard to be cool - this may actually be the author's fault too
It's tricky to separate the author from the character since the author is the god of their book world and controls character action, decision, dialogue... everything. I can forgive points 1, 2, 4 and 5 as aspects of a character that I just didn't like - if this were a real person we would not be friends. But points 3 and 6 are entirely on the author. 

Yes, YA is intended for a teen audience but it's not written by teens and many authors try way too hard to be cool in their writing. You can capture authentic teen lifestyle and voice without cramming dialogue full of slang, without referencing clothing brands and gadgets to the point where it seems like product placement and please authors, stop with all the 'cool' references to pop and Internet culture like memes. It's not cool, it's irritating as hell and dates the work immediately. This is why I tend to steer clear of contemporary YA, except all these irritating points weren't actually in a contemporary book, which made their presence all the more annoying.

Have you ever met a character so irritating you wanted to tear up the pages or break your eReader?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Originally I was going to do a follow up interview with Janine Spendlove, but that will have to wait till next month. Life likes to get in the way from time to time in the most unexpected ways both in a positive and negative ways.

So I am sitting here trying to figure out what to write; and I am drawing a blank. I am not sure if it is actual writer’s block or my mind is a whirl with life and I can’t focus on a single thought. Then it hits him.

I am a librarian and I haven’t really talked about that side of myself. And I am not going to, not really anyway. As I write this I realize today Dan Brown’s new book came out, which has nothing to do with YA Lit, but it did get me thinking about trends, which I am see in the ordering catalogues from various publishers - namely Baker and Taylor and Ingram.

I started to wonder what causes these trends to form. Why does one theme or idea hit over another, which then causes publishers to leap onto the bad wagon? Or what connects with the readers to cause this phenomenon to occur.

Why did Harry Potter become the multimillion, if not multibillion dollar success it became?
Why did Twilight hit it big and it did regardless of what you think about it?
Why did the Hunger Games become the big dystopian series it was?

Why is it taking so long for Steam Punk to catch on?
Where are all the Zombie books, weren’t they supposed to replace Vampires as the next big monster?
Why aren’t there more superhero based novels? They are huge in the box office?

Needless to say I don’t have the answers… I have never been that great at guessing trends when it comes to YA Lit. I really thought Zombies were about to have their day. But as I was looking through the ordering books I was shocked at the number of Roman and Greek God & Goddess themed books coming out. I know that the Percy Jackson’s books were huge, even though the movie didn’t make the money the studios thought. I am happy the second film is coming out. Is this why we are seeing all of these books? Honestly Percy Jackson hit it big a while back and isn’t really current or asked for at the library I work at. I could be wrong? But I am asking the question and putting it out there.  

I know most books hitting the shelf, let’s say this week, and have been in the hands of the publishers for at least a year or longer. But can a trend survive that length of time? Especially when the series which has inspired the initial trend has ended? I don’t have the answer.

And what about those long lasting books?

The classics?

The Hobbit?
Sherlock Holmes?
The works of Jules Vern?
Geek and Roman Mythology?
And countless others?

I have to wonder will anyone care about what I have written next month? A year from now? A year after my death? 50 years after my death? Etc. I hope you get my point?

I do think Harry Potter will become a classic.
I think the Hunger Games and Twilight will fade in time.

Writing is a tricky thing. Do we write to the trends or to things which might become trends? Or do we just write what we want to read or enjoy writing and just hope some else reads and likes it? And if it becomes a trend starter so be it?

Do we have to ask, as an author/writer, “Why do we write in the first place?”

I know for me I can’t imagine myself not writing, though it is strange getting back to writing after taking 3 years off to get my Masters in Library Science/Services.

And it is really thanks to Scaldcrow Games to get me writing again. It might not be the writing I thought I would be doing after my Masters, but it got me writing again and brought me back to my world of Sapphire City, the city of tomorrow, to-day! Will my 1940s Golden Age Hero Pulp be the next big trend? I doubt it, but I love writing it and the responses I am getting from the people who have gotten a taste of this world. A world I created.

I am going to talk more about the Amazing Pulp Adventures closer to the release of the multiple books being release later this year.

As I continue to write about trends, I realize trends overtime fade. Sometimes they run in cycles and will come back strong, like Vampires have done time and time again. Though there are some trends which come and go and never return as one-hit-wonders. Where does this staying power come from? The only thing I can think of is something deep inside us, something visceral which keeps drawing us back to certain themes and ideas we can’t in our human nature get enough of.

Trends - what an interesting thing you are.

I wonder if computer written books will become a new trend or not? Or if it will one day replace human writers? I hope not.

Oh trends where will you take us next?

I am curious to see. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

CYOA blog hop

To celebrate the release of my YA Fantasy, BROKEN FOREST, I decided to do a CYOA blog hop.
Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure novels? I LOVED them. I would read a couple of pages, die, then flip back and re-do my choices. The CYOA I wrote takes place in Raswood Forest, one of the wild territories of Tarrtainya. If you love adventure, take a trip into the dark woods, but be mindful of the winter wolves.

The adventure starts here
There are a total of FIVE giveaways. There’s the main giveaway and four hidden ones on different story endings. Make sure to keep playing!

Last night my husband finished the monotype for the main giveaway. Here’s a pic! Did I mention he did the cover?

I hope you’ll stop by and play!

Book Blurb:

Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.

Author Bio:

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.



Author links:


Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Aint Afraid of No Tropes

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations.

This is a blog post about starting to come to terms with what works when building a story. It is also a post about humbling yourself to the tried and true.

When I was studying for my MFA my professors were very clear that "TROPES" though they didn't call them that at the time, were evil. They called them cliches. The girl falling for her best friend's brother. The crotchety old man who finds a heart of gold. The fish out of water story.

My professors taught me that you didn't want your readers to have preconceived notions about your work. You didn't want to be "stuck in a box".

I was learning to write literary fiction, which while I love it, is many times all about the words and language and NOT about the story. Usually the story comes from character and not from the plot.

My first book came out a year ago and when I conceived of it, it came from character. I had a story about a teenage girl with self-esteem issues and a smart mouth that I wanted to tell. I didn't understand when I was plotting it that there were things that could help me. Road-maps well worn and used by authors for years and years, instead I pulled the whole story from one idea.

A girl in the "wrong crowd" gets arrested in Prom Night. 

From this incident the conflict and plot was built.
But, it took me forever because I was building something from scratch rather than using scaffolding that could have been provided to me.

My professors had told me NOT to use this scaffolding because it was cliche. It was OVERDONE. It was not "real" writing. Tropes were what people who were lazy used.

I believed this for years and years.

Then I got published.

Being published is amazing, but it also means you need to write faster. MUCH FASTER. You need to build stories that work and make sense within months, not years, so you can keep your readers and audience engaged.

Tropes are helping me do this.

In my experience writing three books and more than halfway into my fourth, I have learned that tropes are beautiful things. They are the skeleton, the trail of bread crumbs to building your story.

They wouldn't be tropes if they didn't "work". If they weren't stories that already had beginning, middles and ends.

Finally coming to this realization, my stories are coming much easier, because I am not afraid to pull from the ideas that people recognize. I am not afraid to use what is provided to write stories that people want to read.

What are your thoughts on tropes?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Once more into the fray...

Today I got to thinking. Mainly about the many different genres that exist within the writing world. Nowadays, there seems to be a genre name for every imaginable type of novel – SteamPunk, Gothic Horror, Romance, Light sci-fi...you name it, there's a genre label for it. Whatever you've written, whether it's a straight genre piece or a genre mash-up, there's a niche for it in the market today, and nowhere more so than in the YA world.

With the fresh, young minds of today hungry to learn about their world through the words that they read, the YA market offers such a diverse opportunity for writers to explore their imaginations and put the fruits of their Muse onto the page. However, no matter how hungry the new generation of readers are for books of every kind, it still doesn't hide the fact that the publishing industry is still cautious about opening up to these new genres, and watches the market figures and trends carefully to see what's going to succeed and what's going to fail.


So where does this leave the new writer who is writing outwith the most popular genres? Mostly, hesitant about sending their romantic fantasy or post apocalyptic novels on submission when paranormal or alternate historical leads the charts.

However, does that mean we need to stick within the realms of only the genres currently selling well? The answer, for me at least, is a resounding NO!

While it is all well and good from a business point of view to follow the trends and watch the markets, it is never a good idea to write something solely for the market. If this is done, the novels begin to lack true imagination, emotion and power. And if you think a teenager lacks the depth of intelligence and creativity to notice a lack-lustre, half-hearted novel, then think again.

Despite having the scope and ability to encompass any type of tale, the YA genre is perhaps one of the toughest markets to convince. That's because of the honesty and truth that comes as part of being a teen. While you might be able to fool an adult into reading a well-written book without heart, you'll have no such luck with a teen, as they live, fully present, in the real world. Their emotions and feelings, so raw and unbridled at that age, means that they can spot a fake a mile off. So be warned...if you're going to dive in the YA fray, make sure your story comes straight from the soul.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Calling All Teen Bloggers!

Calling All Teen Bloggers!

Digital romance publisher, Entranced Publishing, is on the hunt for the best teen book bloggers from around the globe. If you’re 18 years old or younger, then we want to know all about you and your blog.

This contest runs from May 1st, 2013 to May 14th, 2013. To enter is easy: just leave the name and URL of your blog in the comments section on our facebook page using this link here. At midnight EDT, May 14th, the contest will close and we’ll begin selecting the winners. Five winners will be hand-selected by Publicist Suzanne van Rooyen, Managing Editor of Entranced Blush (our YA/NA imprint) Eden Plantz, and author ST Bende. In addition, ST Bende will give the top blog (only 1 of the 5 winners selected) a $10 Amazon gift card.

All winners will receive a free copy of ST Bende’s fun NA Norse mythology romance ELSKER in the digital ebook format of their choice, to review on their blogs. Winners will also receive an ARC of ENDRE, the sequel to ELSKER, prior to its release in November. All winners will have their blog promoted on the Entranced Publishing Tumblr and other social media.

Winners will be announced via Entranced Publishing’s Tumblr on May 17th to coincide with the Norwegian holiday Syttende Mai so make sure you’re following our page in case you’re a winner!
Find more information about ELSKER here

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Writing Basics: Plot

Summer’s almost here. (Seems like an odd thing to write, considering that I just survived the longest winter in the history of the human race since the last ice age. Basically, it was winter here in Wisconsin until just last week.) In preparation for summer, when so many of us will be starting new projects, I decided to start a series of posts that will be all about plot: plotting a novel, the parts of plot, subplots, Aristotle vs. Freytag, exposition, climax, resolution, etc…

So let’s start with the very basics.

First, what is plot?

Plot: the events or actions that take place in a story or novel.

According to Freytag (that’s Gustav Freytag the writer) a dramatic work (a novel) has five main parts: the exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution.


For this month’s post, let’s focus primarily on exposition.


This is the opening of the novel, where the main character is introduced in his/her ordinary world. Depending on the length, style, and structure of the novel, the exposition is usually the first 20% to 25% of the book, though this number can vary. As we approach the end of the exposition—let’s call this “page 25”—a conflict is introduced. This is sometimes called a “trigger” or a “plot point.”

For example: in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone) this is where we meet Harry Potter and the Dursleys. We get to know all about Harry’s life as an orphan, how he is mistreated by his aunt and uncle, how he has to wear Dudley’s hand-me-downs, and how he sleeps in the cupboard. And then, something happens to change Harry’s life, something that sends the ordinary world spinning in another direction. The trigger: Harry gets an owl, a letter that changes his life. This sets the plot in motion. 


Another example: in The Hunger Games, we open with Katniss and Gale hunting. We learn all about Katniss—how she and Gale are hunting partners, how there are fences surrounding their district, and that two tributes will be chosen. Everything is going fine (as fine as things can go in a Hunger Games universe) until the tributes are chosen. Prim is chosen as tribute, which “triggers” what happens next: Katniss volunteers as tribute. This sets the plot in motion. 

And finally: Breaking Bad. (Because it’s awesome. Also, pink teddy bear! Who doesn’t love pink teddy bears?) In Breaking Bad, during the exposition, we meet Walter and his family, we learn all about his job as a high school chemistry teacher, and his second job at a car wash, where he is mistreated by his boss. Everything is going fine (again, as fine as things can go in a Breaking Bad universe) until Walter’s life is changed forever. The trigger: Walter is diagnosed with lung cancer. This sets the plot in motion.


As you’re plotting your novel, think about the trigger. What will set the plot in motion? What could force your main character to make a life-changing decision? Think about your favorite books. Go back to them and pay special attention to how the author handles the exposition and the trigger, and how much of the setting is revealed/described during the first 25% of the book. Go back to your favorite TV shows and watch the pilots. How long before a conflict is introduced? How many characters are we introduced to during the exposition? When does the first plot point happen?