Scene by Scene Story Building with Scrivener


Scene by Scene Story Building with Scrivener
Natalie Bright
An author’s process is fascinating to me. Some writers stay in a perfectly synchronized flow writing the same time every day, powering through that first draft until the end before editing. Some writers edit as they go, refusing to move on to the next chapter until the current chapter is perfect. And then the rest of us fall somewhere in between using a host of ideas about creativity, I think. For me, it’s a combination of all of the above. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way.
Take my current WIP for example, I knew the ending would be a snowstorm and that something will happen on Christmas Eve before I even knew the opening scene. So I wrote the ending first because it was hot on my mind and I couldn’t work on anything else until I got that scene out of my head. Only then did I begin to think about Chapter 1. I like having character profiles completed with an understanding of how the minor characters will relate to my main characters and why.
This book is coming together so fast, but it’s a scramble in my head. Characters are jumping out of nowhere. The only way I can keep things straight is to use Scrivener.
Each folder of text is labeled as a day of the week because I know that by week’s end my main character will be trapped in a barn in the middle of a Texas Panhandle norther. I just have to get her to that barn, and make her life as miserable as possible until then. The folders are labeled accordingly: Monday, Monday noon (a lunch scene), Monday late afternoon, Tuesday morning, and so forth. The title of each section of text is a chronological order with day of the week and location and notes about the action on that day, but that’s where any order of writing ends.
If I wake up with a specific scene in my head, I write that scene. I am three scenes into the snowstorm, but have no middle to my story. Seems crazy, right? Scrivener makes it so easy. If I wrote that action for a Tuesday but decide it should be happening on a Thursday, I can move that folder up in the order. And I can look at the corkboard view to determine the basic outline of my story and what is lacking. I try not to think about how crazy this book is coming together because in my day job everything is numbers, exact, and deadlines. The creative process is so far removed from anything I’ve ever done before.
Does anyone else write in a frenzy of chaos, where the story is coming so fast in your brain your fingers can’t type fast enough? Just wondering.
Stay safe and stay sane. Have a happy, productive week!

EXCEL FOR AUTHOR EXPENSE & INCOME


EXCEL FOR AUTHOR EXPENSE & INCOME

Natalie Bright

 

During the month of April, we are blogging about “Tips and Tools” for writers. This is such an important topic, we’ll be blogging about it again in November under “Writing Resources”. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions too. Please leave your comments below.

GET ORGANIZED NOW

You may be a newbie writer drowning in the muddle of author platforms, social media, chapter hooks, and wide or not wide. It can be overwhelming. Regardless of where you are in your writing career, there’s no better time than 2020 to get your finances organized. From online spreadsheet templates to high dollar accounting software, there are many options available. As a newbie writer, I began with several books on KDP and tracked my business with a simple Excel Spreadsheet.

First, I recommend that you:

  1. Open a separate author checking account.
  2. Only use your author debit card or a designated credit card for expenses related to your writing business.

Don’t be tempted to charge anything on your author card that cannot be expensed. When you set up payments for book sales from KDP, Ingram, etc., and Square (if you plan to have booths at book fairs and take credit cards), have all of the royalties and payments come directly to your author checking account. All of your income will be posted right there on your bank statement, which you can easily make copies for your CPA or transfer to an income spreadsheet.

EXPENSES

Second, set up a spreadsheet for expenses, a check register, where you will record checks you have written, cash disbursements and credit card charges all relating to your author business.  Across the top list the Categories, for example:

     
Date Ck # Off Sup  Workshop

Seminar Fees

 Travel Exp Research Reference Professional Fees/Dues Mrktng

 

Those sticky notes, writing pens, spirals, and copy paper are office supplies. Don’t forget about the printer ink cartridges. That trip you took to the beach to get a feel for the setting of your next series can be counted as author expense under research and travel. You can set up sub-categories by working titles or series title. That little ad you placed in your local newspaper announcing your newest release is marketing expense, and maybe you bought the newspaper editor’s lunch. Log that under public relations. There are many different ways to set up your expense categories. Check with your CPA to make sure you have the right categories for your particular situation.

In the meantime, stay safe and happy writing!

 

HOOKING READERS: READERS WHO RELATE TO CHARACTERS


HOOKING READERS: READERS WHO RELATE TO CHARACTERS

Natalie Bright

We are blogging about hooks all month, and I’m veering from the topic of chapter endings to creating interesting characters that Hook your reader and makes them sympathetic to your character and engaged in your story.

In his book TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT, Lawrence Block talks about unique ways to hold a reader’s interest and make them experience the story along with the character. As a brilliant example and food for thought, there are exceptions to every rule as in the case of Sherlock Holmes stories. Mr. Block explains:

“The obvious functions of a Watson include keeping the reader in the picture while hiding certain things from him; he knows only what the Watson knows, not what the Great Detective is thinking or observing. Additionally, the Watson character can marvel at the brilliance and eccentricity of the Great Detective, who would appear egomaniacal were he to mutter such self-aggrandizement directly into our ears.

But I think another important advantage of the Watson device is the distance it creates, distance from the Great Detective but not from the story. That character, with his quirks and idiosyncrasies, is more commanding if we are made to stand a bit apart from him. Let us peer over his shoulder and we can see his feet of clay.” (Block.174)

Hope your 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

HOOKING READERS


HOOKING READERS

Natalie Bright

The best way to hook a reader is to create memorable characters that are real, not cardboard. Make your main character (MC) have flaws, which can be physical, internal issues like guilt, hate, shame. This makes characters relatable and unforgettable.

Provide readers with insight into your MC head. It’s not safe with this character, you can never tell what they might do. Hook them with the unexpected and give your characters a secret.

Hook readers with a setting, fantasy or unusual place. Let your setting be a character in itself by providing imagery. Paint a word picture.

Struggles hook the reader, never let your main character have what she wants. Throw every obstacle you can at them and end your chapter with an emotional punch.

Example Ending Chapter Hook: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (By J. K. Rowling) from Chapter 3:

One minute to go and he’d be eleven. Thirty seconds…twenty…ten…nine—maybe he’d wake Dudley up, just to annoy him—three…two…one…

BOOM!

The whole shack shivered, and Harry say bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.”

There is no human alive that can resist turning that page and reading the next chapter.

Hope your 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS


PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS

Natalie Bright

Here’s a list of ideas on how you can entice readers to keep turning the pages, even when they reach the end of a chapter.

Sharon Dunn, in her article from the book A NOVEL IDEA, recommends splitting a scene into multiple chapters to hold the reader’s interest. She explains, “…look for the moment in the story when there would be a question planted in the reader’s mind.” 

Here are other ways to end your chapter:

  • With a cliffhanger
  • Your main character has been harmed. The reader is concerned and keeps reading.
  • End with dialogue and a question.
  1. Create an Arrival. A perfect example posted in a previous blog from Charlaine Harris’ EASY DEATH: The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  • Reveal something new. 
  • End at the beginning of the next scene and carry on in the next chapter.
  • Add to the theme or setting with description.
  • Insight, flashbacks or internal struggles relating to your main character with internal dialogue.

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples


CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples

Natalie Bright

This month we are blogging about chapter hooks. Thanks for joining us. 

I stepped out of my usual reading zone of romance and women’s fiction, to read a Charlaine Harris book. She can really build the tension and keep you on the edge of your seat. I read late at night and her words stories are in my head when I wake up the next morning. Her chapter hooks are excellent. Here are a few ending chapter sentence examples from EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris. Genre: fantasy, thriller, violent and bloody.

  1. Even as I fired at the bandit, I saw he’d stopped and aimed. The truck lurched, my gun belt caught on the damn nail, and the world came to an end.
  2. The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  3. I kept on walking. No one called the police. No one pointed and screamed She’s the one! Or Look at that blood! And I began to realize I really wasn’t going to get caught, thanks to Klementina’s gift.
  4. The third day after the dog attack, Jael could walk on her own, and we made better time. That day, early in the afternoon, we walked into Corbin.

NEXT CHAPTER: Corbin was a busy town…

In the fourth example, notice how she ends in mid-journey but picks it right back up at the beginning of the new chapter. 

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

CHAPTER HOOKS


CHAPTER HOOKS

Natalie Bright

Have you ever read a book with the intention of putting it down at the end of the chapter, only to realize you’re 5 chapters in? The chapter ending hook is where you end your scene and entice readers to turn the page as defined in Rory’s blog post here https://wordsmithsix.com/2020/02/05/narrative-fishing/

Here are a few chapter ending hook examples from the book I’m reading now, THE SEARCH by Nora Roberts. Genre: romance.

  1. She pushed herself up, shut down the laptop. 

“I’m going to take that long bath, drink that stupid tea. And you know what? We’re going to book that damn villa. Life’s too damn short.”

  1. “I’m a fan of cold pizza.”

“I’ve never understood people who aren’t.” She rose, held out a hand for his.

  1. She walked out with them, stood with her arms folded over her chest against her thudding heart and the dogs sitting at her feet as they drove away. “Good luck,” she murmured.

Then she went inside to get her gun.

  1. Mai glanced at the doorway, lowered her voice. “I told the concierge not to leave a paper at our door in the morning. Just in case.”

“Good thinking.”

They heard the pop of a cork and Fiona’s shouted, “Woo-hoo.”

“Put it out of your mind,” Sylvia murmured. “So we can keep it out of hers.”

  1. And when he fell, he fell into her eyes.

Homework

Your homework is to choose several books by your favorite authors, preferably in the same genre of your WIP, and with pen and paper, write every last sentence or two of every chapter ending. No typing or reading, only handwriting. 

You will be amazed at how your brain will click on where to end chapters and how to leave an enticing hook for your readers.

Happy Writing!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

DANCES WITH WOLVES -Book Review


DANCES WITH WOLVES

Book Review – Natalie Bright

DANCES WITH WOLVES sold over 3.5 million copies and was translated into 15 languages. The 1990 film, which Kevin Costner directed and starred in, won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Screenplay for Michael Blake. He also won the WGA Award and Golden Globes for his script. Local writers were treated with an unbelievable opportunity to meet this amazingly gifted writer.  You’ve probably seen the movie, but I highly recommend the book as well.

Michael Blake shared a heartfelt and grippingly honest reflection in the creation of his book, DANCES WITH WOLVES, during a visit through Amarillo many years ago. After becoming engrossed in Indian history, his long-time friend Kevin Costner, encouraged him to write a novel rather than a screenplay. Mr. Blake told us that he struggled with the ending. The L.A. atmosphere did not lend itself to the inspiration he craved. He moved to Arizona where he lived in his car, worked as a dishwasher, and completed the book.

What a treat to meet Mr. Blake and learn about his struggles and process. I wrote as fast as I could, trying to make note of every word. Following, are some of his best quotes that resonated with me personally from his talk to our Amarillo writers’ group.

  • “Writers are driven to create something from our heart and soul. This is in direct conflict with the agent, producers, and editor’s side of the business,” and for this reason he encouraged us to not be afraid of rejection.
  • “No matter what, keep writing at a level that people will want to read, and keep reading,” he said.
  • “American Indians knew things about the world that we had forgotten. Modern life has moved us away from life on earth. We need balance between earth and our existence.” This belief inspired him to write a story.
  • “Inspire with your writing.”
  • “It’s all about finishing. Power through and get it done.”
  • “Writing must convey feeling. Be different and devastating in terms of feeling.”
  • “Make every conceivable effort to put good words on paper.”
  • “Stay at it!” says Michael Blake. “If you remember only one thing from my talk, this is the thing I want you to take away—never give up.”

 

Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!


Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!

Natalie Bright

WordsmithSix Blog will continue with monthly topics in 2020. Join us in January for Book Reviews, featuring our favorites and a few of our own. And then stay tuned for all things writing as we write, critique, and navigate this crazy creative process of writing and publishing. We are so excited to have you along for the ride. We especially appreciate your comments, questions, and shares. Thank you!

It’s time to think about your goals and dreams for the new year.

FINDING INSPIRATION IN 2020

At the beginning of every year I mark a wall calendar with project notes and goals. As I’m filling out my new calendar, I always pencil in a few conferences. Let’s be honest, your family and non-writer friends will not inspire you to write. Every creative second will be hard fought, if your days are anything like mine. You have to recharge that well and you can do that by spending time with like-minded creatives. There are so many reasons to not participate, but you will be amazed at the change in your motivation, craft, connections, and the new opportunities that will come your way just by putting yourself out there and meeting other writers, agents, and editors. Not to mention the ideas you’ll come away with for promotion, blog topics, places to submit—the list goes on and on. But you cannot sit in a corner. You have to make the effort.

WHERE TO GO

Here are a few recommendations for writing organizations and workshops that I have attended.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other month in Downton Amarillo. All genres, and guests are welcome.

http://texashighplainswriters.com/

Canadian River Valley Writers Workshop, early Spring in Canadian, Texas. Dates for 2020 are pending.

http://canadianartsalliance.com/sample-page/

Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, 1st weekend in May, Oklahoma City

https://www.owfi.org/conference2020

NOTE: We have an Amarillo area OWFI Affiliate. We meet in Amarillo. If you’re interested, comment below and we will send you more information.

WTAMU Writers Academy June 8-12,2020

https://www.wtamu.edu/academics/eod-writing-academy.aspx

DFW.con June 13-14, 2020, Hurst Conference Center, Hurst Texas. This is huge with every genre represented, amazing speakers, and a wide variety of vendors who can help you get a book in hand. This is an eye-opening, jam-packed experience.

https://dfwcon.org/