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!

 

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. 

 

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. 

CHARLAINE HARRIS


CHARLAINE HARRIS

Natalie Bright

Over the weekend I read two books. Both had likable characters, engaging plots but the contrast of the golden rule we’ve all heard over and over was glaringly different. Here are two similar scenes as examples of the SHOW, DON’T TELL rule. Paragraph A is “telling. Paragraph B by Charlaine Harris is “showing”.

  1. “…she tried to hide as much as possible, behind some big boulders and to try to make as little noise as possible.”
  2. “When I came to, I was in the middle of a clump of bushes and large rocks. It wasn’t dawn, but it was close. A snake was gliding by me. I could just make out that it was a rattlesnake, its tongue flicking out to catch movement. I didn’t move. I wasn’t sure I could, anyway. I pretended to myself I was choosing not to stir. The birds were singing, so the gunfire and screaming were long over.”   AN EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris

“Showing” is putting into words the scene that’s in your head and pulling the reader into the story. Emotion brings your writing up a notch by including the five senses. How many senses can you identify in paragraph B?

Vampires, creatures of the night, bloody battles are not my usual go to for reading material but that Charlaine Harris can spin a highly entertaining tale. I was surprised at how much I enjoy her books. Her writing is phenomenal and worth your time to study. I highly recommend AN EASY DEATH, Book #1 in the Gunnie Rose series. The United States is split and in this new take on the old west, the story follows a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Harris always delivers intense action with heroines/heroes that are flawed as they face quirky villains.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone again this year and striving to read books in different genres. What book have you discovered that is something totally different from what you usually read? Comment below and let us know.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office


Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office

Natalie Bright

Setting writing goals in the New Year and realizing those goals depends on you being productive. That means butt in chair and words on the blank screen. Where you work is just as important as crafting a phenomenal sentence. Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a haven of inspiration.

Feng shui (fung SHWAY) is the Chinese art of placement to increase energy in the spaces you occupy. Literally, it means “wind and water”, or the intersection of the seen and unseen. The natural force of a body or space moves in predictable patterns. In Chinese philosophy, this is called qi (chee).  Furniture and objects can be moved, colors can be changed, and the creative energy of a room can be restored, imbalances corrected.

As I have blogged about before, my creative space changes with each project. When I wrote the inspirational book about a deep loss, I sat at the kitchen table. Chaos was all around; kids going in and out of the back door, television blaring, dinner cooking. The noise enabled me to write instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrow of the story. The book I just finished was written in our spare bedroom, although feng shui practitioners recommend not working in a bedroom. It was the only place I could shut out the world. From my little desk in the corner, I could watch the covey of quail that milled around outside the window every morning. I could hear the songs birds that gathered in the snowball bush. With my back to the door, I was able to ignore reality and step into the world of my creation.

Clutter is another major deterrent to productivity. When doing research, I use the floor and guest bed to spread out the information. True, it can be distracting but I like having the information at my fingertips. And I love my stacks of books. I did invest in a collapsible table. To anyone else, it looks like a mess, but I know which projects are in which stack. Whatever your methods, I hope you find the perfect space and have a productive and energizing New Year.

Feng Shui Design Tips for your Office 

  1. Is your back to the door? Do you have trouble concentrating? Move your desk to the center of the room and listen to your body. What bugs you? What do you like about the room? Give any change at least two weeks.
  2. What colors are dominate in your working space? Red stimulates fame and reputation. Blue represents wisdom. Green represents growth and new beginnings. Purple inspires spirituality and adventure.
  3. Does the furniture placement flow, or is it distracting? Can you move freely throughout the space? Your energy might be stifled by clutter.
  4. Bedrooms should be a place of calm, whereas offices are spaces of active energy. If you must work in a bedroom, divide the area by using a screen or curtain.
  5. Organize your desktop as you would the room. Personal symbols can be inspiring, like a favorite coffee mug or candle. Invest in bookcases or additional tables to declutter and organize your projects.
  6. Declutter to clear your mind. Clean out your email inbox and computer files. Toss those distracting sticky notes and start an idea notebook instead. Focus your energy and stop stressing over undone tasks.