Outtake from Fellowship & A Lesson

I’m deep in the last minute edits for Fellowship before I send it to the proofreader. Writing a book in the same world as My Soul to Keep that is not a sequel, has been interesting. So this week, I want to share an outtake from Fellowship and a lesson learned about writing before research. I am both a planner and a pantser. By that I mean, I write the story with a general outline. Since the outline isn’t very detailed I often go “off on a tangent.” I let the characters take me places that often end up on the cutting room floor as this excerpt did after I learned an important lesson. Before Research Ian opened and closed his fists over and over. It was weird. He’d never been afraid of hiking through the mountains before. It’s not right. Not fair. The Blue Ridge Mountains are my mountains. It was where Pop had taught him to hunt and fish and think. Pop was wrong about the Fellowship though. He thought it just needed some improvements. Pop used to talk about a time when he was young when he could walk where ever he wanted, even the streets of […]

The Beekeeper’s Fear

Written for middle-grade readers, my first book, The Mystery of Apple Crest, takes place on an Apple Orchard. A young girl and her family have moved into her grandfather’s home and learn to manage an Apple Orchard. In the course of writing this book, I learned an important lesson when a beekeeper’s fear stopped me in my tracks. I wrote this book mumble-mumble years ago. It is a sweet story, not well written, but in my defense, it was my first. Diligent, as always, I researched a lot of stuff. I’d been to orchards too many times to count, I’d even stayed a few nights in my aunt and uncle’s home with its orchard (see More than a Game). But I’d never lived on an orchard. So I visited a local orchard, toured the place, and asked lots of dumb questions. Bees and Apple Orchards During the course of the tour, I discovered that this orchard also had rows of beehives. It’s obvious once you think about it, apple trees have blossoms that must be pollinated. Bees are pollinators. In fact, apple orchards depend on honey bees to pollinate the trees. For best results, they need approximately 20-25 bees per […]

Create Strong Obstacles to Make A Super Story

Stories need structure. You don’t have to outline your story but the structure must be there. One of the essential pieces of story structure is the story obstacle or antagonist. As a writer, you know you need a strong obstacle to make a super story, but how does that work on paper?  The Power of the Goal and Problem Your character’s goal and his problem must be powerful enough to engage your reader for the length of the story. Thus a short story problem is short and simple. A novel-length story problem is longer and more complex. And a series of novels have even more complex story problems.  How do you know your story problem is strong enough for a novel? The answer to that question is in your story structure.  Your story starts in the protagonist’s normal world. He has a goal but hasn’t pursued it for internal reasons. If he achieves his goal without difficulty, you have no story. Enter the obstacle or opposition. The obstacle can be one or many things. It can be internal. It can be physical disabilities or challenges. Environmental things such as distance or weather can be an obstacle. Or the obstacle can […]