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  • Patricia Hollett

    The Author

  • Currently Writing/Completed

    Currently working on:

    Fallon -70,094 words
    Forest Born -67408 words
    Ice Whisperings -2997 words
    Garrett -9623words
    Northern Blood -11658 words
    Winter's Reign -787 words


    Blood Harvest - 998 words
    Keeping Secrets - 1500 words
    Misunderstood -700 words
    Sarah's Amulet-A Necromancer Slave Story -6004 words
    The Cult -1998 words
    Unfortunate Blessings -454 words

    To Be Published

    Artistic Escape - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Happy Birthday Honey - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Making Choices - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Together Forever - flash (to be pub 2011)


    Allie's Clown - 1500 words (Published on Dark Valentine website March 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine)
    The Angel Wars/Post-Apocalyptic Emails at the end of time-A collaboration with author Tammy Crosby (Published by PillHill Press in August 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Night to Dawn Magazine-September 2011)

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Making a map for writing

Last week I blogged about attending the ‘Dark Fantasy Writing Course’ taught by Kelley Armstrong. One of the most important things I learned throughout the course was planning before writing your novel.

Planning??? Well the concept wasn’t foreign to me, but really when you get an idea in your head you want to just ‘run with it’, don’t you?

When I first started writing I thought that was how all authors worked, because I didn’t know any better. Over the course of the past year I’ve learned that method is called ‘pantsing'(flying by the seat of your pants). I thought I could do it. And 75k later, I have an octopus.

Yeah, there’s a story, and there are characters. But, I look at it and wonder if I could have defined my characters better or plotted my story differently, and cut the filler and I know the answer is YES!

For the past two weeks I’ve spent plotting out all my markers. Any and all plot points where something happens of significance. And I’ve developed a character sheet, information from the course combined with my own ideas of what I want to know about my characters so I know them inside out.

So far I’ve been planning for two weeks. The same information for the same story I’ve already written, but this time with more detail. Fleshing out my characters so when I write them, they’ll come to life (at least I hope so). And, plotting enough to keep the story moving foward without ‘filler’. That’s the plan anyway.

But, I’m itching to get at it now. Not actually writing feels unproductive. I still have a few character outlines to do, and I’m anxious to get writing. Almost ready, but almost is not good enough. Not anymore!

If I want to do it right, I’ll finish my map, and then start. This time I’ll do it right.

Hopefully, armed with this knowledge and planning, this won’t be a ‘trunk’ novel, and it might just might be something good. It will definitely be better than my original draft.

BTW a ‘trunk’ novel is one of those novels that never gets published and gets locked away in your trunk…and really when you work that hard on something, you want it to see the light of day and not get locked away, never to be seen by anyone. Right?

So, as much as there’s a ton of planning involved, its all worth it in the long run. I now have a much better idea of where my story is going and how it ends, and I know my characters almost as well as people I know. And it is easier to write about what you know.

This week I’ll be ready to start writing again, and I’m excited to see what happens armed with my new found knowledge and map, plot points, character profiles and details and all my information organized. This is a whole new experience for me, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out from all of this. Should be interesting at the very least. Hopefully enlightening.

Happy writing fellow authors & writers! Enjoy your week & write great things.

Next week I’ll share my character development sheet. Maybe it will help others planning out their character profiles.

Direction, plot, characters and planning.

I took Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Dark Fantasy’ writing course last week, and I needed it.
Although I learned a lot of new ‘stuff’ about writing, it was the motivation to develop my story line, plot and characters that really inspired me to get back to writing. I had missed some of that in my original draft.
I’ve written about 70k on one of my manuscripts, my favorite story. The one I really want to finish first, but as much as I thought I knew my characters and story so well, there was something missing. Some direction, some key plot points, some character attributes needed to be fleshed out to get this story done.
After doing a week with Kelley, I now realize that sitting down, planning, and spending the prep time plotting, etc. will pull my story together and guide me through it, like a map, and that has motivated me to start at the beginning.
Get it all together, spend the time preparing your story, then dive in and start writing. Follow your map, only the key points, no filler, make your characters come alive with what you now know about them, and your story will be easier to write.
Having little direction at the beginning leaves you floundering as you write, thus creating that ‘writer’s block, or whatever you want to call it. You don’t know where you’re heading and consequently you stall out.
Having a plan, a map, and all your details helps you put it all together and now I feel like I have that.
Yeah, it means starting all over, but I have my story idea, most of it written, and now with my plot cards and character sheets, I’ll be able to flesh out my story the way it should have been done in the first place.
So now I actually feel like writing again which I had somehow lost trying to make sense of what I had written by ‘pantsing’ some of it.
Direction and a map now give me a clear view of where I’m going, and I’m ready to get this story done. 🙂

Recipe for Writing-Creating Memorable Characters

I started reading a book about creating characters and realized that I’d written approximately 70k without really KNOWING my characters.

I mean I knew my characters, the parts they played in the story, their roles in the plot, who my main protagonist was, and the other main characters in the story, how they all fit together and independently, but what I didn’t know was all the details that made up those main people I was writing about.

Not surprisingly, I was able to make it through 25 chapters and although there were insights into their lives and the plot danced around aspects of their lives, I found the personal connection to my characters could have been much better.

I could picture my characters vividly in my mind, and I could see them interacting as they played out their roles. I didn’t give the reader a view into the personalities, the physical appearances, the psychological, cultural, moral and social attributes of the main players in the story, and I knew missing this made my story weak.

I’ve read stories where I simply loved the main characters and could identify with them, because the author had given me enough information that the character seemed real and pulled me into the story. I’ve also read stories that the main characters left me cold. Those are the stories where I felt I had no desire to follow their journey. The main characters took a back seat to the story and the plot, and yes, while one can argue that it’s still a story, I find it more fulfilling to follow someone’s journey and progress. That’s what makes a good story for me.

And so, I started to read about character development instead of writing and editing my manuscript. I needed to know how to ‘bring my characters to life’.

The key here is that if you can’t identify with the characters in a book, their emotions, their interaction with others, how they feel, why they do what they do, and what motivates them, why would anyone else want to read or know about them?

I’ve realized that I must do this with my characters as well, so with all my research done, I’ve set about detailing each character in my story, and all the details that make up that person’s make-up. Age, appearance, tags, what others think of them, how they act, what drives them, what motivates them, and all the psychological, cultural, moral and social attributes that make them who they are.

I realize I’m doing this backwards and should have done it from the very beginning, but my characters were so clear in my head and I did have a rough sketch of them laid out for reference, just not enough to really know them intimately. Funny thing is my characters have their own personalities and fight with me about the way they want to be written. I want good, they want bad, or vice versa. So, outlining them more clearly will help with that struggle.

It is a learning process for me, and probably always will be but each lesson learnt is a step in the right direction for creating a good story. And now, I’m rewriting from the beginning with character traits in mind, and hopefully it will be a stronger and more enjoyable read when complete.

What Makes A Good Novel

This week’s blog is about ‘What Makes a Good Novel’.
I conducted some research on the above topic and here’s what I found…

A novel should show the character’s personality. A novel also should have a good story or hook. You need to believe what is happening on the pages. The main quality of a good novel is its ability to make you care about its characters, worry for them, dislike them, pity them, but above all believe in their reality and their journey.
Another obvious quality is the page-turning one. You want to know what happens next in a good novel. Sometimes it depends on the characters and their interactions, but as the plot develops, so do your characters. They redefine themselves, which makes them easier or harder to like, they need to be tested, questioned, and they need to grow.
Sometimes the things that make a good novel are the hardest to pinpoint. After finishing a novel, your mind keeps returning to what happened or stayed with you, or you remember certain things that you enjoyed about it. It’s those extra elements, a layering of sorts, suggesting undercurrents, which give you the satisfaction of the story.
Detail is additionally important for the reader to create a picture in their mind. And, without this we wouldn’t be able to envision the world that our characters and story take place in.
Novels are certainly about people, but they’re also about indefinable forces.

It’s hard to pick just one thing that makes a good novel, but I asked several Authors/Writer friends to answer the question below and pick only ONE thing they think makes a good novel, and they all came up with something great. Here’s the question, and their answers.

If you could pick one specific thing that you think makes a good novel, what would it be?

Danielle La Paglia (Dannigrrl)
The most important thing for me is a strong voice. I love to look at a story from different sides and decide which voice/POV to use–the killer or the victim or the witness. 1st person, 3rd person, it doesn’t matter as long as the voice is strong and clear. I don’t want a narrator that rambles and I don’t want constant descriptions of scenery and mundane things. I want to feel what that character feels and join them on the ride–the ups, the downs, the surprises, whatever. That’s what draws me in to a novel and keeps me coming back for more.

Anna Krowe (Anna K)
Difficult question, as a good novel is compiled of multiple important factors. But, if I had to pick a single most important element, I would say plot. When people think back on a book, what do they remember most? The way it was written or the story? I say story. If you have a memorable, strong, and unique plotline, you’ve got a good book.

Tammy Crosby (CDNWMN)
For me, a good novel must assume that the reader is somewhat intelligent. There’s nothing worse than a patronizing author.

Gareth (Drosdelnoch)
This is like asking which is the first rain drop that falls, everyone will have a different answer, but to me, the one key element that an author has to get right is the lead character. They have to be well built, be believable and someone that you can empathise with. Fail that and no matter how good the other elements are and you’re at a huge disadvantage to keep the reader hooked.

Lisa Murphy (BookFever)
For me a good novel must have great relationships between characters. Sometimes you’ll see it in the dialogue and at other times in the silences while many things can be discovered in the characters actions. Too much description bores me and I have been known to skip over wordy dull paragraphs in search of the next juicy scene.

Julie Campbell (Firewolf)
Compelling characters doing compelling things.

Anne Michaud (annemichaud)
The author’s voice. It could be the most spectacular premise, unique plot and amazing characters, if the voice is flat and boring, it wrecks dialogues, descriptions, and everything in between. Same thing if the writer tries to ‘replicate’ more than to ‘feel’ – it doesn’t flow and isn’t enjoyable as a read. The craft of writing isn’t copy/paste or generic, it’s Art, must come from within. And what’s more original than a writer’s voice?

Dianne Waye (Diannewaye)
One specific thing that makes a good novel, for me, is an emotional connection to the main character. I want to read a character-driven story, where you laugh and cry along with the hero. Where you cheer for their hard-earned victories. Defeat, triumph, love, hate – I want to feel it, too.

Kelly Metz (bwlrgrl300)
If I could pick one specific thing that I think makes a good novel, it would be the characters. They make or break stories for me. It could be the most outstanding story idea ever imagined, but if I don’t care about the character, I’m not going to read it. The characters need to be real to me, and that doesn’t mean that they need to be sunshine and roses nice. Real means they have faults and problems just like anyone else, and they struggle with them and take me as the reader through their struggles. I want to cheer for their successes, and cry at their losses.

Jessica Peters (psyche_13)
I think that one of the main things in a good novel is the pacing. It has to move at a good clip, without exhausting the reader.

I just want to thank all of you for these brilliant answers. It’s been fun doing this and I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did. It’s been very interesting!
Thank You All!! 🙂