Now Available in Paperback and on Kindle

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Comments

EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR

A fond hello to all my faithful followers, friends, and family

Today, I have a rather off-the-wall question for you.

As most of you know, I have a novel written (titled BRIDGETOWN HIGH) that has been published by a small, but good, publishing house. Unfortunately, I am as you also know, a writer and not a great salesman. Therefore most people don't know me very well, thus the book only sold a few hundred copies. The contract with my publisher is about to expire and I'm wondering what you think my chances would be of re-marketing it through an agent this time and thus through a major publishing house? I've had some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as many of you know, but due to my rather unknown status it didn't sell as well as I think it should. Currently, as most of you also know, I am writing a sequel to it (working title: BRIDGETOWN MURDERS) that several of you have demanded.

Do you have any suggestions, or am I beating the proverbial dead horse?

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Post a Comment

A VERY belated hello to all my faithful family, friends, and followers. It seems ever since I retired i'm busier now than I was when I was working. Not sure how that works.


Anyway, recently someone posed a question regarding a first-person look inside the head of an evil main character. I think their problem was with how to make it seem real. Or maybe they have never been evil themselves so there's not much experience to compare.

Often, antagonists are portrayed at a distance, and we don’t really know much about them, other than some superfluous idea given by the protagonist or his/her friends. What is the antagonist’s real motivation? Why is he/she doing what he/she does? Why does he/she seem to hate the protagonist? We don’t usually get a very good idea unless the antagonist speaks about his evil intentions. Seldom does a writer delve deeply enough into the antagonist’s head to learn his/her real motivations.

In my recently finished novel, BRIDGETOWN HIGH , I’ve done just that, delved into my antagonist’s head. In this novel, Jeff Marino is the antagonist. He wants the main love interest, Genie Lombardi, to love him back, but she can’t. She’s in love with the main character, Mark Wilkerson. Throughout the novel, Jeff causes extreme grief for Mark, and by association, for Genie as well. But, it doesn’t just stop there, a simple case of jealousy. Jeff has issues. By writing this novel is third-person, we learn through getting into his head what Genie really means to him. We learn he comes from a broken, abusive home on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. He needs someone like Genie to bolster his self image. He smokes and drinks alcohol to bolster his courage and to unwind from his stresses. Near the end of the book, his only true friend, Bobby Baker, is killed in a tragic automobile accident. They’d both been doing Meth combined with alcohol and Bobby jumps out of the car on the Carquinez Bridge and is hit by an on-coming car. Jeff doesn’t blame himself, or Bobby for what happened, instead, he diverts the blame to nearly everyone else: Genie for going off with Mark Wilkerson, Mark for stealing his chick, Alan Bennaducci, a friend, for supplying the drugs that killed his best friend.

Through Jeff’s eyes, grief and rationalization become real, especially when he obtains a handgun.

You’ll just have to read the rest of the book to find out how it ends.

The point is, if a writer can get into the head of his/her antagonist, I believe he/she can make the story much richer, with deeper meaning and understanding of what makes him/her tick.

Try it. And, to see first hand how it works check out BRIDGETOWN HIGH for yourself.
Read More »
Hey hey, to all my faithful followers and family. Sorry for taking so long to get back to writing in this blog.

Today, I thought I'd touch on a huge mistake I often see writers make, that being the lack of capturing the reader's attention early on in the book. As I begin reading a new novel, I see a lot of back story and setting descriptions that are, may I say BOOOORRRRIIIINNNNGGGG. That is tantamount to telling the reader to give up now before it gets any worse. I mean how do you expect a person to keep reading if you turn them off in the first page or two?

Rule of thumb, your opening paragraph should plunge your POV character into some kind of terrible trouble in the first paragraph or first sentence, if possible. That doesn't necessarily mean a life or death situation; It could be some other kind of trouble. If you have ever read "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott you'll find the girls' terrible trouble was that Christmas was coming and their father was away from home with the Union Army during the Civil War, and they had no money for gifts for their mother let along to each other. A heart-wrenching scenario. 

When I wrote my published novel, "BRIDGETOWN HIGH," I went through several opening scenes before settling on the one I finally chose where my POV and MC character, Mark, was bemoaning the deaths of his parents and kid sister, who all died in a fiery crash on the Carquinez Bridge in Northern California. To make matters worse, though he was in the crash, he doesn't remember it, but nevertheless, he vows to find the hit-and-run driver who caused the accident.

From the first terrible trouble, the novel or story builds from that, scene by scene, until the climax at the end.


Does your story start and build like that? If not, you might want to take a closer look at it. Nothing turns a reader off like a milk toast opening of setting descriptions and back story. Get the story going first, then you can add that stuff between the lines as the story develops. Good luck with it and if you need some help, feel free to email me at paulwwest@yahoo.com, or find and Friend me on FaceBook.




BRIDGETOWN HIGH is a perfect read for teens and baby boomers alike. Just click on this https://www.amazon.com/dp/1680583093 and it will take you to my book's Amazon page.
Read More »
Hi, all my great friends and followers.

The photo with this post was taken by an unknown photographer of the front of the high school that is the setting for much of  my novel BRIDGETOWN HIGH.

A looooong time ago (I won't say how long) I took a college creative writing course. The professor gave us many techniques to create believable characters, settings, etc., and to create a plot. Since it's been so many years, I've forgotten most of what I learned there, though I'm sure I have internalized most of it anyway, but one thing that still sticks out at me is what he made us do for the final test. It was a "blue-book" essay, or rather short story writing final. He wrote one sentence on the chalk board, obscure, seemingly meaningless, and told us that it had to be the first sentence in our story. Then he wrote another sentence, seemingly unrelated and equally obscure, and told us it had to be the last sentence in our story. Our task was to fill in the middle and make it sound logical. It had to be 500 words. It was tough. I struggled with it for nearly 20 minutes. Then I outlined what I thought could be a possible connection between the two sentences, then wrote the story. It took me about an hour to write it (we had an hour-and-a-half), but I got an "A" on the final, and in the class.

I only mention that because I've found it to be one technique in creating a plot -- know the beginning and know where you want to end up. Then, connect the dots. Do I get side-tracked? Sure. But I make sure all the stray plot lines eventually come home again, and I make sure they really contribute to the overall theme of the story I'm writing. If not, they get cut.

Yes, I write a rudimentary outline of the plot in paragraph form, and I try to keep to it, but sometimes I have to modify it. But that's okay. As they say, "Rome wasn't built in a day."
If you want to see what has become of using that technique, get a copy of BRIDGETOWN HIGH and read it. You can either get an electronic (Kindle) copy or paperback copy at Amazon. Or, if you are reading this post on FaceBook, check out my blog at www.paulwwest.com.
After reading my book, it would be great, and helpful, if you would write a short review on Amazon and Goodreads. Many thanks.
Read More »
Hi again, to all my wonderful friends and followers.

I thought today I would talk a little bit about creating memorable characters.

I suppose everyone has a slightly different technique in getting to know their characters. Mine is probably as unique as anyone's.

My novel "BRIDGETOWN HIGH" is character driven. I prefer to write and read this kind of fiction. If one writes plot-driven stories, a strong well-defined character isn't always needed and may even get in the way of the suspenseful plot. But in character-driven fiction, it's imperative to know your characters, how they think, how they react to circumstances, their background, goals, fears, loves, hates, etc.

When I began writing my novel, I tried to create characters using the personality traits of people I knew. Of course, I had to modify them so the actual people wouldn't recognize themselves. As I did this, I tried to get into their heads. I tried to imagine myself in their shoes. How would I think, act, react, feel, etc., if I were them? From trying to empathize with my characters, I've been able to write not only from the protagonist's point of view, but also from the antagonist's. I think my main antagonist is as real as my protagonists. My female characters are as real to me as the male characters. I know it's perhaps difficult for a man to think like a female, and vice-versa, but I think it can be done if we're truly sympathetic and empathetic to what makes the opposite sex tick.


Try this in your writing. It makes your work stand out and enjoyable to read. If you want some good examples, check out "BRIDGETOWN HIGH." It's garnered several great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Read More »
Hi, to all my friends and family


While I've been gone for several weeks, a question was raised, should novel endings always be happy?

Happy or sad, I think isn't the proper question. In my opinion, the story's ending must resolve satisfactorily all the questions and problems that have been posed.

Right now, I'm struggling with the ending of my next novel BRIDGETOWN MURDERS. Should I let the heroine live or die?

If my heroine dies, it would be horrible, heart wrenching, but a realistic outcome of all that had gone on before. But would it solve the main problem, that of my hero overcoming his phobia? As one critiquer suggested, having her die on the bridge would likely make his phobia worse.

If she lives, however, I fear it could read too much like a cheap romance novel, all hearts and flowers, and would not be realistic. But it could have the effect of helping the hero to overcome his phobia, assuming I can write the ending well enough.

Either way, I don't think the question of whether happy versus sad endings is important, as long as it is satisfying. If the reader cries out buckets of tears over the ending, then I as a writer have succeeded in my main purpose, that being to entertain my readers.

While you are pondering that issue,  you can read what led up to this question in my novel BRIDGETOWN HIGH. You can find it in Amazon in either paperback or kindle.
Read More »

Welcome to all my faithful followers and newbies, who have only recently found me on this page. For those who are new to my blog, a bit about me. I fancy myself as a fiction writer and will post my thoughts on several issues including fiction writing and marketing.

I live in Utah and until recently worked as an environmental biologist. Over the years, I’ve completed a novel-length manuscript titled BRIDGETOWN HIGH. While I’m trying to market it, I’ve begun another I'm giving it the working title of BRIDGETOWN MURDERS. Both of these novels are targeted toward young adults and so-called baby boomers - I know, a weird combination, but it works.

I grew up in a small town in California's San Francisco Bay Area called Port Costa, and even though I now live in Utah, I still claim to be a native Californian. We liked to joke that Port Costa has a population of 150 if you count the dogs and cats. It’s a picturesque old Huckle Berry Finn kind of town with a colorful history and picturesque countryside. It's from this town that I get a lot of my writing inpiration.

One day, I came across a wonderful site http://www.claytonbailey.com/skycam.htm. The owner of the site, Clayton Bailey, is a resident of Port Costa and seems to share my love of the town and it’s environs. He’s posted pictures of the countryside, the town, and occasionally some of the townsfolk, many of whom I still recall from my childhood. I occasionally refer to his site as I write about the town in which I once lived.

The rustic San Francisco Bay Area countryside, the quaint small town in which I grew up, the colorful people, all have teamed to fertilize my mind with stories that are screaming to be told. From my high school days, my English teachers saw some sort of raw writing ability in me, both for fiction and non-fiction. In college, my professors seemed to see the same ability and encouraged me to mold that ability into a talent. I like to flatter myself into thinking I have done that.

After settling on my career as an environmental biologist, the stories swarming through my head kept crying to get out. So several years ago I began writing my pubfiction, but only as a hobby at first. But now, it’s became an obsession, and 2 1/2 years ago I finally got published through Limitless Publishing, LLC. Since then, it has become a run away best seller, at least among my friends.

In addition to my writing, my wife and I enjoy spending time with our four children and 18 grandchildren. I also love gardening, researching my family history, and reading good books.

I hope you will enjoy this blog as I try to give some writerly tips I've found over the years.
Read More »