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Thursday, May 26, 2016

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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR
 
 Hi again all my friends and followers.
 
How's your writing going? I hope you're hard at it.

 
Last week I talked about developing a strong plot. The next thing Dean Koontz's teacher mentioned was "a great deal of action."
 
You don't want a ho hummer. You want to make it so that your reader can't put the book down. How do you do that? Make each scene a conflict or resolution.
 Even when talkingwith a friend, you want your characters conversations to be conflicting. In my novel, I hope I've done that in every scene. If it doesn't have conflicting or resolving it's got to be boring. You want to keep your reader on the edge of her/his seat. In Bridgetown High, I've tried to make this a rule. For example, in the scene between Genie and Kathy, where Genie gets a huge crush on Brent Anderson, Kathy ribs Genie that she's always flirting with boys. To which, Genie tries to disagree, but goes after Brent anyway, thinking to herself that Kathy was wrong. She's just being friendly.

That's a minor example, but I hope  you get the idea.

At the request of most of my readers, I've decided to "try" to write a sequel to "Bridgetown High." However, I'm realizing the opening chapter is not what I wanted. There's little or no conflict, though there is a hint of trouble to come.
 
Also, the opening chapter should plunge the main character in some kind of trouble. I've probably said that before.

So, until next week, I'll quit for now. If you have any questions, please post them in the comment section below.

In the meantime, please "Share" and "Like" this blog post on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter, then PLEASE, write a review and post it on all the sites where you can find my book. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and a few other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of Bridgetown High on all of these sites if you need more info about Bridgetown High.
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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: Thursday, May 26, 2016

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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR
Greetings to all my friends and followers. How's your writing going?

What? You haven't started yet?

Get going. Your story won't write itself (to coin cliche')

Last week I talked about Dean Koontz's high school teacher who said the following: "The average reader demands eight things of a novel: 1) a strong plot; 2) a great deal of action; 3) a hero or a heroine or both; 4) colorful, imaginative, and convincing characterizations; 5) clear, believable motivations; 6) well-drawn backgrounds; 7) at least some familiarity with the rules of English grammar and syntax - the more familiarity the better, of course 8) a style which embodies at least a trace of lyrical language and as many striking images as possible, for good writing is always vivid and visual."

I'm only repeating it here in case you missed it and don't want to scroll down to last week's posting.
Let's take a closer look at the first thing she suggested -- "a strong plot."
This is essential. Without a strong plot you might was well be writing a term paper. So-called "literary" novels usually don't have much of a plot, if any, and they are usually boooorrring! And to some, they aren't really novels. So, what makes for a strong plot?

There are lots of ways you can spin your imagination. Some writers use plot wheels, plot cards, etc. As for me, I've mentioned this in earlier posts, one of my college professors taught me to begin with a strong scene in mind, one that places the main character in some kind of terrible trouble, then dream up an ending that wraps up all the loose ends. Ss you write, everything you write must work toward that ending. I have to admit, however, I don't have a strong ending in mind for my sequel to Bridgetown High yet, but I have begun writing the opening chapter. I do have an ending, just not one I'm super happy with -- yet. It will come.

Once you begin writing your novel, don't be afraid to deviate and let the story wander, as long as you can tie all the loose ends together by the ending.

When I began writing "Bridgetown High," I actually ended with what I had originally used for my opener. How did that happen? Long story, don't ask, but it worked. Then, as I got more and more into the story, a love story between Mark's cousin, Gary and Kathy, developed. Then Jeff was created who was overly jealous with anyone who had it for Genie -- especially Mark. Genie originally started out as a not so nice girl, but that changed as I got to know her better. Then, I developed another sub-plot with Charisse who Mark is crazy about, at first, but he eventually learns she's not the girl he wants for eternity.

All these sub-plots gave color to the story line, as these characters tended to take on a life of their own.

You'll have to read "Bridgetown High" to see what I mean. Please let me know what you think.

In the meantime, please "Share" and "Like" this blog post on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter, then PLEASE, write a review and post it on all the sites where you can find my book. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and a few other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of Bridgetown High on all of these sites if you need more info about Bridgetown High.
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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR
Hi again, to all my faithful friends and followers.

So, how are you doing with your writing. Did last week's post teach you what not to do? I ran my review past the author of the novel I was reviewing and she agreed with my rating of 3 stars out of 5 and understood why: that I wasn't trying to be critical, but helpful. Maybe she's following this blog??? If so, I'd love for her to comment.


This week, I'm going to talk about what it takes to be a best-selling author. A long time ago, 1972, Dean Koontz published a very helpful book titled: "How to Write Best-Selling Fiction." I cut my writerly teeth on that book and wish I had a copy of it, even today. But I did take some notes that have helped me a great deal. Over the weeks I'll share some of them with you.

The first notes I have, he quoted his high school teacher who said the following: "The average reader demands eight things of a novel: 1) a strong plot; 2) a great deal of action; 3) a hero or a heroine or both; 4) colorful, imaginative, and convincing characterizations; 5) clear, believable motivations; 6) well-drawn backgrounds; 7) at least some familiarity with the rules of English grammar and syntax - the more familiarity the better, of course 8) a style which embodies at least a trace of lyrical language and as many striking images as possible, for good writing is always vivid and visual."

I could write a college thesis on each of those subjects. Maybe I will go over them in greater detail in the coming weeks. I think they give a lot of food for thought - to spin a cliche'.

One thing Mr. Koontz didn't cover was how publishing has changed from the old find an agent who will find a publisher for you. Today, agents are still around, but difficult to find, and most traditional publishers these days require authors to do most of their own marketing, and independent self-publishing requires writers to do pretty much the same (a lesson I still haven't digested).

Take a close look at the list of eight things readers demand and see how they can help with your writing.
In the meantime, please "Share" and "Like" this blog post on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter yet. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and a few other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of Bridgetown High on all of these sites.
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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR
 Hi to all my good friends and followers. I hope you're writing is progressing.

Before I begin, please "Like" and "Share" this blog post on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter yet. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourselves and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and a few other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews on all of these sites.
So to begin, do you have any questions about how to craft a good novel?
Today, I'm going to let you in on some things you need to know if you are going to craft a quality novel.
Currently, I'm reviewing a novel for a lady who contacted me to share reviews of our novels. I won't give you her name or the title of the novel she wrote. I will say this, even though it's a published novel it needs help.

It's a murder mystery, but I have to admit she did a masterful job of making the murderer the sympathetic main character. He kills for money without remorse, men, women, even children. How does one create sympathy for for a mass murderer? I'm not sure but she did it and I'm still wondering how?

I think my main complaint is with the editing and formatting. There are numerous spelling and grammar problems which tended to ruin the story's experience for me. The book is written in first person, but she often goes between present tense and past tense, further making the book difficult to enjoy. To a writer with 30 years of experience in writing, editing, and critiquing (me) these things also ruins the story for me.

Also, she makes little or no indication of who is talking. There are many times when dialogue beats would have helped, you know "he said," or "she said," or "named individual, said." I found myself having to go back a few paragraphs to see if I could follow who was talking and who was thinking (of course being in first person, the thinking part was always the MC).

Like I said, the story line is great, with interesting twists. Near the end, however, and I'm close to that, she dumps a bunch of twists that are not logical based on what went on earlier in the story. I'm a stickler for logic. Whatever happens in a novel must make sense.

Now, the question is. How do I post this on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smaswords, etc. All her previous reviews gave her 5 stars out of 5. The best I can do would be 3 stars, only because the novel was a fun read. I feel bad being the only bad score she has, but to be honest with her and my writing profession, I have have to post the way I see it. Maybe I'll tell let her about my review first and she can decide whether or not she wants me to post it.

What do you think?

See you next week,

Paul West, Author
Bridgetown High
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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR

Hi to all my friends and followers.

I don't have a lot of time to write, but just checking in to see if you're still there (he he he). I only had about 120 people check into my last week's post. Not bad, really. I'm still considering writing that sequel. I think I've figured out a plot, and I'm going to use most of the characters in "Bridgetown High." Of course, as I begin writing, a lot is likely to change.

Just so you'll know I' haven't bee slacking, I've been reviewing  a murder mystery novel. It's an exciting book about a cereal killer. The author does a masterful job of actually making the killer sympathetic, though he kills for money, and with no remorse, that is until he falls for a girl, then his profession begins to fall apart. Doesn't that sound exciting?

Time is almost up. More next week. Please "Like" and "Share" this blog post on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter yet. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourselves and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and a few other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews on all of these sites.
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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR
After all I've said about becoming an author, do you still  want to be one?

Hi again to all my wonderful friends and followers. Of course you do. I knew going into this business that I couldn't help myself. I had to write. Then, I had to find a way to publish my writings. That meant writing quality stuff, things anyone would like to read.

After publishing Bridgetown High, I've gotten mostly 5 star reviews with a few 4.5 stars. You can check them out at GoodReads. My latest was a review I got for reviewing another author's (J.S. Frankle) novel. With his permission I'm posting it here:

This.was an excellent novel. After finishing Bridgetown High, I was left with a feeling of nostalgia, of things that were and of things that might have been. Hard to believe it's the first novel this author has ever written, but it's a hell of a debut. The rating given is four stars, but it's really closer to a four-point-five effort.

What Bridgetown High deals with is loss, guilt and forgiveness, along with the minutia of everyday life for a high school student in the 1960's--Mark. He's recently suffered the loss of his parents due to a horrific traffic accident--and the opening chapter really brings that loss into focus--and has to live with his grandmother. He also has to suffer being the odd person out at his high school, going from a somewhat preppy existence to a place in the boondocks, as it were, and dealing with the local riffraff. And he has his heart set on the local girl who is fancied by the scumbag who ALSO happens to be Mark's nemesis in the novel. How's that for a coincidence?

In lesser hands, it would have been obvious and pure melodrama. And while it's sort of convenient, Mr. West makes the most of a large cast of characters, showcasing them in sharply drawn portraits. Add in mystery, young romance, and the novel builds slowly but surely to a denouement that is satisfactory to all--or should be. In spite of the book's length--roughly 370 pages--it moves along at a solid pace, neither too fast nor too slow. The viewpoints from the various characters presented are fine, and while there are a few forgivable lapses in the narrative, overall, it's so solid that I can't really fault it in any way. I look forward to more of this author's work.

Highly recommended. 
After reading Bridgetown High, I've had several people, tell me I need to write a sequel. I guess they loved my book that much. As I'm considering it, I'm reminded of some of the rules of beginning a novel. The opening paragraph, or at least the opening page, should plunge your main character into some kind of terrible trouble. I probably didn't do that all that well with Bridgetown High, but I fudged and made the opener a tear-jerker instead, with Mark pining for his lost family, and vowing revenge. So, if I do start a sequel, I need to keep that in mind, and it must also flow from the previous novel somehow.
I need to quit for now, but before I go, I need to ask, have you "Liked" and "Shared" this blog post on Facebook yet, or "Retweeted" it on Twitter yet. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourselves and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble. You can read some GREAT reviews on all of these sites.
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SO, DO YOU WANT TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Hello to all my wonderful friends and followers. Sorry for being gone, but like I always say: "Sometimes work gets in the way of more important things like writing."

So, to pick up where I left off. I think I was giving ideas about how to create a novel.

Today, I'll talk about where did all my characters come from? Well, since Mark is the first character in my novel, the question is where did I get him and why did I make him the way he is?

First, I did not want a clone of myself. I tried very hard to make him unique. He is not really the hero type, but he has his strengths and weaknesses that make him rather unique. I though about what kind of boy he should be. How old, something about his looks, his likes and dislikes, etc. At first, I think I had him too wimpy, so I went back through the manuscript that I had written so far and rewrote some scenes where he could be strong and aggressive, yet compassionate. I gave him some faults too like his anger issue and desire for revenge, lacking the capacity for forgiveness. I think characters don't ring true unless you give them weaknesses and faults to overcome. For example, Mark starts out angry. He wants revenge for his family's deaths. Throughout the book he struggles with that issue. In short, I had to ask myself, how would a seventeen year old senior in high school react to losing his entire family, except for his kid sister. Then, add to that, having to enroll in a new high school where some of the kinds hated him.
So, where do you get your characters? If you're serious about wanting to be an author, you have to make your characters as real as possible.

Before I quit for now, I need to ask, have you "Liked" and "Shared" this blog post on Facebook yet, or "Retweeted" it on Twitter yet. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourselves and give comments to my posts. And also keep in mind "Bridgetown High" is still available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. You can read some GREAT reviews on both of them.
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