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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.
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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: Monday, April 09, 2018

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Hi gang,

How did your holidays go? I hope it went well for all of you and you got everything your heart desired. Now that the holidays are over, it's time to get back to work on that novel you're writing (and I'm writing too).

Right now, I'm in the process of retiring from my day-job, so writing my novels will become my new day-job, and I should be able to devote more time to my writing.

I would like to make this blog interactive. If you have any questions or comments about writing, please send them to me and I'll try to respond as best I can. Sure, there are a lot of better writers  than me, but will they spend the time with your questions like I will? Or they will charge you hundreds of dollars to join one of the many writing groups for information I can give for free.

I say, there are better writers, but that may be up to you, the reader. My first novel "BRIDGETOWN HIGH," received many high reviews (4.43 in Goodreads and 4.2 in Amazon). That's as good as I've found for any of the top 100 writers. In fact, I got a compliment just today from a reader who has begun reading BRIDGETOWN HIGH. She said the opening chapter held her spellbound, and it only gets better as you read on.

Well, that's it for today. Please send me your writing and/or reading questions, and please add your email address to this blog so you can be aware of future developments and release dates.

Thanks, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

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