A Perfect 10 with Paul Scott Bates

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Originally posted on Author Don Massenzio:
This week, I have the pleasure of featuring Author Paul Scott Bates on this edition of A Perfect 10. Please enjoy this week’s installment of A Perfect 10 If you want to check out…

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Writing Tip — 50

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When working on the first draft of your story, whether it’s a short story or a novel; do not fret if you don’t have a perfect opening line to  hook the reader.  Remember, what you are writing is a rough draft and if you sit there trying to find the perfect opening, you are wasting valuable writing time. Get the first draft written, then go back and write the best opening line you can. It may take you several tries,  but don’t let it get in your way of writing the frist draft.

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Writing Quotes — Kurt Vonnegut

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Writing Tip — 37

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Revisions

The day has arrived. You have heard back from your beta readers of your book. They have reported back to you with lots of comments and suggestions. Reading through what they wrote, you realize you need to do more than a few minor corrections. The book is not ready for prime time. They pointed out a number of problems: not staying in point of view, too much telling instead of showing, boring descriptions slow the story down. Confusion between who is saying what or who is doing what and why.

Once you’ve absorbed what they told you — after you throw things at the wall, threaten to never write another word, and consider starting a bonfire with everything you’ve ever written — it’s time to sit down and fix these problems. That’s right, I’m talking about revisions. Yes, something writers don’t like to do, since that means more words need to be cut, scenes rewritten, maybe even the removal of a favorite character. Decisions. Decisions.

You need to go through your book scene by scene, making sure they belong and add to the story. Do they move the story along, or slow things down? Make sure you keep the comments from your readers handy when you’re doing this. Everything you write in your story should advance it, in one way or another. The last thing you want is to lose your reader’s interest through unnecessary descriptions or scenes that don’t go anywhere.

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Writing Quotes — Jane Yolen

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Channel 19

Author Don Massenzio

I am having a blast writing these short stories. This one is a bit different. I’d love to give the background for the idea, but it would give away the story’s ending. Needless to say, the moral is that people are not always what they appear to be and their motives for doing things can come from many sources.

I appreciate those of you that read last week’s story. (Especially those that sent edits). I am going to continue to do this as long as I can come up with story ideas.

Please enjoy this latest effort, Channel 19


chanel 19.jpg Ernie Patterson stopped into a Dunkin’ Donuts on Market Street in Philadelphia for his usual, a large regular coffee and a coffee roll. It wasn’t exactly the breakfast of champions, but at 82, he had resigned himself to eating whatever he wanted. Back in 1977, when he had ballooned up to…

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Who Lurks There? Friend or Foe?

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Who Lurks There? Friend or Foe?

In another article, Getting to Know You, I covered the main character, your protagonist. Today I’m  covering the bad guy. He or she is your antagonist. This person is responsible for making life difficult for your main character and the supporting characters.

As you did with your main character, do a write up for the antagonist. Perhaps something in the his background made him what he is today. You need to know this character as well as your main character. Why does he/she hate your main character? Did they have some sort of encounter years before, leaving the antagonist angry or embarrassed? Does the main character have something the antagonist wants? Maybe there was an accident causing the antagonist to go from good to bad. Write a back story, explaining in detail what happened. This doesn’t need to go in the book, but it will help you get inside the mind of the antagonist. The antagonist doesn’t live in a vacuum, they do not spend all their time plotting and planning against the main character. Of course the main character may disagree on this point. Let the reader see some of the villain’s personal side.

Writing a dossier for the antagonist will help you to round them out for the story. Don’t make him or her someone that lurks in the background. They have a life too, and their own concerns. Perhaps they have a child they try to shield from what they do. What happens if the offspring realizes what their parent is doing is wrong? Maybe they try to get word to the protagonist. If the villain is married, he or she may or may not bring them in on their plans. If the spouse finds out and doesn’t approve, the villain has a new problem to worry about.

The antagonist can move against the protagonist in a number of ways. They can send subtle threats, such as a note, email, or phone call. Perhaps they send a body part, or dump a dead body on the main character’s property. The antagonist does everything possible to keep the main character off-balance, maybe sending them to the brink of insanity.

How the main character responds to the actions of the antagonist drives the story, providing conflict, tension, and uncertainty.

It’s possible the antagonist is a group of people the main character has to keep at bay. Say the main character was once a member of the group, but left. Now the group is afraid she will tell all. All groups have a leader, and it’s the leader’s plans they follow, but other members of the group may have a bone to pick with your protagonist. This can add new twists and turns to the plot. Groups can be a religion, a cult, power brokers, sororities, etc. If a group is the antagonist, write out the history of it. Who founded it, why did they, what are their goals, how do they go about achieving those goals. Again, not all of this will end up in the story, but serves as a good reference for you as you write.

In my current work, I have the main antagonist as a group. The leader of this group makes the plans to keep the main character off balance. Within the group is a new member; he has a personal grudge against the main character and is doing his part to get back at her. Another group member has a grudge against a close friend of the main character, causing further difficulties for the main character as well as her wife and friends. Writing dossiers and backgrounds for the various villains allows me to keep track of what is going on and what will happen down the line.

The villainous secondary characters all tie back to the main antagonist in one way or another. They also leave openings for a few short stories I’ve been tinkering with. All based on the dossiers I made for them. Keep track of all the characters in your story, set aside a folder or notebook specifically for the characters in your writing. You can go even further and have a notebook for each character. Villains can be fun to write about, as much fun as your main character.

Every day I learn something new about the craft of writing a novel and am trying to put what I learn to good use.

May the words ever flow!

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