Writing, Critique Partnerships and Other Stories

From a community of writers, critique partners and beta readers.

May 20, 2020

Controlling Pace with Scene and Sequel

By Tia Colborne.

I want to let you in on a secret. The day I learned about the below writing tool was the day I understood how to create exciting and engaging fiction. It’s shocking that more people don't talk about it.

It's called scene and sequel.

Alternating between scene and sequel controls the pace of your writing. Every time you read a novel, you experience it. It's the combination of these two concepts that make up your entire story. All you have to do is alternate between activity and reflection.

A scene has three components and describes the action in your plot:
·      Goal- what your character wants
·      Conflict- what is standing in the way of your character reaching that goal
·      Disaster- what happens when the character presses up against the conflict

A sequel has four components and describes the character's emotional connection to the story:
·      Emotion- the character is emotionally affected by the disaster
·      Thought- the character reflects on those feeling
·      Decision- the character chooses a new goal.
·      Action - the character redirects their energy to a new goal or a new way of achieving their goal.

The activity of a scene speeds the story forward; the reflection of the sequel slows the story down and allows the reader to absorb the events. Every genre requires a different balance of scene and sequel. A crime thriller will have action-packed scenes and less introspection. However, the best books in this genre still have a main character with a solid connection to their inner monologue. The romance genre falls at the other end of the scale. We read romance to feel what the hero and heroine are feeling. We want to experience the joy of their Happily Ever After. Spend lots of time describing your heroine's deepest emotions.

Even short scene-and-sequel passages can have all seven elements. Here's an example:

Rebecca knew she should stop, but she couldn't be late again for work. (Goal - get to work on time) The light turned yellow. (Conflict - traffic is slowing her down) She pressed her right foot down on the gas pedal and sped into the intersection. She passed the point of no return just as she noticed the car coming in the opposite direction was halfway into her lane, trying to make a quick left. (Disaster- She is about to crash her car.)

Time slowed down. Adrenaline surged through her body as she gasped and gripped the wheel. (Emotion- The danger put her on high alert.) She thought of Ava. She'd just dropped her precious baby girl at daycare. Today would not be the last day she sees her. (Thought- She thinks of her daughter, the reason she must not get hurt.) She scanned the scene looking for a safe window to direct her car. Her subconscious calculated the risk factor of every scenario simultaneously. (Thought- She assesses her options.) She made a lightning-fast decision, then pulled the wheel hard to her left, managing to skim the back bumper of the oncoming car as it completed its turn. (Action- She decides how to avoid the crash.) She pulled to the curb on the side street. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of the catastrophe she'd just evaded. Her hands shook as she dialed her boss's number. There was a tap on her car window just as her boss picked up. A police officer stared down at her. (A new scene begins.)

You can see how the sequel leads right into the next scene. These elements draw us into the story and keep us reading. It's human nature to want to know what others are thinking. It helps us to know ourselves and understand the world around us.

Through this simple process, you can build a story that keeps your reader flipping pages. Once you've found this flow, nothing can stop you.


About the Author: Tia Colborne
Tia Colborne is a writer living on the southern shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. She’s up at 5:30 am writing with the birds every day before her family wakes up. Her current project is a memoir of her time spent living in Moscow as a cast member of 42nd Street - the Musical, the first American production to be produced in Moscow after the fall of communism. The ill-fated production played during the Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis of 2002. It’s a story of cultural adventure, with crazy characters and deep tragedy.
Follow Tia on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

May 1, 2020

Finding Your Voice

By Sarah Appleyard.

Voice. We all have one. Even our characters. It is oftentimes one of the defining reasons a reader returns to buy every book an author publishes. Also, one of the key pieces of a manuscript that editors, agents, and publishers use to determine if a book is worthy, in the first place, of publishing.

Apr 27, 2020

Use of Abbreviations in Writing

By Sonia Easley.

·      Shortened words are abbreviations. Examples are Nov. for November, Mr. for Mister, and Sr. for Senior. 
·      Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations.
·      Acronyms are abbreviations made from the first letters of a series of words and pronounced as words on their own. Examples are NATO (North American Trade Organization), WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), and ASAP (as soon as possible).
·      Initialisms are abbreviations made from word initials and pronounced as initials. Examples are USA (United States of America), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).

Apr 24, 2020

Writing in a Rural Location

By Tia Colborne.

I became a writer because escaping to a cabin in the woods to create sounded like a dream come true. Being alone with my thoughts writing a best-selling book is the perfect way to spend my mid-life.

Apr 22, 2020

Writing a Worthy Villain

By Jessica Hogbin.

            The last few years have produced several amazing villains, whether it be in television, literature, or film. Authors find themselves looking at these fantastic antagonists and wanting to write equally interesting characters. To achieve this, writers try to give their villains intricate backstories filled with emotion. However, sometimes this simply isn’t enough. The bad guy can simultaneously have an incredibly detailed past and physical description while still lacking the je ne sais quoi of a worthy adversary. Here are three simple questions that you can ask yourself as you write your villain to bring them to the next level of wickedness.

Apr 20, 2020

How I Use Character Development to Plot

By Renay Marsh.

I’m a character-first writer. That means my characters come to me before any other part of the story. Plot? Setting? They come afterward.
Yes, my characters appear to me. Not completely formed. Sometimes, all I get is “Hi. Will you write my story?” Other times the character pulls up a chair, plops down, makes themselves comfortable, before spilling everything. Either way, it is up to me to listen, ask questions, and get to know them.

Apr 17, 2020

Reaping the Benefits of the Writing Life

By Isabel Jolie.

In a past life, I was a business executive. One thing I discovered during that experience is that I really, truly, hate accounting. So, let me caveat everything I’m about to say with, I use a CPA. In fact, practicing accounting could be the last source of income on the planet, and I still wouldn’t attempt it. Now, with the I am not an accountant disclaimer in place...