Writing Tip Wednesday: EXPLOSIVE ENDINGS

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It’s been a few weeks since I posted writing tips so just as a reminder, I’ve been talking about my sure-fire way to publication: best beginnings + marvelous middles + explosive endings = PUBLICATION! We’ve gone over the first two and today we tackle explosive endings.

One of the keys to creating an explosive ending is to resolve all the story plots, not only the major one. Readers have invested time and emotion in your story. Don’t cheat them by not giving them the resolution they want. It’s not fair to leave them hanging and wondering.  If it’s a series, it’s fine to give a hint to an upcoming story but it’s still important to finish the current story.

For example in my Sisters By Choice series, in BETRAYED there was a main character whose son was kidnapped by his father but it had nothing to do with the story plot. It was simply a fact of the character’s life. But at the end of the story readers just know that Jamie can’t resist helping her new friend.  And that becomes the basis for my about to be released book, REDEMPTION.

In a Christian romantic suspense, there are usually three main areas that need an ending along with any subplots. First we have the suspense plot, then the romantic thread, and finally the spiritual arc.

A famous quote from Mickey Spillane says it all. The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.

Your ending will either give you a satisfied reader who will want to buy your next book and recommend it to others or one who won’t read another book you write—ever. The choice is yours.

Many books actually have two endings—mine usually do. Often the crucial resolution scene (stopping the murderer—rescuing the damsel in distress) happens in the next to the last chapter and the final chapter is used to tie up all the other story lines in a happy little bow. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a good plan.



Writing Tip Wednesday–Dialogue

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It’s Writing Tip Wednesday again and today we tackle nother one of the big five. dialogue is considered to be one of the big five when it comes to writing. So far we’ve talked about two others of the BIG FIVE, showing not telling and point of view. So today we are going to “talk about talking.” Get it? Okay, it wasn’t that funny. But maybe a small smile at least.

Anyway, not to toot my own horn, I think I’m pretty good at dialogue. Or at least I hope I am. After more than thirty years as a speech pathologist, I know a thing or two about talking. Here’s a few dialogue dos”

1. There must be a purpose to why the dialogue is happening. It must be relevant to the story and the scene. It must move the story forward.

4. Dialogue can be used to give crucial information to the reader. But it must be done in a way that makes sense. In real life and in fiction, the talker wouldn’t give information to a conversation partner who already knows the information. Meaning you can’t have your character give her background information to her mother. Because her mother already knows it. (That’s just one example.{ 

5. Dialogue can add to character development. If your character is illiterate then they shouldn’t talk like a college professor and vice-versa.

6. Dialogue can add to tension. One way to do this is to remember that people lie to each other, avoid answering what the other person is really asking, people mislead other people.

7. Dialogue must be believable. People don’t talk perfectly all the time and the dialogue you write shouldn’t be  perfect either. We don’t talk in complete sentences all the time. Don’t be too formal. Don’t be to polite.

8. Cut the small talk. Readers want action, not small talk. Save the small talk for your real life. When you write dialogue keep it interesting.

So, that’s a few pointers now let me give you an example:

The phone rang. Lil answered, “Hello.”

“Hi, Lil. This is Ronny. What are you doing?”

“Nothing. What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Okay, see you tomorrow.”

Now, that’s a riveting conversation–NOT. Let’s try again. We’re going to add in some of Mary’s thoughts and spice up the conversation a bit.

Lil stared at the ringing phone. That better not be Ronny. After what he’d done, she never wanted to speak to him again. She picked up the phone.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve calling me.”

“What…what  do you mean? What’s wrong?”

“You know exactly what’s wrong.” She should just hang up the phone. That would teach him a lesson.

“I…I don’t know. I was just calling to make sure our date’s still on. You know for tomorrow night.”

The homecoming dance was tomorrow night.  If she refused to go, that would really teach him a lesson. “Sure, I’ll see you tomorrow night.

I’m not saying that’s a perfect example but it does move the story forward and it adds tension along with some worry about what was she angry about and what might happen tomorrow night at the dance.

One last comment about dialogue To say or not to say! That is the question. This is a debate that never seems to stop.

You have some experts that believe “said” is the way to go. Their reasoning is that it’s basically invisible to the reader and allows the flow of the dialogue to go unhampered without author intrusion. On the other hand you have all these writes that want to show how creative they are and use a myriad of other terms. Sometimes to the point of being ridiculous.

Examples: He snarled, He barked; He shrilled; He lamented; He moaned; He …..on and on and on.

What’s my stance? I fall on the side of said–most of the time–but sometimes I can’t help myself and throw in a snarl or a whisper now and then!

Got any questions about dialogue? What’s your opinion about said versus more interesting terms?



WRITING TIPS-Understanding Point of View


I’ve decided to introduce a new segment on the blog–WRITING TIPS. So each week (or I hope so), I’ll introduce a topic and give some advice about it. Along with my advice,  This is supposed to be an interactive segment. So if you want to add your two cents worth, go for it. If you have a question about the topic, ask it! I’ll try to answer it or find someone who can.


This is a crucial skill that all writer’s must master  if you want to write excellent book. And isn’t that what we all want!

Point of View refers to the person whose head you are in as you read the scene. You hear what they hear, you see what they see, you feel and smell what they do, and you can ONLY know what their thoughts are.  So when your POV (that’s point of view) character says a snappy comment, we can’t know what the other person thinks about that. The POV character might guess at what the other person is thinking but that’s as far as it goes!

The current writing rule is one POV character per scene. If you bounce from one character’s POV to another in the same scene that’s called head-hopping and that’s a big no-no these days. That wasn’t always the case, but it is now. Once upon a time we would know what each character in the scene was thinking, planning, scheming or feeling but no more.

The trend could change, of course, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit if it did! I read a book by a very–very–very famous writer and he did a lot of head hopping. I’m not sure if that’s the case with his other books, but I must admit it did take away from the enjoyment of the book. At least for me.

Here’s a very quick example of head-hopping and how to fix it:

NO-NO:  Lil hoped Ronny would love the cake she baked. After all it was his mother’s recipe. She handed him the plate and watched as he took a bite. Ronny couldn’t believe what he was tasting. It was horrible nothing like his mother’s.

FIX: Lil hoped Ronny would love the cake she baked. After all it was his mother’s recipe. She handed him the plate and watched as he took a bite. Ronny scooped a huge bite and popped it in his mouth. He smiled, then chewed. After a moment, he grabbed up his napkin and spit into it. What had she done wrong?

Can you see the difference in the two scenes? In the first you have thoughts from both characters. In the second, you only have Lil’s thoughts. But you can still very clearly know what Ronny thinks about the cake.

Now, it’s your turn to share your thoughts about Point of View or to ask a question if you have one.