What Do You Want to Say and Where Are You Going?



My guest today is Linda Rondeau. To learn more about Linda and her book, Hosea’s Heart, be sure to read her bio and book blurb after her post.


Linda: Trying to weed out all those typos, punctuation errors, and formatting foibles can drive a person nuts. Rest easy. Copy editing will come much later.

Perhaps the two most important aspects to work on during your early revisions is defining your message and knowing your key plot events to keep your story clear and purposeful.   

Remember your message

Often, a story falters because the author forgets why he/she has written the work in the first place. Sometimes the author is carried away by the brilliance of their own writing and fails to realize that said beautiful passage has nothing to do with the story’s main idea. In order to stay focused, an author needs to have a clear understanding of their manuscript’s purpose. Ask yourself, “What do I want my reader to take away after spending time in my book?”

Perhaps your intent is to entertain. That is perfectly acceptable. Everyone needs diversion or a good laugh. Perhaps your purpose is to bring a thought or ideation regarding a social issue. At the turn of the century, The Jungle, brought attention to the inhumanity of the meat-packing industry. Uncle Tom’s Cabin inflamed the growing abolitionist movement. My book, Hosea’s Heart, will hopefully bring sympathy toward those who are caught in addiction’s grip.

Knowing the why you are writing this book will help you develop your manuscript in a way that keeps a reader engaged.

Know where your story is going

A second reason a manuscript wanders is because the author has failed to develop a cohesive plot that is consistent with his/her purpose.  There are many books that offer guidance on plot development. Whether using a skeleton format, a three-act or five-act format, or a train concept of plotting, I have found that these five key plot points keep my story moving forward at a good pace.  

  1. Initiating Event: where we are introduced to the character(s). (Katniss gets ready for her day and sings to her sister, establishing their all-important relationship.)
  2. Inciting Event: something happens to propel your character out of his/her normal world and begins his/her internal or external conflict. (Katniss volunteers as tribute to save her sister.)
  3. Crisis Event: the critical event that cements the character’s further decisions and actions. There is no going back and your character can only move forward. (Rose gets out of the last lifeboat and rejoins Jack in the doomed Titanic.)
  4. Climactic Event: the event that causes your character’s final battle with internal or external conflict. (Prince Charming slays the dragon. Luke uses the force to destroy the Death Star.)
  5. Denouement (or Resolution): tying up all the loose ends in a satisfying conclusion. (Luke and Hans are awarded medals by Princess Leia.)

Once you’ve established your message and your plot, other elements (dialogue, characterization, setting, and point of view) will be developed to support your message and be consistent with your story development.

Consider your story’s purpose, message, and plot points.  Click to tweet.

Questions? Comment below.

“Heartwarming stories that keep you reading from the first to last page,” say critics regarding award winning author, LINDA WOOD RONDEAU’s novels. A veteran social worker, Linda now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland. Hosea’s Heart is her eighth novel and fifth with Elk Lake Publishing. Readers may visit her website at www.lindarondeau.com. Contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestGoogle Plus, and Goodreads.  


Buy Link

How much should a wronged husband forgive?

Aubrey Beaumont has spent the last fifteen years in search of his runaway, drug-addicted wife. Now a respected Silver Spring pastor and chaplain, ready to give up and move on, his life takes unexpected turns when she suddenly contacts him. Terminally ill and having found faith, she begs Aubrey’s forgiveness. How can he overlook her past prostitution and liaison with one of Washington’s most vicious drug lords?”

Grateful for a chance at reconciliation, Joanna Beaumont prays that her seemingly wasted life might serve some purpose in her final days. Perhaps her testimony against her former lover’s cartel will bring her the peace she craves.  

Joanna and Aubrey’s paths will crisscross the Capital District’s underworld where they discover how God weaves threads of failure into tapestries of hope. 

“This gripping story will pull at your heartstrings. Linda Wood Rondeau weaves a poignant tale of tragedy, triumph, forgiveness and love in a moving novel full of suspense, romance and redemption.”

View a trailer on Linda’s website.

A Coincidence in a Story Can Be a Good Tactic

image by maquake

I’ve blogged on coincidences, and Steven James’s article, “What a Coincidence” (Writer’s Digest November/December 2017) hits on similar ideas. But James discusses a fresh angle.

James says that at the beginning of a story, we can capitalize on using a coincidence, because at the onset of a story readers are open to coincidences. He adds that the coincidence can be the catalyst—the inciting incident—that sends the character on his journey.

That’s exactly what happens in the opening paragraph of my work-in-progress. But I’ll still heed James’s warning that the farther the coincidence gets from the beginning it becomes more unbelievable. It’ll take work to make a reader buy a coincidence mid-story. And a coincidence at the end rarely works.

So let’s test this with an example.

1. Coincidence in the beginning

image by MabelAmber

Down and out, Dillion sits on a park bench with the hotdog he bought from a vendor. He drops the mustard packet. When he leans over to retrieve it, he spots two tightly rolled cylinders under the bench that look like their formed from crisp greenbacks. He picks them up and unrolls one of the powdery cylinders. The apparent coke-sniffing device is formed from three one-hundred dollar bills. The other cylinder is the same.

This financial boon allows Dillon to reclaim his guitar from the pawn shop and pay the entry fee for a music competition that sends him on his musical career. The story is off and running.

2. Coincidence in the middle

If the above happens in the story’s middle, the reader might think Dillion finding the money too easy to get back his guitar and enter the contest. Readers have gotten to know Dillon and want to see how he solves his money problems.

image by ArtisticOperations

It could be more believable if Dillion considers selling drugs and is meeting his first-time contact at the park bench. The contact is checking out Dillion when a cop cruiser creeps by. The contact digs into his pockets and throws the two money cylinders under the bench and flees. Dillion saunters away from the bench. When the cops stop and question him, he tells them the man had approached him about buying drugs while he was minding his own business. They search Dillion, and finding nothing, leave. He goes back for the cylinders and heads for the pawn shop.

3. Coincidence at the end.

Readers like to see some kind of growth in a main character, or at least a realization. In this case, the story ends with Dillion finding the money cylinders under the bench, and now he has a chance to enter the music world.

Readers will be unsatisfied, even if the second scenario of outsmarting cops is employed. During the whole book, readers have watched Dillion’s downfall, and those two coincidental solutions show the reader that Dillion is lucky and little more. Readers don’t see him overcome anything. The ending based on a lucky coincidence doesn’t give readers any reason to believe Dillion will make it in the music world.

How coincidences can make or ruin a story. Click to tweet.

How do you feel about coincidences cropping up in a novel?

Amazon Link

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong

12 Story Plot Twist Ideas – Part 1

image by rkit

Possibly you have the big, must-have twists, such as the inciting incident at the story’s beginning, the mid-story crisis in which the protagonist realizes his underlying problem, and the black moment event near the end. But plot twists are also needed during the in-betweens.

The list below gives the first 12 plot twist ideas, examples, and the expected questions readers will have. In Part 2 next week, I’ll supply a second set.

First, here are two tips for twists in general.

Twist Tips


  1. Avoid obvious solutions to a twist’s problem; don’t give readers what they expect.
  1. Don’t resolve twists with coincidences.

Twist Ideas, Examples & Readers’ Questions


  1. image by skeeze
    An accident leads to a bad situation. The backhoe that Hero operates injures or kills a worker. Will Hero be charged? How will he deal emotionally with his part in the accident?

    1. A place or person no longer exists. Hero has tracked a man who knows the location of the cult, but he’s dead. How can Hero find his wife now?


    1. An overwhelming responsibility arises. Single Hero hikes a remote spot as a last hope to deal with mounting pressures in his life. He rescues an injured three-year-old survivor of a crashed Cessna, then loses all his equipment and food. Will he give up or cope?


    1. The truth about biological parenthood is revealed. Hero learns his sole teenage son, who is nothing but nasty trouble, isn’t his own. Will he take the easy way out and leave?


    1. People think the liberator they’ve expected has come. Hero comes home to his family and an old girlfriend. He’s broke and defeated, but townspeople think he’s the one who can save their town. Will he tell the truth, take advantage of them, or run?


    1. Success turns out to be failure. Hero thinks he’s won Heroine, but she’s upset with how he treated the other contender. How can he show that his competition is an evil person?


    1. Guilt won’t let go. Hero has performed a wrong and legally gotten away with it, but guilt grows and begins to consume him. Will he do what must be done to make things right?


    1. An enemy is necessary. Hero’s enemy is the only one who can help him, so he allies with his enemy. What will happen after they succeed?


    1. image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images
      Revenge presents itself. Heroine’s harassing ex uses evidence that wrongfully gets Hero arrested. How will Hero escape injustice?


    1. Disbelief attacks a relationship. Hero doesn’t believe Heroine visited his enemy to help Hero’s cause. What will this do to their rocky relationship?


    1. Moral standards lowered to satisfy a goal. Heroine lies that her illness is terminal to keep Hero from going on a dangerous mission. Will she lose Hero when he finds out the truth?


    1. Temptation lures a poor choice. Just when Heroine is gaining her family’s trust by staying home more, she takes a career-promoting assignment overseas. Will her husband once again wait for her?

The first 12 story twist ideas with examples of a two-part series. Click to tweet.

What is a favorite plot twist you’ve read?