Give Something that Intrigues You a Spot in Your Story

 

 

image by papaya45

Subject of Intrigue

 

As the people who follow my Facebook author page know, a huge pig at a peculiar farm intrigues me. Horses, regular cows, longhorns, guinea hens, and Pig live there. Pig roots alongside the grazing cows.

 

 

 

John knows he must be ready to stop if I see Pig in the pasture. So far, this and the next photo are the best photos I’ve taken of Pig. I zoomed in so much the photos are blurry.

 

 

 

Friends have encouraged me to call the farmer and ask if I can arrange an interview and get a photo of Pig. They say the farmer is a man full of interesting stories.

 

 

I’ve learned from another friend raised on a pig farm that male pigs have prominent tusks, because of their testosterone. I’ve seen black wild boars with tusks, but I’ve never seen a pink pig with tusks. Online, I saw many pigs with tusks. I was getting into pigs.

The Process to Include a Subject of Intrigue in a Story

My feelings for Pig came first. Seeing Pig beside cows and horses delighted me. My Facebook conversations with friends germinated the idea to include Pig on my hero’s cattle farm. Then the idea he belonged to the hero’s deceased wife zipped into my mind. I pictured Pig on the book cover. I wanted to interview Pig’s farmer. I realized Pig would be an excellent secondary character.

Remember, secondary characters must have a purpose related to a main character. They help show the character’s traits and flaws, give the character someone to talk to, mentor the character, offer a personality that contrasts the main character’s personality, etc.

I needed something to draw tender feelings out of my hero who still mourns his deceased wife after five years.

image by Meditations

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, but my hero, a man of few words, is a cattle farmer. Pig will have belonged to his deceased wife. And that’s the only reason pesky Pig is not bacon. Pig gets in trouble, and my hero knocks heads with the porker. But my cattle farmer also, begrudgingly, has a soft spot for Pig. They share the bond of mourning the hero’s wife.

My hero’s relationship with Pig gives me a way to show his tenderness concerning his wife other than solely through his thoughts.

Moreover, when the heroine comes to work at the farm, she will develop a special relationship with Pig that creates conflict for the hero.

I know I’ll enjoy writing Pig into the story. But I need an awesome name for Pig. I want one that avoids references to ham, pork, bacon, etc. The deceased wife wouldn’t name her friend with names containing pig edibles. One friend suggested George. Will you please give me alternatives in the comments?

Draw on something that captivates you for a place in your story. Click to tweet.

What do you think is the perfect name for Pig?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

What a Writer Can Learn From Reading Book Reviews

On the premise we can learn about an author’s audience from reading book reviews, I studied reviews for a Christian contemporary romance I had read. I became more intrigued by the relationship between reviewers’ issues and their star-ratings than the author’s audience.

The book had 262 reviews with a 4.7-star average.

  • 5 stars = 202
  • 4 stars = 42
  • 2 to 3 stars = 18
image by mcmurryjulie

Gabriela Pereira advises us to read 3- and 4-star reviews only (“Alpha-Blog Soup” Writer’s Digest May/June 2018). Pereira says, “5-star reviews are often too glowing to be useful, and people who leave 1- or 2-star reviews have an axe to grind.” She thought seven was the “magic number” of reviews to read to know an author’s audience.

I read sixteen 4-star reviews, breezing through story descriptions and slowing to a sloth’s-pace when the reviewer gave opinions about anything.

I’ve compiled stats below of what reviewers said about different aspects. Remember, these sixteen reviewers rated the book as “very good.” I believe the reviewers genuinely explored the story in honest reviews.

About the Author

  • Writes good banter, humor, and dialogue
  • Willing to introduce risky subjects

About the Reviewers

  • Loyalty to series/author. Regardless of whether they had problems with the story, twelve reviewers (75%) said they’d read the first book in the series, one or more of the author’s other books, and/or planned to read the next book in the series.

Opinions About the Story

 

image by mohamed_hassan

 Theme. Seven reviewers (44%) mentioned a theme. Five went with Theme 1 and two chose Theme 2.

 Plot. Eight (50%) shared their opinions on the plot. Four labeled the plot, and they gave the same plot name. Four mentioned they liked the fresh story twists; three weren’t impressed with the plot, and one gave no opinion on her plot feelings.

 Authenticity. Six (38%) said they were pleased situations and characters were realistic.

 Morality. Seven (44%) voiced concerns over moral issues in the story.

Lessons learned. Six (38%) remarked they appreciated learning from the situations.

Spiritual thread. Ten (63%) mentioned this aspect and gave positive opinions.

 Opinions About the Characters

 

Likeability of Main Characters. Eight (50%) cited problems with liking them. Some warmed up to them later in the story, and two said they enjoyed the story in spite of not caring for the main characters.

Secondary Characters. Seven (44%) mentioned liking the secondary characters. For one secondary character, three loved him and one disliked him.

Character arcs. Seven (44%) mentioned seeing the growth in the main characters.

What struck me was that seven reviewers respectfully voiced their concerns with moral issues, three disliked the plot, and eight had problems liking the hero and heroine, yet they gave the book four stars. These opinions came from ten reviewers (63%), some having concerns in more than one of these three categories.

My exercise showed at least 75% of the sixteen reviewers were loyal to the author/series. And 63% said they were happy with the spiritual thread. This may suggest the importance of

  • authors gaining loyal readers in their genre and receiving a loyalty “mulligan” when one book disappoints, and
  • writing series.

Try reading several 4-star reviews for a book and learn from the commonalities. Click to tweet.

What thoughts can you add to this exercise?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

10 Writing Mistakes That Give Readers Heartburn

image by Brett_Hondow
image by Brett_Hondow

These mistakes could irritate and lose your readers for your current book and all your future books.

  1. Insufficient grounding. The reader struggles to establish the who, where, and when from the beginning of a book or scene.
  • The age of the character’s son isn’t revealed. The reader thinks he’s three years old, but then the child’s vocabulary is advanced for three.
  • Information is withheld at the beginning as a device to add fun. Confusion isn’t fun.
  • Where the heroine lives is missing. The reader wonders whether the heroine’s move to Florida is as burdensome as she laments.
  1. Inconsistencies.
  • The author tells the reader a character lacks accounting knowledge. Later, the character gabs knowledgeably about accounts receivable.
  • The author tells the reader that a character is cruel, but the character’s actions and dialogue show the character is a caring person.
  1. image by Meditations
    image by Meditations
    Pulling solutions from the sky. The reader anticipates a clever solution to a character’s predicament.
  • The heroine loses everything. Her child needs surgery desperately. An acquaintance dies and leaves her $100,000 because he’s always admired her spunk.
  • Plot setups are missing from the book’s first half, so later, the author has the character talk about behind-the-scene events to make the weak plot work.
  1. Poor transitions. After time breaks or switching to another character’s point of view (POV), the reader lacks sufficient information to shift gears.
  • Whose POV is she in?
  • A new place isn’t mentioned, but the setting seems different.
  • The time appears earlier than when leaving the last character’s POV. Is the story going backward?
  1. Cliches. The story reeks of tired phrases:
  • She was never at a loss for words, and she had ants in her pants.
  • As luck would have it, her dog was the ace in the hole.
  • Around Mark, she was all thumbs, which put her back at square one.

 

image by kaboompics
image by kaboompics

6.  Excessive details. The reader skims, looking for substance and the plot.

  • Five paragraphs written about setting the table.
  • Obvious motives explained, or an action is reiterated in another way; information repeated.
  • Topics belabored in dialogue or internal thoughts.
  1. Awkward sections. The reader reads a sentence or paragraph three times, then gives up.
  • Vague words used (it and that, and she referring to one of three possible women).
  • Words or phrases are put together so the sentence makes no sense.
  1. Misusing secondary characters.
  • The long description of a character makes the reader think the character is important to the plot. The character never reappears.
  • A secondary character serves no purpose in developing the hero or the plot and distracts the reader from the hero’s story.
  1. image by d97jro
    image by d97jro
    Suspension of belief. Disbelief wrenches the reader from the story.
  • The character’s excessive or dramatic emotions (or lack of emotions) don’t match the seriousness of events.
  • The character suddenly has knowledge or a super power that was never hinted at previously.
  1.  Unresolved Subplots.
  • The reader anticipates learning who the baby’s father is, but the father’s identity isn’t revealed.

Don’t lose readers because of these 10 writing mistakes. Click to tweet.

What makes you put a book down permanently?