|Welcome to my little area in cyberspace where, I like to dig deep into the genre of historical and contemporary fiction, particularly multicultural romance, mystery, and suspense. I enjoy writing about relationships between people who have difficult obstacles to overcome. The lowest common denominator for reading any novel is the story, isn’t it? The characters can be from all walks of life for me to appreciate a good story.|
Some people have asked me to help them write a book when they mean, write the book for me. What’s the saying, teach a man to fish. You know the rest. This blog post is mainly for people who want to write and publish their books but don’t know how or where to start. I am the author of twelve contemporary and historical fiction novels that I have published on Amazon.com. I worked for a small university press, where I learned my publishing skills before starting a career with a federal agency. Join my mailing list on janicedennie.com to receive bonus content, updates, and special offers. Feel free to chat with me on Facebook.com/Janice Dennie or leave a message below.
STEP 1 – WRITE YOUR STORY
Write your story on a piece of paper or computer. No one knows your account better than you. Don’t worry how it sounds. You can always clean it up later. You become a writer by writing.
YOUR BOOK’S QUESTION
Ask yourself this question. What will your reader get for reading your book? An exciting story filled with thrills or an inspirational story that promises to lift their spirits? Or perhaps a story that will open their minds to a world they’ve never known? You must adhere to this question throughout your book.
I recommend reading “The Weekend Novelist” by Robert Ray and Writer’s Digest “Elements of Fiction Writing” books.
WRITE A SYNOPSIS OR OUTLINE
Write a synopsis or outline of your story/plot. Create a clear story arc that provides a well-defined beginning, middle, and end of your story. You should include every major plot twist where something unexpected happens, including your characters’ motivations, giving each a unique voice, add any conflict and big turning points or climactic scenes in your synopsis.
I usually begin my synopsis with an inciting incident; something extraordinary happens to kick off the story. Then I develop five (5) major plot/story points that I can later break up into chapters. Next, I create the crisis – something unexpected that goes wrong. Then the climax or dark moment, when all is lost, and finally the resolution that ties up all loose ends, answer all questions, and solves all problems.
Here is a sample synopsis from my novel, “Kenton’s Vintage Affair.”
Unemployed chef Briana Rutledge inherits her grandmother’s cottage in Napa, California.
She sets out to turn the cottage into her dream restaurant, but Tiffany Young and her father, restaurateur Nathaniel Young, plot to run Briana out of town.
Vintner Kenton Underwood is known for his superior Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking skills. To increase sales, Kenton needs to expand Underwood Hills Winery by adding white wines to the label. Peter Keller of Eagles Nest Winery obstructs Kenton’s expansion plans to get back on top as Napa Valley’s top Cabernet Sauvignon winemaker.
Kenton has no room for love until he meets sexy, understated, Briana Rutledge who finds a special place in his heart. But Briana harbors a deep-seated fear that thwarts her future happiness. Kenton also suffers from an obsession that fuels his competitive behavior that threatens to ruin his relationship with Briana.
STEP 2 – BUILD YOUR BOOK
Like building a house, every book must have a structural frame made out of 2×4’s. Break your synopsis up into three parts. Aristotle came up with the idea of the three-act play. Act I, the beginning of your story, Act II, the middle, and Act III, the end.
Your opening scene is an essential part of your book because you must capture the reader’s attention by the first paragraph, page, or at least by page three. You should also bring all of your characters on stage in Act I. You don’t want to introduce characters in the middle or end of your book. Character development is significant, but that is a discussion that comes later.
The middle of your story comes after introducing the characters/conflict. It is the meaty part of your story that dramatizes incidents that move the book toward the end. It should include scenes and incidents that increase in conflict and expose characters. These incidents show the reader that your character can change. Act II is where your story builds up to a frenzy with an unbearable situation, and then the story ends. No. You haven’t answered the story question.
Answering the question or delivering the promise of your book requires a satisfying ending. If you promised the reader that they would experience an exciting story filled with thrills by reading your book, now is not time to end your account with a peaceful compromise where everybody gets along. It would be best to have an ending that uses the same characters, conflicts, problems, and tensions to show readers the climax. I would highly suggest reading Beginning, Middles, & Ends, by Nancy Kress.
Voice and POV
A solid method to make a character important to your readers is using the character’s point of view. The character sees situations, incidents, etc., from their perspective. Does your character see things from a common viewpoint or an eccentric one?
When you narrate your story in the first-person point of view, your main character must be present in every scene. However, when you narrate in the omniscient third-person point-of-view, your character is not present in every scene because you are the narrator. “You can show the readers every character’s thoughts, dreams, memories, and desires, in the past, present, or future. If you narrate in the limited third-person point of view, you tell the story from one character’s point-of-view, seeing only what that character sees, aware of what that character wants. The limited third-person narrator can never change viewpoints in mid-sentence. You must show a clear division or a chapter break, or a line space. The limited narrator can change the viewpoint from one scene to another as long as there is a clear chapter break.” (Card 157)
STEP 4 DEVELOPING CHARACTERS
The Medieval City of Gondar, Ethiopia
Gondar, Ethiopia sits high and proud 7,500 feet above sea level with mountains rising on every side and Lake Tana gleaming in the distance. The site of the city was well chosen for defense because it spreads over the top of a ridge making access to it difficult from any direction.
For 200 years during Ethiopia’s middle ages in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the kings of Gondar ruled much of Northern Ethiopia. In 1632 King Fasilides selected Gondar as his capital, and it soon became the political and cultural center of the country. Although the civilization of Axum was one of the main strings of Ethiopian culture, the achievements of the Middle Ages, centered in Gondar, have had a great influence on the nation.
After the decline of the Zagwe Dynasty at Lalibela, Ethiopia was ruled by kings who moved the court with them from place to place in Northern Ethiopia. Moslem armies sought to penetrate the highlands and under Ahamed Gran in the 16th Century, burned Axum and defeated the Ethiopian armies. By this time the Portuguese had established contact with the Kingdom of Prestor John and sent Christopher da Gama, a son of Vasco, to help Ethiopia fight the Moslem armies. After the death of Ahamed Gran, Portuguese missionaries sought to convert the Ethiopians to Roman Catholicism but failed. By the 17th Century, the period of long religious conflict with the Moslems and Portuguese was passing and a new epoch was ready to be added to Ethiopian history.
King Fasilides and his dynasty built some of the most remarkable buildings in Africa, and Gondar became an imperial walled city of towers and castles. Although influenced by Portuguese design, the castles emerge as thoroughly and uniquely Ethiopian.
The largest castle is four stories high and was built of rough-cut stones and lime mortar with cedar doors, beams, and furniture. It is a large rectangular building with a grand outside staircase, a watchtower, and four semi-detached rough turrets at the corners. Around the great castle of King Fasilides is a stately group of castles with their turrets, narrow windows, dungeons, and staircases all surrounded by a battlement wall with twelve gates. Once centers of authority and government, these feudal fortresses seem lonely and deserted now, perhaps remembering when the Temple of Love, the House of Songs, and the Paradise Gardens Pulsated with life.
During the years when Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia, a number of visitors from Europe and other continents reached Gondar and returned home to tell with amazement what they had seen. At the end of the 17th Century, a French diplomat described the great palaces of Gondar with rich decorations, beautifully carved furniture and the emperor’s gold throne. More than 50 years later the Scotchman James Bruce came to Gondar where he lived several years. He visited the source of the Blue Nile which he claimed to have discovered, and his books about Ethiopia received wide circulation in the English-speaking world.
2020 has been a challenging year for many of us. My heart goes out to all families who’ve lost loved ones due to the Corona Virus. I pray that 2021 will be a better year for everyone. I felt so bad for children forced to stay at home during the pandemic that I wrote a children’s story to take them into a magical world. It’s called “Mystical Nights of the Water Sprites.” Available on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0878ZNPZQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i2
It’s about three tween girls, Haniah (11) and her friends, Amy and Fiona. As the story opens, they are complaining about their boring summer vacation. They disobey their parents and get lost while hiking alone in the Sierra Mountains. The next morning, they meet some winged water sprites sitting on pebbles & leaves at Big Bear Creek. Haniah watches as the water sprites’ leader lifts her staff and turns a squirrel into a dandelion. The story takes off into a world of adventure that will keep children occupied and distracted from thinking about their isolated situation.
Besides writing, I spent this summer gardening in an attempt to distract myself from the solitary life caused by the Corona Virus. I grew some tomatoes, Jalapeno peppers, and greens in my vegetable garden. I also grew some sunflowers-which I will never grow again, zinnias, hollyhocks, petunias, and roses in my flower garden.
I decided to make my debut in the world of mystery with my new novel, “The Orchard Murders,” scheduled to be released on June 1, 2021. It follows private investigator Jason Sutton, an ex-Navy SEAL who gets a tip on his cell phone about a dead body buried in an apple orchard on highway twelve. He sets out to find the body and is shocked at what he discovers.
Look for book 2 in the Jason Sutton series next year. Jason sets out to find who’s blackmailing the Sutton family because of his wayward cousin’s illegal shenanigans.
Have a safe and happy Holiday Season!
Take Care, Janice