Today is the birthday of: Kate Greenaway, James Morrow, Michael Kelly
Tip: Is your villain morally corrupt and not just a brat? Those with bad morals are more interesting and have more to lose or gain. Brats are like flies—irritating, but not deadly. Be sure to give your bad guy some good features as well. Don’t make them flat and boring.
Thought: There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
Teaser: You just bought an old desk. While cleaning it, you find a faded photograph of a soldier from WWI. There is a name written on the back. Searching further, you find a letter to go with the picture. It was never sent. Why? Do you search for the family? What does the letter say?
Today is the birthday of: Margaret Weis, Harding Lemay
Tip: Don’t start your story with an info dump. If there’s background information the reader needs, give it out in small bites, not one big feast.
Thought: “I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.” – Cormac McCarthy
Teaser: Identify your characters by showing not only what they own, but how they treat their possessions. Given an expensive, but ugly, gift, how would they treat it? What would they do with it? Write a short scene from two different character perspectives.
Today is the birthday of: Paul Heyse, Lawrence Sanders
Tip: Do you have a compelling opening sentence? One that draws the reader in and sets up the following action.
Thought: “Leave out the parts readers skip.” – Elmore Leonard.
Teaser: March 15, the Ides of March, is famous for being the day Julius Caesar was killed. Though it has been written about often, most famously by Shakespeare, write the assassination scene from Brutus’ point of view. Why did he do what he did? How does he feel about it?
Today is the birthday of: Hank Ketcham, Pam Ayres, Kevin Williamson
Tip: Do you have compelling hooks at the ends of your chapters? Things that make your reader want to keep reading? Or do you put your characters to sleep—and thus your readers.
Thought: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Teaser: Today is “Pi” day (3.14 – a mathematical term but also today’s date.) What kind of pie would your character like to eat? Does s/he bake it from scratch? Or buy one and pass it off as his/her own?
Today is the birthday of: L. Ron Hubbard, Giorgos Seferis, Robert Lanham
Tip: What is the action that sets off the rest of the action in your book? In a murder mystery, this would be the discovery of the body.
Thought: “Fiction writers are strange beasts. They are…observers first and foremost. Everything that happens around them is potential material for a story.” – Terry Brooks.
Teaser: You glance out your window late at night and see your neighbor digging a deep hole. You’ve always thought he was a strange character. Do you go out for a sneaky but closer look? Or do you do it overtly? What is he digging the hole for?
Today is the birthday of: Jack Kerouac, Edward Albee, Gabriele D’Annunzio
Tip: Make sure your characters have goals. They need something to strive for. What do they want? Why do they want it? Why can’t they have it? How do they get it? That’s your story.
Thought: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.” – Ernest Hemingway
Teaser: There is a ghost haunting you. Why? What have you done that brings this spirit to you? Is it a vengeful spirit? Or protective? Or impish?
Today is the birthday of: James Herriot, Johanna Lindsey
Tip: Sometimes it helps to have something in the ending reflect to the beginning of the story. You can do this with an object or situation that mirrors something in the beginning. For instance, if there’s a blackout at the beginning and the heroine has trouble finding candles or a flashlight, at the end, you could have another blackout, but this time, she has light handy.
Thought: “Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.” – A Whitney Griswold
Teaser: You’ve moved into a new home. While doing some cleaning, you find a loose board in a closet. You pry the board up and find….