The Writing Life


Predictable Plots:  How to prevent getting stuck in ho hum plots.

First, there are two major plot elements: Character conflicts and Plot conflicts.

If the stakes are too low for either, there is little suspense.

Character conflict focuses on the internal struggle of the protagonist.

Plot Conflict focuses on the  external obstacles that complicates the protagonist’s life.

Getting readers to turn the page to find out what happens next is what drives readers to stay with your story. Readers don’t always want insight, unless your novel is primarily character driven, they want a thrilling ride. They want a story that catapults them into a life that is exciting and daring.

First, if plot driven, raise the stakes through the element of surprise. This takes, dare I say it: Plotting. If you are a  seat of your pants plotter, you may want to jot down areas where a surprise or a twist will be effective. Sometimes writers find their way by letting the plot drive itself. Some writers know the ending before they start and this helps the writer to create surprises along the way.

If you are a plotter who outlines the entire novel, you can identify where the surprises will have the most effect. Writers often call this a strategy of beats and arcs.

If your novel is character driven, insight and motivation is what drives the story. The element of surprise holds here as well. A character evolves through the scope of the story. Surprise choices that go against the character’s initial motivation keeps the reader guessing.  This goes for the both the protagonist and the antagonist.

Suggestion: Read stories in your genre and compare how they have similar plots and decide which one is more original or works better than the other.



Deep South

September 1, 2019


The Drive-In, they are mostly gone now, but not forgotten. My parents often went, mostly to get a night away from the kids.

One summer while I was in college, I had a job at the local A&W Drive-In. At the time it was quite unique. We delivered trays of Root Beer floats and Fries while wearing roller skates.  Talk about a balancing act! I’m happy to report I never spilled a drop. I haven’t had a Root Beer float in quite sometime. I think it’s time to stock up on some Root Beer and vanilla ice cream. It sure would be refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.


At twelve years of age I was a Yankee girl experiencing by first foray into the deep south. The first words I learned were, “Hey, y’all!”  Or ‘Come-on y’all. Now, many years later, it has stayed with me. As any northerner knows, upon experiencing ‘grits’ for the first time, it’s an awkward culinary experience. Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy grits and have moved on to cheese grits. Now about oysters. A true southerner will eat them right from the shell. It’s a slippery process, but once you get the hang of it and past your gag reflex, they go down easy. I tend to want them with cocktail sauce and crackers. Yum!

Southerners know how to fry just about everything, and they do.

Fried corn bread, fried fish, fried hush puppies ( a true delicacy).  Oh, did I mention deep fat? Yes, everything is fried in deep fat.  My grandmother kept a coffee can filled to the brim with bacon drippings. Surprisingly enough, everything does taste better with bacon drippings. Yes, even in cake batter.  Grandma Hall lived to healthy ripe old age of 98.