Mojo’s Back!!!!!

I finally have a novel idea that I love. It feels so good to have a story idea that I can think about and write notes for and get excited about. It’s been two years since I last wrote a first draft and I’ve been feeling the drought. Hilari is almost finished with a first draft for her second novel since my last one. Way back when I was writing the first draft of Quantum Striker I remember her telling me that she was jealous that I was working on something new. Well Hilari got her payback and then some. But she’s been hogging the creative fairy, and now it’s my turn. I’m not turning him loose until I’ve got this first draft finished. Seriously, though, I was beginning to wonder if I had writer’s block. I’ve spent all my creative energy on developing apps and I was having a hard time coming up with an idea that was big enough for a novel. In the past I would see something or read an article and I would get that first spark for a novel idea. Ooo, that’s interesting. What if… and I’d be off into my creative bubble figuring out a plot. But that didn’t happen this time. I got tired of waiting for the spark to strike so I started trying to force myself to come up with an idea. I thought about themes I like to write about. I looked at my file of book ideas. I picked up and discarded several ideas I’d had in the past for potential story situations. Nothing was turning up the...

Smart Choices

I love it when characters make smart choices. The other night I watched Castle. Once the story got going it developed along pretty obvious lines. I did like that they presented a new side to Kevin Ryan, one of the homicide detectives, who went undercover with the Irish mob. However, as the climax approached you knew the bad guys were on to him. The second-in-command took him for a ride out to the docks where they met up with the head of the mob and Ryan’s old girlfriend who they had fingered as the informant. Kevin was given a gun and told to prove his loyalty and kill her. A friend asked me what I thought would happen next. I said he’d refuse to shoot her and would turn the gun on the mob boss and then he’d discover the gun was empty. It was a test and he’d fail, then Castle and company would arrive in the nick of time to save him. Which is what happened, except for a smart twist. Kevin had lifted the second-in-command’s cell phone (there was a scene where he tried to leave and they grappled for a minute) and called the station. They’d been listening in to the entire conversation and had surrounded the area. Smart move and it made the somewhat predictable climax much more interesting. Especially when Kevin started calling out for his support. He called for Esposito who steps out from cover with a rifle trained on them. Next comes Beckett. She pops up also with gun in hand. Then he yells for Castle, who pops out from behind...

The “Oh My God I Can’t Believe It!” Moment

The Sweet Spot. That moment in the book where readers universally proclaim, preferably out loud, that they never saw that coming. It’s what writers strive for in books, in movies, and in TV. I experienced one last night during “Once Upon A Time.” I totally did not see it coming when the blue fairy turned out to be Cora in disguise. It gave me such a thrill when I realized the writers had fooled me. Yet, at the same time it made so much sense. Of course the blue fairy would never offer dark magic to Snow, even to save her mother’s life. Magic has a price and to save her mother she would have to take another’s life. Snow loves her mother but she is good at heart and even for her mother she can’t take an innocent life. So how do you do it? How do you lead your readers/audience to think one way and then blindside them with something completely different? At the same time, that “something completely different” must seem more logical and right than the thing they were expecting. Such moments don’t just happen during the process of writing. They have to be planned for; engineered from the beginning. One way to approach it would be to think of the one thing no one would expect to happen, and then work backwards from that. You have to create the motivation and a believable foundation for it to work otherwise it will seem contrived. It’s the type of moment that people will go back and examine the story to see if it holds up. If...