FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Does Your Plot Need a Subplot?

FICTION, Plotting

The beginning of every bestselling novel starts with “What if?” What if a jagged, black, hairline crack suddenly appeared in a clear blue sky?

If you’re a writer, your mind is already racing. You’ve turned every telescope in the world that direction, you’ve sent fighter jets up and you’ve thought of at least three main characters — a scientist to figure out what’s happening, his hysterical wife and perhaps the egotistical head of the research department who just won’t listen.

That, my friends, is how a plot becomes a novel and it is by far the most exciting part of writing fiction. But will we need a subplot?

Just for fun, let’s develop the plot a little more. While your mind is racing, jot down possible scenes. Keep it simple, you’ll have plenty of time to fill in the details later.

Scene 1. The little boy who sees it first. He glances up, his mouth drops and he stares, drawing the attention of the scientist and his wife. Put them somewhere. Are they in a park flying kites, on a busy street in their car or just walking out of a movie theater?

Scene 2. NORAD Command Center orders fighter jets to check it out.

Scene 3. A NATO Conference is interrupted with several people rushing in to whisper in the ears of various world leaders.

Just let your mind fly. Keep jotting things down until you can’t think of anything more. If you’ve written each scene on a different sheet of paper, it’s easy to go back and put them in the order you want them to occur.

Don’t worry about the ending, most of the writers I know don’t figure out the ending until much later. For the sake of this article, we’ll say we’ve thought of an ending. Now concentrate on your three main characters. You have the scientist who has to find the answer while dealing with his hysterical wife and his egotistical boss. You have the process he goes through to find the answer, and it should be enough for several hundred pages and a multitude of scenes. But suppose it’s not enough or suppose the main plot gets bogged down in boring scientific data.

A great writer will also develop a subplot – a fun story line with a new set of characters. Maybe there’s a bag lady who sees the “end of the world” in an altogether different light. Maybe she’s inherited a lot of money and a junior lawyer, in order to keep his job with a prestigious firm, is forced to encounter the street life to find her.

You now have a story within a story. If your reader momentarily loses interest in the main plot, he’ll keep reading to find out if the lawyer finds the bag lady. The subplot can also help slow down a main plot that’s moving too fast. It can give both the writer and the reader time to breath.

Even a romance novel can be given that extra boost with a subplot. So if you’re a new writer, give the idea some careful thought. It might just be the edge your novel needs to put it ahead of all the rest.

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