Phases of a Story: The Churning Gas of . . . No Clean Way to Do This Title

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I had to think long and hard about this one because I couldn’t really put my thoughts to words.  There was a moment of giving up and throwing the concept out to everyone for how they would do it.  Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to call it quits when I’ve come so far with the theme.  I mean, the analogy has to work somewhere.  How could liquid and solid be connected to writing, but gas is impossible?  It shouldn’t be and I’m going to bring this theme home.

First, what is gas?  It is an air-like fluid substance, which expands freely to fill any space available, irrespective of its quantity.  Yes, this is the dictionary definition.  I see this as an ephemeral phase of matter because you can’t really hold it and it drifts away so quickly if you see it.  Think about how your breath dissipates on a cold day instead of hanging around.  It’s this hard to grasp, but still exists side of gas that keeps drawing my attention here.  There has to be that part of writing where you know something is there and are trying to contain it.  This can lead to the ‘gas’ becoming a liquid and solid, which means I’m not at the end of the path.  I might be at the beginning.

Once you have your idea locked down, you move along and don’t really consider the earliest stage.  We talk about how the idea came to us, but immediately jump to when it became solid.  Yet, there was a moment, either brief or extended, where you were struggling to grab that spark of imagination.  Without a doubt, it was there and you know you needed it like you need oxygen.  Yet, you kept having to chase it and find a way to creation the conditions to make it solid.  Maybe you left it alone and it congealed while you were doing something else.  Perhaps meditation worked or you simply brainstormed off the feeling until something clicked.  The point is that you began with an ephemeral, barely there idea that grew into the story.

This means, the gas phase of writing is much harder to control than liquid and solid.  It doesn’t appear when you want it or expect it.  This part just materializes on the periphery of your mind then gradually gets closer to the conscious mind.  You are along for the ride at the beginning since you might not realize it’s there.  This isn’t to say that you can’t grab it by the horns and wrestle it into submission, but that can leave pieces of it behind or damage the idea.  Perhaps at this stage, we’re all pantsers because we aren’t working off a plan.  This is where the plan is forged, but it has to be at the proper pace or you will lose it all.

Personally, I tend to ignore these sparks for a bit to see if they stick around.  Long ago, I got so many that it was impossible to chase them all, so I let the strongest ones survive to be nurtured.  The others vanished back into the ether only to stay gone or return connected to another spark.  It makes one wonder if an idea can ever truly be destroyed or it simply changes into something else like matter.

So, what do you think of this ‘gas’ phase of writing?  Does it make sense?

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Jacquie Biggar, Clifford Browder and Christine Campbell

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Cafe and bookstore and the first author with a recent review is USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar for Book 1 in the Wounded Souls series – Tidal Falls.

About the book

If you like Military Romance, Wounded Warrior Romance, Contemporary Romance, or Romantic Suspense, this is a sure to be a story you will love from USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar.

Nick Kelley spent years working as a dog handler in the U.S. Marine Corps. His sole focus, to keep his team alive in the midst of chaos. When he fails to notice an IED in time and loses most of his teammates, Nick shuts down. It takes meeting and falling in love with a woman in danger to make him realize life’s worth living.

One of the recent reviews for the book

LA Bookworm 5.0 out of 5 stars NEW (TO…

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Derailing Bedlam: Flirty Fish Tails Part 1 #fiction #adventure

As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence.  It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam.  This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started.  Each one is 99 cents!

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

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Phases of a Story: The Flowing Liquid of Plot

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This one might be easier than I expected because we’ve heard the comparison as much as the solid foundation phrase.  So, what is something that comes to mind when you think of a liquid?  Oceans, drinks, showers, baths, streams, rivers, rain . . . I’ll be right back.  *toilet flush and washing of hands sounds*  Didn’t think that list through.  Anyway, most people probably thought of something along the lines of flowing.  I hope because you could also have considered that liquid is wet, takes the ‘shape’ of its container, and a few other things that don’t work for my post.

Authors need to have their stories flow in a way that the reader doesn’t feel like they’re in stop and go traffic.  This goes for word-to-word all the way up to beginning-to-end.  If the story is choppy or so twisty that nothing makes sense then you won’t have many people getting to the end.  Many of those who finish your book might do it out of a deep sense of determination or simply want to spite you as if you didn’t want them to get to the last, precious page.  Either way, you need to get a good flow going, which can be accomplished with a variety of methods that can also be combined.

  1. Outlining can help gather your thoughts and lay down the groundwork for the story before you begin.  This allows your mind to already have the pieces and they will get shaped as you do the first draft.  It might not create a perfect flow, but you’ll find the transitions are less surprising to you.  Foreshadowing may be easier to establish as well because you know what’s coming.  These connections help to extend the flow of the plot over the entire work.
  2. Beta readers will tell you if your story isn’t working.  Saying that things don’t fit or the flow is wrong is fairly common.  This bypasses an author’s ability to fill in the blanks inside their own head.  We can read our own stories and think it’s clear as day because we know it all.  The messy flow is sorted in our minds as we read, so we are blind to this issue.  Beta readers don’t have this weakness, which makes them great at pointing out this problem.
  3. Editing specifically for the flow, which can go hand-in-hand with beta readers.  Force yourself to focus on how things are moving along and block those pre-existing notions that will get in the way.  This is actually harder than one thinks because you can become distracted by typos and switch lanes.  Take a lot of breaks to make sure you remain focused.

This is really what the liquid phase is about when it comes to the story.  Not just the flow, but the malleability of the piece.  Solids can’t be molded as easily as liquid and gases are even worse.  So, this phase/stage is where you can do the most crafting upon that core you previously developed.  This isn’t only for the story itself too.  You need to consider the malleable flow of your overall world to make sure it fits together and any connected works must be attached to what you have done.  If the movement from one series to the other is shoddy and stunted then it will feel like they shouldn’t be connected at all.

So, what do you think of the ‘liquid’ phase of writing?  Do you have another way to explain this analogy?

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Smorgasbord Book Reviews – The Beast Within (Mended Souls Book Two) by Jacquie Biggar

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I requested several books for Christmas as I love having a full TBR locked and loader on my reader to start the year. I have been storing up some of my reviews to share over the next couple of weeks as I am going to be offline during the day-time with some offline projects and jaunts.

The first review is by USA Bestselling Romance Author Jacquie Biggar and her book The Beast Within (Mended Souls Book Two) a paranormal/suspense/thriller/romance.

Let me set the scene…. since this is the second book in the series the first being The Guardian which introduced Lucas Carmichael and Scott Anderson who had it all, money, fame, and fortune. But one night’s stupid mistake takes everything they thought they cherished and dumps it upside down.

About The Beast Within.

When Julie Crenshaw is offered a news reporter’s job on beautiful Vancouver Island she didn’t expect…

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Teaser Tuesday: Not Another Hider #fantasy #adventure

Cover Art by Sean Harrington

Been a long time since I did any type of promo for Quest of the Brokenhearted, which is still one of my favorites to have written.  It’s tough to do excerpts because each chapter is almost like a short story with a fight involved.  So there aren’t many things I can do without posting some spoilers.  Feel free to buy the book and read it at your leisure though.

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The Benefits of Hearing Your Book Read Aloud

Author Don Massenzio

Oops Word on Big Red Button Correct Mistake

This tip has to do with something I learned from a fellow author and reinforced as I was trying to record an audio book version of one of my novels. It may sound silly, but you can greatly improve your work by reading it aloud or by hearing it read aloud to you.

This can be a tedious exercise, but it is well worth it. I’m going to pass on an anecdote from that fellow author I mentioned earlier. It was a situation that could have been embarrassing at best and disastrous at worst.

She had written a middle school age book. All of the spelling, punctuation and grammar were pristine and she was ready for publishing. On a whim, she put the book through the ‘Speak’ utility that is part of Microsoft Word (I’ll show you how to set that up later).

What she found was, in one spot…

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