Monday, 27 February 2012

Bringin' Schmexy Back, An ode to Once Upon A Time

Bringin' Schmexy Back 
Sung to the tune of Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back"

I'm bringin' Schmexy back.
Those fairytale characters don't know how to act.
I'm hopin' Ruby will pick up the slack.
And get the Big Bad Wolf to find his pack.

He's hidin' in the forest!

Evil Queen.
She crushed his heart to dust but not his spleen.
Who did her wrong or was she was born that mean?
I hope his heart still beats in Emma's dreams.

He's hidin' in the forest!

Find the freaky eyed wolf.
He knows the way.
Check the animal shelter.
He knows the way.


He knows the way.
Get Ruby to drive.
He knows the way.
Let's see what the writer is messin' with.
He knows the way.
Sheriff's way too hot.
He knows the way.
He can't be dropped.

He knows the way.
Get your unicorn on.
He knows the way.
Get your unicorn on.
He knows the way.

Get your unicorn on.

I'm bringin' Schmexy back.
Snow White can't find the memories that she lacks.
He was the Huntsman but he saved her back.
Now she's stuck at school and baby that's a fact.

He's hidin' in the forest!

(Repeat Chorus)

I'm bringin' Schmexy back.
The writer knows somethin' and that's no flack.
The Big Bad wolf will be the one to act.
'Cause Ruby's more than an impressive rack.

He's hidin' in the forest!

Find the freaky eyed wolf.
He knows the way.
Check the animal shelter.
He knows the way.


He knows the way.
Get Ruby to drive.
He knows the way.
Let's see what the writer is messin' with.
He knows the way.
Sheriff's too hot.
He knows the way.
He can't be dropped.

He knows the way.
Get your unicorn on.
He knows the way.
Get your unicorn on.
He knows the way.

Get your unicorn on.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Suspension of Disbelief

Originally posted November, 2011

Run away!
photo credit,
Ah, suspension of disbelief, or as I like to say, 'buying into anything Stephen King writes.' Quite simply, it's believing in a premise which you would never accept in the real world. No kidding. Try explaining the plot of IT to someone you meet at a party.

Me: "Okay, there's this clown-thing that climbs out of the sewer and terrorizes little kids in a small town in Maine."

Other person: "Riiiiight."

Stephen King does it much better than that, but you know what I mean. And if you were at that party, you'd run over, probably dripping chip dip down your shirt in all the excitement, and say something like, "Holy crap, I love that book. Remember the big spider? And that poor kid with asthma?!"

So, as writers, how can we make our readers believe in something that they know is impossible?

1. Describe the mundane parts of life in your fantasy world.

Across The Universe, by Beth Revis, she concentrates on her protagonist eating bland stew served through a metal portal, jogging in a tunic instead of her sports bra and shorts, and how there isn't a real sun, but only lights high above. It is effective because it grounds the reader in that world by comparing the familiar with the fantasy.

2. Ease your reader into the world.

A good way to do this is by using a transitional scene, or down the rabbit hole, named for the beginning of Alice's adventure. It should involve your protagonist, be grounded in the familiar, and have a logical sequence.

We're all willing to board the Hogwarts Express, but if Harry looked at platform nine and three quarters, and then just waltzed through the brick wall, we'd all cry 'shame'. The charming appeal of that scene is that Harry is abandoned at the station, embarrassed to be pushing an owl around, clueless and pathetic looking. When Mrs. Wesley takes him aside and gently explains how it works, we all breathe a sigh of relief because at that point in the story, we're right beside him, feeling clueless and pathetic as well.

3. Make the rules consistent.

If your teenage superhero can only fly at night, then he can only fly at night—
even if the girl he secretly loves is dangling from a runaway hot air balloon at high noon. Don't change his abilities near the end of the story to make the plot work.

Give suspension of disbelief a try. Let your characters experience something extraordinary, and see what happens.

What's your favorite writing example of suspension of disbelief?

Next Monday I'll be telling you how Justin Timberlake and myself have started a petition to get Sheriff Graham back on Once Upon A Time. Until then, enjoy the Oscars!


Monday, 20 February 2012

Once Upon A Time, Episode 13, What Happened To Frederick? And Where's My Tylenol?

You're going to need this.
photo credit,

Faced with a loveless marriage to Abigail, Prince Charming flees the castle the night before the wedding, but is soon overtaken by a band of creeps wearing hooded cloaks that cover their faces. I'm guessing these are the towns people who are in all the crowd scenes back in Storybrooke.

David and Catherine are sitting at their dinning table, starring in what looks like a commercial for Shake n' Bake Chicken. She tells him that she's been accepted to law school in Boston. David's not so sure about this since it would be tough to pack Mary Margaret in the trunk of the car.

Prince Charming is outnumbered by the anonymous henchmen but is rescued by Catherine...I mean Abigail. She calls off the thugs sent by her father, King Midas. She's going to help him escape because she doesn't want to marry him either.

Mary Margaret insists David has to tell Catherine the truth about their relationship. His awesome plan is to not say anything, and keep having an affair. Mary Margaret says the only way to be fair is to stop seeing each other. He frowns at this turn of events, reasoning Catherine will be hurt.

NOT Schmexy.
Didn't we discuss this the last three or four episodes? And who is Frederick?

The writer pulls up to the pub/diner/laudromat on his motorcycle. He and Emma flirt in their matching leather jackets. I wished the writer was the Sheriff, and the Sheriff was the writer. He tells Emma his name is August Wayne Booth. When you rearrange the letters it spells, I am Lord Voldemort.

Dear ABC,

August is a sad replacement for Schmexy. Can you recast?

Mary Margaret confesses to Emma she's been seeing David, and that he's finally agreed to tell Catherine. Riiiiight, just like the other episodes when he agreed to tell Catherine.

*pushes fingers against temples and wishes for Tylenol.*

Catherine is on her laptop, super excited about moving to Boston. Interestingly enough she and David have never been there, in fact they've both lived in Storybrooke their entire lives. David says he's not ready to move. Then he gets down on one knee and begins to apologize ambiguously. She asks if something is wrong.

He denies anything is wrong and begins stuttering about not being able to connect with her. He tells her she needs a fresh start...without him. Nice one David, that doesn't sound suspicious at all.

Deep in the woods, Abigail helps Prince Charming set up camp. She tells him her heart belongs to someone else...Frederick.


“We all have are own tragedies,” Prince Charming says, “and losing a loved one is the worst.”

Hey! What about celiac disease pretty boy!

Abigail confirms her love isn't lost, and she leads him to a golden statue of a knight. Apparently Frederick saved King Midas from an attack by knocking him out of harms way. Since Midas wasn't wearing his special glove, Freddie got touched and went all Goldfinger.

Prince Charming says there is always a way to break a curse, and he suggests true love's kiss. Abigail gives him a line about her bleeding lips.

Ew. TMI.

But there's always a way in fairytale land, and she speaks about a mystical lake guarded by a creature who drowns all who try to take it's healing water. Only this healing water can revive Frederick. Prince Charming promises to do this for her, since at least one of them should be with their true love.

He's still smarting from Snow White's rejection. And who could blame him? She showed up at his bedroom in her tight leather pants and fur cape, and told him she really didn't love him after all. Poor guy, he's so sensitive.

August Wayne Booth, the writer, is busy working on Henry's book, cleaning it and binding it back together. Is it possible he's put in new stories? Is it possible he re-wrote the Sheriff's tale?

*Crosses fingers*

The Mayor gives Henry a hand held video game to cheer him up. She thinks replacing a missing book with a video game is appropriate?! That lady is true evil.

Henry says he doesn't want the game, only more time with Emma. Catherine interrupts the awkward parenting moment and tells the Mayor that David is leaving her.

The Mayor lets it slip that David has been having an affair with Mary Margaret, and that she has pictures to prove it. Annnnd the reason she has pictures is because Sydney, the newspaper editor, is always looking for scandals and happens to be stalking the towns people of Storybrooke.

Seriously? No really, seriously?

The Mayor gets the file she 'buried' in the top drawer of her desk. She says Catherine and David should stay together. Catherine calls her bluff saying no friend would have pictures of her husband having an affair on file.

Yes, I would agree with that.

Mary Margaret calls David and she assumes he's told Catherine the truth. Catherine storms into the school, bumping into a cute gym teacher. He gets a few more seconds of air time then the usual crowd scene actors. I'm guessing this guy will show up again.

Catherine slaps Mary Margaret in the hallway and lets her know David has been lying to both of them.

At the mystic lake, Prince Charming begins to fill his flask. Suddenly bubbles break the surface and a beautiful woman emerges.

August stops outside of the pub/diner/laudromat and invites Emma for a ride and a drink. Ruby and Grandma stare him down. Doesn't he know everyone eats/drinks/and washes their clothes at Ruby's?! Still, he takes Emma to um...a well.

I'm waiting for a frog to hop out with a golden ball in it's mouth.

August informs Emma he always tells the truth, and relays the legend that the well is fed by an underground lake and if you drink the water, something lost to you will be returned.


Quick! Drink the water, Emma!

Emma thinks he's coo-coo for Co-Co Puffs. He explains that as a writer, he has to have an open mind. He also has to have a day job, unless his book gets made into a movie and then WHAM! NYT Bestseller list, baby.

He hands her a mug of magic water that should probably be tested for Ecoli. Then he begins to quote like he's Mr. Gold. Because of Emma's sceptical nature, he says she needs proof for everything, but if she doesn't start believing, she'll be stuck in one place a long time.

I think that's already happened.

Emma, like so many teens before her, finally breaks under peer pressure and takes a drink.

Mary Margaret walks down the sidewalk and notices people talking about her. Even Granny tells her she should be ashamed of herself. That's a bit rich considering what she let's Ruby get away with.

Prince Charming stands at the edge of the shore, talking with the Siren of the lake. She tries to seduce him by taking the form of Snow White. He knows she's an illusion, but he still kisses her and drops his sword into the water. She smiles back and leads him into the water. He stops and says that he wants the real thing or nothing at all...even if it means having an affair behind his wife's back.

But it's too late and he's dragged into the water, unable to fight off the plants bounding him to the bottom. He's surrounded by the skulls of former thirsty travellers and sees a glint of metal between the rocks—his sword. When the Siren kisses him for the last time, he stabs her.

Mary Margaret finds David and confronts him. He reasons he didn't tell Catherine the truth is because he wanted to spare her feelings. But Mary Margaret explains (again!) that his lies are hurting everyone.

Is this an After School Special? Lies=hurt.

David tries to convince her that they have true love. She tells him it's not love if it's totally destructive, and she breaks up with him (again!).

Emma brushes leaves off her car and finds the rusty red box in a puddle on the street. It contains Henry's book! August watches from the corner, and I'm convinced more than ever that Schmexy would have been great in this part.

Catherine shows up at the Mayor's office. She uses the pictures of Mary Margaret and David to prove that her marriage was fake. She confesses she doesn't love David, and that after ten or so hours, she's accepted he will never be hers. She plans to move to Boston to find her own Prince Charming.

Wow, that was fast. Someone's been watching Dr. Phil.

She's all smiles and tells the Mayor not to worry about loose ends because she's left a letter for David, giving her blessing to his true love affair with Mary Margaret.

Gee, I sure hope he gets that letter. That will solve everything.

Abigail stands by her gold boyfriend polishing his bits—sorry. Prince Charming arrives and gives her the flask of healing water. She happily takes his offering not at all surprised he's the one guy who ever beat the Siren.

She pours the water over the suit of armor and it begins to move. She flips up his helmet and what do you's the cute gym teacher.

Gimme' twenty push-ups!

He thanks Prince Charming for saving him. Most people would reply with, “you're welcome.” But Prince Charming leaves us with a little tidbit, “True love isn't easy,” he tells them, “but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

How on earth is he going to find Snow White? Fairytale land is covered with woods. He proclaims he will look for a bird because that's what led him to her the first time.

Um...actually she ambushed his carriage, but whatever.

The Mayor uses her creepy ring of keys and enters David's house. In a shocking turn of events I didn't see coming, she takes the letter.

Note to self, never tell the Mayor your plans.

At school, Henry sits on a bench playing his video game. Emma arrives and gives him the book. He's so excited. They talk about dump trucks and sewers and how their luck is changing. Operation Cobra is back on!


Prince Charming arrives at the field by the little cottage and starts screaming out Snow White's name. This is the worst way to attract a bird, but hey, no one from ABC has contacted me yet, so...yeah.

Little Red Ridding Hood emerges from the thrushes with an empty basket in her hand. It's like she's waiting for baby Moses to show up. She tells Prince Charming that Snow White really does love him and that she must have lied to him at the castle.

Prince Charming realizes his father—the guy who bought his twin brother when he was an infant and then forced him to take his place after he died—must have threatened Snow White. Right on cue a band of knights gallop over the hill. Prince Charming and Little Red Riding Hood take off on his horse.

Mary Margaret is crying on her flowered pillow. Emma arrives and tries to console her.

Catherine drives out of the city. The escalating tempo of the music let us know something bad is about to happen.

The gym teacher happens to be on the same stretch of highway and finds Catherine's car off the road just in front of the Storybrooke town limits sign.

If none of them can leave the city, why do they even drive on that road? *Presses fingers to temples*

He looks inside, but the car is empty.

And the Mayor? What wickedly horrible thing is she doing to manipulate the town folk in her latest scheme? She burns Catherine's letter. That's it. She burns the letter.

Excuse me! She crushed Schmexy's heart, killing him on the spot, and all she does this time is burn a letter!?!?

Get my Tylenol!

Predictions for the next episode. The gym teacher goes into the woods and finds Mr. Gold hobbling around on his cane. They exchange quotes about dirty shoes and how you can never feel right in anyone else's sneakers. David and Mary Margaret share awkward glances across the street, but not much else happens. Henry discovers the new music teacher is a guy with a flute who moonlights as the town exterminator.

What do you think the writer is really up to?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Top Five Mistakes I Caught On Revisions

Busy week for me my YA paranormal romance, NIGHT SHIFT, is now officially on submission. *throws confetti* More details to follow in the coming weeks.

My present TBR pile, not exactly as shown.
photo credit,
This is an exciting time, if only for the fact the book has had such an impressive growth spurt since it met my agent, @rivetingrosie. And yes, after months—okay years—of working on it, I guess I've earned some time to sit back and start making a dent in that huge pile of books on my nightstand.


Now is the time to revise that other book I've been working on. As I go through the MS, a pattern has emerged. It's nice to see I can spot my own writing tics now. Here are the top five mistakes I caught on revisions.

1. My characters bite their lips and raise their eyebrows way too much.

2. 'Cory ran across the lawn.' Sounds much better than, 'I watched Cory as he ran across the lawn.'

3. When I take out the word, 'just' the plot STILL moves forward. Amazing!

4. 'Jesse felt embarrassed.' is a lazy way of saying, 'Jesse blushed as she squirmed on the bench, her eyes darted everywhere around the room, except where Cory was standing.'

5. Most words ending in 'ly' are unnecessary.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Next Monday I'll be blogging the latest episode of Once Upon A Time.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Once Upon A Time, Episode 12, Skin Deep...Ambiguously Speaking

Snow White, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood walk into a bar...

A weary King studies a map, surrounded by regally robed royals saying that war is imminent. One particular handsome fellow asks the King if he's on his way. Then a beautiful girl in a yellow ball gown (who looks like the pregnant chick from LOST), keeps everyone's hopes alive by saying he could be on his way.

Why is there always an imminent war going on in fairytale land? How many frickin' provinces/counties/kingdoms are there? And who is this mystery man who will save them all?

*Crosses fingers and hopes for Schmexy and an army of wolves to bound through the door*

Alas, it's Rumpelstiltskin. He tells the King he can offer them protection, thereby changing the imminent war to a doubtful, not very likely to happen, kind of a war. In return for this favor, Rumpelstiltskin asks for the beautiful girl. Everyone gags at his request, but he clarifies he's not looking for love—only someone to take care of his vast property. If you read that sentence again, it does sound like he's looking for love. *giggles*

Shocking the room full of regally robed royals, the beautiful girl accepts his offer. Her Australian accent comes out and suddenly, the King is Irish, and the handsome fellow is her French fiance, Gaston. Rumpelstiltskin smiles his grimy grin and takes her away.

In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold is doing a little debt collecting by repossessing the delivery truck of the local florist, aka the King. Oh no, all those roses can't be delivered! How can Mr. Gold sleep at night? First he turns peasants into creepy dolls, and now this. Doe his cruelty know no bounds?

As usual, The Mayor shows up and confronts him with ambiguous questions. But, as usual, he gives her an ambiguous brush off. All this ambiguity is giving me a headache. *looks for Tylenol*

Mary Margaret and David are eating at opposite sides of the diner/pub/laundromat. Emma shows up and asks how Henry is doing in school. I'm guessing he's busy catching up on all the other days he's missed since the show started.

Also, isn't it usually snowy in Maine in February? At least Emma is wearing a hat. And for the record, Ruby needs a new pair of short shorts. I get it, she likes make-up and revealing clothing. Give her a storyline, already!

Ashley is there with her baby, reminding us she's actually Cinderella. She mentions Valentine's Day will be no fun for her, since Sean (her Prince) is working double shifts at the Cannery. Heck, there isn't even time to get married.

Emma gets word the alarm is going off in Mr. Gold's house. She arrives to investigate but finds Mr. Gold is already there. He tells her someone broke in and that some things are missing. He asks her to question the florist.

Right, *rolls eyes* since that's his only enemy in town.

Rumpelstiltskin takes the beautiful girl back to his place and shows her his vast property. *giggles* But they pass through the nice rooms and he locks her up in the dungeon instead.

photo credit,
Hey! Where's the singing armoire?

The beautiful girl now spends her days serving Rumpelstiltskin. He tells her a ghoulish lie about skinning children and she drops the china cup, chipping it. She becomes more shaken, trying to explain herself. He shrugs and tells her to chill out, it's only cup. Then she smiles and tells him her name is Belle.

Angela Lansbury peeks out from behind the curtain and starts to sing, Tale as old as time...

Rumpelstiltskin shows off for Belle at his spinning wheel, cracking jokes like he's the finalist on 'Last Comic Standing.' She graduates from smiling to laughing. While trying to open the heavy velvet drapes, she falls off the ladder and he catches her in his arms.

Song as old as rhyme...

Emma calls Mr. Gold to the Sheriff's office and unveils all his stolen stuff, but he's nervous—something is still missing. Could if be those creepy dolls? Perhaps the spool from his spinning wheel. A spell to bring back Schmexy? *crosses fingers*

Rumpelstiltskin and Belle share a moment and she asks him about child's clothing she found in the forbidden west wing...sorry, I added that last part. He tells her once had a son, but lost him. Frankly, I'm not surprised, that castle is so big, that poor boy could be anywhere.

Suspicious, he thinks she's trying to find out his weakness. A knock at the castle door reveals Belle's French fiance, Gaston, ready with a sword to win her back. Rumpelstiltskin snaps his fingers and turns him into a rose and presents it to Belle.

With the soft romantic music cue to let us know a tender moment is about to be shared between the two characters, Belle expresses how she always dreamed about being brave enough to leave home and travel the world. She says, “Do the brave thing and bravery will follow.” This also works with stupidity.

Belle admits Gaston was an arranged marriage. She says love is a mystery to be uncovered. I think Belle has been roaming too many quote sites on Google. Rumpelstiltskin softens a bit and asks her to fetch hims some straw in town. She realizes he's giving her freedom. He promises to tell his whole story if she returns.

At the bar, Ruby and Ashley enjoy martinis with Mary Margaret. Oh my, the Brothers Grimm are rolling in their graves.

David is buying cheap Valentine's cards at the store for his wife and mistress. Mr. Gold sees him and offers his quote of the day. Love is a delicate flame, he begins, then I tune out, blah, blah, blah.

Hold on! There's the stuffed-up pharmacist again! See the Hanzel and Gretel episode here. Why is the pharmacist always suffering from a cough/cold? he Sneezy?

Dear Jane Espenson at ABC,

Do I at least get a point for that one?

We find out Mr. Gold has the florist duct tapped in the back of the van, surrounded by dying flowers. Is the missing item the rose?

Mr. Gold forces him into the handy abandoned cabin in the woods, saying he normally doesn't let people get away.

On her way to get straw for her captor, Belle is passed by the Evil Queen's tribute to AC/DC's 'Back In Black' tour. Always looking for the next opportunity, she stops her carriage of death and walks with Belle for awhile, explaining the finer points of the Stockholm Syndrome.

The Evil Queen says all curses can be broken. She gives Belle the idea a kiss could change Rumpelstiltskin. Belle asks if a kiss is enough to make him a man?

For some guys, yes. Others need a new mustang convertible.

The Evil Queen whispers with a wicked smile that true love's kiss will break any curse.

Well, except for Snow White and Prince Charming. And Schmexy and Emma. And Ashley and Sean. And whoever Ruby is kissing these days. *takes Tylenol*

Belle returns to the castle to a shocked Rumpelstiltskin. She reminds him he promised to tell her his story. She wiggles closer and asks about his son.

He tells her he lost him...on a plane from Sydney, Australia. It crashed on an island inhabited by people who called themselves, 'the others.' Sorry, I digress.

Belle kisses him, and hey what do you know? Rumpelstiltskin starts to lose his golden flecks and begins to turn back into an ordinary man.

Just a little change. Small to say the least. Both a little scared, neither one prepared. Beauty and the Beast...

He's stunned for a moment, then becomes furious that he's losing his power. Convinced Belle is working with the Evil Queen to defeat him, he locks her up in the dungeon again.

Angela Landsbury thows a fit and storms out of the castle.

Mr. Gold threatens the florist demanding to know where it is and who told him to take it. It? It? Ambiguity runs amok! Just say, rose, okay! Mr. Gold beats him with his cane, screaming accusations that he locked her up. Emma arrives and stops the assault.

In the castle, Rumpelstiltskin breaks all his china, except the cup she broke earlier, you know the one with the chip.

Oh! Light bulb moment. It's not a rose he's looking for, it's the broken cup.

At the bar Ashley is bummed and missing Sean. She asks Mary Margaret what's the point of loving someone if you can't be with them? Mary Margaret agrees it's a terrible burden, thinking of her own sticky situation.

Sean arrives, and we know it's him because the name tag on his overalls is SEAN.

Um...who's looking after the baby?

He gives her flowers, then kneels down and proposes. This is just like the last scene in An Officer and a Gentleman...well almost.

Ashley says yes and he offers her a twenty minute ride in his truck. Seriously, I didn't make that up. That's the actual line he says. And it works!

Mary Margaret leaves the bar, and David arrives with his cheap Valentine's card. She opens it up and sees Catherine's name. David does his usual stupid shrug and goofy grin. Mary Margaret grows a spine and says she can't see him like this anymore.

His super awesome response is, “you're right, but we'll find a way.” Prince Charming sucks big time.

Emma needs some answers so she gives Mr. Gold her best cold, hard stare, knowing he's defenceless against it—that and the fact he can't stop talking ambiguously. But he denies saying anything about a girl being locked up. Finally, she arrests him and slaps on the cuffs.

Rumpelstiltskin visits Belle in the dungeon and lets her go, for good this time. She tells him he could have happiness if he only believed someone wanted him, and that he's a coward for turning his back on true love. He tells her his power means more to him than she does.

What does she expect? She kissed him and now he's real man. *ba-da-bump*

Belle tells him he's going to regret his choice forever. Now all he has left is an empty heart and a chipped cup. She sounds like the latest girl to get dropped from The Bachelor, except for the chipped cup part.

Mr. Gold is in jail and reminds Emma (and us) she still owes him a favor. The Mayor shows up with Henry and let's Emma take him out for ice cream. Once alone, The Mayor and Mr. Gold face off. She admits to paying the florist to break into his house and that she has what he wants.

In return for the thing they keep speaking about ambiguously, she demands his real name. Things get very quiet in the Sheriff's office. And for the first time the talk about fairytale land.

He grins and says Rumpelstiltskin. The Mayor opens her purse and teases him with the chipped cup. He cradles the china and reminds her he's the one with the power, and that nothing between them will change.

Game on!

The Evil Queen walks in on Rumpelstiltskin spinning. They start talking about a certain mermaid and I realize this series could go on forever. She pours herself a cup of tea and talks about Belle, mentioning how tragic things ended. Once Belle returned home, her father claimed she was damaged goods because of her association with Rumpelstiltskin. Since Gaston had vanished, no other man who marry her. The King hid Belle in a tower, forcing her to undergo cleansing by various shamans/clergy.

Ew. Yuck. Repeat.

Eventually, she went mad and jumped to her death.

Rumpelstiltskin finally cries.

The Mayor goes to the hospital and enters a code on a locked door, gaining access to a secret passageway. A Nurse sits at a desk, looking unimpressed. The Mayor smiles and gives her a rose.

Aw, that's so nice. Nurses don't get enough credit...or money.

The Mayor's high heels click all the way to the end of the hallway. She peeks in the last room and we see Belle, huddled in the corner.

*Hangs head* I was hoping the Sheriff was in a coma.

Predictions for next week...

Ruby will wear the same short shorts even though everyone else is in scarfs and mittens. In a fit of frustration Mary Margaret keeps the whole class for detention, demoralizing the complete works of Hans Christian Anderson. Deeply in love with Mary Margaret, David decides to finally leave his wife, then he changes his mind and makes a sandwich instead.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Fleshing Out Your MC

Conflict is essential to any good story, however, it's the emotional connection to the characters that drive the reader to keep turning the pages. Honestly, did anyone else stay up all night reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, worried who wouldn't make it out alive?

The possibility of Ron's death was my biggest fear.
So how do you create characters that people will care about?

Make them seem real, in other words flesh them out.

Donald Maas, President of the Donald Maas Literary Agency, regularly tweets tips on writing. Here are some of my favorites in regards to 'fleshing out' your main character.

1.What’s the big thing your MC must do at the end? Make it the one thing he/she has sworn never to do.

2. The thing your protagonist can’t let go: what’s the deeper reason why? Who grasps that reason before your protagonist does.

3. What’s the biggest thing your MC needs to know about himself? Give him five good reasons not to care. Tear each down, in steps.

4. What do you like most about your MC? How soon can we see that one the page? How often? Add more than you think.

5. What does your MC know about themself to be true? What don't they *see* that's even more true? Hit 'em with it.

6. What's a foundational attribute of your MC? Create an odd tick or habit that implies the opposite. Add six times and voila, a quirk.


Next Monday I'll be blogging the latest episode of Once Upon A Time.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Are You A Hunger Games Junkie

Originally posted November 17, 2011

On March 23, I'll be standing in line with my tub of popcorn (minus the "golden topping", thank you very much) and a package of nibs licorice. Like most fans of the series, I'll be dissecting the trailer by pointing out all the differences between the movie and the novel—Hollywood and books aren't always a good combination. You saw The Cat In The Hat, right? I rest my case.

But there will be some people in line who haven't read the books. Avoid these people. They will ask stupid questions during the movie. "Um, okay. what is the deal with the girl with the bow and arrow? And why is...oh my gawd, that guy is soooo hot."

See? She will ruin the movie for you. I know I'm not the only fan with this legitimate concern. I dare you to take the challenge. You may be a Hunger Games junkie if...

1. The number of times you've watched the trailer is greater than your age.

2. After seeing the actors you switched from Team Peeta to Team Gale.

3. You've given yourself the name, Marigold White-Pine

4. You've taken up archery.

5. Every time to see a Blue Jay you do a salute. Then your friend points out it's not the same type of bird.

You booed the trailer when Katniss and Peeta's costumes were only red and black. NOT black with real flames of fire. *rolls eyes*

7. You bought the t-shirt, gold-colored pin, mug, pen, and hardcover boxed set.

8. You were disappointed in the third book, but you'd NEVER admit that.

9. With all the money Lionsgate spent on special effects, you argue they could have thrown in a pair of brown contacts for Katniss.

10. And finally, you know you're a
Hunger Games junkie when you click on anything about the Hunger Games... including this blog.

Are you a HG junkie? Did you find any other differences in the trailer?

Next Monday, I'll be blogging the latest episode of Once Upon A Time.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Drowning In Description

photo credit
Think of your favorite place described in a book. Mine is Honeydukes Sweet Shop in Harry Potter. I can still conjure images of glass jars filled with glistening magical treats; the colorful shelves and pyramids of candy displays.

But guess what? When I re-read the scene, none of what I have in my mind was actually written. What is written is a description of smells and the fantastic things the magical candy can do. We follow Harry under his invisibility cloak, breathless at the variety of wonders, wishing we could fall into the pages and sample some Fizzing Whizzbees.

Even now, reading this, you're envisioning your own version of Honeydukes. And that's okay, because we all have a slightly skewed image catered to our own ideals and life experience.

As a writer, it's easy to fall into the common mistake of putting too much description in your scenes. We want the reader to see in their mind exactly what we imagine, and we tend to overcompensate.

And why is that bad? Because loading down the page with adjective laden paragraphs slows down the pace and bores the reader.

Here's an example of bad description. Let's say I want to start my story with my main character having to spend the night in a haunted house.

photo credit waatp
The old Jefferson Mansion was a dark, rambling Victorian house on the outskirts of town. Every window was boarded up, except for those that were broken. The front porch sagged under the four pillars, now rotten and threatening to collapse. As Janice walked closer, she saw how the black paint was peeling back. She opened the door, and it protested noisily.

She paused in the foyer, taking in the staircase that curved up the wall to the first and second floor, and then eventually the attic. She approached the door to her right and gripped the rusty door knob. After jiggling the suborn handle a few times, she decided it was locked.

Across the hall, Janice found a large room with ceilings much higher than her own modern home. The furniture placed around the room, was covered in sheets. Even though it was a full moon outside, the boarded up windows hardly let in any illumination. She got out her flashlight and turned it on.

Right away something caught her attention. On the far side, approximately in the middle of the wall, was a sooty old fireplace. Janice walked closer and inspected the portrait above the mantle. It was a picture of a beautiful girl, probably the same age as Janice. She squinted and leaned closer. There was something familiar that made a shiver run down her spine.

Holy smokes, hit the snooze alarm, right?

  1. Remember your readers have a brain. Don't write the exact lay out of the haunted house. It's not the blueprints we're interested in.
  2. Write what is important for the reader to remember. Give attention to objects that foreshadow what's going to happen in your story.
  3. Have a character describe how the setting makes them feel.
  4. Use all the senses, not only visual.
  5. Dialogue creates a connection with the surroundings through your characters point of view.
Here's the same story, but with better description.
anice hugged her elbows, looking around the derelict parlour, careful not to brush against anything. The antique furniture was covered in sheets, gray and stiff with years of mildew. She made a face imagining the micro pores of mold she was taking in with each breath.

The cracked bay window was so thick with grime the full moon barely shone through. She dug into her backpack and pulled out the flashlight. Her finger paused on the switch, wishing she hadn't agreed to this stupid initiation. Being in the dark was way worse, but Janice wasn't exactly eager to see the inside of Jefferson County's 'Bloodiest Haunted House'.

She sneaked a glance through the archway to the front door, pretty sure the cheerleaders were waiting outside to make sure she didn't bolt. “Damn it,” she said. Biting her lip, Janice flicked on the light.

Her heart rose up and she swallowed it down. “This is where they film all the horror movies,” she whispered, expecting a corpse to rise from the broken floor boards. The shaky beam of light swept along the room, then stopped at the fireplace.

Resting on the mantel, in an ornate frame, a pale face smiled down at Janice. She took a few steps forward, making streaks in the dust with her sneakers. The girl in the painting looked to be around Janice's age. It was hard to tell though, since most teenagers today don't wear ball gowns and ruby necklaces. Janice stood on tip toe and squinted at the choker, wondering why it looked familiar.

See? We still get the feeling of being inside a creepy house, but we also have a clearer idea of who Janice is and why she's there. And hmm...what about that necklace?

Which scene would you want to keep reading?

How would you re-write the scene?

Next Monday I'll be blogging the latest episode of Once Upon A Time.


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