Tuesday, September 15, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

I've studied story structure a lot, mainly because it's never come naturally to me.

And I have a secret to admit. More on that later.

One of my favorite rules of thumb for starting a story is this: start with your main character doing something interesting that shows their everyday life.

The reason I like this one is because stories are about change, and if you start this way, the end writes itself with a bookend scene. That is, using the opening "everyday" scene, show the main character doing something interesting that shows their everyday life now, after they've changed.

Compare and contrast. Effective, simple. And it wraps things up nicely to see, in the echo of where they started, where they are now.

Here's my little secret: I don't like reading or writing end-of-book sex scenes.

You know, the one where the hero and heroine get it on just one last time? I never got the point. Romance stories to me were about the tension between hero and heroine, and about the slow, sensual surrender to each other and emotional and physical intimacy.

But I've turned around on that one-eighty, and here's why. The Final Sex Scene is a hot/steamy romance story's "after". It demonstrates, in a clear and concrete way, where the couple has come from and who they are now.



Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is a guest post I did before joining.


Mary Hughes Raises the Curtain – with Giveaway!--originally posted June 28, 2012.
Cue the Music, Raise the Curtain
What is it that’s so exciting about live theater? Is it the magic of sitting breathless in the dark with your date or family? Is it the drama of a great story? Is it the glitter of costumes, swirling in dance and song?

Or is it the possibility, however remote, of a train wreck and watching the actors try to bail themselves out?

In my upcoming release, Biting Oz, I take the reader into the world of musical theater as it is seldom seen—from the underside. Heroine Junior Stieg is a musician in the belly of the beast, that is, the pit.

The story’s backdrop is a musical retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The twist? Dorothy is being played by a young vampire. Complication? Someone’s trying to kidnap her. To protect her, Junior joins with Dorothy’s big, sapphire-eyed bodyguard Glynn Rhys-Jenkins. Together they find the true meaning of love and home.

Junior is a marvelous point of view character for me, letting me show the reader both the best and the worst of musical theater. She manages to keep playing through the almost cataclysmically bad dress rehearsal and endures performances where Toto gets bored and licks his, um, scenery. She also gets to help create the magic of the Perfect Show—the one that moves not only the audience, but the whole town, to tears and applause.

I love everything about musical theater: the drama, the humor, the costumes and the music, all of it larger than life. Pit musicians have a unique perspective on that world.  

What do you find exciting about live theater? Is there a perspective you’d find especially interesting in a story?
***
Real vampires do musicals.
Excerpt from Biting Oz. It’s the first full rehearsal and Junior is late. She’s rushing through the house (the audience seating) to get to the pit, but is blocked by a sea of kids/Munchkins. Glynn helps her out.
I set down my instrument bag and blew out my tension. “Wow.
Thanks. I…”
Straightening to his full height of six-OMG, he faced me, emanating strength and energy. Powerful chest muscles pushed into the jacket’s gap right in front of my nose.
I gaped, realized I was starting to drool and looked up.
Sondheim shoot me. His face was all dark, dangerous planes.
His eyes were twin sapphire flames that hit me in the gut. My breath punched out and none came to replace it. Bad news for a wind player.
He turned to set the sax down. I started breathing again.
A tapping caught my ear, the conductor ready to start. I needed to get into that pit now.
Half a dozen kids and two makeup adults were still in my way.
I’d have crawled over the seats myself but my joints weren’t as limber as the kids’…unless I used my black Lara Croft braid as a rope. I was desperate enough to consider it.
The man, turning back, saw my predicament. He lifted my instrument bag and music stand over kids with the same strength and grace as when he’d snatched the tenor. Then he turned to me.
And swept me up into his arms.
An instant of shock, of male heat and rock-hard muscle. A carved face right next to mine, masculine lips beautifully defined—abruptly I was set on my feet beside the pit. The sax landed next to me with a thump.
“There.” His accent was jagged, as if he were as rattled as me.
“There’s your instrument.” He bounded to the back of the theater and was gone.
Biting Oz releases August 14. Warning: Cue the music, click your heels together, make a wish and get ready for one steamy vampire romance. Contains biting, multiple climaxes, embarrassing innuendos, ka-click/ka-ching violence, sausage wars and—shudder—pistachio fluff.
Hugs! Mary
http://www.maryhughesbooks.com