Tuesday, August 16, 2022

3T Writing Tidbit

One of my favorite structures in a story is simply Goal, Conflict, Disaster/Resolution. The character has a goal. Oops, something is in the way of that goal, causing the section to end in a disaster (or relief). It can be simple -- I want to walk to the other side of the room, but a bucket and mop are mysteriously present, and I slip on slick floor which has just been washed. Or it can be complex -- I want to win the job interview to feed my family, but I have a stutter and anxiety trips me up so I not only don't get the job, I'm forced to go to my brother's arrogant friend for a loan.

So what is a Goal? It's anything that answers the question, "What result do I want?" Conflict is, "Who or what stands in the way of that goal?" Disaster/resolution answers the question, "Do I get the goal?" Resolve the conflict with the character achieving the goal (after struggling, of course!), or hit the character with disaster and crank up the story engine even more.

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, August 9, 2022

2T Repeat Performance -- The Cover, Your First Thousand Words

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published May 27, 2011 for Heroines with Hearts

The Cover, Your First Thousand Words

Thanks so much to Heroines with Hearts for having me here today!

A picture is worth how many words? (All together now ☺) 

The cover is the reader’s first impression of your book. Its purpose is to catch her attention, and promises the kind of story inside. It gives a sense of what the book is about—not the whole story, as too many elements muddle the cover.

Covers happen in different ways. Here’s my journey for Biting Me Softly, art by the incomparable Natalie Winters.

First I submitted an art request through my editor. The request is a publisher-designed form that asks things like title, genre, time period and setting. It also asks for descriptions of the hero and heroine, a short summary of the story, and any author ideas, my chance to have input. Using a stock photography site, I found a perfect picture for hero Logan and included the link. My editor reviewed my request and forwarded it with her additions and changes to Natalie.

Natalie combined elements of my story (heroine Liese is a computer geek so the 010101 wallpaper is computer binary code) and my series (the bats flying up from the bottom left suggest vampire) with a truly spectacular pose of model Sam Bond to create a draft cover called the cover comp.

I loved the cover comp the minute I saw it. Although my publisher lets me give feedback, I didn’t have any changes—the cover is a significant investment in time and money and though sometimes changes are necessary (as when another cover uses the same pose) it’s important to have as much defined upfront as possible.

After my editor and I approved the art, it went to the publisher. The publisher has to consider things like fit with other releasing titles and overall impact, and knows what reaches readers best.

In the end, it’s all about reaching the reader with your story. The cover is simply your first 1000-word step.

(Note: This is the 2017 cover.)