Openings and Closings

Two friends“I know Patricia has had some problems with her computer, but what about this title? What kind of openings did she locate, and do you think this is our closing?

“Edna, I do not think she is talking about us. We had our openings many years ago, and I’m not ready to close down. I think she’s talking about writing and books.”

“Okay, Ethel. I’ll go along for the ride this time and I hope you are right.”

Yes, this is about writing and books. It could be fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction, romance or any genre, and you gotta grab the reader with the first sentence or first paragraph. Readers have so many things going on in their lives and cannot waste time. It is your job to make them want to stop whatever they are doing and grab your book. Not the question of why am I reading this, rather I’ll read the next chapter and then the next, and the next, and the next.

As a writer, you have created a place the reader can go, forget their troubles, and worry about the characters’ dream and troubles. They could be almost like the reader’s problems, but with a different setting and plot, they are new to the reader. But you have to keep them turning page after page. The plot must be strong and interest them from the opening until the closing.

Closings are where everything that has happened before, the laughs, the cries, the character’s bad side and their good sides must suddenly agree. If you go back to the beginning and see what positions and options you gave your characters, then in the closing you will have such a resonant image that will take you back to the beginning. The promise of dying love fulfilled, a new life,  the mystery solved and your characters are ready more action and so  are you.  Do not disappoint your reader, but have your readers beg and beg for more. Then you have made your openings and closings important for everyone.

Find a book you love and rewrite the ending in a different tone. No, take a pen and paper and write your version. What happens? You throw out your paper and keep what the writer intended for you to read. The same goes for openings. You read a book and think – adjust the opening a little by not giving a real scene for the reader. Oops! Now, you know why the writer started the book this way, and you fell into the spell. Remember, you are playing with your pen and your paper, not the real thing. You are so glad to have the author write the book you love.

“Edna, did you enjoy the ride?”

“Yes, Ethel, and thanks for letting me go with you.”

The next time you pick up a book, go over and over the openings and the closings and make note of what you found. Then when you go write your book, you will know what to do.

Happy Surprises in your Openings and Closings. Happy Writing to all of you.


images_080While gathering thoughts for Monday’s blog, I thought about the magic wand. If it worked once, why not again.  Waving the wand in my mind, something incredible happened. Monday disappeared and Tuesday popped up on my computer: the day, date, and time. Where did Monday go? How could I lose one day?

The wand, the magic pen, took over my life without notifying me of this change. I started out and the cold, wind, and rain hit me in the face. I wanted to take you on a Monday journey, but all I can offer is a “Tipsy Tuesday. No, this is not induced by any beer or wine or whatever. This is a Tuesday.

Why do Tuesdays come at a writer in full force? Full force of what? Nothing. What do I do with a Tuesday? Come with me and let’s get this mysterious day out in the open and full of new ideas for a writer.

Think of this as a way to stretch your imagination and writing skills to another level. Have you ever thought about screen writing? No. I am a fiction/non-fiction writer. No movies for me.

Oh, really? You dream of a movie of your book, your book gets published, you write your book. When you began your novel or non-fiction novel, movies did not have a part in your writing. Then you went to the theatre and watched something similar to your writing.

How can this be? With the help of a Topsy Tuesday, you started your writing from a movie that controlled your mind. No. You are not copying, but using the feelings of something you write conveyed into a movie. What movie have you seen lately? Can you picture your story on the screen?

Go back to your movie. Check a copy out from your library or if lucky, you have this in your library. Watch. Watch. Watch again. Look for the emotion of each actor. Feel the tension between every one. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Can you see your writing in each scene?

If not; you need to go back to your written pages and read from the beginning. Are you conveying all the emotions, feelings, and actions of your characters? Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Picture your characters in the movie running through your head.

Maybe you need to go back and find the areas where . . . Oops, here’s this Topsy Tuesday. The magic wand, the magic pen stopped for a reason.  Be thankful for the starts and stops of your writing.

This could be the time we need to step back and take a look at our writing, but in the form of verbal reading of our work. Whisper. Talk with venom. Listen to our written words. Do not hesitate to digest all and delete…..(no. no. no.)

Hold tight. Revise. Research. Be willing to delete some words, sentences, paragraphs, to get to the heart.

Okay. I promise not to raise the Magic Wand or Pen on a Monday.

Happy Writing, any day of the week.




images_126Another Free Friday. Here are your balloons to celebrate this event. Wait – there are no Free Fridays, some not as hectic as others, but you still have to work. Let’s call this fun work.

There are no movies to watch and enjoy. This will be a lot more informative. This Friday you need to SNOOP. Yeah, snoop, as in snoop writing.

You need new, fresh conversation for your book. You’ve looked back through some of your writings and feel you’ve said the same things over and over to different characters in different genres. This will involve the old-fashioned way of writing: pad,pen or pencil. No recorder on the cell, no text messages to yourself, and leave the I-Pad at home. This is serious business. Your heart and your hand need to work together. Your brain will be used later when you get all of your SNOOP together.

Go to some strange places: a grocery store, a department store, a beauty salon, a barber shop, a small novelty store, even the gas station. Sound crazy? Yes, until you try it.

As you go to these different places, you need to stop, look and LISTEN. See the people you hear. Notice their facial expressions, and how they stand. Then listen to their words. You are snooping for different words, a strange conversation, and a new way of looking at life. Jot down on your pad some of the actions, words, tone of voice, and anything unusual or  unconventional. People are so open when they are having a talk with another person, friend or stranger.

When you have traveled a bit, you need a place to put all of this together. Stop at a coffee shop, drag out your pen and pad. As you sip your choice of coffee, begin to assemble all of your notes. Do not turn off your ear while you work. Listen to new noises, sounds, conversations, facial expressions or the lack of any emotions.

As you finish your coffee, grab all your notes, and head home. BUT, keep your notes ready for use. As you study these notes, you may get a new character for your book, or rev up the conversations between your current characters with sharp innovative words and movements.





99440ac3-d93e-450b-a356-69420d72c9e5Both of these words say the same thing and mean the same thing. Yet, they are the most important part of your book. Fiction or non-fiction, the beginning/opening needs to grab the reader’s attention. You can start your story in the middle where the action or excitement begins. This is where you can grab the reader and their interest. When you go back for more details, your readers will follow.

If there are other action filled events, do not start with the BIG ONE. Keep the readers with you. Give them a reason for reading your work. Let them get acquainted with the protagonist’s beliefs, lifestyle, family, and friends.

What about the antagonist? He or she might be a friend, a family member or a stranger, who makes it into the close circle of the protagonist. Now, you can make the story run fast forward, slow, even in reverse. You can go steady and include slight bumps. This is what you give your reader knowing their attention is right there with you.

The ending must give the reader knowledge of the character, protagonist, showing a triumph, coming up with something different, or maybe disappointed with the final results. Be certain to tie the ending back to the beginning. Does the story come to a full circle? Do not make the reader shake their heads. Leave the ending to linger in the mind of your readers. You’ll hear, “I never thought the end would come so soon.” When you hear, “I wonder if there will be a sequel?”

Then you will know your beginnings/endings or openings/closings satisfied the reader.

Great writing. Happy writing.


images_006Writers write. That’s what writers do. Yet, what happens when the words do not appear?

My mind has tripped end over end to get the beginning of a new novel out. No, just the beginning. I can see the story, picture scenes, a couple of characters, and no words.

I tried to plot a few chapters. Forget that. I want to feel what the first chapter will do to or for me. Without words, no way.

Since there is a lot of activity in my writing area at this point, and I couldn’t be happier, I still have to keep writing. This new book might turn out to be a series, and I am at a standstill.

I stalk my bookcase. I look and look at all the creative writing books I have purchased. None fit. Then, my eyes and heart travel to a book I’ve had for eons. I double-check the copyright date, 1992, and this brings back many memories.

I grab the book and head to the sofa. As I open the pages, one thing stares at me in my own handwriting: “You cannot think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking.”

Wham. A knock against my head. This is THE ARTIST”S WAY by Julia Cameron. Sure, I should be writing, but if the words cannot find a way out, maybe I can ‘let go’ of what is blocking my mind and watch the words pile up.

I read my notes in small areas. Some I cannot decipher and some I wished were not there. Then I see another handwritten note: “Let it happen. Do not make it happen. Tap into your well of unconsciousness. Behind the mind is a trigger to unlock your thoughts. Do not be afraid to use this.”

Wow! This is just what I needed to see as I remember all the effort of the morning pages. I wrote for 10-15 minutes every morning, whether I could see the paper or not. Some days I wrote across the paper, sideways, bottom to top, anything to charge my mind. And, some mornings my paper filled with the same sentence-I cannot think of anything to write. When the time was up, my mind unlocked and I could feel the words squeezing my pencil or pen.

OOPS! it is happening again. I feel words rumbling in my head. It’s time to get these down and make sense of everything later.

When you get stuck, and we all do, remember the morning pages, or afternoon pages, or evening pages. Just write.

Happy Writing.


What did you sayWe talked about settings and locations. Sometimes these two words are interchangeable, but take another look. Location is the area, state, or country where you want your story to unfold. Setting is the word pictures of the location. The names you choose have an impact on your location and setting and time period.

If you are writing a novel — historical fiction or historical non-fiction, the names you give your characters are important. You need to use a certain name and see if your character fits the name. Sometimes, as writers, we hear a great name and an immediate urge to use this for our character hits. Sometimes, the character hates the name and nothing you write turns out great. Guess what? The character can damage your story with her/his actions.

Say you are writing in the late 1800’s and fell in love with the name Trixie. In researching, you find no such name for that period. Still, you want to shake up the era and get Trixie noticed. Your character does not follow your wants. Once you change her name to Emma, the story takes shape and you are on your way. Now, you need a male name to join Emma in her escapades. Lucas and Trixie might make headlines in a modern piece of work, but Emma needs a strong man with her.  After several names, your female character decides on Paul. As you continue to write their story, you find they work well together.

Skip forward to a modern era. You have the idea for a great romantic thriller with a female lead detective. Even in this scenario, you can see Trixie. But, no. A name gives a sense of personality, an influence on the character’s life, and an assumption on the part of the reader. A reader might hear this name and think of a flamboyant individual, not one to be a lead detective. So you scrounge around in your mind, research online, and look for strong names for a hard environment. Your inner voice whispers, Samantha, Sam for short. What about her partner? You get no help from your muse or Samantha. Okay, and you try Richard. His nicknames could be Rich,  Ricky, even Ricardo. You use these names for a few chapters and find they gain a respect for each other. This is your story.

The future holds a different line of names, which are too numerous to list. You need to get your location before any choice of names are discussed or decided. Is this a current day story with paranormal influences? Are you writing about future locations, which have not been named? Once you have your location and the settings, you need to read other stories and study the television shows in these settings.

Always remember, your character(s) know which name they feel comfortable with and will give you hours of pleasure with their antics and tribulations. These character(s) names will influence your readers. If the name sounds intelligent and attractive, then your readers will follow. Of course, this is fiction and the name your character wants can give a whole new meaning to the writing of your story. Listen to your character(s) wants and needs.

Be a creator of the best characters you can perceive and let them name themselves. Then they can’t complain. Much.

Happy Writing. Happy Name Research.


Two friendsThought we disappeared into the sunset like Thelma and Louise? No Way. We’ve been reading all about the revising process.STOP. You can revise, revise the revised, and re-revise the revised and your work can fall into pieces.

We try to keep up with your social media networks, Linked Together. No Edna, you are wrong. It is called LinkedIn. So big deal, it still links everyone together. Don’t care what you think, Ethel, but you got excited about this question posed to all the readers: Professional Editing vs. Professional Marketing. This gave us another chance to discuss our opinions (more like bickering back and forth), and came up with the same answer. You see, we’ve been together for so long, we need the excitement of hefty discussions to arrive at the same answer PROFESSIONAL EDITING. Lot more fun.

Every book writer can do marketing, book launches and sales as you prepare your audience for a new book or an addition to your series. What matters are your readers. Get their responses with a few advanced copies or freebies. Never knew any one to turn down a free book.

A writer writes to get a GREAT novel out to their readers. A GREAT book delivers interest to your readers and your characters draw the readers into the story. with their voice. Sometimes the voice is timid. Forget this voice and go for the one that snaps the sentences off the page.

What about the action in your book? Do your characters dawdle? Do you bring your characters face to face with their fears? We’ve faced many fears in our lives and found the best survival mode – OUR principles. A little forgiveness and your reader can connect. You can also use this method to motivate your characters. Step into a different boundary and see what they can do.

When you give your readers a great novel, they will connect and in turn help you move your sales ahead. Sure, you need to be on top of your work, give book signings, answer questions, email your subscribers, and get yourself out among your readers. Do not forget to support other writers.

Make your writing pop, crackle, and crunch. Forget all the non-action words, scenes, characters and you will bring joy to your readers and increase your sales. But you need a great novel, edited and ready to ride into the sunset, as we must do now.

Thanks for letting us pop in and we will visit again soon. So for now, pop those pages and listen to your readers. Any comments? We can take the good and the bad and the ugly. Sorry, we had to add this.