30 September 2012


by Robert Goddard

If you enjoy a good mystery then you need look no further than Robert Goddard’s, Blood Count.  As with all Goddard’s books, it’s filled to the brim with mystery and mayhem, taking the reader on an edge of the seat ride.

Set in London, The Hague, Italy, Switzerland and Belgrade, Blood Count is the story of Edward Hammond, a surgeon, who 13 years earlier, received a huge sum of money for secretly performing a life saving operation on a Serbian gangster by the name of Dragan Gazi.  Little did Edward know what consequences his actions would eventually wreak on his life. 

Ripped from his comfortable life in London he is hurled into a world of murder and corruption.  Who can he trust?,

I’ve reader almost all Robert Goddard’s books and this one does not disappoint.

17 September 2012


Yesterday I wrote a post from this bench on the side of the hill with that kangaroo looking at me and the only sound that of the birds, and the breeze blowing through the trees.  Today, I’m 35,000 feet in the air travelling south.  Squashed into my seat like a sardine with engine noise, crying babies and chatter from my fellow passengers. 

How things can change in a space of 24 hours.  The scenery outside in the cloudless sky is quite spectacular from my vantage point, but as I prefer to keep my feet on the ground, I choose not to look. 
Nevertheless, in this age of technology, when one has to leave the comfort and convenience of one’s study, or one's bench on the side of a hill, one can virtually take one’s study with one!  Laptop computer, external hard drive, pocket wifi device, iPad, iPhone, and for entertainment when one takes a break from writing, an iPod for music, and a Kindle for reading!

Voila!  Home away from home.  What could be better?

But there is a problem here.  All this technology takes up space.  And it’s heavy to carry around.  Not to mention the fact that it ALL needs to be recharged.  This last point means that one has to fill one’s suitcase with an array of wires, plugs and earphones.  Have you ever got to your destination and found that these wires have entertained themselves during the flight by entwining?  Great for them, but it means that I have to spend hours unraveling them.  Have you ever tried to extract just ONE wire from the rest?  Forget it.

But there’s more!  When I take a look in my suitcase, where are my shoes and that extra sweater and pair of jeans?  Oh, that’s right, I couldn’t fit them in.  So here I am with all my bells and whistles but not enough clothes and shoes to wear,  Never mind.  I have my laptop, my external hard drive, my iPad, my iPhone, my iPod, my Kindle, so all’s well with the world!!!

I can’t help thinking something’s wrong here.

12 September 2012


To recap on, To Paint A Picture With Words so far, when writing a story, your words take your readers on a journey into the world you have created.  Not unlike a painter who engages the viewer with the subject of the painting with colour, style and the medium in which it’s painted.  To engage our readers when writing, we use engaging characters, settings, plot, structure, theme, conflict, and the all important five senses (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight).

In Part 5 we’re going to talk about Structure.  So, what is structure?  Put simply, structure helps to organise and shape your story.  And although there are probably many ways to accomplish this, the method I prefer is the three acts.

Act One  (the beginning)
Introduce your characters, their relationships, and the settings.
Establish the conflict - that is, the situation that drives the main character to act

Act Two  (The middle)
The story develops
Complications and obstacles arise
The main character tries and fails and tries again
Tension grows until it reaches a climax

Act Three (The end)
Resolution of the climax
All loose ends are resolved

When writing a full length novel I find this method is helpful because it divides my story into three sections.  I know that in this first act, I have to introduce all my characters.  I may not have them all appear in a scene, but they will be mentioned so that the reader knows they exist in my story.  I also try to have all my characters introduced in the first 20-25 pages.  By the end of the first act the conflict should be established.

Act Two is by far the longest because it encapsulates all the complications and obstacles that the main character is confronted with in his or her quest.  So, it’s important to keep tensions coming and being resolved and in so doing, keeping your reader interested in the story.  Tension gradually rises toward the end of Act Two till you reach the climax.

Act Three, of course, is similar in length to Act One because it resolves all issues and lets the reader know what happens to all the characters.

What type of structure method do you prefer?

5 September 2012


So far in this series, we’ve looked at character, settings and plot.  Today we’re going to talk about the theme of your story.

We write stories to entertain our readers, giving them an escape from their day to day lives.  But running along beneath the story’s surface is its theme.  In other words, the deeper meaning of the story.

Here are a few examples of theme.

Moby Dick is an adventure about a sailor called Ishmael, a ship’s captain by the name of Ahab and Moby Dick, a whale.  Ahab, after having his leg bitten off by Moby Dick vows to kill the whale.  That is the plot.  But beneath this story’s surface there is a theme.  In fact, there are several.  They are class, social status, good and evil and the characters pondering upon their beliefs.

Hamlet is a story of duals, murders and love.  It’s themes are revenge, moral corruption and tragedy.

Robinson Crusoe is about a man who becomes marooned on a desert island.  That is the plot, but it’s theme is the strength of the human spirit.

Rather than be contrived, a theme should evolve through the characters thoughts, the dialogue and transmitted by way of the settings.

If you’re writing a book, ask yourself what its theme is.  So the next time you are asked what your story is about you’ll not only be able to give a general rendition about the plot, but also the whys and wherefores of your story.