30 September 2014

6 Questions To Answer Before You Start To Write That Book

Why write an outline?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just start writing and see where your imagination takes you?  After all, you’ve had this idea swimming around in your head for a long time and you’re eager to get started.  However, before you do, can you answer these 6 questions?:-

1.      Who is your main character?
2.      What is your main character’s goal?
3.      What is stopping your main character from achieving that goal?
4.      What time and place is your story set?
5.      What genre is your story?  Mystery, Romance, Comedy, Thriller etc.
6.      Are you going to have one viewpoint character or more than one?

Whether you plan to be an outliner or write by the seat of your pants, having answers to the above questions is the place to start.

What are the benefits of making an outline?
·         An outline is a roadmap for you to follow.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be flexible.
·         It avoids spending time writing scenes that do not further the plot or they come to a dead-end.
·         Enables you to plan what pitfalls your protagonist is to come across.
·         It enables you to set up the end of your story.  In turn, you can write scenes that lead to this end.
·         Sub-plots can be entwined throughout the story along with a few red herrings.
·         Lessons the probability that you will have to do a lot of rewriting.

I have been both an Outliner and a Pantser, and have found that having some kind of an outline is good for me.

What is your preference, and why?

18 September 2014


On this 100th anniversary of the Great War (1914-1918), I found myself reading the first book in a trilogy called ThePassing Bells by Phillip Rock. (First publishing in 1978.)

Set in both England and France this story opens during the summer of 1914 when the rumblings of the war to come is evident.  Nevertheless, Anthony Greville, 9th Earl of Stanmore and his family continue on with their privileged lives at Abingdon Pryor.  Alexandra Greville is embarking on her debutante season and her brother Charles is hopelessly in love with Lydia Foxe, the untitled daughter of an influential businessman.  Martin Rilke, a cousin, arrives from America with plans to spend the summer touring England.  Little do they know that the very fabric of their lives is about to change forever helped along when many of their servants leave to serve at the front.

This is a moving story with fictional characters interwoven with historical personages and events.  The reader is taken from the English manor house into the trenches in France to witness the depredation and misery endured by those who fought.  So many brave young men who went “over the top” perhaps to die minutes later, mowed down by machine gun fire as they ran toward the enemy through the mud encrusted landscape.  Over 16 million died - 20 million were wounded.  A whole generation lost.

Phillip Rock (1927-2004) was born in Hollywood, California.  He spent his younger years in England with his family until the blitz of 1940.  His adult years were spent in Los Angles.

Other books in this trilogy:-  Circles of Time and A Future Arrived.