Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Endings

I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Silver Linings Playbook, are among my all-time favorite movies.  I think we’re all suckers for happy endings because we all like to know that no matter how bad things can be they can always work out in the end. 

But there’s a darker side of me, a side I don’t like to tap into very often.  That side says no matter how hard you try, no matter how good your intentions, things are going to go to crap in the end.  This darker side of me is author, Sal Conte.  Like me, Sal is a good yarn spinner, with a good sense of humor, but that’s where the comparisons end.  Sal is one dark SOB.

Sal has a new short story coming out on April 3rd, and I’m beating the drum for you to come out and support him.  Thousands upon thousands of you have read and enjoyed The Falling Angels Saga.  Boyfriend From Hell alone had more than 10,000 downloads last year.  That’s awesome and I appreciate it, but today I’m asking you to support the dark side of my brain—Sal Conte.  The new story, Because We Told Her To, is only 99 cents and from what my beta readers are telling me, it’s one helluva read.  Worth every penny. If you’re a fan of mine, please become a fan of Sal Conte as well.

I even recorded an audio excerpt to entice you over to the book's Amazon Page.  You can listen to the excerpt here:

Unlike in Silver Linings Playbook, Sal can’t promise you a happy ending.  But he can promise you a satisfying read.  In some ways that’s even better because it’s a promise he can keep.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creating Engaging Characters

When I read many of the self-published novels that proliferate today’s literary landscape, one glaring flaw that jumps out at me is the lack of character development.  Many newbie authors spend much of their time on the plot not realizing that plot should always be secondary to character.  Plot, to me, is like a car, while character is the driver.  You need the driver to get the car where you want it to go--where you want to go.  It’s the driver’s choices that make the trip pleasurable or harrowing.  The car is just the vehicle.
I noted for a fantasy writer recently that in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, it isn’t elves, and orcs and ring wraiths that make the story so engaging—it’s Frodo’s moral dilemma, or what I call his moral conundrum that propels the story forward.  When Frodo comes to realize the responsibility he’s been entrusted with the ring, he doesn’t want it.  It’s the weight of this and how he handles this and other responsibilities that really moves the story along.  It’s not the plot, but the characters choices that makes The Lord of The Rings so engaging.

In Stephen King’s The Shining, Jack Torrance surmises his family (wife, Wendy and son, Danny) are the reason he’s in the position he’s in—a broke, struggling, alcoholic writer.  Taking the job at the Overlook is Jack’s desire to fix his life, but his secret belief that his family is the reason for his woes (his conundrum) eats at him until it finally brings him down. Yes, Danny’s ability to see ghosts who might harm him scares the hell out of us, but it’s his father’s moral conundrum that propels the story along.

If you’re a newbie writer, or even a seasoned vet who may have forgotten, characters and their choices are the key to creating engaging work. It’s great having a Ferrari (plot) but without a good driver (character) it’s just another car.