Smart Girls Read Romance

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Take Time to Smell the Roses - And Plot Mayhem



Every once in a while, writing projects stack up and my mind gets in a dither.  What happens when Burke visits the Lucky Break?  Will Josh McKennon be able to outrun the wild horse herd?  How will I show the bonding between Elsie, and her brother?  Is Hank her love interest?  Does she have one?

When I get too many stories and all those characters competing for brain time, I can't plot my way out of that cliched paper bag.  But there's an answer, and it's a two-parter: 1) friends who brainstorm, usually other writers; and 2) get the heck out of Dodge.  So I am.


A writer friend, Judith Laik, came over today--I helped her upload her book to Amazon and she helped me plot a short story. I wrote half of that tonight before I had to stop and write this article. With luck, I can get finished, or close to it, tomorrow. Then it's on to one more short story before I can start a western historical romance novel that I'm really excited about, although I can't tell you much about it yet. But squeee! I can hardly wait to start it.

But I have no story. I do have the main characters, the beginning scene, the ending scene... but nothing in between. This will be taken care of June 5 through 8, when my friend and I go to her time-share and plot, plot, plot. She has a novel and a short story to plot. I have two novels and three short stories to map out. When I say "map out," I mean map out.


The picture above is the Big Shoot Out in Don't Go Snaring My Heart, a short story in Lassoing a Groom.  The fight scene actually even sorta kinda ended up like the plan, which is a miracle in itself.  This story involved a lot of research--silver prospecting, especially what to look for in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory; goats (did you know there was no specific breed of goat in the US until after the turn of the 20th Century?  I didn't!); and chickens, which I didn't look into very much because I just needed a color.

Short stories are not easy to plot because they must have all the elements of a novel, but without the luxury of in-depth characterization.  Still, if we don't care about the character, we're not going to read the story, so that means the writer has to put characterization in every sentence.  Every single sentence.  There's no wandering in the park, describing this and that.  Just get on with it.

And if you give six writers the exact same premise, they're bound to come up with six totally different stories.  In Lassoing a Groom, we were told to write a story where the heroine lassos her man.  Here's what resulted:

DON’T GO SNARING MY HEART
by Jacquie Rogers
Can rancher Dex Madsen get past loner Betsy Lynch's goats and killer chicken to help save her mining claim and win her heart?

RACE TO MARRY
by Kirsten Lynn
He’s in town to tame a man-killer. She’s accused of being one. When she proposes marriage the race is on.

WANTED: THE SHERIFF
by Tracy Garrett
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart.

CANYON CROSSING
by Kristy McCaffrey
In search of her brother, Annabel Cross enters Grand Canyon. When U.S. Deputy Marshal Angus Docherty rescues her from a cliff side, her most guarded secret might save them.

THE PERFECT HOMESTEAD BRIDE
by Linda Hubalek
Will a dangerous man from Gussie Hamner’s past sabotage the future she’s building with Noah Wilerson?

THE WORST OUTLAW IN THE WEST
by Kathleen Rice Adams
An inept bank robber and a bossy spinster team up to rob an empty vault. What could go wrong?


I'll be giving away a copy of Lassoing a Groom to a commenter--but word of warning, I won't be able to pick a winner until June 9 (because I'll be plotting!).  I figure that just gives you more time to tell your friends. <smile>  Please don't forget to leave your email address with your comment so I can send you the book.



coming this fall
Much Ado About Mustangs

18 comments:

  1. That you will be plotting scares the dickens out of me, Trail Boss. I always worry that one day you really WILL take over the world -- or a gang of your wild-and-wooly animal characters will. :-D

    I envy you your mini-retreat. Have fun, gets lots accomplished, and come back refreshed and rarin' to go! We'll have Animal Control standing by. ;-)

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    1. I'm so looking forward to a brief respite from the chaos so I can focus solely on my stories. It's such a luxury! And yes, I'm taking all my imaginary animals with me. Animal Control has thrown in the towel. LOL

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  2. JJ, You always have wonderful advice. I have learned a lot from you! Keep posting and maybe teach some classes?
    -VV-
    vbromley21@icloud.com

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    1. Thanks, VV! I haven't taught any online craft classes for a while--decided I needed to actually get some writing done. LOL. I sure enjoy teaching, though.

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  3. Can't wait to get started reading your stories. Fun awaits me! Plot like mad and then write fast. I cannot get enough of your writing.

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    1. Thanks, Caroline! I actually can cruise right along if I don't have to think too much on the way, which is why plotting works better for me than some of my other writer friends. The biggest issue is getting a chance to actually write without the house falling down around my ears.

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  4. Jacquie,
    I work with a lot of scribbles and weird maps at times, too. I didn't realize how much research went into 'Don't Go Snaring My Heart', because, as usual, you make it look so easy. Good luck plotting!

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    1. Silver lodes are different colors and hardnesses depending on the ore mixture. Owyhee County has a lot of quartz so I had to find out what Betsy would be looking for. Then I needed to know what breed of goats she had so I could describe them. Believe me, I had no idea what I was getting into with that! And how to make goat cheese and soap. Took a while. Then the other stuff--such as how long an abdominal wound would take to heal and what she'd be given for anesthetic. As for the sharpshooting, riding, and cooking, I just use my own skills and experience, so no research there.

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  5. Very interesting post! As a reader, I am always fascinated to hear about what goes into writing a book. Makes me appreciate you authors so much. Thanks for my reading pleasure!

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    1. Thanks, Karren. We've loaded up the wine and are ready to head out for our plotting weekend. Two days going and coming, three totally uninterrupted days of plotting! I'm excited.

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  6. What a clever title! Good luck with the plotting.

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    1. Thanks, Joan. We didn't get as much done as I hoped, but did make major progress, and it was sure nice to get away for a few days!

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  7. Hey Jacquie! I just finished Lassoing a Bride and now I need the groom. Can't wait to read about the Killer chicken!

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    1. Alisa, I have a feeling you and Jethro would get along just fine. LOL

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  8. Loved your story in LAG, Jacquie, but what's new about that? I love all your stories! LOL I'm not a plotter, I'm a pantser, but I do have a general idea of how the story is going to go---sometimes, I get thrown for a loop though. Happy plotting!
    Cheryl

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    1. Cheryl, I'm a mix -- I need a direction but not the details and I do like surprises. But if I don't have the bones of the story written down, I can do a lot of staring at a blank screen.

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  9. Just finished the anthology and loved every story. Yeah to everyone who participated and helped to bring this to eager readers. Doris

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  10. And the winner is... Victoria Bromley! Congratulations, VV. :)

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