Before I get started answering questions, I wanted to let you know my auction items in the Sharon Cullars benefit auction are up. I’m offering up signed copies of Riding Wild, Riding Temptation, Wild Wicked & Wanton, Surviving Demon Island, Hunting The Demon and Nothing Personal. AND I’m also including an ARC of my April release, RIDING ON INSTINCT. So click here to bid on these books. And click here to read my blog post about the auction.
Okay, now to answer the awesome questions you asked! And wow, I got a lot of them. So many, in fact, that I think I’ll split the answers into two days (my answers get kind of long winded…heh). So part one answers today, part two tomorrow.
And thanks so much to everyone who popped into ask questions!
Q: (Victoria) I get good story ideas and I can write short stories out of them but how do I get more detail into a book without turning it into The Grapes of Wrath? Is there some kind of technique you use?
A: I used to write short, and to do that it was typically two characters (using romance as an example here, since that’s what I write). The hero and the heroine. If you limit your story to those two central characters and their conflict, your story will tend to be shorter. You can lengthen your storyline by adding in subplots—for instance an external plot or secondary characters and a secondary plotline. This is a device many writers use who write single titles. For example, My Demon Hunter series frequently centers around the main hero and heroine and their romance, but there’s also the dynamic of the battle between the Realm of Light and the Sons of Darkness, and in addition to that a romance developing between two secondary characters. Or in my Wild Riders series though we have the romance between the hero and the heroine, there’s also the other Wild Riders as well as the central suspense theme. Just broaden your scope beyond your central characters and what’s happening to them. You’ll hopefully find a longer story developing.
Q: (katiebabs) – is sex on a motorcycle really as hot as it sounds?
yes, I am such a perv.
A: I have no idea. On the one hand, I’ll bet it is. On the other hand, that whole balance issue…
And yes, you are a perv. 😉
Q: (Emily) – Hi Jaci! Where is the weirdest place anyone has asked for your autograph?
Non-related work question- What do you think of Bradfords’s decision to stay at OU next year? ( My family is split on that one! )
A: Hmmm, I don’t recall any weird place anyone asked for an autograph. Though I’m not sure if you’re asking for location or where I actually placed the autograph. I did autograph someone’s shirt once…while they were wearing it. That was…interesting.
As far as Bradford, I’m mixed on this. Part of me thinks he’s out of his ever loving mind for turning down what could have been $50 to $70 million dollars to go pro. He could have been drafted #1, and definitely in the top 5. Most of his offensive line at OU is graduating this year, and he’s losing a ton of his receivers. So yeah, Biker Dude and I had several WTF? Moments over his decision to stay another year.
On the other hand, he’s barely 21 years old and could stand to stay in college another year to sharpen his skills. He would have no doubt been drafted by the Lions, and with no offense intended to anyone in Detroit, the Lions blow chunks. So unless you’re in it primarily for the money, what’s the point of turning pro and playing for a team that sucks. Those in the know as far as draft stats say even if the Sooners have a lousy year next year it still won’t hurt his draft chances and he’ll still go high in the draft next year. The key question is, what team?
I don’t think he really cares all that much about the money. I think he cares about playing well, learning as much as he can, he loves the Sooners and Bob Stoops and I think he wants to win a bowl game. And the selfish part of me is thrilled to death to have him back to play another year. Heh..this wasn’t a brief answer was it? Clearly you never want to get me started talking on Sooners football. :giggle:
Q & A: (Annmarie) You’re always especially saucy. And I’m not talking about my underwear. :neener:
Q: (michelle) I like Victoria’s question. I like dialogue and action and am not great with description/narrative. The problem with cutting to the chase is you have a very short book!
I’ve heard a lot of authors complain about having to cut stuff out, they write long and need to cut back. I write short, how do you add stuff so it doesn’t feel like you’re padding? I’m not a big fan of describing the wallpaper detail. And in having read your books, I know you don’t have a lot of extraneous unnecessary detail. You always have just enough in to make a visual and keep going. And they are certainly action-packed, but you can’t just have 80k+ of action and sex (or you can, but, you know, there usually has to be other stuff :giggle: )
A: Good question! The answer – balance. I’m not a huge fan of overly descriptive novels, either in reading them or writing them. Start describing the room, the furniture, the drapes or what someone’s wearing and in less than a minute I’ll be asleep. The old historicals used to be famous for that. And I used to be famous for skimming over those parts. Sorry, but I just don’t have that kind of attention span. And I find a lot of readers don’t.
For description, it’s important to give the reader enough to set the scene in their heads, but not too much that you’re boring them into a coma. Visualize where the characters are—orient the reader to time and place, then move on.
I’m a huge fan of dialogue. I love dialogue. Ask anyone who’s ever critiqued my work and they’ll tell you that sometimes I’ll be so carried away by dialogue I forget to put anything else in a scene. Like…uh…where are they? :giggle: But dialogue can set a good pace for your story and not bog it down with too much narrative. Then you can intersperse narrative in between your dialogue.
I’m also not a fan of pages and pages of narrative, either descriptive or introspective. I find it boring. Hence my love of dialogue. You can convey the same thing with two characters talking TO each other as you can them thinking ABOUT something. How is one character reacting to what the other character says? Body language can be brought out in dialogue too, and shows a lot about the character’s state of mind. Dialogue is more active and you can write longer dialogue scenes than you can narrative scenes (in my opinion).
As far as action, this is where description can really come into play and you can make it fun. This is where the movie plays in your head and you toss your characters into a scene. This is where you can lengthen you story. What’s happening? Set the scene. Who’s it happening to? What are the characters doing? How are they reacting? What’s going on around them? What is the result of the action? Wheee!
All of these are key components, but there’s also the romance, what’s taking place within the crux of the narrative, the dialogue the action is the relationship between your two central characters. This is what you build on from the first chapter all the way through the book—the romance, the tension, the sex—obviously the romance is the key component of the story and you’re delicately weaving it throughout.
And again, the key to making a short story longer is the balance of all these – narrative, description, dialogue and action, blending in your romance as the key ingredient. And secondary plotlines that I mentioned in one of my answers above. These can drag a short story into a much longer story. (kinda like my answer here. Heh)
Part two answers tomorrow!