Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

Episodic Writing--
An Editor's Definition


by Cheryl Wyatt


Have you ever received contest feedback, or even a rejection letter or a revision note where the editor mentioned "episodic writing"?

I have. Problem was, I didn't know how to fix it because I didn't know what it was.

I recently sold my first novel on proposal to Harlequin. For the first time, I faced the challenge of writing the rest of the entire book instead of simply revising the full manuscript.

When my (WONDERFUL!) editor (Melissa Endlich...pictured above with me, and with other Love Inspired authors at an RWA lunchean) and I discussed the synopsis, she cautioned me to be mindful as I finished the story "not to write episodic."

I admitted I didn't know 100% what that meant because I've heard differing things. She explained it so I could FINALLY understand what it meant.

I've talked to many other authors who've received judge feedback mentioning "episodic writing" and they had no idea what it meant either.

So today for my post, I'm sharing my editor's definition in hopes it will help those of you whose manuscripts have been deemed "episodic."

She said (paraphrasing) episodic writing is when one scene happens then another and another and so on but there is really no point to the scenes. They end up trumping the overall story arc but do nothing to move the plot forward.

In my case, my overall story arc running through the book is Pararescue Jumper Ben helping the heroine who is down and out financially and has recently been evicted. Her car breaks down in Refuge, and Ben is determined to befriend and help her.

Yes, this is a romance, and the romance arc must be front and center, but as far as character story goals and plot arcs, the main one that should run entirely through the story is Ben helping the heroine.

My editor went on to explain that episodic writing means loose writing where the author is just getting the characters from one scene to another (such as ending one scene with dinner and starting the next scene at breakfast) without anything really significant happening in the middle or at the hooks in and out to raise the stakes or increase the tension.

She said to make sure the stakes are constantly being raised and that there is tension in every scene and always a forward movement of plot...which comes from conflict. Also, the pacing needs to stay on track.

So, with her explanation, I gathered that non-episodic writing is tight writing where there is sufficient conflict and where the stakes are continually raised. Tension is present in every scene and every scene has a vital purpose. There is always a forward movement of the plot.

Hmm...that sounds eerily like some of the elements on contest scoresheets and feedback forms.

So, can we gather from this that acquisitions editors really DO care about internal and external conflict, pacing, tension, plot, tight writing and every other element on most contest scoresheets?

Absolutely.

If you've been marked down on "Conflict" on contest scoresheets, it is possible that your writing is episodic. (My words, not the editor's.)


So...In Summary.....

SOME WAYS WE CAN AVOID EPISODIC WRITING:
---Don't let your story be merely a stream of pointless scenes. Give it direction
---Don't let a series of random scenes trump your overall story arc
---Have AT LEAST one vital reason for every scene
---Write tight
---Hold true and fast to the overall story arc
---Continually build tension
---Constantly ramp conflict
---Characters must have clear cut goals and growth. Constantly challenge those goals.
---Constantly up the stakes
---Put tension in every scene
---Always have forward movement of the plot and not just "episodes" or stagnation
---Maintain smooth scene transitions so the story flows in logical progression. (In one long running arc instead of reading like a bunch of episodes or scenes stringed together.)

I hope this helps!

Here's a link to another article on Episodic Writing that you might also find helpful from Ezine @rticles.





Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt is an RN who writes award-winning Inspirational Action Romance. She loves to honor brave men and women in noble careers by featuring high-caliber characters in high-octane stories bent toward medical military and rescue romance. Her Love Inspired debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. She has experienced the giddy joy of winning a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award and is exceedingly thankful for a Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence final. Joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She writes as worship and aims for excellence with virtue when penning humorous, wholesome stories that exude faith and family and are evocative rather than provocative.


This post first appeared in Seekerville January 15, 2008



Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.

OFFICIAL RULES HERE!


69 comments :

  1. Do I get to be the first?!

    This one gets a Google Reader star.

    [One of these days I need to print all the starred things out and stick them in a binder...]

    Thank you for the definition. I'd not heard the phrase before, but it makes sense.

    I think for me, if I'm bored writing something, generally I cut it. Not always, but a lot of the time. Sometimes it's not real exciting but lays the groundwork for something else [or something] so I muscle through, but usually... if it's boring me to tears, it'll probably bore the readers to tears too...

    I've got a sick 5yo with her head on my lap right now :(. Poor baby. I also managed to FINALLY make some forward progress in the MS I'm REALLY hoping to finish the first draft of this month...

    I've left cinnamon rolls and leftover stromboli on the table. Helen'll likely be over to set the coffee so I'll let her take care of that...

    I just had a review so... :)

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  2. Here's the coffee to go with those cinnamon rolls!

    This article is still so relevant and helpful.

    I wish I cold retain AND IMPLEMENT all the tips that are served up here.

    Helen

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  3. CHERYL!
    Ha, even though this isn't a new post, it's always so exciting to see that you're posting on any given day lol...

    I think I'm saving these all away for the day when I need them. I mean, they all make sense to me, but unfortunately I can't relate. But that's okay, I know you know what you're talking about, girlie ; )

    Thanks again for last night. You are just soooo one of my favorite people and your daughter's not so bad herself! That was too fun : )

    Since I was just talking about fresh pineapple in Hawaii tonight, I'll put out some fresh fruit to add to our buffet.

    Talk to you later, Auntie (yes, I do like to flaunt that fact around LOL!)
    Hannah

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  4. Great definition.

    I enjoyed reading "A Soldier's Devotion" Cheryl. I learned a lot about pararescue jumpers.

    Have a nice weekend everyone!

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  5. I'm going out for donuts. Those cinnamon rolls are going to be gone in no time.

    Thank you Cheryl!
    PS Those LoCash Cowboy candles smell like summer. I think it's time for a little virtual 'getaway' (plus the flame can only help to warm up this place)

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  6. Thanks to Cheryl and thanks for reposting this, Tina.

    I have heard this exact word, "episodic" used and this is the best explanation of it I have seen.

    I appreciate the cinnamon rolls and I hope CarolM's daughter feels better soon.

    Cathy

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  7. These archived posts are such nice reminders what to watch for in our writing and revisions.



    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

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  8. MAN, Cheryl, talk about timely!!! I am just now finishing up my scene plotting on my next book, so you've got me questioning this one scene that I'm putting in ONLY because I try to alternate from a scene for the heroine (i.e. her POV) to the hero, to a subordinate, etc., and I needed a hero scene next. But I'm not sure that's sufficient reason to have a scene for him since I actually have more action for the heroine right now. But you've given me some good direction here, so thank you!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  9. Oh, this is very helpful! I've seen the problem but never knew it had a name.

    And actually this is very timely because I'm pushing to write 50K words this month and one of the things I see I will have to go back and finish after the first draft is finished is the episodic writing. In fact I had to laugh when you described the bit about dinner one night and breakfast the next morning. GUILTY AS CHARGED!

    This will be helpful for me going forward, to be mindful of it as I continue with the first draft. Then I could put it on my checklist of items to correct on my 2nd pass.

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  10. Excellent post, Cheryl! A great explanation of episodic writing and a terrific list of ways to avoid it.

    When I'm writing a book I have to keep reminding myself of the hero and heroine's book-length goals then make sure they're working toward their goals all the time and that produces conflict for them and between them. It's so easy to write scenes that show characterization or whatever but that doesn't raise the stakes. Writing books is hard.

    Janet

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  11. Thanks to you Seeker ladies, as I revise a ms I'm constantly asking what the point and purpose of the scene is. This explanation is so understandable--thank you!!

    I added some almond poppyseed muffins to the table, compliments of my daughter. =]

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  12. What a timely post! Whoever decides what to pull out of the archives for the weekend has great instincts.

    I'm also guilty as charged - episodic writing seems to be taking over the first draft of my WIP, but I'll be looking for it as I continue writing. I've added it to the list of things to look for on the rewrite.

    I can't believe the cinnamon rolls AND the donuts are both gone already! Good thing I brought quiche....does anyone even eat quiche anymore?

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  13. Thanks for clarifying this for me. I had no idea what episodic writing meant but I heard a lot about it. I can now recognize tons of it in my current draft after reading this post. I got some revising to do...

    BTW, please enter me in the weekly 5 page critique drawing.

    preslaysa(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  14. what kinda quiche? there's no spinach in it is there?!
    man I want a cinnamon roll! no good place for them around here but the place down the road from work here makes some good kolaches!
    I'll get some of those for us

    susanna

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  15. Coffee, cinnamon rolls, muffins, doughnuts...

    Combined with the grits from yesterday, I've gained ten pounds just reading these posts! But they were worth it!

    As I'll soon be rewriting my current project, so this is one more thing to watch out for.

    Please enter me. I'd love the feedback. ardoinsandy@yahoo.com

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  16. I'm not the anonymous sort. Really! I just have fingers that don't obey! :-(

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  17. I just read the MOST crazy episodic book of all time.

    I won't say the name but it's secular and not one of us, but a HUGE fiction writing rock star. I think I read in the Amazon reviews that this was her first book.

    But it was laughably episodic. I've read a couple of other books that are like that. Just one crisis, fix it. Next crisis. Fix it. And so on and so on and so on.

    One of those books does have one overarching theme and I never really noticed the 'episodicness' of it until I started to know more about writing. It's just so charming it works. I love it. But it's still crazy episodic. Ironically the one that I love, and have re-read many times, isn't from an author who is nearly so successful as the other two.

    The other two, honestly, they oughta have a warning lable.

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  18. Great post! I have to admit that its easy to get caught up in this kind of writing in order to add word count. But, I also have to admit that I get so bored with my own writing when I start doing this that it ends up detering me from writing this way. At least I think so...

    Please include me in the drawing.

    ~Linnette

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  19. I'll add here that I remember critique someone's manuscript once and telling her things like, "This scene doesn't move the story forward. Delete the whole thing."

    This was a 60,000 word story crammed into 110,000 words, if you know what I mean.

    Her response was, "I wanted to show their characters, that's the point of this scene."

    Well, that's a worthy goal and she DID show their characters in that scene, but the STORY didn't advance. She needed to reveal their characters within the forward movement of the STORY.

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  20. I'm like you Helen. I have to read and reread these tips over and over again.

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  21. I am apparently still in Sarge mode.

    These boots are starting to ...um, smell.

    Mary, you can say "this scene must advance the story" until the cows come home but until the lightbulb goes off, it's all rhetoric.

    I say this as the lightbulb recently went off for me.

    I write episodic. GUILTY.

    Said editor nailed me.

    Great scenes showing characterization. Beautiful scenes.

    And you know what, all they need is for me to give myself a good slap.

    Then stop and tweak them so that each one shows either conflict or somehow involves the H & H's growing relationship and ups the emotional ante.

    OMG.


    So simple.


    Okay, I gotta go change my clothes.

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  22. Cheryl,

    This is SO my problem! It's one of the reasons Steeple Hill rejected my ms, but I didn't understand what they meant at all. Thank you for clarifying. Now if I can just figure out how to do all those things you mention, I'll be fine! LOL.

    Cheers,

    Sue
    P.S. Bringing some carrot muffins and more coffee for the morning rush!

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  23. @Jan - I make quiche from time to time but my kids aren't crazy about it so...

    /plops another one down on the table/ This one is bacon and cheese. Very easy. Very yum. Wish my kids would eat it so I could make it more often...

    Trying to get a 7 and 9yo to get along and clean their room... not going so great [hence my computer break]. I just gave them 15m to finish before lunch. We'll see if either one survives...

    But I do get to go to Panera for a few hours this afternoon. I'm actually making progress on the MS so hopefully...

    /sigh/ I am apparently the worst mom ever - anyone else ever get that?

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  24. Carol! You beat Helen! Impressive. LOL! YUM on the cinnamon rolls!

    I hope your little one feels better soon! Praying!!!

    I appreciate you stopping by.

    Cheryl

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  25. Helen, thanks for being so faithful with the coffee! I need it even more this morning because a headache woke me up in the middle of the night. I didn't sleep well after that.

    I know what you mean about retention of information. Our brains need a bit more RAM, huh? LOLOL!

    Hugs and thanks for coming by. I always look forward to your early morning coffee posts.

    Cheryl

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  26. Hi my Hannah! You brought fruit just for my diet, didn't ya? See? You WERE listening during our conversation. LOLOL!

    Unfortunately I HATE BEING ON A DIET!

    Love that my clothes are fitting looser though.

    55 pounds down and counting...


    Hugs my sweet! Hope you have a spectacular week. I mean it.

    Cheryl aka Auntie C

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  27. Eva, thank you! I hope you will pray for the real PJs (Pararescue Jumpers) out there. They really do sacrifice a lot to be able to effectively save others.

    Their dedication to their career is amazing.

    Blessings to you and thanks SOOO, SOOO much for reading my book/s.

    Cheryl

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  28. Debra, LOL! Yeah, those guys know how to heat a place up for sure. LOLOL!

    Oh, I'm waiting right by the door so I can mug you of donuts as SOON as you walk in.

    I am SOOOO hungry for something sweet!!!!

    I am on a super ultra strict diet. NO carbs. NO sugar for six weeks! I am only on day 20.....AHHHH!!!!!

    I'm literally drooling over here. Someone tie my hands behind my back and duct tape my mouth so I don't eat all the donuts in one sitting.

    Seriously.

    Thanks Debra for your presence here in Seekerville! I love you even without the donuts. :-)

    Cheryl

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  29. Cathy, Melissa Endlich explained it well, didn't she?

    Hugs and thanks so much for stopping by.

    Cheryl

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  30. Rose, good thought!

    It makes me want to remind people to just get the ms written before getting it right. Episodic writing can be fixed after the fact if need be.

    I don't want any of these craft articles to paralize anyone from writing.

    Just get those words down. Then fix everything later. LOL!


    Thanks for coming by, Rose!

    Cheryl

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  31. Ah Julie, as amazing as your writing is, I can't imagine me helping you, but maybe so by some miracle I said something intelligent for once. LOL!

    LOVE YOUR STUFF! You have NOTHING whatsoever to worry about but I LOVE that you always strive to give your readers the best. Excellent!

    Love ya girl!

    Cheryl

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  32. BK, excellent plan! Don't let the fear of episodic writing block you up.

    Thanks for stopping by and keep us posted on that ms progress, okay?

    God's best to you in it!!! 50K...how exciting! That's nothing to sneeze at. Keep up the great work.

    Cheryl

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  33. Oh my gosh, Janet. I LOVE everything you said. Writing books IS hard. I have a book that is literally kicking my butt right now. It is the hardest, most stubborn thing I've ever written. I've spent more time on it that any other book and it's STILL acting mule-ish!

    I love your plan to keep reminding yourself of the hero and heroine's book-length goals then make sure they're working toward their goals all the time and that produces conflict for them and between them.

    WOW! I am printing THAT out and wish I'd included similar advice in the original article.

    Everyone, soak in what Janet said. It really will help you to avoid episodic writing as you're going along.

    Thanks, Janet for your insight and how conscientious you are with your stories. I know your readers (and your editors!) love you for it.

    Hugs
    Cheryl

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  34. Patty! Hey neighbor girl who I've never met! LOL.

    Almond poppy seed muffins! OOOOOOH! You people are killing me today. Did I mention that I HATE DIETING? LOL.

    Thanks for stopping by. Keep me posted on your story progress! Margaret Daley has a practice of making sure that every scene has at least three solid reasons for being there or else she cuts it or builds it up.

    Great advice from a wonderful author and person.

    Patty, thank you for coming by! Keep plugging along on that book. It'll get there!
    Cheryl

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  35. Jan, that would be the fabulous Tina! She does the archives and the WEs for us. Isn't she amazing?

    We think so!

    Glad this was timely for you.

    Does the quiche have meat in it? Cheese? If so, I'm on it! LOL.

    Thanks for coming by,
    Cheryl

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  36. This was really helpful Cheryl! I had heard of that term, but didn't what it meant, so thanks for digging this out of the archives to share. :)

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  37. Preslaysa, how timely! That you all have teachable spirits will take you a long way in this industry.

    Glad you found something useful in the post. Miss Tina rescued it from the archives. LOLOLOL!

    Oooh...gimme a bite of that quiche...

    I LOVE spinach!!!!!

    Cheryl

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  38. Susanna,

    Gimme your spinach. LOLOL! I LOVE IT.

    Glad you stopped by today. And not just so I could steal spinach from your quiche. LOLOL!

    What's a kolash? Or kolashes? Oh, that sounds yummy! What is it???

    CAN YOU TELL I AM FAMISHED?

    LOL.

    Bring on the food!

    I just wish fat cells were virtual too. Dang it.

    LOL.

    Thanks for coming by! Stick around, okay?

    Cheryl

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  39. Wow! This post couldn't have come at a better time. And thank you, Cheryl, for a definition of episodic that actually makes sense, and all the tips to keep my work from falling into that definition.

    --Kirsten

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  40. Sandy, LOL! I know the feeling. OOOH! We had grits yesterday? HOW did I miss the grits? LOVE grits.

    I HATE THIS DIET!!!!!

    LOL on gaining ten pounds by reading the posts. LOLOL! I know the feeling.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Cheryl

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  41. LOL Mary!

    Being a writer has ruined reading for me somewhat because I tend to over-analyze books now. I'm not so much critical as I am in awe over how other authors carry out things so seamlessly now that I know that writing a book is nowhere near as easy as it looks.

    Cheryl

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  42. Mary, that's such an important point...making sure scenes advance the plot, rather than just show characters interacting.

    People should listen to people who've worked with editors! LOLOL!

    But sometimes we learn the hard way. LOLOL!

    The more I learn, the more I learn there is to learn. It's a constant strive for improvement and aiming for excellence, which is one of my taglines.

    Hugs and thanks for sharing your wonderful insight!

    Cheryl

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  43. Tina!!! LOL Sarge.

    I LOVE how you described this: "Then stop and tweak them so that each one shows either conflict or somehow involves the H & H's growing relationship and ups the emotional ante.

    YES! YES! YES!!!!!

    You got it.


    How did the lightbulb go off for you? What was it that she said that made that happen for you? It might help others here.

    Thanks for reposting this! I need to heed my own advice too. LOLOL.

    Hugs
    Cheryl

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  44. Susan, more muffins! OH...I love you people.

    Hate the diet though.

    I think we have a record here for the most muffins brought and eaten on one Seekerville morning.

    Soo...here's lunch. LOW FAT BRAN MUFFINS!

    ROFL.

    Just kidding.

    We're having paninis of all sorts! Meat ones. Veggie ones. Oozing with cheese and toasted bread. Yummy stuff sauteed in REAL butter.

    Homemade french fries, fried in REAL grease.

    Fruit salad topped with all sorts of marshmallowy stuff that's not good for you. And pecans. And walnuts. And creamy Cool Whip, not the fat free version.

    There! Take that, you dumb diet!

    LOL.

    Susan, I'm glad this was helpful and timely for you today. Seems to be hitting lots of people that way. So KUDOS to Tina who dragged it out of the archives, dusted it off and stuck it up here.

    Cheryl

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  45. Linnette, LOL! Read the tension ramping post to wreak some havok on your characters. I guarantee they won't be bored and banished to Episodia for long. LOLOLOL!

    Thanks for coming by!
    Cheryl

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  46. Carol, ROFL! Yes, I get that whenever I enforce chores which is nearly every day. LOLOL!

    Look at it this way, we're giving them life skills and building character in them.

    Don't give in! LOLOL!

    When their privileges and favorite electronic or toy start disappearing, they know I'm serious.

    LOLOL!

    Let us know how it goes....

    Cheryl

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  47. Casey, thanks! Glad you found it helpful. Tina is who pulled it from the archives though. So the thanks goes to her, too.

    Hugs!
    Cheryl

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  48. Kirsten, wow! Thanks for letting me know that something I actually said makes sense. LOLOL!

    Seriously, I'm glad you found it helpful. It seems that it was timely for many here.

    YAY TINA!

    Thanks for coming by! ANd thanks for friending me on FB. What a joy!
    Cheryl

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  49. Cheryl, kolaches are pastry kinda things either filled with fruit or fruit cream cheese type filling(these were new to me) or with sausage/cheese/egg or whatever. The bakery down the street is a german bakery and they do one kind of dough for the egg ones and those are enclosed - the fruit ones are a different dough and sweeter and the fruit filling isn't a filling but sorta in a dipped out area so you can see it. Just depends on the place but shipley donuts does the ham/cheese/sausage/jalapeno combos that are stuffed inside with more breading than filling and the other places seem to do the fruit ones except for that german bakery.

    I'm hungry...bacon and cheese quiche? now we're talking! spinach is ok in stuff where I can't really taste it or on salads! I have a soup recipe that has some in it but not a lot.

    congrats on the weight loss - I'm trying to do Weight Watchers again..been playing at it for about 4 yrs now!

    Susanna

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  50. Oh my goodness Susanna, I NEED that kolashes recipe...the one with sausage. LOL!

    I LOVE MEAT.

    And cheese.

    And I read a DELIGHTFUL cheese story today that made me drool.

    It's from a local aspiring author. If I were a publisher, I'd TOTALLY buy her book...and then eat it. LOL!

    Gosh, I am so hungry.

    Need to down more water.

    Susanna, I'm praying for your weight loss success. It's NOT easy.

    Thanks for stopping back by and explaining kolashes. They sound SO yummy.

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  51. Rant Alert!

    I think editors are going to ruin a whole generation of writers by their obsession with raising tensions! This is artificial and creates a climate of sameness that produces waves of predictability across an ocean of books!

    I am working on a list of 100 ways to capture and maintain reader interest without increasing tensions. I call this: inherently interesting writing. Not every book needs to follow a suspense format. Raising stakes is the wrong general paradigm. It’s too narrow. How about: “Always be rewarding your reader and keeping your copy interesting.” This includes ‘raising the stakes’ but it also comprises a cornucopia of alternative choices.

    Consider Cheryl’s books. As I remember it, often the most dramatic thing in the book happens in the first chapter.

    The hero crashes to the ground when his parachute does not open. There’s a bridge disaster with a school bus full of kids ready to fall to their deaths. A heroine passes out in a car where she could soon die as her child wanders around trying to find help without knowing what is wrong. I think the highest stakes in these books (in life and death terms) happens in the beginning.

    I love this ‘big bang’ approach but it points out that there is just something misleading with the ‘raising stakes’ metaphor. In a book there could well be many ‘stakes’ all of which could rise or be lowered. Couldn’t lowering the stakes increase reader involvement? The danger she thought was a danger really wasn’t? Have the stakes changed? Can’t the reader enjoy a breather while she wonders ‘what’s next’?

    I know: editors must be kept happy. This is not the writer’s fault. In fact, some authors write books that defy the current editorial wisdom and they are loved by the fans. They sell well. With all their faults, they provide a wonderful reading experience. Imagine that. Fans selecting a great reading experience over a great example of keeping an editor happy!


    The thing about episodic writing is that the word ‘episode’ has a perfectly good meaning. An episode of a TV situation comedy is a self standing production that no one expects has to move the story along. In fact, this is often discouraged because moving the story along could actually limit the options for what will work in future episodes.

    One of my favorite Hemingway books, “A Moveable Feast”, is 100% episodic. But then it is a collection of non-fiction vignettes. It is also absolutely captivating.

    I also considered ‘episodic’ writing to be a series of scenes that do not move the story forward. But this can be OK, sometimes. If Janet Evanovich wants to write a very humorous scene about how the heroine lost her virginity to the hero-in-waiting (I don’t think he will ever marry her) in order to provide a little backstory for the new reader, that’s fine. But it better be good in a mystery story. But then Janet is good. (Besides, any good writer will be able to show that, in some way, the scene did move the story forward. I know this.)

    That’s it. Summation: Just don’t let your paradigms paralyze your creativity. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the idea of raising stakes. (Like eating steaks.)

    One more thing: alternating POVs in a predictable pattern may act to alienate a reader by reminding her that she is reading a novel.

    Vince

    I’d like a chance to win a 5-page critique so I can take my lumps.

    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

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  52. I don't know how the lightbulb went off. It just did. And suddenly it was so easy.

    It's like the day you really GET deep POV.

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  53. EPISODICNESS. Thank you, Mary!

    I just judged a contest entry and fell asleep BOTH times I tried to read through it. I think it suffered from the above malady.

    Cheryl, Day 20?
    You should be past the cravings by now. yikes. I'm feeling anxiety over this and thinking of looking up a kalosh recipe online JUST BECAUSE.

    I wish food was a function and not an emotion. I'm glad the donuts are gone because I can eat three or four just for their pleasing fatty fragrance. yum!

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  54. Cheryl, um, my kolache 'recipe' is to take a left out of my townhomes, right at the light, left 2 lights down and a right turn into the Shipley's parking lot! I'm not a baker. I'm sure someone here who bakes would do just fine LOL but um that's NOT me -I'm the idiot who burned cookies - 2 batches - because they didn't turn hard like I remember them being(sugar cookies). I didn't know they hardened as they cooked. :-(

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  55. My mom is from a Czech town (in Nebraska) and her mother was a brilliant kolache maker. The whole town was famous for thei Czech festival and the dreamy delicious kolaches.

    My mom was more a cinnamon roll girl, which were also wonderful.

    I'm more with ANONYMOUS. I drive to someone else who makes kolaches. I think you're still a good cook if you find delicious stuff to BUY. That's a skill.

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  56. I remember so clearly the light clicking on about POV. I had no idea what that meant and most of the books I was reading were head hopping so it didn't make any sense.

    Then I'd critique contests and I'd say to the entrant....This is a POV error. If you don't know what that means you need to find out. I can't explain it here in these minimal notes.....


    I remember a judge once saying about The Husband Tree, "Your story doesn't start until page 19."

    I had no idea what that meant. I just didn't get the backstory dump. I had to do a LOT of learning before I could even understand judge's comments.

    It's all part of the process.

    I THINK I know what deep POV is. At least I know what I think it is.

    but it's tricky. Almost first person, but still in third person. Immediate.

    I've had people say I do it really well and I'm always a little tempted to ask, "Could you point out where I did it really well, because I'm not sure if I even know what it is."

    Except I do.

    I think.

    I'm going to drive somewhere and eat kolaches until the confusion passes.

    bye

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  57. Question: The editorial assistant to the agent I sent my proposal to is asking for more of the manuscript to read. She said I could either send the next couple chapters and the last one or the entire manuscript so she can see how the story unfolds. Is this a hopeful sign?

    ~Linnette

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  58. I have to admit that I have never heard of this term in my life. Now I'm trying to figure out if I've ever been accused of this without having the word actually employed.

    Always up for a critique, if it's out there.

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  59. I've been thinking some more on this (yes, I know, always dangerous for me). But recognizing episodic writing isn't as easy as it sounds--nor do I think total elimination of episodic scenes is appropriate. I know when I read published works, there is always a certain percentage of episodic scenes contained in its pages. It may not move the story forward, but it does put you into a one on one relationship with the characters.

    Alas, yet another aspect of writing that isn't cut and dried. You just have to practice and find your way as you slog through your manuscript.

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  60. oops I meant the cookies hardened as they cooled not cooked!
    yes I'm anonymous Susannanonymous! Ikeep forgetting to type my name

    but I'm definitely NOT good at baking - breads throw me off - 3 failed bread recipes involving yeast did it for me!

    now I'm hungry..sigh..

    Susanna

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  61. Was able to share Seekerville with a budding author today!

    And what a GREAT day for her to check in with y'all!

    Outstanding Cheryl.
    I'm trying to get Book 1 pubbed and then, on to #2 (the sequel)... This will be one to re-review.

    Thanks always to Seekers!!!

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  62. @Linette! I'd say that's a good sign!

    My kids survived. I think. I left 4.5 hours ago ;). They were all still breathing then.

    I'm at Panera. I've added nearly 4K to the MS. I've sorted out some backstory dates to keep my timeline consistent and made a comprehensive list of what I still need to write.

    But then...

    Stupid Hero decided that I needed to tag along with him on his flight to Tokyo. His ex-girlfriend showed up. The one where it ended REALLY badly [not his fault at all - she went kinda crazy]. She tells him WHY she went sorta crazy. And now she wants her own book [which really could be pretty good if I could pull it off - redemption and forgiveness].

    Can I beat them? Would that be charactercide if I killed her off? Can you get arrested for that?

    I guess not or Mary would be doing 20 to life...

    But still...

    And, *if* I were to write that book, it *should* come before the one I'm working on now since it all takes place in between books 1 [with an editor] and 2 [working on now] and this convo would completely spoil it...

    /beats ex-girlfriend regardless of consequences/

    It's justifiable, I tell ya!

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  63. No Tina, it's like the day you GET Show and tell. I tell ya...

    Nuff to make me scream!

    Sorry, probably didn't want to see that side. ;)

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  64. Linnette, I only kill of people who REALLY HAVE IT COMING.

    That's a defense that is sure to hold up in court.

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  65. I stopped back by to read comments (this place is worse than FB for me so I have to ration you guys) and Tina, this jumped out and slapped me upside the head:
    Then stop and tweak them so that each one shows either conflict or somehow involves the H & H's growing relationship and ups the emotional ante.

    I understood this before, but that showed how to fix it so easily. =]

    That slap musta knocked my headache out cuz this is the first time today I've NOT had a headache. Thank you! LoL AND I'm reading The Ranchers Reunion this weekend. L.O.V.E. it! =] =]

    Cheryl, you're a third of the way through these six weeks. You're doing GREAT! Keep going, girl!! =]

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  66. Okay, lemme tell ya something, Auntie. I always listen, wellllll maybe that's a stretch, but I always listen to you ; ) So yep, you and me both eating the fruit. But at least it's yummy! Ha! Wish that Ben and Jerry's ice cream I had tonight counted as fruit...oy.

    And 55 pounds!!! Man, YOU are incredible, you know that, right? And you were boosting me for 7...goodness gracious. You didn't tell me that, I would've jumped up and made myself do a happy dance right there for ya! WOOHOO!!!! You go, girlie! So proud of you : )

    You know, you're allowed to hate it, just as long as you don't give up. *stern look* Stay tough! Once you get down to whatever your goal is you're going to be sooooo happy with yourself, proud of what you've accomplished, and such a skinny minny! LOL!! Joking...I think you always look beautiful, Cheryl.

    Weekend is...not so great so far. Don't hold much hope, but we shall see I guess....would rather spend it...I don't know with you bahahaha wow sound like a stalker, eh!? Okay, talkign to you, there we go that's a lil better. ; )

    Anyway...ummmm shoot forgot what I was going to say, what'd I tell you?! Good grief, could today get any worse? I think not. Hopefully you got my text, I'll have to update you when I find more out.

    Okay well, I'll talk to you soon. Love ya, Auntie,
    Hannah

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  67. All! Sorry I didn't make it back to attend the last several comments. I actually became immersed in a book that has been ROYALLY kicking my butt. So I ran with it and kept writing.

    Sorry to have abandoned you!

    Linnette, I think anytime they ask to see more, it's a good thing and shows they're interested enough to want to keep reading. Good job!!!! Keep us posted.

    Everyone, sorry for not attending to each comment toward the end. I did read them all. I don't have anything to add that my Seeker sisters havn't already eloquently said.

    Blessings and God's best on writing non-episodic stories.

    Vince and BK, I could be wrong but I don't think it's the editor's preference driving decisions as much as it is the readership preferences dictates sales.

    The editors have an extremely strong pulse on their readership and they adjust revisions accordingly, in order to meet the demand of their buyers.

    Editors are buying from authors what readers are buying en mass from booksellers and so the cycle continues. LOLOLOL! That's my take anyway.

    That said, some publishers may not use the term episodic writing because their readership may be different and have different taste in story style.

    I have read some really episodic books (not Love Inspireds) that were very engaging to me.

    So I do agree that folks shouldn't let the fear of episodic writing clam them up or shut them down. My advice is "Get it written before getting it right."

    Walt, I hadn't heard the term either until I saw it for the second time in a rejection letter and then once in a revision note. LOL! I still am not completely sure if I've written episodic until the story is finished and I can look at the forest instead of the trees, if this makes sense. So I can see the overall running story arc and see if it's truly an arc or a zigzag filled with unneccesary pointless filler scenes where all we see is characters carrying out their activities of daily living. LOL!

    I'm more of an instinct writer and so I have difficulty explaining how I even put a story together.

    Mary, ROFL on only popping the ones who deserve it. Too funny.

    KC, Hannah, etc, etc, etc, thanks for stopping by all!

    Cheryl

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  68. Thank you, Cheryl, for this awesome post! Having input from a top-notch editor on how to tighten up our writing is fabulous :)

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