Monday, August 20, 2012

Battling Episodic Writing in a 30-minute (or 1-Hour) TV Show World

Battling Episodic Writing in a 30-minute (or 1-Hour) TV Show World
By Missy Tippens

Missy, here, talking about episodic writing today, and also sharing photos from the 2012 Southern Kentucky Bookfest. I know we’ve already had fantastic posts on the topic of episodic writing. One by Cheryl Wyatt sharing input from her editor, Melissa Endlich. And another from Janet Dean where she touched on the problem in her post about scene and sequel.

Though I honestly think I’m doing better, episodic writing is still something I’m working to avoid. I hope you don’t mind going along for the ride as I try to figure out why this is a problem with so many writers.

First, what is episodic writing? Have you ever gotten feedback from an editor or agent or contest judge with this term? According to Cheryl (via Melissa), it’s “…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.”

Missy Tippens signing beside Allie Pleiter with Virginia Smith in the background .

My own take on it is that you end up with episodic writing when you write lots of fun, cute, interesting, scary, exciting (or whatever type) scenes and string them together into a story. The problem is, they often don’t have much to do with the overall story arc or with advancing the plot.

And I think one of the reasons we tend to do this is because we live in a culture where we spend a lot of time in front of the TV. (I know there are probably those of you who don’t watch TV at all. But I still think the majority does watch at least one favorite show a week.)

Ann Gabhart and Allie Pleiter
Okay, time to admit how many shows you watch or record/DVR each week. I admit I have several that I DVR and watch late at night. There are some, like Project Runway or MasterChef, that probably don’t affect the flow of my writing. But when I thought of others, like Castle, Pretty Little Liars (a big weekly event my daughter and I share), Grey’s Anatomy and Parenthood, I realized how the flow of these episodes (key word!) could affect my writing.

Lori Copeland and Missy Tippens

On the one hand, these type shows are great for teaching how to write a fantastic scene or chapter hook. Just think how long the week between episodes seems! (Who else out there is about to DIE for the next season of Castle to find out what’s going to happen?)

But these shows tend to have the main character dealing with one problem each week, solving it, and then possibly leaving you with a new problem introduced or a hint at what’s to come. The thing is, there may not be much of an overall season-long story arc. Each episode is stand-alone. And that can be a real problem in our writing.

Trish Milburn and Missy Tippens

So how do we battle episodic writing in a world where we watch weekly episodes of our favorite TV shows? Here are some of my tips:

--The most logical way would be to watch less TV and read more. :) I’m smiling but serious. The more we read, the more we “soak up” the natural flow of storytelling.

--Use the basics from The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success by Stanley Williams. You can read Dr. Williams’ guest post on our blog by clicking here for a brief explanation. I’ve found his work has been influential in helping me make sure all my scenes relate to the premise and that they serve the purpose of tying in to progress toward the overall story arc.

--Make sure your main character has a story-long goal that she has to achieve and that she’s taking some sort of step to pursue it in each scene. Not only does this help with story drive, but it also helps make your character active and not just reactive.

--Also, make sure the conflict (the obstacles to her goal) get worse as the story progresses. This assures you have escalating conflict. I usually make a list of all the ways she can fail to reach her goal and then order them from mildest to worst.

--Make sure your story has a sense of drive, of moving forward. This is related to the previous tip. But I like to check this using action and reaction. My main character takes a step toward her overall story goal. Some obstacle stands in her way, so she reacts by making a new decision or plan of action. Then repeat. (I even create an action-reaction chart to check myself on this to make sure my character is always proactive.)

--Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like your story needs to move chronologically like you do in living normal life. If you end one scene at bedtime, don’t feel like you have to open the next scene at the breakfast table the next day. Think more in terms of what your character’s next step is in achieving her goal rather than in terms of a clock or calendar.

Alecia Whitaker and Missy Tippens

So now it’s your turn. Share what shows you like to watch regularly. :) And also what you do to make sure your writing isn’t episodic.


If you’d like to be entered to win a critique of the first five pages of your novel, please TELL ME SO in your comments. I’ll announce one winner in the Weekend Edition.

Heather Graham and Missy Tippens
I hope you’ll visit me at and sign up for my quarterly newsletter. I’d also love to hang out with you here:


  1. *
    H A P P Y
    B I R T H D AY
    R U T H


  2. I do tend to read more than I watch TV, but in the last couple of years, I've gotten hooked on USA networks shows: Burn Notice, White Collar, Covert Affairs, Psych. The other two I like are CBS's NCIS and NCIS-LA.

    Burn Notice and White Collar have an overarching story line each season and they up the ante--worse bad guys, unforseen complications--as they get closer to the finale each season. Psych is extremely episodic (and funny).

    Using tv shows as examples of episodic writing is helpful. I think it made me understand the term better. Thanks.

  3. Vince, I got on here to be sure to wish Ruthy a happy birthday!! Of course, she's long in bed. She'll be up with the roosters and will see our messages. :)

  4. Clari, you make a good point. A lot of the shows DO have a season arc. In fact, Castle does. But I think it's the fact that it's so chopped up, going week to week, that makes us start thinking in terms of short episodes.

    I'll have to check out some of your shows. I'm not familiar with many of them.

    One I should add to my list is Downton Abbey!! I can't believe I forgot it. :)

  5. Hi Missy:

    I think ‘episode’ is a misleading term.

    A story can be written in episodes and not be episodic. The TV show Dallas was written in episodes but it was not episodic. (Each show advanced the story line). A key giveaway to non episodic writing is when shows cannot be shown out of sequence.

    Actually, for this reason, I don’t like non-episodic TV shows. I want to be able to watch the shows in any order. Who wants to commit to an entire season? (For this reason I would not watch Revenge – which my wife could not possibly miss for any reason!)

    I also am very tired of the Red John theme in the Mentalist. It is shop worn and takes away from the enjoyment of the main weekly theme. I think a show should either be episode or not but not try to be both.

    Instead of the word ‘episodic’, I’d like to see a new term with the meaning of something like: ‘superfluoscenic’ – that is the characteristic of having unnecessary scenes (scenes that could be cut with no loss in the story line).

    But then ‘episodic’ is a kinder way to say you’re writing unnecessary scenes. Also using the word ‘superfluoscenic’ might get you investigated. : )

    At least that's how I see it.

    BTW: I enjoyed all the photos. It’s fun to put a current face to authors I’ve read over the years.


  6. Put me in for the crit!

    Working through the Moral Premise definitely made the plotting of my current WIP for the theme much smoother this go around.

    I typed some more comments, but they were Veeeeerrrryyyy long winded so I deleted it. Maybe one day when I have out a ton of novels and get asked to guest blog, I'll use that stuff for guest blog post fodder instead of insane-commenter-who-ought-to-be-working filler. :)

  7. Hey! For anyone online this late tonight, I'd appreciate prayers for my oldest. He's traveling through the night tonight--just him and his dog. Please pray for a safe trip and that he can stay awake and alert!


  8. Missy, I guess what you are saying is like watching a tv show and fastforwarding it through the bits that are boring or uninteresting or nothing to do with the main plot. (I do this alot).
    Ok shows I watch I got hooked on Once upon a time but due to being sick and the fact it went to twice then three times a week I found I watched most on catch up tv online saw the last of season one yesterday and boy to I want to see season two.
    I like both Ncis shows but I got out of the loop being sick (anything after 7.30 was to late). Cant forget Hawaii five 0. When its on I love Dr Who also. I also loved stargate all series.
    Right now Masterchef all stars ended last night so there isn't alot I will watch we have so many lifestyle and reality shows its gotten to the point its annoying. I just looked at shows from 7pm and its basically all reality (big brother no thanks, x factor not interested this year, and other ones on the other channel.) Friday Night I can watch my team play in the football. I am still going to bed around 8 - 8.30 and now read. may go to bed even early cos there is nothing on from 7pm worth watching.

    Happy Birthday Ruthy.

  9. Oooo, MISSY, GREAT insight to episodic writing and like Clari, I have a better understanding of it now, so thank you!

    You said, "Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like your story needs to move chronologically like you do in living normal life."

    Excellent point that I don't believe I've ever heard anyone address before! I tend not to pay much attention to chronological until my copy editor track-changes me on the 1st draft with a big, bold "Julie!! Check your timeline here ..." :) But I've read too many books where the chronological order IS a distraction to the story, the author following so closely, you feel like it's a dayplanner instead of a novel!! So, GREAT point!



    You've blessed me in so many ways. I thank God that He thought of you. I'm glad you're here.


    (And I'm not a hugger. But I'll come out of my stiff-arm state for your birthday.)

  11. Missy, I'll definitely pray for your son's safety, alertness and your own peace of mind.

    My husband commutes to work an hour away at 3:45 AM every morning. He comes home exhausted. We have anagreement he MUST NEVER TELL ME how tired he was on the way home.

    On this post... I had so many 'A-ha' moments I had to start writing them down. I have The Moral Premise, but it's a tough read. I have to take it in bits.

    You really brought some thigns into focus for me. THANK YOU!

    And I'd love a five page critique. :)

  12. AWWWWW!!!!!

    VINCE!!!!! Grinning in upstate!!!!

    With my big teeth!!!! :)

    Thank you, big guy!

  13. Missy, this is such a good post for me right now. I'm working on revisions for the last 1/4 or so of a book, and you're right, moving the plot forward on the arc (think rainbow arc, climb up, cross the curve, and slide down to HEA!!!) is so important! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Hey, coffee's here! I've got a Starbucks Barista standing by to take your order. If you're shy or low on funds, the Keurig's at the back counter and I made chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

    I need to diet. Dagnabbit. But cookies are a downfall around here.

    Missy, you make a LIST????? That's brilliant.

    Clever thing. You had such beauty and depth in A House Full of Hope that the story shone through the pages. Simply lovely. Heart-wrenching.

    And really cute kids!

  14. Beth watches Burn Notice so I see it sometimes. Great show. FAST-PACED every week. They employ Mary's tried and true philosophy of SHOOT FIRST, plot will develop naturally along the lines of medical help needed or funeral.


    She watches all of those shows, Clari! You guys must meet. And she dies laughing over Psych.

    Castle, NCIS and the Closer... So Kyra helped me by breaking with the show and giving me back 46 minutes of my life each week!

  15. Melissa, LOL!

    I spewed my coffee, you brat!

    Clearly we need to have you on. How fun would that be?????

  16. Jenny, I'm with you. I don't like reality TV (it's not real and it's generally stupid) and I'd rather do anything than give them my attention...

    But that's the snark in me!

    Once Upon a Time...

    Oh, Jenny, I forgot that one! We DVR it and I watch it on Monday afternoons with my two thirteen-year-olds....

    We have just enough time to girl-fest over the episodes before the younger kids get here because I don't let them watch it...

    I'm so glad you got hooked! What fun, and how amazingly well-thought it is.

    Love it. Vince, it would drive you crazy because while each episode can stand alone, you really need to watch the season... but so cleverly done.

  17. Virginia, you're a Heisman girl????

    Stiff arm, no touch???? :)

    That makes the hug so much nicer! And I'm a hugger, it's really annoying. I hug mostly everyone.

    Thank you! And now... I must go tackle these last two chapters....

  18. Ruthy, Happy Birthday!!!!

    I'm definitely up for the critique. (It's needed.)

    My favorite show is Hawaii 5-0.

    I remember my first Maggie entry as my first entry to episodic writing. The judge wrote " nice dialogue but give us story!!!" I definitely wasn't moving my story along.

  19. Missy,

    I'm taking my time to write out a plot on my new story before SOP. I struggle with scenes I think show the character's kindness. Like a man runs over a dog and he comes up on the accident. So he helps and gets the animal to vet clinic. The couple is all torn up b/c dog is there baby. So I thing this scene shows his compassion and ability to remain calm to the heroine.
    Do you think that's enough to grow the romance?
    Those kind of things trip me up.

    So, thanks for sharing today. You've given me a lot to think about.

    Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

    Happy birthday, Ruthie!

    Jackie L.

  20. Ruthy, I think if you didn't watch each episode you would get lost with Once Upon A Time. A friend tried to watch it after missing the first few and just couldn't understand it.
    It is so well done.

  21. My favorite show right now is 24. I know I'm behind the times, but we started it on Netflicks and just can't stop :)...I'm battling episodic writing in my own work so your suggestions should be helpful. I recently got a short critique where the critiquer said I write like I'm watching a movie. I'm guessing she meant episodic writing by that.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing to win a critique!

  22. Missy,
    Loved the pics and the blog. Great topic!


    I'm a hugger too. And I LOVED THE CLOSER. Hated to see it end, but I'm already hooked on MAJOR CRIMES.

    Sorry I was AWOL over the weekend. Busy moving daughter into her new house and celebrating an anniversary with hubby...after we worked all afternoon at daughter's new place.

    Oh, and I went to the GRW meeting SAT AM. Maureen Hardaway talked about writing YA! Great info from her workshop.

  23. Jumping in about episodic writing. Does it help to have the hero/heroine focused on his/her major goal so that everything relates to that need? Thus, the smaller problems play into the larger external conflict and goal. Wouldn't that keep the story moving forward? Okay, pick apart my premise. It's early and I've only had one cup of coffee. My mind works better mid-morning.


  24. Missy,
    Hope your son has arrived safely! Continuing to pray until you give the all clear.

  25. My son arrived safely! Thanks for all the prayers! Now I need to run feed the doggies and then will catch up on comments. :)

  26. A beautiful day in Upstate - oh it's Ruthy's Birthday, that's why!

    I plot obsessively with The Hero's Two Journeys and The Moral Premise and I feel that it reduces the chance of episodic writing because I have so much to accomplish in each chapter

    ...of course I'm not an objective judge of that!

    The only TV show I watch is Masterpiece Theater, and even that I don't watch every week. Even so it's sort of hard to be ignorant of what's going on with Castle!
    I don't think a lot of episodic writing makes it to print (or maybe those are the books I put down and never finish...) but I definitely see it in newbie chapters.

    ***Jeane T - contact me at debraaemarvin (yahoo email)

  27. Vince, you're amazing. You even create new words! Superfluoscenic. I love it! But like you said, it might get us put on a watch list. :)

    You know, I never have watched an episode of The Mentalist. Nor of your wife's fav, Revenge. I need to check them out.

  28. Oh, Melissa, don't ever erase long comments! We love to chat around here. :) And yes! We'll definitely get you to guest post someday.

  29. Jenny, thanks for sharing all your favorite shows! Of course, we're glad to hear you're also reading. :)

    I hope you keep feeling better.

  30. Julie, I was once told my manuscript read like a travel log. So I have to be very careful!

    On my last mss I turned in, I even jumped ahead a few weeks (and wrote a transition). That was a first for me! :)

  31. Virginia, you're so warm online that I would have thought for sure you were a hugger! You know, when I meet you in person, I'm going to grab you for a big hug. So be prepared! LOL

    Your poor hubby! I can't imagine driving that early. Of course, the advantage is no traffic. I would be like you and not want to think about how tired he is.

  32. I like to think that in the grand scheme of things, I don't watch much TV. But there seem to be times of the year where my favourite shows congregate and I am watching something several times a night. The shows I watch consistently are Grey's Anatomy, Downton Abbey, Once Upon A Time and Dancing With The Stars. There are other shows I do watch sometimes, but I can take them or leave them.

    I enjoyed your post Missy, and you have made some great points that I am going to take on board :) I don't know if my writing has episodic tendencies yet ... still haven't finished my first draft and no one has critiqued it to tell me! That said, I'd like to be entered for the 5 pager :)


    And Missy, I'm praying for safe travels for your son.

  33. Ruthy, I feel so ashamed of myself. I made you bring the coffee ON YOUR BIRTHDAY! You're an angel, you know.

    I'll make you a fabulous lunch, okay? Yankee-Belle Cafe style. :)

  34. Ooooooh -- I love Once Upon a Time as well. One of those intriguing, fantastical plots within plots within plots kind of show. They've started advertising the new season and I'm sooooo excited.

    Also watch Murdoch Mysteries which is a Canadian show. And NCIS and trying to catch up on Castle but not succeeding.

    The worst episodic writing I've read was in a YA book. I shudder at the memories that come to mind. The book was approx. 400 pages and a mystery which didn't occur until a third of the way through and the heroine didn't start to solve it until page 256. Seriously. And the author did a hohum play by play of every single day, including every class the girl attended, every lunchroom encounter. It's like he thought he had to account for every minute of her time. Horrofic. I didn't realize there was a name for that. Episodic writing. Hmmmmm...

    Oh wait -- does that mean the bible could be considered episodic in places?!

  35. Walt, I remember Hawaii 5-0 from a gazillion years ago. Is there a newer one still on? Or do you watch re-runs?

  36. Jackie, that's such a great question! I've dealt with the same question in my own writing. And this is what I've concluded (just my .02, for what it's worth):

    Your author goal for the scene (to show his sense of compassion and calmness) is secondary. The primary goal for the scene should be the character's goal for the scene.

    So if, in that scene, one of your characters is pursuing a step to achieve the main story-length goal, and in the process gets to show he's compassionate, then that's a good scene. Does that make sense?

    If you want to share more about your character's main goal and what he/she is trying to achieve in that scene, the please do. We can toss out ideas.

  37. Annie, 24 is in my que on Netflix! I've heard so much about the show and still haven't watched a single episode.

    Regarding that comment from a judge... I would take that as a positive comment! Sounds to me like the judge thinks you write visually, as if they're watching a movie. To me, that's a good thing. :) Movies don't make me think of episodes. I think movie watching can really help in novel writing.

  38. Debby, happy anniversary!!! What number is this??

    I hated to miss Maureen (Hardegree) on Saturday. My daughter had friends spend the night and I wanted to be here in the morning for breakfast and to see them off.

  39. Debby, EXACTLY! You said it well. That's what I was trying to say that you said so much better. LOL

    So, y'all just read Debby's comment for a clear description of focusing your character's goal to achieve a nice story arc. :)

  40. I am glad your boy is home safely, Missy. I can breath a sigh of relief too! Now on to the post...

    You don't know the new Hawaii 5-0? Man O and I love that show. It is one we can watch together, like Person of Interest and Amazing Race. For my own viewing, I got into Once Upon A Time at the end of the season (I KNOW!) and Downton Abbey.

    "Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like your story needs to move chronologically like you do in living normal life."

    Oh, Missy, you have hit the nail on the head for me. I was going, "check, check, check" and then BOOM! I think this way all the time when I am writing.

    And the whole thing about goals is illustrated what I got hooked on this summer: Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss edition. I think you have helped me figure out why. It is all about the person having a goal and the obstacles popping up on their weight loss journey.

    Thank you for that.

    Happy Birthday, Ruthy! I went on and on on FB so won't gush here about you.

    Virginia, you are allowed not to be a hugger. Your words have enough warmth to send virtual hugs to everyone.

    Boy, long winded today. New total makeover on my computer set up for sitting-to-standing finally done. So I will be able to type longer during the day.

    Peace, Julie

  41. Jackie, Walt, thank you! I love that my birthday is HOGGING Missy's day of wisdom. And that SHE has to do the critique but I get all the attention.


    I'm a New Yorker! ;)

    Hey, Walt, some of my best wake-up calls came from contests like that.

    There are some seriously good judges and advisors out there!

  42. Debra, if you watch Materpiece, then I guess you also watch Downton Abbey!! I can't wait for the next season. :)

    I totally agree that The Hero's Two Journeys and The Moral Premise can both help make sure you stay on target and don't write scenes that serve no purpose.

    You know, I've also had a couple of scenes my editor told me to either cut or make them do more. I realized that what I had written was actually more of a sequel (the character's reaction to the previous scene). One time, I just cut the scene and moved the reaction. Another time, I beefed up the scene, adding a POV character goal, filling it out.

  43. I know what episode writing is from reading other books, but my scenes are generally very long. Sometimes they even need to be split up into two chapters. I love to fill my scenes with all kinds of "reasons" and "clues" for the reader to pick up along the way. Thanks for the great post! :)

  44. Jenny, you'e right. It's tough to follow if you're not on board. But (unlike "LOST" which was done by this same team of writers) Once Upon a Time has an overall arc and thread so it's fairly brilliant, right?

    I think that's why I love it. Such great characters and they stay IN character in Fairy Tale land and here in Storybrooke Maine.

    Which is an act of brilliance in and of itself!

    Annie, I think that's how our Julie got stuck on JAG... After the fact and on DVD's.

    Good is good, especially if it stands the test of time.

  45. Helen, I'm glad you're entering! It can be scary to get critique, but I always find it helpful. I promise, if you win, that I'll be kind (kinder than Ruthy!) hahaha

    Thanks for the prayers!

  46. Kav, hearing all of you talking about Once Upon a Time leaves me feeling really out of the loop! I really need to see if I can catch up. But I'm like Helen, my favs tend to cluster around the same season, so there's just not time to watch them all.

    That's the beauty of DVR!

    As to the Bible...I think it's a case of both. We see episodes, but we know there's an overall arc of God's plan for the world. :)

  47. Happy birthday, Ruthy!

    Missy=great post. I remember the first book I ever wrote. I think every chapter was a day. And my heroine went to sleep at the end of every chapter.
    Fun stuff!!! :)
    Thanks for the tips--and I loved the photos.

  48. Julie, thanks for the prayers!! My son is now back up in your territory, so take good care of him. :)

    I'm glad the tip about not keeping a clock or calendar helped you. :) I know I've very linear when I write, so maybe you are as well. Linear people can't just write scenes as they pop into our heads. We have to write in order. Does that describe you? I can't imagine writing scenes out of order!

  49. Ruthy, that's okay. I'll share. But only because I can tease you about being older today. ;)

    Dawn, I'm glad you stopped by!

  50. Lindi, LOL!! I'm sure I did the same. And you poor thing, you probably had to read and critique it. :) Bless you for sticking with me all these years!

  51. Interesting post, Missy! I don't watch TV very often (except for the news) but I'm hooked on Downton Abbey!!! I wish it was on every week. It has a continuing story line, but each story episode is complete and shows character and progress in the story. Soap operas are the same way--they hook you into the next episode.

  52. Cara, I once wrote a blog post on how much we can learn about hooks from soap operas! :) That's what we want to do in our books. Get readers "addicted" to it. :)

  53. Missy, I like this post. It's helpful! I had never heard of episodic writing until it was mentioned here a few weeks ago. This post gave me a better understanding of what it is. Thanks!

    Don't laugh, but I don't watch television. Well, except during football season. Football games are not episodic. :) My honey and I do enjoy movies though. The point you made about television shows' episodes all being stand-alones, and how our writing must differ from that made a lot of sense.

    I'm hoping to come back here later and read everyone's comments (I almost always come back, but I don't usually comment again :)). My kiddos are home for their last day of "summer" before heading back to school tomorrow, so we're gonna try and squeeze in some fun.

    I'd love to be entered for the five page critique. Thanks!

  54. Hey, Missy! My first book was very episodic. She got up in the morning and went here. After dinner she went there. Then she went to bed. The next morning she got up and went somewhere else. There was no one goal or purpose, so it was like a sitcom where you follow around a character through their days.

    Now I don't watch TV, just because I don't care for it and feel like I don't have time for it. But I do watch movies. And I think of my books in terms of ... what must happen, what must my characters do, to get them to the climax of the story? And I will have obstacles and major events in between, so I'm constantly using each scene to move my character toward each major event, and eventually to the climax. And that helps me not to include inconsequential scenes, and I hope it keeps my books from episodic.

    This summer my kids and I watched a ton of movies. Movies are a lot more like books than TV shows. Maybe that's why I only like movies!

    Say a prayer for my two kiddos. Today was their first day of school--first day of high school for my oldest. (I don't know how to make the crying face or I would.)

  55. Missy, did your son make it all right?

  56. Yes, Missy, there is a new Hawaii 5-0. My wife gives me a hard time about it, as Kono is a woman (a very attractive one) in this version of the series.

    My kids love Hawaii 5-0 as well and I always tell my wife that the actress who plays Kono is the same age she is)

  57. Hey Missy,

    Thanks for the info. I still struggle with episodic writing and having a goal for each scene. But this helps. I know I've been guilty of the 'one day follows the next' type of writing. Breaking out of that habit has helped, too.

    So much to learn, so little time....

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUTHY! Hope it's a great one and that your family spoils you!!


  58. Walt, I'm laughing about your wife giving you a hard time about Kono. Everyone I know gets a hard time from their husbands about Alex O'Loughlin. Of course everyone I know who watches it, watches for Alex O'Loughlin. :)

    Missy - here's a link to the show page -

    CASTLE is really the only show I follow though I'm looking forward to REVOLUTION and NASHVILLE this season. Probably my all time favorite is JERICHO but that didn't last very long. :(

    Happy Birthday, Ruthy. I sent you a cake on FB last night.

    Thanks for the tips, Missy. This episodic writing thing is giving me hives. I don't think I do it, but I'm not sure. So yeah, count me in for the critique drawing please.

  59. Thanks for the great post, Missy! I've been trying to get a handle on this episodic writing thing, and you've really helped.

    The Moral Premise is in my Amazon cart. I'm in the middle of The Hero's Two Journeys, and it's resonating.

    Favorite TV daughter loves all those USA shows, and I'm catching up on Psych through Netflix. During the regular season we DVR Castle and NCIS. All three of those shows have clever writing and likeable characters - two big requirements for me to watch a show!

    I agree with Ruthy about reality TV - just not real - but for some reason I like Holmes on Homes. I've actually learned stuff on that one.

    I'm off to order a hot chocolate from that Starbucks barista - she takes virtual money for her virtual drinks, doesn't she?

  60. Deb, I think your theory of those points working toward the goal work wonderfully!

    Thank you for the birthday wishes! And for making me SO SPECIAL on Missy's day, LOL! ;)

  61. Oh, Deb Marvin, I ordered this day just for you!

    And Deb Giusti, Major Crimes is solid. I love her... Mary McDonnell, right? I thought she did such a good job in Independence Day... I hated to see her DIE! :)

  62. Helen, thank you! :)

    Missy, bringing coffee was my pleasure, but I'd love lunch served here, on the side porch!

    Hey, I ABANDONED Yankee Belle Cafe all weekend while I was traipsin' 'round NYC with my husband, son and Sara, Zach's wonderful girlfriend.

    I punched up an old post (Vince, I posted on our fave, Meg's Allegany Maple Fudge!) and took off.

    Clearly I am not a good shop owner, LOL! So Missy, enough food for everyone? Awesome, chickie!

  63. Clari!!! What about SUITS and ROYAL PAINS!@!!! The only TV shows to watch.

  64. Missy, I had a crit partner tell me that my first book read like a travelogue! I felt very insulted! LOL!
    Saw that your son made it safely. Yay!
    Ruthy, I just said Happy B-day on facebook, but I'll say it again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUTHY!!!!!!!
    I'm supposed to be writing right now, per 1K1HR! Better go.

  65. I read a book, a very early work but a true rock star in the industry, and it is so episodic it should be used as a BAD EXAMPLE. It really truly is almost hilarious because it's such a classic example of the problem. Just one problem after another, mostly unconnected to each other. a romance but the hero went off for a year at one point, then another year at another point. She's got her own troubles, each unconnected to the others.

    It's easy to think, well, The LOVE STORY is the over arching theme and it carries on to the happily ever after. But that's not enough.

  66. Jeanne, now that it's football season again, I've lost control of the remote! Hubby and I each get control 6 months out of the year. LOL So I sometimes have to DVR my programs and watch on another TV in the house if football is on. I do love to watch the Atlanta Falcons though! Just can't take all the other games and pre- and post-game shows, though. :)

    Enjoy your last hurrah of summer!

  67. I've never heard of most of these shoes- cable?

    And someone kept raving about 'The Game of Thrones' so I found an episode... and almost lost my mind. Ugh.

    But I so love Downtown Abbey. Truly. Madly. Deeeeeply.

    MELANIE! Travelogue! That is hilarious! My first book had some very long scenes that were there because... I liked them, they were a part of her DAY. Totally unrelated to the story. But I liked them so in they went. Ha!

  68. Oh, Melanie! How tough to let them go to high school (although for me, not nearly as tough as sending them to middle school). I can't believe you have one old enough for HS, though. I thought your kids were still really young.

    I see you posted on FB you were excited to have alone writing time. So I guess you've rebounded. :)

    I'll pray your girls have a wonderful day!

  69. Sue, making sure I have a character goal for each scene is now part of my revising once the first draft is done. I have to check each scene and makes sure it's there, and that the goal is clear.

    You're right about so much to learn, so little time!

  70. About hugging- I do hug. I just don't volunteer for hugging. Huggers have to come to me.

    I just always wonder if I smell like baby urp and diapers. So I'm hoping they're holding their breath. But everyone else always smells DELICIOUS.

    And I also love home renovation shows. They always seem to get everything done in ONE DAY!

  71. Walt and Mary, I'll have to check out the new Hawaii 5-0. My hubby informed me he'd heard of it. I don't know how I missed any previews.

    Oh my gosh, Mary! My son got me to start watching Jericho, and that show pulled me in so fast I didn't have time to blink. I need to watch some more episodes on Netflix!

  72. Jan, I've watched tons of episodes of Holmes on Homes on weekends. I've learned a lot too. And it doesn't hurt that he's so cute! :)

  73. Virginia said: My first book had some very long scenes that were there because... I liked them, they were a part of her DAY. Totally unrelated to the story. But I liked them so in they went. Ha!

    Missy again:
    Exactly!! That's exactly what I'm talking about. LOL

  74. Hey, Tina and Mary!

    Mary, your right about the romance. It can't be the whole plot. Just one of the threads.

  75. Missy, I think Jericho has some great lessons for writers. Sure it was all apocalyptic and all, but the first season was SO powerful (IMHO) because you cared so much about the characters within that situation. When they only got that half season to finish up the series, it was all plot all the time and a lot of people (including me) were not happy with how it went.

    Guess that harkens back to Mary's plot/character plot from last week.

  76. Mary, I only got to see two or three episodes. I really need to at least finish that first season.

  77. Thanks for a great post Missy. I did get this comment once, so I am glad for more clarification. And I know it must be hard for you, Melanie, with the high school thing, but I am in the middle school boat that Missy talks about. I sent my one and only off last week and I have been a basket case!

    It is hard! Even after only a week in....but what you seem to be saying Missy is that it gets better? Hopefully?

    Like most, I am a Downton Abbey fan and a Once Upon a Time person. I hear Scandal is good, but I am afraid of the time suck that it would be. I just might get the show off of Netflicks or something.

    Please put me in for a critique!

    Have a great birthday, Ruthy!


  78. Julie HS,

    Please, please, please tell me about your stand-up arrangement for computer use! That's what I need.

    Please, please, please! Pretty please.


  79. Missy,

    I am glad that your son is safe!


  80. Bringing a huge birthday cake with about 32 candles for Ruthy! Plus ice cream.

    (If anyone else brought cake and I didn't see the comment, we'll just have more goodies for everyone!)

    Also ice cream in all flavors. So dig in and enjoy.

    Wait...we have to sing Happy Birthday and Ruthy has to blow out the 32 candles.

    Happy Birthday to you...Happy Birthday to you...Happy Birthday, dear Ruthy. Happy Birthday to you!

    And many more.

    Now blow out the candles, Ruthy, so we can enjoy the cake.


  81. Hi Missy,

    Glad your son had save travels. Praise the Lord!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me about my scene. I'll work on it because I think it can be a good one.

    Have a great day!

    Jackie L.

  82. JHS, I haven't been to Facebook, so it's OKAY to gush about me here on Missy's day.

    Being a fine Christian woman, AND Southern, she'll grin and bear it.

    Whereas I'd go all "New York" on someone, but that's what New Yawkahs DO.... :)

    (In reality I am the exception to that rule, and I did not see one person go "all New York" on anyone in Manhattan. I did stumble onto the Occupy movement because they were blocking my way into an historic cemetery at Trinity Church, and I bit my tongue so hard it hurt....)

    'Sall I'm sayin' 'bout that!

    But we made it into the cemetery, absolutely amazing, we should all give alms thanking God for the discovery of antibiotics because the median age was under 25... so many children there.

    Lots of Elizabeths, Marys, Sarah's, Johns and Williams. Very interesting. And most of the graves were pre-Revolutionary War, so an eye-opener into those settlers, living on the banks of the Hudson, watching England's Navy sail in.


  83. Kinder than Ruthy??????

    AS IF.

    The gauntlet's been thrown, Tippens!

  84. Lindy, thank you and I'm dying laughing at the heroine going to sleep at the end of each chapter!!!!

    Oh mylanta, that's sooooo funny!

    Nighty-night! :)

  85. Debby G., I posted to your FB page. I now have an extra large monitor, wireless mouse and wireless keyboard side by side with a laptop on boxes and a plywood sheet.

    My rule of thumb is sit to write (I discovered I can't concentrate and write while standing.

    I stand to surf or do other tasks, having the added advantage of making me realize how much time I waste surfing.

    Peace, Julie

  86. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUTHY!! I hope your day is shaping into a delightful one!

    Missy, when the hubby turns on the football games, the kids come rushing to watch with him. I usually watch while I'm doing other things. :) We never watch the pre/post shows, even for the Super Bowl.

    So glad your son made it home safely! I remember being on the driving end in my younger days, sans the dog. :)

  87. Susan, Mary, thank you!!!!


    Dave brought me home a cake from Tops Market... Delicious! The kids and I just dove in and celebrated!!!!

    SWEET! :) I brought extra, though, so we can all share in the fun. And some of the homemade chocolate/peanut butter chip cookies we're all so fond of...

    Such a nice day.

  88. Piper, yes! It will get better. Middle school is when hormones are on a roller coaster and the kids struggle so. My kids were all much happier when they hit high school (which also has more freedoms). :)

    I love Scandal, too! I forgot about that one. Very intriguing, and I'm totally hooked. Looking forward to a new season! It has great acting.

  89. Look at Ruthy serving dessert before I brought lunch! But she's being generous and sharing her b-day cake, so I can't complain.

    Lunch is now served! (if you have room left). How about chicken salad served on a bed of lettuce with slices of tomato? Sounds good?

  90. Julie HS, I like that idea of standing for Internet! I remember someone saying she had separate computers for writing and for Internet. The writing computer had no Internet access.

  91. Jackie, I'm sure it'll be great. And if it needs any tweaking, all you'll have to do is make sure it happens while on the way to pursue his/her main goal. :)

  92. Jeanne, I have a strange question, but it's something I've been wondering... :)

    Do you pronounce your name with one syllable like Jean? Or do you pronounce the e and make it two?

    I've been figuring it's two but wanted to check since I feel like I need to be saying it correctly in my head when I'm reading your comments! LOL

  93. I'm so glad you brought it up, Missy, because I'm one of the ones that doesn't watch TV. Although I did watch Season 1 of Downton Abbey from Redbox on my computer.

    As I drift more to outliner from pantser, and have stopped writing a scene I "see in my head" until I get there in the MS, it forces me to write to get to that scene, thus advance the plot. Making myself write forward only cut down on all those episodic scenes. At the top of each scene I have the GMC spelled out for the characters in it and that helps too.

    And I would so love to be entered for a 5 page critique! =)

  94. Thank you, Julie, for the info. You can't write standing? Interesting.

    I do place my laptop on my kitchen counter at times and stand there to work. In fact, when I'm on deadline and rereading an entire manuscript, I'll stand at my counter and read all 300-plus pages. By the end of the manuscript, I've got a backache, but standing keeps me sharper, IMHO. I'm not as easily distracted for some reason. Wierd, huh?

    But that's not creating fresh text. Will have to see if I can be creative while standing. Bet Vince will have an opinion on standing vs. sitting to create fresh pages.

    Vince? Where are you?

    PS: I'd love one of those new desks that have adjustable heights. Maybe someday!

  95. Hi Missy:

    I think it is important to always be rewarding the reader. Sometimes it is important to stop and smell the roses.

    You can move the story and/or you can also move the reader. Often you can do both. Moving the reader can better invest the reader in the story and keep that reader from switching to a more interesting book during any slow spells in your story.

    If you stop the forward motion of your story in order to delight your reader with a rewarding vignette, does your reader really come up short?

    Is it a reader’s goal to get the darn story over with as soon as possible (so as to get to the HEA desert faster) or does the reader want to enjoy the most satisfying overall reading experience?

    I really believe that too many writing rules come from authors who write suspense stories where forward motion is the story.

    A great writer should be able to have nothing happening and still keep the reader delighted. Of course, it is hard to be great. Janet Evanovich can spend whole scenes being funny and not move the story one inch. In the “Cat Who” series, whole scenes are spent with ‘cats being cute’ with no harm to the story line – as long as the reader finds those scenes rewarding to read. (If you hate cats, you are not going to read this series.)

    I also believe that you can meet the demands of the Moral Premise in a scene and still not move the story forward. It is enough to simply reinforced the MP. (As when a backstory element demonstrates the MP while creating a greater sympathy for the character but not moving the story forward. If the reader was moved, the story is ‘moved’ in matephysical terms.)

    About the Mentalist: you don’t have to watch the whole show – just see if you agree with my wife that the Mentalist is the most handsome man on TV. The “Perfect Man”? I tell my wife: “He’s a con man!” “Yes, but he’s perfect.” : ) (Women!!!)

    BTW: You said you can tease Ruth about being older but maybe she didn’t fall into the trap of feeling like her life needs to move chronologically! : )


    P.S. Thanks Ruth: all I’ve been able to think about all day long is your Maple Fudge! I think you should make us some.

    P.P.S. This post may seem a little technical but I am working on a chapter for my Rewards Book currently dealing with using Rewards to combat ‘Novel Surfing’ on eBook readers. This will come to Seekervillie as a blog in October.

  96. Nancy, that sounds like a great plan! I think having your GMC spelled out at each scene can really help. I do that in Scrivener. At the beginning of each scene, I write the character's goal. Then describe what happens (the conflict). Then list the emotional change by the end of the scene (whether positive or negative).

  97. Vince, vignette is a good term to use! That reminded me that my editor used that term when she was telling me I needed to be careful I wasn't just writing cute vignettes that didn't move the story forward. :) Her advice? Make sure your character has a book length goal!

    LOL on Ruthy growing older in a non-linear fashion! I'm suddenly imagining Ruthy scenes (vignettes!) all out of sequence! :) Ruthy, I'm picturing you and me sitting on a big porch with our walkers by our side, rocking as we have our Keurig-made coffee, chatting about something funny Connealy did at the nursing home.


  98. Hi Debby:

    I’m just getting over ten days in bed! Terrible infection. I was able to read maybe one to two hours a day. That’s it!

    And what did I read? “The Colonel’s Daughter”, your version of “Winter’s End”! I’m just 42% into it but it’s making me feel so bad. Every detail is so real (you even know there is one MP and two civilian guards on the Post gate), The happy, wonderful wives, of our heroes just about to come home from the war zone, are being murdered. Here I was, sick and laying in bed, thinking I’m the joyous husband calling my wife on our anniversary only to be told she’s in the ambulance and may not live! I already strongly identify with the military elements of the story. Then, oh, mylanta, in my weakened state, to hear this about my vicarious wife! Oy vey! It's just ruthless! : )

    I’ll have to get over the emotional impact before I can read on. That’s OK. It took over thirty days to read “Winter’s End”.

    So that’s what I’ve been doing. I think I’m going to need a nice Christmas novella from your pen pretty soon. : )


    P.S. Hemingway always wrote standing after he got a typewriter. Said it kept him awake and sharp. It also reminds you that you’re on the job. I tend to think of it as a way to fight ‘writer’s block’ or as I call it: getting ahead of your muse.

  99. Just last week I read something on Storyfix where he mentioned Episodic writing. I had to look it up. I was still a little unsure of it, until today.
    Missy said: "I usually make a list of all the ways she can fail to reach her goal and then order them from mildest to worst."
    This is a great idea! I'm going to start doing that today!

    Annie Raines said: "I recently got a short critique where the critiquer said I write like I'm watching a movie."
    Someone said they think this was a compliment. I agree. Reading the book The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans, was like watching a movie. The words were so vivid it was like watching them before my eyes. When I recommend it I say, "It's like watching a movie."

    My favorite show right now would have to be Rookie Blues. This is the second season, the first season wasn't as good.

    Happy Birthday Ruthy!!!

  100. Dwight Swain says in Techniques of the Selling Writer,"A sequel is a unit of transition that links two scenes."
    Any advice on how to keep sequels from feeling episodic? I have a good concept of scenes but sequels...not so much.

  101. Missy, Yes I am finally feeling more normal than I have in 7 week.
    there have been milestones. a week after when I heard the polyp was benign the exhaustion lifted, about 10 days after that after seeing the dr and drinking more the dizzyness stopped. on Saturday I felt the tiredness lift also. I still get tired and go to be early but can read and am back to being able to read 10ish and last night a little later. I know I will still have days I will tire easy if I over do it but the feeling on Saturday was I feel normal.
    I mowed the nature strip and the back lawn and did some other gardening. I didn't feel exhausted or overly tired like last week. I feel I am doing so much better and can only get better.
    I am also eating much better, now to lose some of weight and get fitter. Now I can walk further without feeling exhausted I am sure it will happen.

  102. Missy, I'm feeling incredibly dense. I'm not sure if I'm overthinking the scenes or not.

    You said -

    "At the beginning of each scene, I write the character's goal. Then describe what happens (the conflict). Then list the emotional change by the end of the scene (whether positive or negative)."

    Would it be too much trouble to ask you to give an example for one scene from one of your books? I don't know if this is the kind of thing that I'm doing but it sounds more dramatic or if it's something I need to really work on.


  103. Missy! Always enjoy your posts, thanks.

    Very good point, actually. I hadn't thought about it .

    Unfortunately, I don't watch tv. BUT I am interested in viewing a movie! Any suggestions?

    I like romance, comedy, a happy ending and a clean, smooth storyline.

    Thanks for the giveaway and good luck to everyone! (Please exclude me from the drawing)

    Okay... I'm seeing the first comment here...

    *Blasting a trumpet* *Singing Hallelujah* *clashing cymbals*

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUTH LOGAN HERNE! Many blessings! :-)

    Appreciate you all! Gonna read comments now...

  104. I so agree with Vince! I get tired of the rules where everything must propel the character toward the goal. As a reader, sometimes we just want a cute scene, a fun scene, regardless of whether it 'did' something, like propel the story forward.

    Most of my books break all kinds of rules but I still think they have merit. In my first historical, the hero and heroine marry quickly (almost an elopement) and I got criticism for having them already be in love, marrying too quickly, etc.

    But I only give them a couple of days of married bliss before the 'conflict' sets in and separates them. Then they have to work their way back together.

    You can't put every book in a formulaic box and dismiss all other stories. There's still good stuff to discover that veers off the path!

    Oh, and my black moment comes way earlier than most books - another big NO-NO!

    Glad to hear people like Vince have open minds. Now to find an agent or editor who thinks the same! LOL.


  105. Missy, your post helps me realize why I don't watch much TV, and why I watch what I do :-)

    When I watch, it tends to be mini-series and they are usually on PBS. There might be a plot point resolved in each episode, but there is a continuing larger plot and character growth. I enjoyed the first couple of years of "West Wing" on NBC for that reason, too.

    What a discovery -- it helps me understand why I enjoy reading series, too, where I learn more about characters.

    Thank you!

    I seem to recall I'm already signed up for your newsletter, but I signed up again just in case :-)

    Nancy C

  106. Donna, I'm glad it was helpful! I love doing lists and charts. :)

  107. Donna, I think sequels are difficult to do! I think the simplest way is to use a quick reflection that kicks off the next scene in that character's pov.

    For example, you end one scene in the hero's pov where the characters have their first kiss. You could open the next scene in the heroine's pov where she's reacting to the kiss. Then in the next scene in the hero's pov, he'll be taking some sort of action or thinking some thought that shows us how he's reacting to that kiss. Maybe he's freaked out about the kiss and has decided he's going to leave town. Something along those lines.

    Does that make sense? I usually try to make it short and sweet and part of another scene.

  108. Jenny, that's good to hear! Healing is always gradual, and you can't rush it. Enjoy the additional energy!

  109. Thank you, Missy! That does help. I'm going to print off you comment as well as the post. The examples were especially helpful.

  110. Mary (Curry), I'd be glad to share an example. But I may have confused you. I don't do that in the actual scene writing. I do it on my notecards while planning. :)

    So I'll share a few of my notecards from A House Full of Hope (my most recent that's already released)...

    Opening scene: Mark
    Goal: To ask and receive forgiveness from Dad

    Goes to house. Asks for forgiveness. Dad rejects him.
    Situation/emotion from + to -

    Decides to stay longer and try again. Also to figure out why the house is in such bad shape and do something.

    Scene 2: Hannah
    Goal: Enjoy her new office and promotion--it's been helpful in her being able to rent the big house.

    Mark comes in bank. She figures out who he is. She realizes he's hiding his identity. He wants to check on his dad's finances. She decides to reveal who she is.
    from + to -

    Skip to Ch. 2 scene 1: Hannah
    Goal: To get a new start toward her dream of owning her own home

    Hannah thinks back to leaving the old house as she drives to Rykers. Thinks about how she's disappointed she couldn't build. Will make do. But then worries that maybe Mark could be home to stake a claim. She'll do whatever it takes to make her kids happy.
    + to - (the new worry about Mark)

  111. Donna, I'll also add that sometimes the sequel can be the decision at the end of a scene that show his/her reaction to what just happened. Those make nice hooks, too.

    For example, they just shared an earth shattering kiss even though they know they can't be together. She might end the scene thinking what a terrible mistake she'd made, and that she would never let it happen again.

  112. Ganise, I'm drawing a total blank on a movie recommendation!

    Y'all help me.

  113. LOL, Sue! You and Vince can lead the revolution. :)

  114. Nancy C., thanks for signing up! Vertical Response will catch duplicates, so you won't be bombarded in duplicate. :)

    I, too, love TV series where I know there's an overall arc, where I can see the progression building toward that huge season finale. I know there are even half hour sitcoms that do that well, too. I think all shows should strive for that.

  115. Vince,
    So sorry to learn you've been sick. Sending retroactive prayers for your complete recovery!

    Sorry the book pulled you down during your malaise! If you compare me to Ruthy's writing, I'm happy...although not happy about you being under the weather.

    Sending chicken soup and hugs!

  116. Missy, you are so right about television influencing how we think. Everything gets wrapped up nice and tidy by the end of half to an hour of programming.

    Don't you just wish life worked that way??

    Missy said: Also, make sure the conflict (the obstacles to her goal) get worse as the story progresses. This assures you have escalating conflict. I usually make a list of all the ways she can fail to reach her goal and then order them from mildest to worst.

    Some of us are born way too Pollyanna to ever have conflict come easily, LOL! Only problem with that outlook is making your story BORING.

    Mildest to worst...gotcha.

    Thanks, Miss!!

  117. What a chit-chatty day! I love it!!

    I think most of crisis time is over for me, so MAYBE I'll be able to join the fun a bit more.

    And it's Ruthy's birthday!! WOOHOO and a half!

    Did I see something about chocolate chip cookies? Pass the plate please : )

  118. Hope you had a super birthday, Ruthy!

    And Missy, how could I forget to mention Downton Abbey? :-)

    Nancy C

  119. Audra, my twin sis who avoids conflict at all costs like I do! LOL Yes, we have to work hard to torture our characters, don't we? :)

  120. Hi Debby:

    I hope you realize that saying “you write so powerfully that the effect made me sad” is a high compliment in guy talk. (See, “He Said, She Said”). Besides, this is the kind of writing they give awards for! It wouldn't have been so bad if it had not been so good. And I'm sure the best is yet to come.

    Thanks for your prayers. I have a ways to go yet.


  121. It's Ruthy's birthday???! Happy Birthday, Ruthy!!!

    Missy, thank you SO MUCH for this post. I'm on my second chapter of completely rewriting my ms and I'm already falling back into the episode thing. And here I was wondering what was wrong, why I couldn't move forward after plotting like the dickens.

    I've not yet read the moral premise, but I'm DEFINITELY checking out the post you linked to about it and hopefully I'll read it someday.

    Hmm. Favorite TV show? I love the older ones. The Big Valley, The Virginian. I'm a big western fan. :)

  122. Put me in for the critique, too.
    This is good timing - I've got a partial in with Heartwarming and one of the editor's comments was that the book could become too episodic - writing 70,000 is a huge stretch from the 55 I'm used to, so should they request the full, I'll be very aware of that.

  123. Melanie, no time off from writing!!! Go, go, go!!!!

    Fank you, Teeeeenster! ;)

  124. Piper! Thank you, swweeeeet thaaaang!

    And yes, we have to guard our writing time/mother time/work time like hawks watchin' baby chicks.

    They don't mess around, let me tell you!

    But good shows are indicators of good plotlines and I don't know anyone who doesn't need some help there now and again. Wise advice, Piper-baby!

  125. Chicken salad!!!!

    Love it, even though I couldn't get back over here last night. We walked Mary Ruth through the village and got ice cream...

    so fun!

    Adorable little kids. I love to chronicle people's reactions to little kids. It says so much about them. And those tiny nuances of face, the smile, the softening, the grimace, the growl....

    That's some characterization right there!

    Great ice cream... Abbott's Frozen Custard. My fave. I'm sighing just thinking about it this morning!

  126. Vince, I love your technical posts, Dude! And I'm printing off "The Lawman's Second Chance" (May 2013) right now to examine it for Rewards-per-page...

    And to make sure the moral premise follows the arc.

    And to make sure I spelled most everything almost correctly.


    Rewards per page makes such perfect sense to me as a writer. It just screams 'saleable novel located here!!!' in simple terms.

    Love it!!!

  127. Missy, I'll share nursing home space with you any day, chickie!

    Can we trip Connealy????

    Because I might have fun with that!


    She'll pester the nurses, no doubt, whereas I'll be genteel and sweet and kind and ever-pleasant.

    Oh, wait, that might be heaven. Not the nursing home.

    We'll have to wait and see!!!!

  128. Thirty days to read Winter's End...

    I love you, Vince. ;)

    It is a delightful story, isn't it???

    I haven't started Deb's book yet... I am so far behind that a part of me LONGS for winter so I have a little less outside time and more reading time, but at this time in my life, I'd be foolish to wish summers away.

    So I bide.

  129. Missy plans on notecards.

    I need coffee.

    Robust coffee.


  130. I'm with Vince, I don't want to commit myself to a television show for an entire season. Thank you for a great post, Missy. I like your method of checking with action vs. reaction, very helpful! Please put me in for a critique.

  131. GREAT post, Missy (another Keeper post for me). So sorry I'm a day late in commenting (what happened to Monday? LOL). Episodic writing is something I've struggled with too (and continue to work on *sigh*) so I'll be re-reading your tips and those previous Seeker posts too. ~ I'm not a big TV watcher, but admit I DO watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy each evening. I always feel so proud (LOL) when I solve the puzzle or answer correctly! Thanks again for this very helpful post. Hugs, Patti Jo

  132. p.s. Hope Ruthy had a wonderful birthday yesterday! (I did manage to wish her a happy b'day on Facebook *grin*). ~ PJ

  133. p.p.s. Sorry! One more thought about TV-watching: I've fallen in love with DOWNTON ABBEY!! Oh my! Think I'm asking for Seasons 1 & 2 for my b'day or Christmas! ~ PJ

  134. Hi Ruth:

    LOL & ROTF!

    You wrote:

    “Missy, I'll share nursing home space with you any day, chickie!

    Can we trip Connealy????

    Because I might have fun with that!”

    Are you kidding? Mary is going to be out on tour promoting her 500th book!


    P.S. Please let us know what you think of “The Colonel’s Daughter” when you read it. I think you are best situated to appreciate it.

  135. Joanne, Patti and Jillian, I'm glad you found it helpful!

  136. Great Post Missy--lol a few years ago when and editor told me one of my earlier books was eposodic I didn't have a clue what she was talking about :( I had to ask around. I needed this post then.