Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seven Essentials For Powerful Fiction

with guest Brandy Vallance.

It’s a great honor to be on Seekerville today! I’m very excited to chat with all of you about one of my favorite subjects—fiction! We all want to know what makes powerful fiction, right? Well, here are some things I’ve noticed: 

1. Relatable Characters

I recently did a YouTube video with Chris Vogler, author of The Writer’s Journey and Hollywood film consultant. We often hear that our characters need to be likeable, but Chris says they only need to be relatable. We should be able to see ourselves (or the human condition) in every character that we write. Although we may not agree with a character’s choices, we at least need to understand what brought them to that decision. 

2. Real Emotions

How many emotions do you experience in a week? A month? If someone told your story, what emotions would they put on the page? Think about your lowest moment and your best experience. I know it’s scary, but if you want your stories to have power, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to translate your emotions and experiences into ink and paper.                                                                                                                    
Maya Angelou said,  

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

This is true for life and fiction. Emotion is what will carry your story to the end and leave your readers with a lasting impression. If you can make someone laugh, cry, or ache, you have done your job as a novelist. You have made them feel.          
Suspense author Brandilyn Collins says, 

“You should never apologize for human emotion.” 

I think as writers sometimes we’re afraid to let people know that we feel as deeply as we do. We’re tempted to write half-truths in the fear of being judged. But you have to decide what kind of writer you’re going to be. If you truly want to write fiction that is unforgettable, you have to be willing to go deep.                             

3. Vivid Settings

Readers come to fiction for a couple of reasons. Sometimes they want to be entertained. Sometimes they want to escape. They always want to learn. Therefore, make your settings all of these things—an entertaining escape where the reader will come away knowing something they didn’t know before. Make your settings so real that your reader can smell the air and feel the heat from a fire. Find ways to make the ordinary extraordinary. Treat your setting as another character. This is vital. Every city has a certain mood. Get that onto your pages. 

One of the best parts about being a fiction writer is that we get to experience many lives and many places. When I’m writing, I listen to the music from the area I’m writing about. If possible, I eat the food. Immerse yourself in every aspect of your world as much as you can. This will make a difference in your fiction. 

4. Unexpected Plot

I’m not sure where I heard this quote, but I think there’s something to it: 

“Dismiss the first thing that comes to mind and write the buried truth.”

 Usually when I’m stuck on a plot point, I make a list. On this list I do stream of consciousness writing. That means I write down all my ideas, no matter how ridiculous. The list might look something like this: 

Says he’s sorry
Questions his vocation
Questions his father
Flies to the moon
Becomes a pirate
Shaves a dog
Is secretly working for the queen
Is secretly working for the French
Kisses Feya
Gets kidnapped
Finds a key
Finds a lock
Finds a knife
Finds Winston Churchill

Sometimes my list takes up an entire page. Usually, by the time I get to the bottom, I have an idea that I can work with.  

Powerful fiction often has a plot that the reader didn’t see coming. Learn the art of misdirection. Subtly give the reader hints that will logically lead their thoughts where you want them to go. Then, do the opposite thing. 

5. The Five Senses

If your scene lacks tension, look at the five senses. Have you used them all? Make the reader feel what your character feels. Use strong, descriptive words. Don’t just have a pillow in your scene, have a blue velvet pillow. Is your character drinking something? Make us taste it. Give us the heat of the tea in our mouths. And, as your character swallows, allow us to taste the floral undertones. Take time with scents and textures. Let the reader live vicariously. 

I teach a writing workshop and I talk about the power of suggestion. Another way to bring in sense of sight is to use color. Did you know that every color has an emotional association? Google “color association” and then look at the images that come up. 

What emotion do you want your reader to feel in your scene? Insert the associative color and see if it works. Have your character walk into a room and make the walls a certain color that corresponds with an emotion you want to bring out. You can use this like foreshadowing. Or, maybe there’s an object of note in the room. Play around with color and see what happens. 

6. Tension On Every Page

The most powerful fiction always has supreme tension. Years ago, I read a Writer’s Digest article entitled The Trouble With Tea. The idea was that you should skip all the mentions of food or drinks that don’t have tension within them. Don’t have your characters drinking tea just because. There has to be something deeper going on in the story—tense dialogue perhaps. 

7. Torture The Reader Until The End

Stephen King says, 

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” 

This is certainly true. Learn to sprinkle your secrets strategically throughout your book. First, hook the reader. Then, draw them in. Portray real, raw, deep emotion. Continue to raise the stakes. Heighten every scene—it can always be bigger! When the end finally does come, your reader will be sorry to close the book. The characters will feel real to them. And that’s what you want. 

Next time you’re told that your fiction lacks power, try some of the above suggestions. I’d love to know what works for you!

Some questions to ponder: 

*What books have you read that have included all of the above points?

*Which of these points do you have the most trouble executing?

*Did I leave something out? Is there something else you’ve noticed that makes fiction powerful? 

*Have you ever read a character that you didn’t agree with but who you could relate with?

*Does writing deep emotion scare you? 

*When you’re reading, what makes you skim the pages? 

Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy's love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance. You can connect with Brandy via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube, or Twitter @BrandyVallance.

The Covered Deep

Some Dreams Are Worth Searching For

Bianca Marshal is looking for a man who can quote Jesus and Shakespeare. Not surprisingly, that man is hard to find in the small Appalachian town where she lives. Her mother insists that Bianca lower her standards. One the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca wonders if her mother is right. 

Still set on experiencing love, or at least a little adventure, Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect romantic hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of Palestine, Bianca's true love will be revealed--but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay. 

Today, Brandy is giving away two copies of The Covered Deep to our Seekerville commenters. Leave a comment letting us know you want your name put in the silk purse for the giveaway. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Melissa Jagears said...

Ha! I skim all that five senses scenery stuff you're talking about. :) So I have difficulty putting it in unless it does double duty...

Andrea Strong had her baby boy, Grant, this morning, he's having breathing problems so he's in the NICU for 3 days. She'd appreciate Seekervillage prayers, I'm sure!

Donna said...

Brandy, thank you for these great points! I think my favorite is the art of misdirection. I'll come back tomorrow to watch the video. Please enter me.

Lifting Grant and Andrea in prayer.

Melissa Jagears said...

Oh, forgot to say put me in the silk purse! :)

Terri said...

Oh, I definitely want in the silk purse. Right now I'm reading Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink and I felt like I was in the jungle in the last Chapter.

Thanks for sharing!

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is just a really excellent post, Brandy, as I've mentioned to you and to the dozens of people I told to stop by today.


I really like Saturdays in Seekerville because we have more time for good food. Putting out a Panera spread to include Asiago cheese bagels and plenty of fruit.

Mardell Grayhek said...

I like the thought and care in your recommendations. As a reader, these are points that I feel strongly about. I would love to have my name put into the silk purse and take a chance on this book! Thank you.

The Artist Librarian said...

Great stuff! Be careful with number four, I think ...

"Powerful fiction often has a plot that the reader didn’t see coming. Learn the art of misdirection. Subtly give the reader hints that will logically lead their thoughts where you want them to go. Then, do the opposite thing."

As a reader, I do enjoy when the plot twists in an unexpected way, but make sure the ending is satisfying, even if it's an unexpected one.

Thanks for the chance to win "The Covered Deep" --That summary hits a little close to home ... I'm definitely intrigued by Bianca. ;-)

Cindy W. said...

I loved this post and the interview with Chris Vogler. I googled The Writer's Journey and was able to print out a short PDF version that I will read later today. Thank you for introducing us to Chris.

When I read I like to feel real emotions. I love to laugh, cry, get angry with a character. I makes me feel like I have entered the character's world and that is important for me as a reader. As a newbie writer, that is an area I need to work on.

I would love to have my name tossed into the silk purse. Thank you for the chance.

Have a blessed Happy Birthday celebration day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Cindy W. said...

Melissa, thank you for letting us know about Andrea and baby Grant. I am lifting up prayers for them and the family.

Cindy W.

Renee said...

Great post & your book sounds intriguing! I'd love to be entered to win. Blessings!

kaybee said...

Please put my name in the drawing. Wow, a silk purse. What's next? I don't want to know...
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

TINA, Panera, wow. I'm addicted. The Panera down the street from my church gives us their day-old stuff for ministry, and we get what's left over after the homeless etc. SO good.

Jackie said...

Hi Brandy,

I love your suggestions.

“Dismiss the first thing that comes to mind and write the buried truth.” I'm working on a suspense, and I'll especially keep this in mind.

Thanks for sharing!

Congrats to Andrea Strong, and I'll be praying for her baby boy.

Rose said...

I try to use all five senses when I'm writing. The sense of taste is a hard one for me.

Good tips!

Janet Dean said...

Brandy, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for your excellent post and for the Vogler interview!

I will be thinking on each of your essentials to see where I need to work harder telling my stories. A writer walks a fine line between over and under telling. Too many characters and not enough. Perhaps when we are strong enough to become the character, to wear his/her skin then everything else will fall into place.

I am not a skimmer. I read every word. Sometimes rereading fabulous sentences. And that does not take me out of the story, it enriches it.

Your book intrigues me.


Janet Dean said...

An interesting thing I read recently is that we all have one sense that is dominant for us. I took the little test and was not surprised that eyesight was my strongest sense. Smells and hearing tied for second. Taste was last. I rarely use taste in my stories. So, perhaps we need to be aware of what comes easy for us and try to get the other senses on the page.


Janet Dean said...

I will pray for Andrea's baby Grant. Know this has to be so hard and scary. Tbanks for letting us know, Melissa.


Jackie Smith said...

Your book sounds so interesting, Brandy! Thanks for the giveaway!

Praying for Andrea & baby Grant.

Happy weekend to all.......

Mary Curry said...

If I owned stock in a tea company, I'd not be very happy with Seekerville this month. How many times does this make? I'm beginning to think elf Tina runs around inserting "Don't do tea scenes" in everyone's posts. LOL

Seriously though, great post, Brandy. The part about brainstorming the list resonated with me. I'm working on plotting a new story, and I was doing just that kind of stream of consciousness writing. I came up with an idea I loved, but kept going and eventually got one I loved even more. So now I have two stories.

Thanks for letting us know about Andrea and Grant, Melissa. Praying for them both.

Mary Curry said...

Janet, that's really interesting about the senses. Thanks for sharing that. I wonder if as readers, we're more inclined to like stories featuring our favorite sense.

Do you happen to remember where you took the test?

Brandy Vallance said...

Good morning, Seekerville! I'm making a cup of tea and reading your comments now. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Greetings from Colorado Springs, CO! Here it's 7:12 am. Melissa, I will certainly pray for Andrea and her baby, Grant.

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Brandy and welcome to Seekerville. What a great list and reminder that we need all of those elements in our stories.

Thanks for sharing with us and thanks for the generous gift offer. I'm sure we'll have some happy Seekers when they win those books.

Have a fun day.

Wilani Wahl said...

I will be printing this list out. some great stuff. Please put my name in the silk purse.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Jennifer Smith said...

Helpful info! I've pinned to Pinterest for future reference. :) Thanks for being here today, Brandy! I'd love to be entered for a copy of your book.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Prayers for Andrea, Grant and for all of you actually.

We are all so blessed to have each other.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you for all your kind comments! I'm so glad the post is helpful. I stated thinking about this subject years ago. During my fourteen year journey to publication, I read every writer's craft book I could get my hands on. I still do this and you should too ☺ . I have also always been an avid reader of Writer's Digest. Some of the advice from the bestsellers repeated and I noticed. Then, I noticed what worked in my own fiction. I noticed when my writing affected my critique group partners the most. For example, when I started going deeper into emotion, my writing made them laugh more or cry. They became more invested in the outcome of the characters. By using these seven essentials, my writing gained more traction.

Brandy Vallance said...

Rose, as far as the sense of taste, I find it helpful to eat or drink what I'm writing about. I remember one scene in The Covered Deep where I took a sip of tea and held it on my tongue for a good long while. I thought about the temperature, and then the taste. Then I considered the subtle undertones of flavor. Also, it is great to search food or drink websites/blogs. Often, chefs will describe food in a very beautiful way. Hope that helps!

Brandy Vallance said...

Janet, that's really interesting about one sense being dominant!

Brandy Vallance said...

And Mary, your comment is very interesting as well: "I wonder if as readers, we're more inclined to like stories featuring our favorite sense." And, as far as the tea scenes, write awesome tea scenes! But make sure they have lots of deep emotion or propel the story forward. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

And, on that note, I am now going to make a cup of coffee, which I rarely do. But, I find this day requires a bit more caffeine. And now I'm wishing I had a cheese soufflé from Panera!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes, indeedy. Brandy, TWO EDITORS and I all have said no tea scenes.

Of course everyone HARASSED ME ABOUT THAT. Not that I am bitter about it. NOOOOOOO.

Why is it everyone thinks they can write a tea scene that is not episodic and be the exception to the rule? NOT!!!

Brandy Vallance said...

Janet I really like your comment, "Perhaps when we are strong enough to become the character, to wear his/her skin then everything else will fall into place." I am reminded of the quote by Robert Frost, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."

Tina Radcliffe said...

BTW, I know a Brandy Vallance secret.

She's even PRETTIER in person than in her picture.

Yes. It's true. And she's nice as well. HA!!!!!!!

Brandy Vallance said...

Tina, I'm smiling because I'm thinking of setting my third book on a tea plantation. But, of course there will be lots of angst and tension and high stakes and hopefully witty dialogue to carry it through! :-) Yes, tea just for the sake of filling the page will never work (or coffee, or dinners, etc.). We must keep the emotion primarily in mind.

Brandy Vallance said...

Haha, Tina. I did see you on the elevator for probably 30 seconds at the ACFW conference in St. Louis.

Brandy Vallance said...

Tina, too bad we didn't get to have a good, long chat at the conference. I would have loved that! Next time! We can have tea, but only if the conversation is deep and weighty. ;-)

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Brandy! And thank you for the great "essentials" for powerful story telling! (I'll try to slip back later to watch the interview!)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Good morning!Welcome Brandy and thank you for these most excellent tips!

OKAY--re the ever-churning TEA DEBATE! This is my humble take on it.

Does anyone watch soap operas? It seems that every scene has a character uncorking a crystal decanter and pouring liquor or water. They gesture, sometimes sip, but mostly these beverage never get consumed! It's a ploy, a prop - something to do with their hands while they talk.

I think using beverages or food in writing is like this. It's not the main reason for the scene - it's something the characters can do while the real drama unfolds. Boil the water, pour the tea, play with the tea cup. All background while the meat of the scene unfolds.
Because every scene can't have huge action like a villain chasing the heroine!
So don't throw the teacup out with the bathwater (or something like that!) LOL. But make it count!

Off to wrestle with my characters!


Susan Anne Mason said...

P.S. I'd love a chance to win your book, Brandy!

Brandy Vallance said...

I agree, Susan! What a great way to describe using food and drink in scenes. We have to make it count!

Mary Curry said...

Brandy, I'm sure you can pull off a tea plantation. ;). After all, Laura Childs has an entire series centered around a tea shop.

We just love giving Tina grief.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes. We can talk about..Mary Connealy. Deep subject. I say that only to lure her sarcastically witty self out to play.


Must run to grocery store. Line edits turned in and the fridge is BARE!. Will buy some tea for Seekerville while I am there.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Susan Mason. I do agree.

And why is it they drink so much in the middle of the day in soap operas?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Renee Ann Smith. How lovely to see you back in Seekerville.

Loving the cover for Brandy's book!!!

Victoria said...

Those were seven great points. I especially liked the quote about misdirecting your readers and then surprising them :)

I'd love to be entered in the silk purse!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Tina! I love the cover too. The first time I saw it was at the Writing for the Soul Conference in February when I won the Operation First Novel Contest. Worthy really did an amazing job! To me, it really looks like how I envisioned Bianca. <3 Here's the Pinterest board for The Covered Deep if anyone is interested: There's a vintage photograph of a woman on there. I found the photograph in a photography shop in Pensacola, FL, and that became Bianca for me. I'm not sure if the designers consulted this photograph when they were making the cover, but it really fits! Something crazy is that I own the earrings they gave her!

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Victoria! Yes, as far as misdirecting our readers, we should always be thinking about what our readers are thinking during our scenes. What clues have we left for them? We can definitely influence where they think the story is heading. This is just good storytelling. :-)

pepperbasham said...

What a fantastic post! Oh man, I feel like I fail at these so often. Loved the interview!

Brandy, I'm not great at lists...but I think I'm going to start some.

Also, Janet, your quote: "Perhaps when we are strong enough to become the character, to wear his/her skin then everything else will fall into place."
That might be a blog post all by itself!

Julie Lessman said...


All of your points are excellent and soooo incredibly true!! Heck, even your quotes are fabulous, especially Maya Angelou's:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Oh, PREACH IT, Maya!!!

And I SO agree with you and Vogler that characters need to be relatable more than likeable, although both together is pretty darn good. :)

I'm smiling about your "Vivid Settings" point because that's a HUGE requirement for my husband. Regarding my Daughters of Boston series, he mentioned more than once something to the effect of: "Julie -- send them on a trip, anything, only get 'em out of Boston!!"

The excellence of this blog today, your obvious grasp on writing, the blurb for your book, AND praise I've heard about The Covered Deep have me convinced I need to read it soon, so I definitely will!!


Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, Julie! Wow! <3

Melody said...

Thank you for opening our eyes to what it takes to write a wonderful story!

Missy Tippens said...

Brandy, welcome! Thanks for this great post. I also loved the video with Chris Vogler. What a great idea to interview him! Thanks for sharing that.

Missy Tippens said...

Donna, I'm with you. I really want to focus on the art of misdirection. To make my plots unpredictable.

Missy Tippens said...

Melissa, I just saw the news on FB about Andrea's baby. I'm praying!

Missy Tippens said...

Good point, Artist Librarian. Even if surprising, a plot point needs to be satisfying and to make sense.

Brandy Vallance said...

I agree, Missy and Artist Librarian! I'm all about giving readers a satisfying end to the story. That is so important! I'm a fan of leaving readers with a happy sigh, or making their hearts go all aflutter. :-) On that note, what's the best ending you've read recently? What ending left you thinking about the book long after you finished it?

Brandy Vallance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debby Giusti said...

Praying for Andrea's precious baby boy!

Debby Giusti said...

Brandy, such an excellent post!

I love Vogler. Really soaked in the information he provided at ACFW! He seems to have such a big heart and love for story. How special to be able to interview him.

Your mention of the brainstorming list was perfectly timed. I'm mid-story and need something fresh. Will take your advice and see when comes to mind.

Also loved the idea of using color to evoke emotion! A new tip that I'm eager to try.

Plus, you hooked me with your story blurb!

So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today.

Tina, thanks for bringing Brandy and Panera's!


Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Debby! I'm so glad the list idea is helpful. I hope it works for you. Don't be afraid to let yourself put the most ridiculous things on there. Just let your subconscious roam. You'll be surprised with what you come up with.

Janet Dean said...

Brandy, I can feel very emotional writing a scene, but I'm one of those people who rarely cries. I've had readers say they cried through my entire book, yet I rarely tear up writing it.

But when I wrote a book where the heroine's father dies, I wept writing that scene and every time I revised it. Each time I relived losing my own father eight years before. Which proved I could write a more emotional scene when I became or was the heroine, and it also taught me that readers bring their own experiences into our stories, upping the emotion for them when the scene evokes memories.


Brandy Vallance said...

Well said, Janet. Although it is not easy, I do believe that when we tap in to the emotions that we know intimately, our story will be more powerful. And it is so amazing how our readers bring their own emotions to our writing and find themselves within the pages.

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is so true!!! And when they write you and tell you they discovered nuggets you were not even aware were there...well that is totally cool.

Brandy Vallance said...

I love that, Tina!

Myra Johnson said...

Brandy, thank you for a very informative post today! Your seven essentials should be mounted on every writer's bulletin board and reviewed at the start of every writing session!

LOL--I caught myself writing an actual tea scene this week! But I still think it was appropriate for the story and definitely became a vehicle to play up some important facets of the H/H and their connection with another character.

Tina Radcliffe said...

One question! Your blurb IS intriguing. Totally. But the title of your book..EVEN MORE so. Where did that title come from.

Okay two questions. I noticed you have another release coming soon. Can you tell us about that?

Tina Radcliffe said...

And you own those earrings. Serendipity for sure.

What is Operation First Novel, btw?

Brandy Vallance said...

Yay, Myra! Sounds like you did it the right way!

Sandy Smith said...

Your book looks good. Please enter me into the drawing. I had not thought about using the association of color in my writing. Thanks for that suggestion.

Sandy Smith said...

Melissa, I will pray for baby Grant.

Brandy Vallance said...

The title comes from a conversation between Bianca and Paul in the middle of the book. I usually do Bible keyword searches to find a title. This usually ties in with the theme somehow. The Covered Deep comes from something in Paul's past and God's view of that.

Brandy Vallance said...

Operation First Novel is a contest through the Christian Writers Guild. Now, they structure it a little differently, but when I won the winner received a contract with Worthy Publishing.

Marianne Barkman said...

Great post, I wish ALL authors would read Seekerville posts, because that would mean there would be more great novels for me to read!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and time

Marianne Barkman said...

Would love to win, as TINA vey well knows!!!

Vince said...

Hi Brandy:

You asked excellent questions in the interview. Were you thinking about what questions to ask while you were taking the class? Was the interview spontaneous or was it planned ahead of time?

I liked what you mentioned about colors in settings. I like to use what the POV character sees in the setting to create the mood. "Does she see the dying limbs on the trees or the yellow blooming flowers as she walks into the courthouse". I’d like to suggest that you use some warm golden brandy colors on your website. All that white is a little glaring. BTW: Did you put the brandy shades in your cover art or was that just fortuitous?

Also, while I agree that characters do not have to be likeable, readers do have to care about what happens to them or there is no point in reading the book.

I suppose that reliable characters will also seem to be real characters and that real characters are those who possess the capacity to act unpredictably. Humans have this unpredictably factor while flat fictional characters often do not. (I learned that in a class on creating well rounded characters.)

The above makes me think of Tony Hillerman. Tony was a total pantser. In his biography it tells of his large chest of half written mysteries which he found it impossible to pantser his way out of! Tony said that if you are stuck as a writer or your story is getting boring do something completely unexpected. This is something you never thought of doing up to that point. His view was that if he didn’t see it coming, his readers certainly wouldn’t either.

After all the key points you’ve made in your post, I’m extra motivated to read your book. I’m going to check it out at the Christian Bookstore. (I have an account over there. : )) But please put me in the drawing, anyway.


DebH said...

Silk purse me please. Must re-read the post to fully digest it's brilliance and hopefully have the advice sink into my subconscious. Hooray for your Seekerville visit!!!!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks for your comments, Vince. I thought of a few things to ask Chris Vogler while I was taking his class. I wrote down the points that especially spoke to me and then when we met, we prepped for about five minutes and then went straight to recording. Chris is a very gracious man and he loves story, so the interview wasn't hard to do at all. I didn't plan the brandy shades. :-) I agree that readers have to care about our characters. We want them to be completely emotionally invested! I like what you mentioned about Tony Hillerman. I love when unexpected things happen when we write! That is so much fun! I'm so glad you're interested in reading The Covered Deep! Thanks for your kind words!

Jamie Adams said...

Excellent post, Brandy! Thanks for sharing. I'm editing today and your points are very helpful :)

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, DebH! I'm so glad you found the post helpful. Happy writing!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, Jamie! God speed on the editing!

Audra Harders said...

Brandy, you provided the basics of novel writing in one concise post. Thank you very much!

I especially love your suggestion to use color to hedge your reader's mood. I don't tend to make color an intregal part of my story -- I think its time I corrected that : )

This is definitely a print out post to keep in my desk top file!

Thanks for sharing. And thanks, Tina for inviting Brandy!

Audra Harders said...

YAYAY Andrea!! Congrats on the baby boy and prayers are covering the little guy...and his family!

Thanks for letting us know, Melissa.

Audra Harders said...

I just got home from my writers meeting where we finished James Scott Bell's Conflict and Suspense. Amazingly, we talked about misdirection to heighten suspense on many levels. There are simple methods to do this or you can get as complex as you like.

Funny how little strategies can add a world of difference to your book!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Audra! I love your name, by the way. :-) Here's some neat links on color and psychology:

Brandy Vallance said...

Some great charts on color and psychology here:

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thanks for being here, Brandy. Your suggestions were excellent, and I'll be referring to them often. Your book sounds like one I want to get, and the cover is lovely. I'm a tea drinker as well. The eating and tea drinking scenes occur more often in stories set in the UK. I'm delighted to hear you say it's okay if they're purposeful. All the best with The Covered Deep.

Cara Lynn James said...

Brandy, I like your idea of writing down all your ideas when you're stuck. It's so easy to settle for the first or second idea that comes to mind.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, Pat. Happy writing!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Cara! I'm glad that is useful to you. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Brandy! Welcome to Seekerville!


“Dismiss the first thing that comes to mind and write the buried truth.”

This is so true. If the scene is about what the scene is about, it's unneeded...

This is a clever way of saying that, and I love it!

How come you're beautiful, young and wise?

Please tell me that's your senior picture and you're really 52 years old.

I will feel so much better about myself and the world around me if you confess that, darling. ;)

Brandy Vallance said...
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Brandy Vallance said...

LOL, Ruth. I'm sorry. I'm in my late 30s. But most days I feel 70, does that help? My right knee is really giving me pains... :-)

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Wow, I'm definitely bookmarking this post. Thank you so much for sharing! And please drop my name in for the giveaway. :)

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anna! :-)

Jeanne T said...

Brandy! It's so good to see you here my friend! I tried all day to get here an dread your post, and I finally made it (amid many interruptions from my boys :) ).

I LOVED this post. Your suggestions were so good! I'd never thought about the power of color before. I'm definitely looking into that.

I love your suggestion to write down all my ideas when I'm stuck. Another gold nugget.

Please DON'T put me in for the drawing. I have the book. And I LOVE, LOVE it!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well I'm going to have to research covered deep because it's a really intriguing phrase.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And I'm going to use your color links in the weekend edition tomorrow. But I will give you credit for sharing. They are excellent.

Brandy Vallance said...

Love you, Jeanne! Thanks for stopping by. <3

Brandy Vallance said...

Sounds great, Tina!

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

I like your comment, “If the scene is about what the scene is about, it's unneeded...”

I'm working on a paper entitled “Twenty Ways to Pack a Paragraph” and your comment made me think of a useful analogy.

“If your scene is about your scene, then it’s like a big semi-truck pulling an empty trailer. It’s only about the truck and a truckload of lost opportunity.”

Ruth, you're always in inspiration!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Great article! I loved the "don't give up all your secrets at once".

And can I just say... that book title is fabulous. I saw it on Amazon and clicked not for the cover, but for the title.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Virginia! :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you for having me on Seekerville today! It was a pleasure to chat with you all. If you have any other questions, please find me on Facebook, Twitter, or my website Happy reading and happy writing! For those of you who read The Covered Deep, I hope it whisks you away to 19th century England and the Holy Land and leaves your heart all aflutter. And remember--Dream big! God makes the impossible, possible! Don't give up on your stories! I anxiously await the announcement of the two winners! I hope you all have a wonderful night.

Mary Preston said...

Very interesting.

Add me to the purse thank you.

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...


What terrific advice. I've copied them all down on 3x5 cards and placed them in front of my computer to remind me to use them as I write.

Thanks so much and please enter me to receive a copy of your novel.

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...
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Kelly Bridgewater said...

Good suggestions!! I will be printing them off and study them as I work on my latest novel.

Caryl Kane said...

Please put my name into the silk purse for Brandy's "The Covered Deep". :)