Sunday, February 24, 2013

Using Conflict in Your Stories

First, I want to apologize for not posting a blog last weekend.  I was sick with a head cold and stomach flu even though I had a flu shot.  I hope to make up for it today even though I'm late.

Most of us don't have a lot of discord in our lives, but to write a story without conflict would be boring.  Author's who write page turners add a lot of tension.  Conflict can raise the stakes in any story.  There are many ways to do this. I write romantic suspense, so I always have the element of danger in my stories.

Danger can come from many sources such as a serial killer, an avalanche, a tsunami, earthquake, a fight, war, stalker, etc.  Running for your life can definitely add tension.  I have named a few, but there are many more too numerous to mention.

Another way to add conflict is to have your hero and heroine work against each other.  An example:  Hero is a contractor who is determined to build apartments near a housing district, and the heroine is head of the neighborhood watch in the same area.  She gets a petition started against the building because she believes it will bring in the wrong element to their community.

Another example:  The hero is a fisherman on the Gulf Coast, and the heroine is the spokes person for an oil company defending them after and oil spill in the gulf.  Just think of all the tension you can build in these scenarios.

Another type of conflict is inner conflict.  This is when a hero/heroine fights against the attraction they feel for one another.  This is inner conflict.  One or the other, or both may feel they shouldn't get together of their conflict. There are numerous reasons why they aren't able to get together, especially, when they are at odds like in the examples above.   

Secondary characters can add conflict: for instance an ex can come into the picture and cause all kinds of problems, or it can be a pet, a child, a job, a hobby, etc.  There are all kinds of ways to add tension to your story, so readers can't lay it down until they finish reading your book.

You can use multiple conflicts in your story, but you shouldn't overload so much that your reader gets tired from running all over the place.  The tension in your book has to be realistic, or your reader will be pulled out of the story and think the author is crazy.  In other words, life doesn't always make sense, but your book better be logical, or you've lost your reader.

I have touched on a few ways to ratchet your story up, but there are many more.  Good luck to all the writers out there, and thank you to those who read my blog. 

Have a great (without snow) week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

Best always,

Sandra K. Marshall

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Art of Peeling a Potato

Okay, I know you are laughing now.  Many of you have never peeled a potato, or watched one being peeled.  You might want to know what brought this topic to mind, and my answer is I was peeling potatoes for dinner.  The older members of my family (deceased now) had peeling a potato down to a fine art.

You may be asking yourself what in the heck does she mean.  There was no waste.  My grandmother, mom and aunt slid the knife just under the skin of the potato and went all around one time without breaking the peeling.  Then they dug out the potato eye by sticking the point of the knife into the eye (a piece of the skin  deeper than the rest of the skin for those of you who don’t know) and digging it out instead of peeling deeper to get it out.  Like I said, there was no waste.

This was a time period when people grew their own potatoes and people didn’t have much.  These days, we live in a throwaway world so saving as much of the potato as you can is considered a waste of time because most of us can’t do it fast like our older family members did.  I know I can’t, but once in awhile I try to do one peel around.  Sometimes, I manage to do it, but it’s slow. 

I really wish I could be fast and do one peel around the potato.  I often wonder how my grandmother made it look so easy.  She came from a farming family, so I know she was taught how to peel a potato, and she must have gotten lots of practice.  Wink!

I hope you enjoyed my blog today.  Have a wonderful week and come back next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall


Sunday, February 3, 2013

All about Love

I'm behind this week, so I'm posting a blog I posted elsewhere last week.  So sorry!

Valentine's Day is coming up soon, and although I'm not an authority on love I'm a romantic suspense author who writes about love.  The old saying: Love thy neighbor as you do yourself comes to mind.  Who do you love?

There are many different kinds of love. For instance, love between spouses, love between parents and their children, love between siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandchildren and a whole slew of people.  I love everyone even those I don't really like because I care what happens to them.

In many cases there are varying degrees of affection for the people you care about.  Of course, you're going to love those who are the closest to you like your husband, children and other family members, but there's always room for others. 

Friends come to mind for me and I have several lifelong friends.  I have great affection for them, or I wouldn't have stayed in touch with them. You can love neighbors who become friends when you have lived next to them for years. 

Is it possible to love someone who hurts you?  I draw the line at loving people who abuse others physically or mentally, but I write about them in my stories.  I even humanize them with some background about them, but I can't care for them in their present lives because they chose the wrong path.  Or in my stories, the path I chose for my character.  This is when you have to care and love the victim.

I love my hubby more than anyone.  When my mother was alive it was a tossup between hubby and mom because I loved them both equally, although, in totally different ways.  My siblings and children are next in line, and then the rest of the family, friends, etc. 

Who matters most to you?

Sandra K. Marshall