Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday's Tips and Tweaks

This week author Skye Taylor, joins us with her tip. Skye is an author, mother, grandmother, & former Peace Corps Volunteer. She loves adventure, travel, the ocean and books. 

Skye’s Tip on Writing

     There’s nothing new under the sun and writing is hard work where shortcuts won’t get you to the finish line. I am a pantser, but in the past few years I’ve been bombarded with several plotting and outlining ideas that promised the job of writing my next novel would be easier. And they might have, if I was a plotter. Instead I just found myself more frustrated than ever. But going back to my roots, creating characters with detailed backstories, settings that are unique and believable, a starting point and a goal, I’m just going to put these people I’ve created and know so well onto the page, in the middle of conflict and let them tell me what comes next.

I have always taken the time to write detailed backstories for my characters – just writing as if I was telling someone about a person I know well. I might start with something before their birth if that is going to be relevant to who they are today, or I might start in their childhood, but I at least include their teenage and coming of age years and all the major bits and pieces of their lives, what’s important to them and why. That way, when I’m writing and something happens, I know exactly how they are going to react – at least most of the time. Some of my characters have surprised me. But then, so do my brother and my kids and I know them really well, too.

I write with no plot, no outline, no synopsis. I always have a starting point and I most often see the end point in my head and often a few critical scenes, but I write the story that’s in my head as it comes to me.  But now, thanks to Anna DeStefano and a wonderful workshop she gave, I have a new tool. Once my first draft is written I go back and print out the whole manuscript and put it in a big binder. I take colored tabs or Post-its and skim through the entire manuscript marking my hero’s POV, then the same for my heroine (or the protagonist and antagonist if it’s not a romance.) Mark major turning points with another colored tab. Mark backstory with 4th color. If there are important secondary characters I can use additional colors to mark their activities and influence on the story. If it’s a mystery, use a separate color to mark hints that will point to the ultimate resolution. Now return to the beginning and start following just one color tab. In the case of hero/heroine, or the protagonist/antagonist follow their character arcs and growth. Make notes where they aren’t consistent or things are missing. I use square lined yellow Post-its for this addition of ideas to enlarge on or major changes that needed to happen. For small things, I just write right on the page. I do the same for each of the things I’ve marked, checking the story arc for consistency. For backstory, did I include stuff that does not drive the plot forward? Note to remove it. Have I skipped important things the reader really does need to know? And for a mystery, make sure the hints don’t end up nowhere. As they say, if there’s a smoking gun, there better be a dead body somewhere.  Once I’ve completed all these read-throughs, now it’s time to go back to the computer and start my re-write. For a Pantser this is a marvelous tool to find plot holes, character arcs that aren’t going anywhere, characters that don’t grow or have tiresome habits that would annoy readers. Then, if I haven’t already written the synopsis, with the help of the plot point tabs, I get it done! 

Blurb for Trusting Will

Brianna Reagan is a war widow with no intention of letting herself fall for Will Cameron no matter how attractive he is. He’s just another bigger-than-life hero who puts his life on the line every day and loving him could break her heart all over again.

Excerpt from “Trusting Will”

Brianna Reagan stood beside her car with her cell phone to her ear, surveying a very flat tire.

 Come on, Sam. Answer the phone. Where are you?  Her son should have been in the apartment by now. The bus would have dropped him off ten minutes ago.

If she hadn’t tried to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store before heading home to meet Sam’s bus, she wouldn’t be where she was now. And just maybe she wouldn’t have had a flat tire at all. Sam. Where are you?


Relief washed through her. “Sam. It’s Mom. I got a flat tire and that’s why I didn’t get there in time for your bus. I just wanted to make sure you got home okay.”

“I came straight home, just like you told me to if you weren’t at the bus stop.”

“And you’re alone?”

“Yes, Mom. I’m alone.” Condescension and sarcasm dripped from his young voice.

“And you locked the door behind you?”

Sam sighed loudly.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I just want to make sure you’re safe. I’ll be home as soon as someone comes to change my tire.”

“How come you can’t change your own tire?” Eight years old and already Sam sounds like his father.

“I know how to change a tire, but I’ve got my work clothes on.” Why am I defending myself? “Never mind. Just stay inside until I get there and don’t let anyone in. Got it?”

Sam groaned “Got it.”

“There are fudge pops in the freezer. Why don’t you have one and get started on your homework?”

“Can I go upstairs and see if Mr. Cameron is home? I want to show him the new signs I learned.”

“Mr. Cameron is probably at work. But,” she added hastily to ward off another round of dramatic sighing. “You can go up and see if he’s there as soon as I get home. Okay?”

“Kay! Bye.” Sam disconnected leaving Brianna feeling oddly alone on the only deserted stretch of roadway between the grocery store and home.

She began hunting through her contacts for C.J.’s Auto Shop. The sound of a motorcycle pierced the late afternoon quiet. The rumbling grew, still out of sight around the corner, but loud enough to be either a big machine or more than one.

A nervous fluttering began in her stomach. Not all bikers were a threat. But still.

Then the motorcycle rounded the bend and began to slow. She relaxed. It was a North Carolina State Trooper. She shoved her phone back into her pocket and waited for him to reach her.

  The big silver and gray bike pulled up behind her car and rumbled to a stop. The trooper swung his high-booted leg over the back of the bike and flicked the kickstand down. Then he unsnapped his chinstrap and removed his helmet.

Will Cameron!

Brianna swallowed hard.

That was something that had been glaringly missing from the list of things she thought she knew about Sam’s new idol.

He grinned as he approached. “Not your lucky day, I guess. Or maybe it is your lucky day considering I’m standing here.” Everything about him was overpoweringly masculine. Even the slightly overgrown hair that had been mussed by the helmet.

“I was just about to call C.J.,” Bree said, trying to ignore the effect Will had on her libido.

“Pop the trunk. I assume you’ve got a spare?” This manifestation of Will Cameron was definitely larger-than-life. He seemed taller than usual. And broader. Maybe it was the uniform. Or the bike. Or the fact that he was a trooper, and he was in rescuer mode.

“Of course, I’ve got a spare.” She pressed the trunk button on her key fob and the lid clicked open.

“Then I’ll have you back on the road in no time.”

He reached into the trunk, spun the big nut that kept the spare in place, then hoisted it out as if it weighed nothing. Which it didn’t. A fact she knew because she almost hadn’t been able to lift it enough to retrieve an important slip of paper that had managed to slide down underneath a week earlier.

The play of muscles rippling beneath the crisp fabric of his uniform shirt evoked the same breathless fascination she’d felt while watching him disassemble cardboard boxes wearing no shirt at all on the day he’d moved into her building. She wanted to look away, but couldn’t bring herself to do so. She wanted not to be impressed, but couldn’t manage that either.

This was not a man it was safe to fall for. He was a cop. And cops led lives almost as dangerous as soldiers. He might be an easy-going Cub Scout den father, but there was no denying the pure animal magnetism he exuded. That confident grin of his with a deep dimple in one cheek and an extra lift to one corner of his sensuous, kissable looking lips would charm any woman with a pulse. But she didn’t want to be charmed. Not now that she knew who he really was.

Buy Links:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trusting-will-skye-taylor/1121984605?ean=9781611946314
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=trusting+will%2C+skye+taylor
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Skye_Taylor_Trusting_Will?id=TUB2CQAAQBAJ&hl=en
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/trusting-will/id999524691?mt=11

You can find Skye at:
Website: www.Skye-writer.com
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/bsaNsH
Blog: www.Skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Skyewriter2?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/skyewriter22
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7056804.Skye_Taylor
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Skye-Taylor/e/B008BT8ZNG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Thanks Skye, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.


  1. Beverly, thanks for inviting me to visit you here today. I don't get to the west coast very often, and as virtual trips go, it's been fun.

  2. Thank you for the tip. I'm a pantser too and I love it. Can't do the outline to save my life. Your cover is so beautiful and the excerpt has me wanting to read more!

    1. Sorry, I put my reply to you in the main column. Thanks for stopping by to check me out.

  3. Hi Melissa, I hope you enjoy Will and Brianna's story and then return to Tide's Way to meet Jake and Will's twin brother Ben in Falling for Zoe and Loving Meg. Thanks for the kudos on the cover.