C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

How to make a plot work

Simple anecdote:

There’s a pie cooling on that windowsill. Steal it.

Novel Plot:

There’s a pie cooling on that very high windowsill and the doors are all locked. No ladders allowed. Make the pie nigh impossible to steal and add in twists, reversals, false victories, and false failures.

Make the quest compelling throughout with memorable characters. Possibly get away with stealing that pie. Maybe, maybe not as long as you make your reader care.

That is the very complex made simple.

I put fresh faces on three covers last week. Here they are.

The words have the power to save the world or end it,
and it’s now in the hands of one man.
America has fallen to fascism. It’s up to Kismet Beatriz to start the revolution in New Atlanta, the fortress of the rich.
When bad guys chase the prodigal son back to New York, family secrets will be murder.

Find them all on my author site: AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing advice, , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing Moonlighting Top 10: There’s going to be a pie fight!

There are many ways to write and no one can say any are “wrong”. Well, the kitten sacrifice was a little much. Here’s one way to go:

Anybody remember the TV show Moonlighting? It was a comedy that was on TV when Bruce Willis was adorable and Cybill Shepherd was Cybill Shepherd. During production, sometimes the planning seemed haphazard. The lowest guy on the totem pole in the writing room would run down a hall, stick his head in the door at the props department and scream, “There’s going to be a pie fight! Get 500 pies ready!”


That’s writing toward a scene.

They didn’t have everything else filled in yet, but they knew they wanted a big set piece and pie would fly.

From Google: 

set piece
A thing that has been carefully or elaborately planned or composed, in particular.
A self-contained passage or section of a novel, play, film, or piece of music arranged in an elaborate or conventional pattern for maximum effect.

What’s this mean to you and your readers?

Deliver maximum effect.

You’re writing your book. Events happen. Complications ensue. Characters conflict. You know. Story stuff. A set piece is a story beat but not every beat is a set piece. This strategy reverse engineers your novel. You think about the big scenes you want to deliver and sketch those out so you can lay the groundwork and build the ladder or plant the garden. Pick your writing metaphor here. Without that context, it will feel stuck on so be careful to stitch tightly and weave over the seams.

The Big Scene: Put on the Helmet of Imagination!

The Last Evil Clown fights The One Good Mime atop Mt. Rushmore. Or the nuke detonates in Dubuque just as the hero teleports away to the bridge of an exploding starship. Whatever. You could write the context that gets your readers there and excited about it.

Set pieces are big stakes scenes so:

1. Add the ticking clock device. 
2. Kill a major character.
3. See it as the movie scene where the special effects department blows wads of cash.
4. Make it a major turning point.
5. Reveal something huge.
6. Deny the protagonist their easy victory.
7. Award the main character their vengeance.
8. Reward the villain with a huge comeuppance.
9. Pay off the reader with a spectacle, or at least something spectacular.
10. Books are long. Don’t have just one set piece.
Robert Chazz Chute This Plague of Days: Season 3~ In This Plague of Days, Season 3, the big battles constitute set pieces. Not every set piece has to be a violent cataclysm though. When the big secret is revealed in the library in Season 3, that’s a set piece, too. You’ll know when you get there because you’ll suspect I wrote it high on acid. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I have something for your TBR pile. 

Filed under: Writing exercise, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We only have one book in us

To increase sales, one winning strategy is to write a series. Readers like to get invested in characters they know and travel along with them to vast reaches. If readers like one of your books, there’s a good chance they will like them all.

The reason for this is that many authors write the same book over and over.

This is not a criticism. It’s a common observation. For instance, Kurt Vonnegut’s books could be one long book of varying characters but of unified theme and voice. Vonnegut searches for humanism and usually fails to find it so instead he settles for acceptance of the gap between human potential and reality. With each book, Hemingway and Mailer tried to define their manhood. Palahniuk can’t hide his fascination with how weird we are, and weird is all we are.

There is nothing wrong with writing the same book again and again as long as each excursion seems fresh. The boat gets redecorated for each trip. The destination is always the same. Not only do readers not mind, real fans prefer sameness. I like Stephen King stories, for instance. Everyman confronts his fears and loses some and wins some in a harsh world. But the Dark Tower series? Not for me. Give me more of what I like, the familiar unfamiliar.

As I edit my own stories I see the same story emerge repeatedly: Escape is required and losses will be incurred and it’s up to the reader to decide if the escape was worth the price of freedom. That’s probably all I’ll ever write, whether the novel takes place in a New York high school today or in tomorrow’s post-apocalyptic North America.

I know where that comes from: I escaped home.

Every turning point in my life has been a narrow escape.

Happily, there’s enough there to fill all the books I could ever write.

Filed under: Books, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Writer Links: Stephen King, evil editors and plugging plot holes

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Image via Wikipedia

You’ve already worked hard today, right? Take a break.

Here are some useful links for your Friday afternoon:

Stephen King’s Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

Editors are evil, and other fairy stories‏

AOS: How to avoid inconsistencies and plot holes

The Must-Have Writing Routine‏


Filed under: authors, Editing, Editors, Friday Publishing Advice Links, Useful writing links, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , ,

The “I Want to Watch You Suffer” Rant

Sure, I don’t like you. In fact, sometimes I hate your guts. Sometimes I want to stab you in the eye with a Number 2 pencil and then slit you open with an Exacto knife, take a blow torch to your pancreas and, while you’re thinking about that, slowly strangle you with loops of your own intestines. Look up the word decerebrate. That’s what’s next. (Yes, I’m talking about your characters.)

The many reasons I despise you make you more interesting, so I’ll be glad to read about you or watch you on-screen. Gee whiz, I sure hope I get to watch you suffer! As somebody pithy said, “TV allows you to have people in your livingroom you’d never want in your livingroom.” Writers are often told that it’s important your protagonist is a likeable character. Ahem. Fiction is full of people, heroes and anti-heroes, who have traits that are unappealing. I want to read about people dealing with complications who are full of doubt–just like me. Their flaws make them believable. I prefer psychotic Batman to the perfect, impervious boy scout that is Superman.  Superman’s too hard to kill. Shoot Batman in the face and he’s dead. (Why don’t they just shoot him in the face? He’s more vulnerable so he’s more interesting.)

I haven’t seen a better illustration of this than the anti-hero bound for quasi-redemption in District 9. Here’s a guy who is a nerdy bureaucrat who gleefully kills little alien babies. <SPOILER ALERT> You don’t actually make it all the way to liking him, but amid the action you begin to feel sorry for him as he literally becomes his victim.

But what do I know? All through Star Wars I was cheering for Darth Vader to cut that simpering Jedi school dropout Luke Skywalker into light saber-diced cheese. Or is it really Mark Hamill I loathe?


Is your book a happy story? Those tend to suck.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, rules of writing, , ,

Don’t dream about the look of the story too long

I’ve met with a couple writers lately. They had designed elaborate worlds. One guy had invented new physics and had some interesting ideas about gravity.  He made notes, but he was much farther from publication than he thought he was.

The problem was that neither of these writers had a story in mind at all. There was no rising plot boiling characters whose needs cross swords. Complications did not ensue. There were no people/aliens/sulphur-based plants doing anything. When these writers do some further inventing, they might have interesting environments for their protagonists.

When you’re thinking about your book, ask yourself, “What’s the story?” These folks had a where but no what. Where is less important.

Filed under: publishing, queries, , ,


Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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