“But while I advise you to embellish, I forbid you to depart from what is plausible. The reader has every right to feel aggrieved when he realizes that too much is being asked of him. He feels that the author is trying to deceive him, his pride suffers and he simply stops believing the moment he suspects he is being misled.” An Essay On Novels – The Marquis de Sade
Isn’t that great advice? Whether you write by the seat of your pants (pantser) or you meticulously plot out your story (plotter), you eventually will come to a point where you write yourself into a corner or your plot hits a wall. You have a couple options: scrap it and start over from the point you got yourself into that mess, or write yourself out of it. If you choose the latter, the challenge is writing a solution without taking the shortcut of using coincidences to bail yourself out. I read this advice from Emma Coates –one of Pixar’s story artists– years ago, and I never forgot it: “coincidences to get your characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it is cheating.” Not only that, like the Marquis said, it asks too much of the reader.
Nevertheless, good storytelling depends on the element of surprise. No one wants to have the ending figured out in chapter three. The writer’s approach may be to: 1) slowly reveal clues that gradually build to a logical conclusion, or 2) misdirect us with spurious information, or 3) obfuscate the story so that at the climax, the truth is dropped like a bomb on the reader. The trick is to reveal the truth -as shocking as it may be- in a way that the reader think to himself, “of course!” because finally it all makes sense. The worst thing in the world is to leave the reader scratching his head at the end, wondering how the hell he got from there to here in 100,000 words, and regretting buying it on Amazon.
Header image via the poisoned pencil, David Tenant image via Pinterest.
Tainted Inheritance – by Margaret Sorick – The fourth book in The Bucks County Novels is officially available for purchase on Amazon!
I’m so excited to finally announce that the latest in my series has been published. For those of you reading the series, this book diverges from my original cast of characters and introduces a few new ones. Nevertheless, Tommy Quinn and his brother Adam play important roles in this story so the series all ties together. Here’s the blurb, bio and the cover.
Tainted Inheritance- Book Four of The Bucks County Novels
Why would anyone want to hurt Olivia Sutton? Her life was finally coming together after her divorce. She’s found new love with contractor Leo Donovan and made a fresh start in a new home. When she becomes the victim of one too many random accidents, she realizes someone is stalking her. Has something in her past come back to haunt her? And can she and Leo discover the secret before it’s too late?
About the Author:
My name is Margaret but everyone calls me Meg. I am a Pennsylvania native and a Bucks County resident since 1992. I write because I love books. I want to crawl inside them and live among the characters, solve their mysteries, fight their villains, love their heroes… You get the idea! I hope you enjoy The Bucks County novels: a series of romantic suspense stories set in the region where I live.
More of my research on World War One – by Meg Sorick
“Wisdom is an arrow seldom used in the quiver of government.” -Historian Barbara Tuchman
The First World War was a ‘total’ war in the sense that the civilian populations and the entire economies of the warring nations were fully mobilized to support the effort. No longer was the conflict limited to fighting between professional armies. Rather an entire generation of young men was conscripted to join the decimated troops on the frontline. It was a war of attrition, slow and deadly. The armies dug in and slaughtered each other with little ground gained or goals achieved. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 is an example.
The battle, an offensive staged by a combined British and French force, began in July and lasted five months. On the first day alone, the British lost 57,000 men. When all was said and done, the British and French had advanced about 6 miles (9.7 km) on the Somme, on a front of 16 miles (26 km) at a cost of 419,654 British and 202,567 French casualties, against 465,181 German casualties. Lloyd George called it, “the most gigantic, tenacious, grim, futile and bloody fights ever waged in the history of the war.”
And so it was until it was supplanted by an even more horrific battle the following year. In July of 1917 the assault began on the village of Passchendale in the Ypres Salient. General Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was confident he could take the village in a matter of hours by simultaneously attacking German positions. But the reality of the situation was that rains had turned Flanders into a muddy mire and thousands of men were quickly bogged down. They became sitting ducks for the German guns and died from a combination of wounds and the diseases that festered in the muck they were forced to fight and live in. At the end, Canadian forces eventually prevailed but at the cost of a quarter million British soldiers. And for what? No German communication lines had been cut and the army’s morale was in tatters.