Saturday, November 5, 2016

Timeless {+ Giveaway}

It's my pleasure to welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some writing tips!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Thank you Mason, for having me here today!

It's a hot day and you decide to splurge on an ice cream cone. Picture your favorite flavor ice cream in a delicious waffle cone. The first lick makes you shiver with delight. A couple bites in and you're in heaven. Then chomp. What was that? There's a rock in your mouth. You eye that melty goodness and wonder who put a rock in your ice cream? You dig through the cone, searching for more rocks, the pleasure of eating completely gone. The cone turns soggy while you're looking--but you'd rather not lose a tooth. In the end, you have to toss the ice cream cone. You lick the last dribble of sweetness off your fingers and sigh.

Stories are made up of scenes, give and take, a flux of negative to positive exchanges. Or positive to negative.

This ice cream scenario is how a good scene in a book works. We start with some anticipation and a direction--a positive slant in this regard. We hit a complication along the way. It presents a challenge, changes the moment, and ends at a different emotional place than where the scene began. This makes for dynamic storytelling.

Emotion VS Suspense

Now not all genres work well with an emotional emphasis. Romance lives on it. It's the core of Young Adult stories. Horror--need I say more? If you're writing for women, there had better be a STRONG emphasis on emotion. These up and down beats work well with emotion, but they can also be carried out through suspense. The key with suspense is to have the reader asking a question at the end of every scene. It can be a question carried forward from a previous chapter, but it's something that needs answering. An amazing book will strike a balance between emotion and suspense.

A Beginning, Middle, and End

Each scene should have all three. The example story begins with a hot day and ice cream. The middle conflict is the rock and searching for more. It ends with the loss of the cone and a wistful licking of the fingers. By the end of this scene, we've reached a conclusion for the aspect presented at the beginning.

Purpose of the Scene

I can't tell you how many scenes I've chopped because it boiled down to: "Does this strengthen the story? Nope. DELETE." How do we know if a scene strengthens the story? There are a couple check points. Does it:
  1. Add a complication to the plot?
  2. Show us something important about the characters? (In their reactions/lack thereof.)
  3. Build the suspense or tension?
  4. Is it duplicated OR is the same purpose accomplished in another, better scene?
  5. Does it repeat what has already been established?

A well-balanced story will include:
  • A hook or inciting incident (the normal world is presented, but something has broken status quo). This should happen in the first page, or at the very latest, the end of the first chapter.
  • First major plot point: a door is thrown open that can never be closed. 25% to 30% point.
  • The midpoint. This is where the main character takes an active hand in their fate and chooses to fight for what they want. 50%
  • The crisis (dark night of the soul) that leads to the climax. 75%
  • The climax: The ultimate showdown! 90%
  • Resolution. A new normal is achieved.

So how do we apply these four things?

First drafts are messy, but once you've revised to that magic place where core aspects have been addressed, take a moment to analyze your scenes for pacing.

Create a spreadsheet or document where you record the predominant emotion or aspect of suspense, then the completeness of the scene (beginning, middle, end), each scene's purpose, the mood at the beginning vs the end of each scene, and where your major and minor plot points lie.

And there you have it.

What tools have you found helpful in gauging your pacing?

Crystal, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into writing. Great advice.

Author Crystal Collier
Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. 

She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). 

Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her and her books HERE.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)


  1. I have been loving seeing Crystal (and Timeless) waltzing across the blogosphere.

  2. Hi Mason and Crystal - what a great list of tips and ideas ... always useful to know about ... I do remember one post - where I hadn't put in any reason for writing it (other than it was interesting) and suddenly remembered I'd better tie it all up ... someone commented they were glad I had done that. The 500 years of tying all in to the three stories sounds a great read ... cheers Hilary

    1. Lol! Definitely need to tie up those posts. Thanks for your kind words, Hilary.

  3. These are all interesting and useful ideas! And I admire anyone who creates those whole new realities; that takes skill. Thanks, both.

  4. There are scenes I've changed because they didn't add a lot to the plot. I can catch those pretty well in the outline phase now. Great tips, Crystal.

    1. The outline is so helpful, eh? I used to get all kinds of sidetracked without one.

  5. Crystal, it's a pleasure to have to visit Thoughts today. Your book sounds intriguing and the cover is stunning. Great tips. Wishing you much success.

    Hi, all. Thanks for dropping by.

    1. Aw! Thank you so much. I appreciate you hosting me like I appreciate provolone on butter crackers. (Mean a TON.) Cheese for you!

  6. My first writing coach gave us a simple list to follow. Every scene should have a goal, conflict, and disaster. Then the next scene should have a new goal, more conflict and greater disaster. I'm simplifying, but in effect her rigid list made me a better writer. To this day, I still look at every scene this way. My vision has expanded, but I still open with my character wanting something, someone stopping him from reaching his goal, with an ending that reeks of disaster. Great post, Crystal. Your book is on my list, I just need more hours in a day to catch up.

    1. I like that. For beginners, and even some NOT beginners, that's a really great approach.

    2. I like that. For beginners, and even some NOT beginners, that's a really great approach.

  7. I chopped 30,000 word out of my second book due to unnecessary scenes.

    There is a science to writing, as you've outlined. The best writers know how to meld that with creativity.

    1. I cut about the same out of Timeless. Man was that painful, but it had to be done.

  8. Cool giveaway! Thanks for hosting! <3 -

  9. Cool giveaway! Thanks for hosting! <3 -

  10. I may try this! I'm trying to write a mystery synopsis and it's giving me fits. I never realized how hard it would be to write a mystery. But the ice cream analogy had me thinking, "People would throw the ice cream away over a rock?" I think I'd just lick carefully! Maybe can be dirty. If it were a bug, I wouldn't even look, I'd drop it and run screaming!

    1. And it you found one tock, might there be another? What if half the cone was filled with them?

      Mystery is hard--mostly because the audience has very specific expectations. It's one of those genres you don't write without KNOWING the expected conventions. Best of luck on that!

    2. And it you found one tock, might there be another? What if half the cone was filled with them?

      Mystery is hard--mostly because the audience has very specific expectations. It's one of those genres you don't write without KNOWING the expected conventions. Best of luck on that!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.