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Introducting American guest blogger, Chris Redding


Chris Redding, an American suspense author, is here today to talk about the importance of setting in stories. She will also tell us something about her novel, Corpse Whisperer, a paranormal romantic suspense. Here’s Chris: 

Today I am going to talk a little bit about setting in a story.
In Fiction for Dummies, Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy write “You are the god of the story world you create, and  you have complete control over everything that happens there. But this doesn’t mean that just anything can happen in your story world. Your story world needs to have an inner logic that drives it.”
The world you create must have scientific laws. (physics, chemistry). There must be conflict. There should be a good and evil.
Let’s examine the parts of our story world.
          There is the physical world. This world could be all water (Waterworld) or be a city as in most urban fantasy. The world will have geography and weather patterns. In Incendiary I have a hurricane hitting New Jersey. I once had someone call me out on it, but if you see how I use it, it isn’t like a hurricane in Florida. It jives with what they are when they reach us up in NJ.
          In your story world, there will be at least one cultural group. Maybe more depending on your genre and what the conflict of the story will be.
          Lastly, your story world needs a backdrop for the conflict. Is there a war going on? Think of the political climate or the religious climate. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the Salem Witch Trials are a key component.
          As a writer you want your story world to come alive in the reader’s mind.  You want to create a sense of place. Don’t waste a single word. Active descriptions not static. I’ve said it before.
          When describing anything that description should do double duty. It should keep the story moving and, more importantly, evoke an emotion in the reader. I forget this on the first draft.
          Weaving the descriptions into the rest of the story, making it seamless is most effective. Don’t stop the flow of the story. Don’t stop the action to describe what’s around. Think about two people fleeing from bad guys chasing them. They aren’t going to stop and notice the beautiful hydrangeas at one end of the parking lot. On the other hand, if those hydrangeas make the heroine sneeze therefore giving away the characters’ positions, then those flowers are significant.
          If it isn’t pertinent to the story, don’t describe it. If it doesn’t’ move the story ahead, then the reader doesn’t need to know. Is it important that her eyes are the blue of the sky after a rainstorm when someone is trying to kill her? Not unless the killer is targeting her because of those blue eyes.
          To recap, your story world need to have physical rules to follow. You need to incorporate at least one cultural group and the setting is the backdrop for the conflict.
          Thanks for stopping by today. For one lucky winner I have a pot full of chocolate. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.
          Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. When she isn’t writing, she works for her local hospital. The above blog was an excerpt from a workshop she will be doing at the beginning of May of writersonlineclasses.com.

          Corpse Whisperer is out on Kindle. A paramedic must solve a murder that didn’t happen yet. Incendiary will be out mid-December in electronic and print.

Thank you, Chris. An interesting blog. The setting is an important element of any story and should be given similar importance as other aspects: something I don’t always remember, alas!



Don’t forget to post a comment to be in with a chance of winning Chris’s pot of chocolate!

Coming soon! American Suspense Author Chris Redding

American suspense author, Chris Redding, has kindly agreed to guest blog. Don’t miss it! Be here on Tuesday 19 October 2010, when Chris will be talking about the importance of setting in stories. She will also be telling us something about her latest novel, Corpse Whisperer, a paranormal romantic suspense. Out now on kindle, it is also available in print.

Alongside her novel writing, Chris has also sold stories to confession markets and developed a workshop on writing from the male point-of-view, which she taught three times in 2009.

At the moment, Chris is working on a romantic comedy.

In the meantime, why not visit her website: www.chrisreddingauthor.com and check out her blog: http://chrisreddingauthor.blogspot.com.

See you here next Tuesday!

So you want to be a writer…?

So you want to be a writer? Fine. We won’t talk about whether the idea of loads of money sparked your desire, even though it’s a fallacy that all authors earn megabucks. They don’t. Take it from me. No author will sell well if no one’s heard of him/her. And most likely no one will hear of you unless your publisher decides you’re going to be a bestseller. You’ll get minimal marketing. If you want to be marketed you’ll have to do it yourself via a website, a blog, postcards, bookmarks, flyers, newsletters, talks, Author Pages on book websites. All while holding down a full-time job, bringing up the kids, doing the shopping, cooking cleaning, whatever. And that’s always assuming you actually get published. Because, as all you would-be writers out there know, getting published’s the first hurdle.

So what do you do? I can’t say I went the obvious route of joining writers’ circles and book clubs and the like. I have been a member of writers’ circles, but I didn’t find them that helpful when it’s a novel that you need to be critiqued. Novels are too long to be critiqed at your average writers’ circle meeting. Think about it: you’re one of maybe a dozen at the once-a-month critique meeting and have to take your turn. So you’ll be able to read no more than a single chapter. Spread that out over how many chapters are in the book and you see the difficulty. Who the hell remembers what happened in the earlier chapters by the time they get to the last one? Of course, if you show your face often enough and make friends, you might persuade one or two other members to read your book in its entirety. But it’s still not a very satisfactory way of finding out where your work needs improvement. And it will need improvement. Believe me.

So what do you do? Well, once you’re sure you’ve got the fundamentals of line spacing, page spacing, spelling and grammar sorted out, it’s time to try the professional criticism route (details of who provides these services can be found in either the Writers’ Handbook or the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook). A good professional criticism service is worth its weight in gold and will provide a detailed crit and tell you where your plotting, characterisation, storytelling, etc has gone astray. And though such services are expensive, they’re worth it. You’re paying for expert advice, so of course it doesn’t come cheap. It’s what made all the difference for me. I might have mentioned before on this blog that, if it hadn’t been for such professional advice, I might still be bemoaning my fate as an unpublished author. But I don’t think it’s a thing that can be stated too frequently.

I’d written a book a year for six years, all romances, and all aimed at the Mills & Boon market. All while I had a full-time job and household chores to do, too. And all but the last one received nothing but rejections. That last one was Land of Dreams, a romantic novel set in the Canadian Arctic. And while I was finally published, my next romance offering was rejected.

It was when I switched to writing crime novels that I first started paying for a professional crit. And it paid off because that first crime novel, Dead Before Morning, was taken from Macmillan’s slush pile and published (1993). It was only the second time I’d sent it out, so as you can imagine, I was thrilled. It was also published in the States, in hardback and paperback and, as it’s a backlist book, I’m now in the process of publishing it on kindle. It even sparked interest in a Los Angeles film producer! That came to nothing, alas, but it was exciting while it lasted.

Maybe you’ve taken my advice and paid for a professional critique and still got rejected. Have you asked yourself whether you’re chasing a dying trend? Different types of books are hot at different times and then fade till no editor wants them. Maybe, if you’ve had nothing but rejections on your current project, you should put it away and start again. Most first books are unpublishable. Writing’s a trade and needs to be learned. And no trade is learned overnight. And when you start again, do so with the book you actually want to write rather than the one you think you ought to write. Believe me, when you’re writing from the heart, about characters and themes you care about, it shows.

That’s it! Lecture over. I hope you’ve found my observations helpful. If not, and you’re still getting rejected, buy yourself a big, fat jokebook, one with a section on writers’ woes and you’ll at least see that you’re not alone. Persevere, as nearly all published writers had to do and if yours is a true vocation, you’ll get there.

Dowm Among the Dead Men ebook

Down Among the Dead Men, my first ebook, is now up for sale on kindle. This book, the second in the Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, was originally published in hardback by Macmillan in 1994. It’s so exciting. It took a few weeks getting it ready as Kimberly ‘Hitch’ Hitchens, the lady who masterminded this, was a hard taskmaster and seemed to expect me to proofread it three times. Three! My print publishers have never expected more than one proofread. Anyway, I thought two was plenty, so two it got. If you go to amazon and click on ‘books’ and then ‘kindle books’ and type my name, you’ll see it. It’s a bargain at £2.23. I really love the cover. The book is also shortly to be available as an epub for ipads,
B & N, etc.

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The Author

Geraldine Evans is a British writer of police procedurals that contain a lot of humour and family drama Her15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn series features DI Joe Rafferty, a London-Irish, working-class, lapsed Catholic, who comes from a family who think - if he must be a policeman - he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. Her 2-strong Casey & Catt series features DCI 'Will' Casey, a serious-minded, responsible policeman, whose 'the Sixties never died', irresponsible, drug-taking, hippie parents, pose particular problems of the embarrassing kind.

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