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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Guest Blog: Janet Lane Walters: What If - Those Magic Words!

For a writer "What If" are magical words. What if the hero learns the heroine has hidden a baby from him? What if she meets the man of her dreams and he's resistant the pull? What if a mutual enemy tries to pull a loving couple apart? There are so many ideas those two words spark. And "What if" can send a writer on the adventure of a lifetime, at least until those words pop into mind again. "What if" is the idea that sends a writer on a journey but there are six other words in the form of questions that help the writer find his or her way along the road to the completed manuscript. The six additional questions are Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Who are the people in the story. In romances, there must be a hero and a heroine. There can be an opponent to one or both of the main characters, or not. There are often minor characters who play a role as in employer or best friend. One thing to be sure of is not to let the minor characters take over. The main characters must be rounded rather than paper characters. There are probably as many ways of creating characters as there are writers but some things are essential. The names a writer gives his or her characters can be important. A hero called Horace Blob might not make a good impression on the reader. One way of developing characters is through Astrology. Finding a good book that gives not only the Sun Signs but also the Moon Signs and the Ascendant gives a multitude of traits that can be used to show the characters in a great light. The Sun stands for the character's inner nature, something he or she may not let many people know. The Moon defines the emotional nature as in hos the character will react to a given situation. The Ascendant is the face the character shows the world. Put these all together and a character with many sides will start the writer on the road to a completed book.

What signifies the characters' goals. Even minor characters can have goals but the ones they have shouldn't be stronger than those of the hero and heroine. In a romance, the goal is to find a lasting love. But the main characters may have other goals such as solving a mystery, succeeding at some job or caring for their family. Making the goals go along with the traits a writer selects can deepen the story. Layers make for good reading.

Why is the reason the hero or heroine has for wanting a particular goal. Since he or she may have more than one goal, there could be more than one reason. In romance the reasons for finding love are a multitude. Some of them are a wanting to belong, the desire for a family and the need for a physical consummation.

Where is the location of the story. This can also be a milieu and can cause twists to the plot. But where can be more than a city, town, village or a farm. The where can be a world of the writer's imagination. The where can be the past or the future. Think of the ways where a story is set can touch and change the road the story takes. A space ship with crowded corridors, a world where dragons live, a steel mill town during a strike, a farm that can be lost or won with the wrong or right decision. A writer has to consider the where also when describing the house, room, park or other small venue where the hero and heroine meet. This should be done with short bits of description that is woven into the scene.

When involves time and time is a vast subject. There are years, seasons, days and times of days. Using time allows a writer to locate a character in time. Time also adds to the story and can make changes. Imagine a hero or heroine waking in the past or in the future. What will this do to their goals and reasons. What about the hot days of summer or the bitter cold of winter? The hours can make a difference. Things seen while the sun is rising or the room appears may be different than what the character sees during the brightness of noon.

All these things lead to the last of the six. How? This is the journey the hero and heroine take while they search for and find love. The how involves all the other questions the writer has answered knitting the strands into a braid.

Janet Lane Walters has been writing romances since 1972 when her first "sweet nurse" romance was published, followed by two more in the same year. A few years later she returned to nursing to help educate four children. She is now writing full time and has some 35 to 40 books published. She writes in a number of genres and subgenres. At present she resides in the scenic Hudson River Valley with her psychiatrist husband who has no desire to cure her obsession with writing. She has won a number of awards for her writing. Janet is a member of EPIC, RWA and Broad Universe.

BLURB: The Warriors of Bast
Tira has always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, but circumstances and finances have kept her from becoming an archeologist. Her dream of seeing her older sister drug free is shattered by Luci’s murder by a drug dealer. Tira must run to be safe from the killer. A crumpled flyer offers an escape…The answer is in your stars.

Tira flees her pursuers and reaches a brownstone where two elderly women cast her horoscope. She is offered refuge but must undertake a dangerous quest. She will be unable to speak of her world, or anything alien to the culture she enters and… she will remain there forever.

Kashe is the unloved middle son of the nomarch of Mero. He reminds his father of the Nubian slave ancestor the nomarch wishes to forget. Though Kashe wants to become a warrior of Horu, his father has other plans. A desire for power drives the nomarch. To see his eldest son, Pian, as pharaoh, the nomarch plots with the priests of Aken Re.

The pair sets out on the quest for the symbols; the flail, the crook and the double crown. Tira learns this Egypt has many differences from the Egypt she has studied. They must face nearly insurmountable challenges as they pursue their sacred quest.


Sandy said...

This book sounds fascinating to me, since I've been to Egypt.

Sun Singer said...

Nice post. "What if?" is definately a magical question.

JL Walters said...

Sandy and Sun Singer, Thanks for stopping by.

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi Janet,
I adore those words "What If?" - they certainly can open the imagination wonderfully. Great post.

Dorothy said...

Love those posts that come from "what ifs"!

Shoshanna Evers said...

"What if?" is the question that always gets me started too! :)

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