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annehart

Jumpstarting Your Online Fiction Writing Career in the Digital Media

Books by Anne Hart.

Jumpstarting Your Online Fiction Writing Career in the Digital Media

What If You Can't Think Of Anything To Write About? Write About Peoples’ Inner Payoffs and Moral Needs

         You’re no longer competing only with the entertainment industry if you write fiction for the new media. Fiction-writing skills can be transferred to non-traditional markets and sold as dramatizations for a variety of media from industrial training videos for business, education, computer game simulation scripts for training, the military, or infotainment and edutainment.  

Here's a media statement that came my way a few years ago. Use it to stir ideas and applications so you can respond to it with a story of your own, in case you don't have anything started yet about which to write.

According to the media, when the Communists took over in China decades ago, the men were relieved that they no longer were required by law to beat their wives daily. Is this true? What source did the media have for this statement? How can you use it in your life's story?

The media also reported that in 16th century Russia, the law gave instructions on how to beat your wife without anger. In 19th century Germany the commonly accepted rules of child rearing of the era was to break the child's will and teach the child never to question authority.

If these media reports reflect true historical fact, it created tremendous fear on both sides. At a 1990s holistic health convention in San Diego, Dr. Timothy Leary, at the age of 70, five years before he passed on, raised his arm and left the audience in wild applause with the closing line of his presentation as: "Listen to your own soul and stop following authority." Writing a commercial/marketable autobiography is your final commentary on listening to your own soul and following your own authority.

Your first task would be, then, to find out whether the media told the truth when it reported this rather surprising at the least statements. If true, and you can find a source as the media didn't provide any source for fact-checking, then proceed to write a story using any of this facts. Perhaps a historical biography might be in the works or something fiction this way moves. Try writing dramatizations of children in American history, for example. Use story format, storyboard, or drama script, narration, or Internet theater stage play version, or radio drama formats. We’ll cover all these formats.

Fictional Biography and Life Story Dramatizations for the New Media

Use narrative and background information in your biography or life story when you need to stop the forward momentum of your story. It reminds the reader that the material is being read.

Narrative is a disruption, so only use it when you want to disrupt.

            When forward momentum begins, you immerse the reader in real time instead of time travel. Narrative is passive. Character dialogue plus action verbs move everything forward. Narrative creates distance between the reader and the story.

Fictional Biography and your Point of View Character:

In biography, you as the writer create a life story. In fictionalized biography, you have a dream. You can make the reader an active participant in a biography by dividing your book into even and odd chapters, usually 24 chapters total. The first 12 even-numbered chapters, you involve the reader in the action.

The following 12 odd- numbered chapters in your novel develop the push and pull of the relationship tension between the characters

Chapter size can vary with the size of the book, but it's up to the publisher to specify preferred length. You can adjust accordingly with six chapters of action and six chapters of relationships tension. Just have the usual chapter one, action happening to your main character and, an odd-numbered chapter, and chapter two, the even-number chapter developing the relationship, after the first meeting, the tension between your two main characters, followed by an action chapter moving the plot forward, followed by a relationship chapter, showing how your character is growing and changing through the events in the story and the decisions/actions of the characters around your main character.

            Using even and odd numbered chapters also can be used to write novels and biographies with two different endings and middle sections for readers who want interactive books to read where the reader chooses the ending and the middle point plots. Separate the even and odd chapters, and you have two separate stories, novels, biographies, or other books. Put them together and you have one book with a winding plot or subplots.

If you are interested in hypertext fiction and like to think in three dimensions, save these chain-linked novels or biographies for possible hypertext books. Eastgate Systems, Inc. has good advice and publishes hypertext fiction, especially about writing stories in three dimensions for interactivity or where the reader chooses the ending. This works great in a mystery novel with different endings the readers choose.

            Narrative helps to make transitions smoother. You can move your characters into different times and places, especially in a time-travel biography written as a novel or script.

            Transitions fill gaps between two points in place, space, or time. Keep your transition to a 10-word sentence. Put the transition in the last sentence of your chapter. Use narrative to explain a new perspective. It's used to make an emotional impact. Every biography needs texture and depth.  Vivid details and active verbs such as "pastry dough fired from his fingers" and "tears salted the backs of her eyelids" add texture and depth that anchor your character to your story changes. Short transitions strengthen your biography.

            One anchor that works well in biography is to match the personality an emotion of your character to the description of the surroundings or environment. If your character is grieving, match the emotional reaction to loss with environment cues that are in character. As what your character notices most from the environment? Is it the bare roots of petrified forests? Is it raindrops silvering birches? Would the scene match the emotions of the character? Would you contrast them and yet seem not out of place?

If your character rolls with laughter, or roils with anger, would he notice the sun-dappled petals? Perfumed roses? Would he notice sunny, light, and bright colors? Deep lakes? The robes of Buddhist nuns? Wrinkles? Musical nuances of delight? Writhing bare roots of unearthed trees?              

Investigative Biography

Investigative biographies are a genre that research strong historic currents running through a neighborhood or area of town. They can be political, historical, corporate, scientific, or issues-oriented. You approach them by investigating and interviewing records and heirs or family and friends. One good way to start is with exploring rich cultural heritages of pioneers, including unexplored ethnic groups. 

If you're looking for an optional assignment to write a biography, investigate the rich cultural heritage of a variety of ethnic groups as pioneers in your area. Investigative biographies are meant to stick to historic facts. Novelized biographies can focus on the romance in the character's life or the suspense, action, or travel, to meet the needs of specific audience. Do you want to write training materials or entertainment? Strictly factual biography, or life stories of depth?

The Depth-Probing Relationship Biography

Whether you choose diary format or memoirs, an article may lead to a book, but it must have depth. Round out your biography with the darker side of marriage, for example. Deal with issues that are important. How do your characters really feel? Write serious relationship stories in a depth-probing biography. Does your leading character trick the secondary character into anything that will change both their lives? The relationship biography is not shallow. If your story is about betrayal, focus on deep feelings and issues leading up to the reason for the betrayal. Don’t be superficial in a biography.  Ask the characters why they are making the decisions they make and bring those reasons to the reader. Make it clear. Probing biographies are deep and go into the archetypes of why people act as they do and make their decisions.   You can check out biographies on the Web at http://www.biographies.com/.

Writing Salable Work is about Selling Solutions

How Do You Sell Solutions?

In a true story or novel, what's commercial is when you sell your solution rather than your problem. People won't buy your book to get depressed. People buy books to get exhilarated, to find a solution to universal problems most of us go through. The young buy books to get thrilled or scared. The old buy books to find peace within, deep healing, or to improve memory and most of all to find solutions to universal problems with which we all can identify and to find serenity, unity, and a sense of accomplishment. People buy books like Chickensoup for the Soul because it offers solutions, values, and virtues--solutions to problems. And people buy books to find the joy of life or to laugh, to learn something new, and to get help in making decisions.

People buy books to find courage
So inspire, motivate, and give your reader solutions. In a life story instead of depressing and dumping your victimizations on your reader or making people feel sorry for you, put in the solution.

It's okay to go through the gauntlet, but come out on the other side having grown and being stronger. People are looking to find courage in your book. Give them the answer with the question. Let’s take a look at how you keep a loose leaf notebook to outline your book before you begin to write.

Tips On Using A Loose leaf Notebook By Best-Selling Romance And Mystery Novelist, Merline Lovelace:

"Since I can't work in a disorganized place/space, I think the best tip I ever got from a published author pertained to the business end of the writing profession. Peggy Moreland shared a really neat way of keeping everything about a book handy. Instead of stashing pertinent documents in files, she suggested setting up a "book book" - a 3-ring binder that contains everything related to a particular book.

"I've set up 1" binders with plastic insert covers for each of my 40+ books, with tabs for research, synopsis, contract, edits, reviews and promo, and royalty statements. The book's title is prominently labeled on the spine. When I get the covers, I slip a copy into the plastic insert on the front, so I always have one for publicity purposes.

"After publication, I file the notebooks in my supply closet. The active books I keep in a file drawer by my desk, so when my editor or agent calls, I can whip the notebook out and find exactly what I need. You can't imagine how many hours of fruitless searching through files this
has saved!"

Hope this is what you're looking for --

Merline

(email sent to me by Merline Lovelace when I asked her for a quote I could use on the best tip she ever received from a popular published book author.)

When Merline passed around her loose leaf at her lecture, (and she makes a loose leaf for each novel she writes) it contained the followed sections with labeled tabs:
1. Royalties
2. Reviews
3. Cover
4. Editing and Revisions
5. Synopsis
6. Queries
7. Research

Merline Lovelace recommended that for mainstream novels you do two scenes per chapter, one relationship scene and one action scene. You have your characters doing something together in the relationship and action scenes. A mainstream novel, like biography usually is 24 chapters. Sit down and chapter by chapter find out what's happening on the relationship side and what's the action on the mystery or plot side. Have awareness of what's going on with your characters.

That's great advice since Merline sold more than 4 million copies of her romance and suspense with action novels.

She said that the best information she learned about writing came from published authors. Her advice is worth looking at here, especially on organizing your loose leaf so it's easier to get started.

#

Writing “Worlds” 

According to the e-publishing, online, and digital media industries, “worlds” declare your story and are called the "declarative" method in interactive and virtual reality story development. They do not use the "procedural" method that gives steps in a chronological order like the ingredients listed in a cookbook or software manual guide of directions on how to do something. By defining a world, I define with my senses by thinking in three dimensions.

Specifically, I define all colors, tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and any other ingredient. Then I let the viewer, reader, user, listener, combine your elements the way they want, not the way I want, to create a variety of combinations. They can end up making a story very different from the one you imagined.

The whole concept of creating "worlds" is creating variation on a theme, a very sensing/perceiving experience for the mind.

I create educational nonfiction products as well as fiction, and I firmly believe in the use of interactive video, computer software, and virtual reality markets for nonfiction interactive as well as CD-ROM and DVD products. All learning should be entertaining and fun, no matter how serious the subject.

I favor the web structure for nonfiction products development. For adventure games, I use the "worlds" method. And for creating stories, videos, computer software, or virtual reality products where the viewer switches between different points of view, mindset, or different personality type behaviors, of a variety of characters, I use the parallel storyline structure with best results. It's the writer, now, that creates the market for software engineers. Inventors develop products that writers suggest in science fiction, in the imagination.

More than a decade ago, various writers worked with software on the market, for example, back in 2002, to help writers of computer game scripts and interactive media. It's name then: StoryVision.

 

Fresh angles on writing novels:

As a fresh angle on writing ethnic time-travel romances and mystery books for all ages, you might try writing about the psychological, sociological, and creative expression ideas behind the 'cyberlife' and how more women can enter through that great wormhole back door by marketing practical uses of creativity in the newest cutting edges of virtual reality and interactive media.

If you're a novelist, screenwriter, career development and business book author, artist, corporate animator, or producer, look for small niches where you can turn your expertise, creativity, idea-generating, intuition, imagination, and vision into practical applications in every industry that marries video, phones, and creative expression to computers. You might 'sell' in fiction a story focusing on psychology as escape, either in suspense novels on online, as e-books, or in paperback. For example, in my nonfiction books, I explain (in paperback books) how to make money with your recording device, video camera, computer game design scripts, or animation. Example, the book: How to Make Money Teaching Online With Your Camcorder and PC: 25 Practical and Creative How-To Start-Ups To Teach Online, paperback book, published March 12, 2002.

Former scriptwriters of the Saturday morning cartoons, and retired Hollywood screenwriters as well as novelists are increasingly turning to writing scripts for computer games and submitting them to the interactive multimedia and CD-ROM markets--where age is an asset because the field is still new.

The computer industry long ago realized that you reach your peak in visual and verbal creativity between sixty and seventy-eight, whereas Hollywood tosses the writer out at fifty-five--if the individual hasn't climbed the ladder to executive producer by that time.

When you’re a great scriptwriter and still your screenwriting agent says, "I can't sell you anymore because you're too old, (as in the International Documentary Association’s (IDA) documentary video, “The Hollywood Grey List,” it's time to start writing scripts and books for the new electronic media. It's one other alternative to trying to break into writing mystery novels at sixty. Better yet, do both.

Women like to hold paperbacks in their purses and hands. The computer market still hasn't come up with CD-ROMs for citizens who want to escape into imagination and parallel worlds while reading in bed, on a bus, or while out camping, unless you have a palm-sized battery-run computer.

With immersive video, more markets will need scriptwriters, video producers, distributors, vendors, and development executives, along with other types of video-oriented people from the independent contractor and software talent manager to the staff script supervisor.

Now that the computer and entertainment industries have merged and joined with the learning industry, entertainment as a concept is changing. It's the writer rather than the technician who is creating the scripts that generate the new software and video for the entertainment industry, the computer industry, and the training/learning/educational/instructional industry.

If you're an older video person or into computers and want to write for the interactive script market, you know that interconnections between scenes form a web. You'll have to think and feel in three dimensions to visualize the connections among your scenes.

Back in 2002, I mapped out my story structure first with StoryVison software. Flowcharting tools can't write your scenes. Your word processing program can't illustrate how your scenes link together. As a writer, I visualize, navigate through, and map out the web of scenes that are basic to the master script of any interactive product I create for video or for a computer or for the virtual reality industry. You have to map the structure of your interactive story.

I need to draw a diagram of my scenes that looks like a clothing pattern. Then I rotate the visuo-spatial picture in space...turn it around 180 degrees or more...Then I transfer what I see in the picture to what I have to write in words as text, and then back it up with the right music.

 The next step is to shift to my left brain hemisphere to write these scenes in standard master script screenplay format. Older people (55-79) often have a more highly developed diagramming capability to create the multiple storylines and pathways or narrative branches that make scripts interactive.     

Shifting to the right brain to do this comes easier to people 50-75. It's biological and can be proven in tests of creativity that ask people to write scripts for their video-biography or autobiography on tape. First you see the spatial image as if projected onto a huge screen, then you write the dialogue from extroverted intuition. Finally, you whittle the drama into concrete details that make an impact.

I end up with a detailed blueprint for an interactive script, an interactive screenplay. Older writers presently shut out of the most glamorous and creative Hollywood scriptwriting markets can find their dream niche market by creating interactive or CD-ROM learning as entertainment products. The producer’s seat is wide open and waiting for creative talent to fill the demand in the community for better products.

     Writing for interactive media goes beyond thinking in three dimensions. Before you write a screenplay, you need a plan. Your feature film requires thinking in two dimensions--it's more of an illustration than a clay model. Not all interactive media is about three dimensional thinking. Most of the writing on the Web requires only writing books, putting up the hypertext format, and letting the reader click on icons or buttons to flip pages. There’s very little interactivity about it--only graphics, text, and perhaps sound or a few video clips. Games may only have video clips and buttons to test quick movements, logic, or agility.

Older people don't need to hire younglings to pitch ideas for them to younger executives. Through e-mail the writer can reach new media video development executives, the software industry, or studios. Selling multimedia scripts and books is not based on social connections and the hiring of peers of same age groups as much as the film and TV production business is.

For development executives, producers, directors, and software/video talent agents. If you're a creative person more than 50 years old, explore the potential of interactive storytelling. Evaluate and communicate ideas for the development of interactive products. Or become a software talent agent.

Put your story on paper and other electronic ways or on disc or small drives so you can offer it to video and film producers or software companies.

I create structures for my nonfiction books and video scripts also, as well as my fiction writing. I create educational products. In my fiction, I create branching stories, those multiple options the viewer can choose at a variety of points in my stories (as in choosing the roads taken and not taken). 

Older creative writers, animators, desktop video designers, computer game designers, and producers can create complex branching that have links that loop back to previous scenes, or simple branches that always move forward. I create web structures to map my stories, to create rules, or connect links in a specific way.           

As an older writer, I'm more efficient at linking information the same way rooms are linked in a house to create role playing games or anything else with a web of interconnected areas, such as a travel guide to a specific location.

I create parallel storylines in one of my books. These are "straight line" stories that have links among them. My books are conventional stories, but the reader has the choice of switching between the point of views of the different characters, according to their personality type.

I use parallel storylines to switch perspectives of each of my fictional or instructional characters. I show the flow of a story from each character. Or I show the same story in many different storylines, each with the scene's subtext revealed bit by bit as the story progresses.

My writing after fifty specializes in dialog writing for novels and creating many parallel storylines. I can choose to reveal or mask the character's true behavior in a computer game in interactive media, or have the same scenes, but showing each of the character's real feelings. The viewer watching the story and interacting on video or computer/video hookup could choose to switch between the parallel storylines at any time during the story.

I enjoy creating psychology software or video, and show deeper and deeper views of each character's mind by creating parallel storylines. It's terrific to be over 50 with nothing to do all day but create virtual worlds and live the Cybernaut life.

I create what in the interactive multimedia industry is known as "Worlds." Instead of creating scenes, the interactive writer creates worlds. A world is developed by writing detailed definitions of all the characters, locations and other entities in your story. Then I give each definition ascribed rules to specify their properties and behavior. You can do the same or what fits your pattern of writing and organizing your research.

Whatever story comes out in the end could have limitless possibilities as the results of the interactions among all the characters, locations, events, and other detailed rules and definitions that you have defined and assigned. I, like a lot of older writers, enjoy creating the rules in a virtual world, the definitions, the entities, the locations, characters, and events and set them into perpetual motion. The computer uses your specifics and rules to build a story.

Writing 'worlds' to form elements of your storyline

When I write 'worlds', I do not know how the elements of my story will interact with one another. It's up to the viewer, user, or reader to decide by the choices the viewer makes, and it's up to the computer that applies the rules I wrote. It's 'worlds' that you want to create. If you're developing worlds, you generally move from the general to the specific.

I create a diagram first and define the widest categories. You also might start with breadth, a broad diagram. Below, on further levels, I will refine the story diagram, getting more and more specific as I go down further on your various story levels.

My story is broken into its basic categories of characters and locations and then broken down further on a lower level into sub-categories, such as locations, and then broken down again into more sub-categories, in a spiraling pathway, resembling the coils found in double helixes or nature’s petals.

For example, I might develop a story based on my psycho-thriller novels Psycheye, or The Mask of Psychopathy, that takes place in a newspaper production office. However, instead of creating a specific flow for my story, I could create a detailed definition of its characters and locations within the newspaper building.

I could create two main categories, such as the newspaper building and the reporters and editors. First, I draw a flow chart represented by the start reporter and the chief editor.

Using the 'worlds' technique, links will not represent the flow from scene to scene. What they do show is the relationships between my different entities.

Creating categories and sub-categories of a story

I allow all my sub-categories to be categorized in a specific way. Under "characters" I can create sub-categories of editor, star reporter, copy person, secretary, intern, etc. Beneath the newspaper employees you can have a sub-category of "student interns." Beneath the interns, you can have another sub-category of "senior citizen volunteer reporters."

Finally, I get the most specific you can get in detail, and have the wannabees trying to break into journalism, the students battering at the gates of the building to get a foot in the door on the career ladder. The vertical, hierarchical ladder-climbers are separated from the entrepreneurial lateral thinkers. Organizational-quick closure types follow different career tracks than imaginative individuals in their pursuit of creative expression or administration. Each offers a different throne of power and control at the peak of achievement...autonomy versus belongingness, visionaries versus traditionalists. What worked in the past is best for the future versus change and novelty works better. You create 'worlds' to structure your plans.

The whole idea in creating worlds is to structure information by levels, categories, and sub-categories. This 'world' hierarchy in your fiction writing can create the epitome of organization. I start with the most general and refine them to the most specific categories. It has been said and written about horizontal desires expressed through vertical decisions, as in the dance within a storyline, where characters' decisions drive the plot forward so that the plot doesn't 'sag' in the middle like a mattress with 'craters.'

According to the industry, worlds declare your story and are called the 'declarative' method in interactive and virtual reality story development. They do not use the "procedural" method that gives steps in a chronological order like the ingredients listed in a cookbook or software manual guide of directions on how to do something. By defining a world, I define with my senses by thinking in three dimensions.

Specifically, I define all colors, tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and any other ingredient. Then I let the viewer, reader, user, listener, combine your elements the way they want, not the way I want, to create a variety of combinations. They can end up making a story very different from the one you imagined.

The whole concept of creating 'worlds' in fiction writing is about creating variation on a theme, an experience for the mind focused on using all your character's senses

I also create educational nonfiction products as well as fiction, and research the use of interactive video, computer software, and virtual reality markets for nonfiction interactive as well as e-book and paperback reading and/or listening/viewing products. All learning should be entertaining and fun, no matter how serious the subject.

I favor the 'web' (connectivity) structure for nonfiction products development. For adventure games, I use the 'worlds' method. And for creating stories, videos, computer software, or virtual reality products where the viewer switches between different points of view, mindset, or different personality type behaviors, of a variety of characters, I use the parallel storyline structure with best results. It's the writer, now, that creates the market for software engineers. Inventors develop products that writers suggest in science fiction, in the imagination.

There's even software on the market to help writers of computer game scripts and interactive media.

 

Turning Freelance Writing into Salable Work in the Digital Media 

Does Writing Your Life Story As A Novel Affect Your Memory?

 

To find out, we'd have to ask the people who write their life story in their older years what it did for them, their memory, and their ability to think and feel. Making use of introverted feeling in writing a commercial or salable life story for the new media. Thinking in three dimensions for older adults is a new highway. 

1.     When turning your salable true story, corporate history, or biography into an adventure action romance novel, don't set up your main characters in the first chapter to be in transit traveling on board a plane, train, or ship going somewhere. The action actually starts or hits them after they have already arrived at their destination. Start your first chapter when your characters already get to their destination place or point in time. A first chapter that opens when your main character is on a plane or train is the kiss of death from many editors point of view and the main reason why a good novel often is rejected. So cut out the traveling scene from your first chapter and begin where the action starts for real, at the destination point.

 

2.     Use a lot of dialogue when turning a biography or your life story into a salable novel, especially in a romance, adventure action, or suspense novel or in one where you combine romance with adventure and suspense. USE NO MORE THAN THREE PAGES OF NARRATIVE WITHOUT DIALOGUE. Let characters speak through the dialogue and tell the reader what is happening. Get characters to speak as normally as possible. If the times and place dictate they speak in proverbs, so be it. Proverbs make the best novels as you turn your proverb into a story and play it out as a novel. Otherwise, have normal speech so you can be the catalyst and bring people together who understand clearly what one another means. 

3.     Put your characters on the stage and have them talking to one another. If you have introspection in your book, don't use introspection for your action line. Action adventure books keep characters on stage talking to the audience. 

4.     Use magazines and clothing catalogues to make a collage of what your character might look like. This inspiration may go up on a board in front of you or on the wall to see as you work. Get a picture in your mind of what your characters look like. If they don't exist in art history, draw them yourself or make a mixed media collage of what they look like, speak like, and stand for. Some ideas include the models in "cigar" magazines, catalogues, and fashion publications as well as multi-ethnic and historical illustrations and photos. 

5.     Research history and keep a loose-leaf notebook with tabs on the history of places you want to research. The history itself is great for ideas on what plot to write. Look at or visit old forts and similar places. Plug in characters to your research. Look at forts of foreign settlements in the country of your choice, U.S. or any other place. Record the dates in your files. Create a spreadsheet in Excel or any other type of spread sheet with your dates from historical research as these will relate to your characters and help you develop a real plot. 

6.     Keep a notebook for each novel or biography you write. Put everything related to each book in a notebook. Have one notebook for historical research and one for the novel you're writing or true storybook. 

7.     When sending out your book manuscript make a media kit for yourself with your resume, photo, list of works in development if you are not yet published, and any other material about your own experience in any other field. Your own biography and photo presented to the press also can be used to let an editor know when you send out your manuscript of what's in development and what you've done. 

8.     Write down the point of view before your book is begun. Whose point of view is it anyway? Who tells the story? If you're writing a romance novel from your life story or a military romantic suspense novel, true story, radio script, or other genre, agree on the point of view before you start. Who's telling the story and how does she or he know how the other characters know what to say? 

9.     It's not necessary to continue ethnic stereotypes in your book. If one of your characters is a music agent, for example, and a lot of music agents are of one ethnicity or speak with a certain accent, it's not necessary to continue the stereotyping roles. Pick something new for a change. Otherwise it becomes cliché. Research diverse ways of telling the same story so the reader learns something he has not heard generalized. Use a series of incidents, action and relationship tension to balance your plot with your dialogue. 

10.   If you're turning a biography into a romance novel, you need to balance the relationship tension with the mystery, action, or other plot. You must have some event occur on both sides, on the sexual tension side and on the mystery or action side to balance out the book. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. And in a romance novel, especially one coming from a life story, your relationship tension occurs, and then the plot moves on. If it's a romantic suspense or mystery, the mystery side event happens. You have to balance action with interaction between the heroine and the hero. 

Try putting the relationship tension between the hero and heroine in the even-numbered chapters, and the mystery, historical events, or action plot events in the odd-numbered chapters. In a 24-chapter- historical romance, this alternating action chapter, romantic tension chapter balances the plot smoothly. Most historical romance novels have 22-24 chapters. If you analyze the best-selling ones, you'll see that chapter one has an opening scene on the action side so you see what's happening. The first action-oriented introductory chapter that shows us what's happening is followed by the second chapter on the romantic tension side showing us when and how the heroine meets the hero or has a re-union with the hero. In the second chapter, the writer takes the heroine somewhere in place or time. The heroine in the second chapter is defined. Either she's a 90's woman, or she's in her place in history or rebelling against it. You tell the story. 

Romantic biographies usually are 10-12 chapters long. Historical romances are twice that size at 22-24 chapters. The writer decides whether it's best to turn a biography into a historical romance or a life story into a mystery, suspense, action adventure, young adult novel, romance, or other genre. In turning a biography into a romance, the romantic tension side is about girl meeting hero in the first chapter. In the second chapter, the hero takes her somewhere in place, space, time, or state of mind. 

Here's how you set up a life story to turn it into a historical romance with adventure:

_________________________________________________________________________             

ACTION SIDE                                                                        ROMANTIC TENSION SIDE

Chapter by chapter. 

CHAPTER ONE                                                                     CHAPTER ONE

Introduce characters by action.                                              What's happening to characters? 

CHAPTER TWO                                                                    CHAPTER TWO

More action that moves the romance forward.                   More romance that moves the action forward. 

BALANCE THIS OUT BETWEEN ROMANCE AND PLOT 

WEAVE TOGETHER the romance or relationship tension with the plot or action in its genre. You're braiding a candle, a piece of dough, your dolls' hair. Braid or weave your tension and your plot as if you were working a loom to create a book. WHAT HAPPENS ON ONE SIDE (ACTION) AFFECTS THE RELATIONSHIP (ROMANCE). The tension or antagonism between the hero and heroine moves the plot forward and weaves the reader into the book. Hero and heroine must work together so she learns to trust him and vice versa. Turning a biography or life story into a romance novel is about how each character LEARNS TO TRUST the other. As trust develops, the relationship develops. 

A plot point is a turning point of crisis in your novel. And a key plot point when turning a biography into a romance novel is when the hero and heroine LEARN TO TRUST EACH OTHER. 

Keep your relationships building on the relationship tension side of the fence in your novel. Keep a separate notebook for building romantic tension. Keep a separate notebook for building plot action as events move the relationship towards tension (pull) and towards trust (push). Keep the relationship building towards trust. Regardless of the tension, he isn't going to abuse her, explode and hit her, shove her, or act nasty. He's a hero because he's slow to anger and doesn't snap at her under stress. She's never a battered wife in a romance novel.

What you want is to provide a read for escape that teaches the heroine to trust the hero and vice versa, that she can trust her life in his hands and he in hers, regardless of how much stress is put on him from the outside world. Let them walk the gauntlet together. He will never turn on her and blame her when the outside world wounds him. It's trust that moves the relationship forward, even though the chapters may pit the hero against the heroine to create the tension. It's how they are pitted that gets the book sold or rejected. 

The relationship must keep building. The external conflict must be resolved at the same time as the relationship builds to its maximum. You must get your characters to trust each other and work together to solve the mystery, problem, or plot point. They must solve a problem together through their trust, which builds their relationship to the positive end of the story. 

As you sit down and look at your manuscript or notes chapter by chapter, find out WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE RELATIONSHIP SIDE AND ON THE ACTION SIDE or mystery or other genre plot side. Always have an awareness of what's going on with both sides so you can balance the book. 

Mainstream books usually run 24 chapters. Write two scenes per chapter. ONE RELATIONSHIP SCENE AND ONE ACTION SCENE. Have your two main characters, your hero and heroine, in a romance, for example doing something together. In a mystery or biography, have your main characters working on some project together to build trust and relationships as you involve them in the action or events.

NOW ESCALATE THE DRAMA. Escalate the action side of the drama and then escalate the romantic tension side or the romance. If you're writing a mystery without romance, escalate the mystery or suspense. In a biography-into-romance novel, escalate the romantic or sexual tension so that WHAT HAPPENS IN CHAPTER TWO ESCALATES THE ACTION. Each time you escalate the drama of the romance, at the same time escalate the drama of the action or mystery so one balances the other and moves the story forward. That way the characters grow, change, trust each other, and build a relationship against the backdrop of changing and escalating action that eventually is resolved and the problems solved. What happens in chapter two escalates the action of what happens in chapter three. 

Do up-front plotting by thinking the book through before writing. Research always changes your plot, and you get ideas about plots from historical, technical, educational, or business research. 

You'll get plot ideas from your research. Spend four to six weeks researching biographical/historical novels, corporate histories, and biography turned into historical novels. Always obtain written permission to summarize or paraphrase any writings you find in historical research so you will be sure not to use another person's words, regardless of how old the research is or whether it was spoken in a conference to a large audience. Always use your own words in your writing. Everything you research or hear at a lecture most likely is copyrighted. So get anything in writing you want to repeat. 

Keep your loose-leaf notebook divided into sections such as these: 

Research

Queries

Synopsis

Contrast

Editing/Revisions

Cover (or ideas for cover)

Images: What characters might look like: (cut out clips from magazines and make a collage).

Reviews

Royalties

Publishers

Agents

 Using Odd and Even Chapters in Your Book

Choosing and Writing Your True Story.

Pick One:
Do you want to write:

1. An Ethnic True Story or Biography?
2. Investigative Biography?
3. Biography for children or young adults? What ages? (Young adult biographies are written at 4th grade level.)
4. Historic Biography?
5. Corporate History?
6. Memoirs?
7. Autobiography or your own life story?
8. Diary Format Novel?
9. Personal Journal for Research ?
10. Commercial Celebrity Biography?
11. Your special choice? What will it be?
12. Drama, Script, Monologue/Play, Docudrama, Radio Script?
13. Your life story as a romance novel or adventure/action or other genre?
14. Biography of famous person in a special occupation of interested to readers in similar careers?
15. Your life story as a time capsule, mixed media scrap book?

Narrative In Your Biography
Narrative works well in a radio script. How else can you use it in a biography?
Use narrative and background information in your biography or life story when you need to stop the forward momentum of your story. It reminds the reader that the material is being read.
Narrative is a disruption, so only use it when you want to disrupt.

When forward momentum begins, you immerse the reader in real time instead of time travel. Narrative is passive. Character dialogue plus action verbs move everything forward. Narrative creates distance between the reader and the story.

Biography and your Point of View Character:

In biography, you as the writer create a life story. In fictionalized biography, you have a dream. You can make the reader an active participant in a biography by dividing your book into even and odd chapters, usually 24 chapters total. The first 12 even-numbered chapters, you involve the reader in the action. The following 12 odd- numbered chapters develops the push and pull of the relationship tension between the characters.

Chapter size can vary with the size of the book, but it's up to the publisher to specify preferred length. You can adjust accordingly with six chapters of action and six chapters of relationships tension. Just have the usual chapter one, action happening to your main character and, an odd-numbered chapter, and chapter two, the even-number chapter developing the relationship, after the first meeting, the tension between your two main characters, followed by an action chapter moving the plot forward, followed by a relationship chapter, showing how your character is growing and changing through the events in the story and the decisions/actions of the characters around your main character.

Using even and odd numbered chapters also can be used to write novels and biographies with two different endings and middle sections for readers who want interactive books to read where the reader chooses the ending and the middle point plots. Separate the even and odd chapters, and you have two separate stories, novels, biographies, or other books.

Put them together and you have one book with a winding plot or subplots. If you are interested in hypertext fiction and like to think in three dimensions, save these chain-linked novels or biographies for possible hypertext books. Back in 2002, my query to Eastgate Systems, Inc. offered good advice. More than a decade ago, they published hypertext fiction, especially about writing stories in three dimensions for interactivity or where the reader chooses the ending. This idea of interactive fiction, also works great in a mystery novel with different endings the readers choose, for example in e-books or in video games and scripts with storylines.

Narrative helps to make transitions smoother. You can move your characters into different times and places, especially in a time-travel biography written as a novel or script.

Transitions fill gaps between two points in place, space, or time. Keep your transition to a 10-word sentence. Put the transition in the last sentence of your chapter. Use narrative to explain a new perspective. It's used to make an emotional impact. Every biography needs texture and depth. Vivid details and active verbs such as "pastry dough fired from his fingers" and "tears salted the backs of her eyelids" add texture and depth that anchor your character to your story changes. Short transitions strengthen your biography.

One anchor that works well in biography is to match the personality an emotion of your character to the description of the surroundings or environment. If your character is grieving, match the emotional reaction to loss with environment cues that are in character. As what your character notices most from the environment? Is it the bare roots of petrified forests? Is it raindrops silvering birches? Would the scene match the emotions of the character? Would you contrast them and yet seem not out of place?
If your character rolls with laughter, or roils with anger, would he notice the sun-dappled petals? Perfumed roses? Would he notice sunny, light, and bright colors? Deep lakes? The robes of Buddhist nuns? Wrinkles? Musical nuances of delight? Writhing bare roots of unearthed trees?

Investigative True Story
Investigative biographies are a genre that research strong historic currents running through a neighborhood or area of town. They can be political, historical, corporate, scientific, or issues-oriented. You approach them by investigating and interviewing records and heirs or family and friends. One good way to start is with exploring rich cultural heritages of pioneers, including unexplored ethnic groups.

If you're looking for an optional assignment to write a biography, investigate the rich cultural heritage of a variety of ethnic groups as pioneers in your area.  To research this community, for example, you might start with articles in the newspaper archives, libraries, and news articles on microfiche. What was life like in your area 150 years ago?

Investigative biographies are meant to stick to historic facts. Novelized biographies can focus on the romance in the character's life or the suspense, action, or travel, to meet the needs of specific audience. Do you want to write training materials or entertainment? Strictly factual biography, or life stories of depth?

The Depth-Probing Relationship Biography

Whether you choose diary format or memoirs, an article may lead to a book, but it must have depth. Round out your biography with the darker side of marriage, for example. Deal with issues that are important. How do your characters really feel? Write serious relationship stories in a depth-probing biography. Does your leading character trick the secondary character into anything that will change both their lives? The relationship biography is not shallow. If your story is about betrayal, focus on deep feelings and issues leading up to the reason for the betrayal. Don't be superficial in a biography. Ask the characters why they are making the decisions they make and bring those reasons to the reader. Make it clear. Probing biographies are deep and go into the archetypes of why people act as they do and make their decisions. You can check out biographies on the Web at www.biographies.com.

True Story Writing and Biographies

Interview as many of your relatives and friends as possible and any one else who knows you. You'll use these replies for background notes. Keep two tape recorders going when you interview people who have known or know you. When you're writing your own life story, you get only one opinion. A diary format is one genre, but what if you want a commercial, well-rounded investigative biography to sell to a publisher seeking
powerful, personal memoirs?
Biographers interview 100-140 or so people who know or knew the person. Try this with your own life story. You'll find a kaleidoscope of opinions and facts. It's the facts that are more important than the here-say in a biography. So make sure the resources are credible and can withstand fact-checking editors. You provide the fact-checking resources first. You're looking for credible documentation to show a publisher.
Even if you self-publish, many readers may want to use your documentation for historical research on some events you experienced, such as living through economic downturns or wars. Are you ready to break through old barriers to new writing and/or publishing frontiers in life story writing?