Friday, May 10, 2019

Moment of pause

I often talk about what inspires my writing (music, other authors, news) but what does it mean when something or someone gives me a moment of pause? What's that about?

In life, we sometimes are grabbed by a moment. It could be a conversation we have, something we notice or maybe even an image we see online. It's that moment that we find ourselves replaying in our minds later because there's something powerful that has connected with you. There's a reason.

When it comes to my writing, I often find that it's the moments I notice in television, movies, the news, in music, books or just everyday life that give me a moment of pause that often come creeping into my own writing in a powerful way. There's a reason why that one, specific moment or even split second has grabbed me and it's important to investigate and to also remind myself that art is made up of a collection of powerful moments that should stick with the reader.

One example I often give is the television show, Ray Donovan. If you're familiar with the show, you know that Donovan was brought up by a slightly rough around the edges family (who are featured on the show, as a constant reminder of that fact) and now works with the rich and famous of either LA or New York City. I had a 'moment of pause' with this specific show when I first watched Ray Donovan, dressed in an expensive suit, go to his expensive car and take out a baseball bat which he, in turn, used to beat the piss out of someone. I was captivated by this scene more than if he had just punched the guy or taken out a gun and shot him because it was completely unexpected (unpredictable) and not something I thought I'd see from a man in an Armani suit (contradiction). The bottom line is that my 'moment of pause' that really drew me in also made the show more memorable to me. When I took a deeper look, I realized it was actually the contradiction and unpredictability that captured me, therefore it was important that I also show it in my own work.

There are various other scenes in television and movies that captivate me, stuck with me over the years and I, in turn, have a goal of creating those same kinds of scenes in my books. I think there's something amazing about having a comment, a visual or even a character themselves that captivates an audience. And at the end of the day, isn't that every artist's goal?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Plant the seed 🌱

It's important that you 'plant the seed' early in a book to capture a reader. But what does that mean?

Planting a seed essentially means to create situations, obstacles and to a certain degree, some clues about what to expect in the upcoming chapters of the book. It could be in the form of foreshadowing or simply letting the reader know who your protagonist is, what he/she stands for and what kind of craziness the reader can expect.

Here's a couple of quick examples of 'planting the seed' I've done in previous books:

This is the premier book in my current series and in it, we meet Chase Jacobs. The young protagonist is very much the boy-next-door and in the early chapters, we learn that he was recently dumped by his high school sweetheart and reluctantly goes to a party to soothe his pain. While there, he is given a drug to 'mellow' him out and hooks up with a woman he isn't particularly attracted to only to later learns she's pregnant. Forced by his mother to marry this mere stranger, Chase sees all his hopes and dreams go down the drain. All this while lusting after his new BFF who tells him she's a lesbian despite the fact that he's getting some very strong signals suggesting the opposite. Add in his complicated relationship with his family, growing resentment about having no control in his own life and you got one complicated seed about to burst through the ground. 

Jorge Hernandez comes out with both barrels blazing in the 6th book of the series. Here, we learn that Jorge is discovering an ultra-conservative movement within Canada that could affect everything from his personal to professional life. He not only see proof when his daughter has a confrontation with another child at school but learns it may be creeping into the general beliefs of Canadians which could, in turn, affect his (legalized) pot business. What if laws are changed to potentially make it illegal again? After everything he's fought for to get where he has, Jorge Hernandez certainly has no intention of backing down and this becomes very clear in the first few chapters of the book. This seed is so powerful, the earth is shaking.

How important is it to plant a seed? Unless the reader has something to grab on to early on, they really have no reason to continue reading. If a few seeds are planted, they can't help but see what is about to burst through the soil.