How To Build A Book …by Susan Lute

Okay, let’s get business out of the way, then we’ll get to the fun stuff. This week:

Books read: one

Currently reading: Two

New words written: 0

Pages revised: 47

Cold read: one (I’m about half way through)

Dinner meeting to discuss upcoming anthology

Worked with E-Book Formatting Fairies to format novelette for Smashwords

Published on Smashwords: A Girl Named Jane. Yay! A milestone

Made a publishing schedule for the rest of 2012

Determined the nuts and bolts of publishing a novel from finishing fist draft to launch

Developed a spreadsheet to track publishing steps

Entered Jane’s Long March Home and The London Affair in the International Digital Awards Contest.

Scheduled blog tour for The Return Of Benjamin Quincy (starts June 4 – mark your calendars)

Third interview for possible day job

Accepted job offer! Cheers!

Discovered the perfect place for a writer’s retreat while on walk with author Darla Luke

Took Annabelle through the robowash (my truck)

Conclusion: Not enough writing or revising done. Need to kick that piece into high gear.

This is the life of today’s writer. Whether you’re traditionally pubbed, e-pubbed, or indie, this is what being a published author looks like. It’s a demanding career where writing the story is only the beginning.

So I wanted to talk about how to build a book. There are lots of resources out there to help, but here are a few raw nuts and bolts. Stories get started in generally two different ways. The writer has an plot idea, or a character won’t let go. These kernels nag and nag until the writer puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

The author’s approach can happen in two ways. Some write plot first, then fill in with character. Others come at a story from character first, then figure out the plot as they go along. This would be me. I love a deeply defined character; can’t resist the discovery of who they are, what they want, and what obstacles they have to climb over to get to the one thing that is going to turn their lives completely upside down.

A good story has a story arc. The best stories have several – the external plot, each major character, and in my case, the romance arc. Each one has to have a beginning, middle, and end to keep the reader turning pages (right?).

In addition, and this is what really makes the story… each novel is made up of multiple scenes. Each scene has an arc, a beginning, middle, and end; goal, conflict (what’s the problem?), then disaster – the worst thing that can happen, or a moment when the involved main character reacts to the previous scene and dilemma with a decision that will propel the story forward.

My next dragon book is about one of the brothers, whose dragon has been taken from him. In the next Rosewood book, I want to write a reverse makeover story. I’m completely fascinated by how my characters will rise above their deepest, sometimes darkest problems to be the heroes and heroines of their own story. The bare bones of a plot arise from the characters, and then it’s off to the races.

It’s time to make tea, so what are you reading? And do you read for plot or for characters?


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on April 29, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Some books are character driven – Such as The London Affair by Susan Lute. Strong characters that resonate with the readers as the hero/heroine comes to grips with their true essence.

    Other books are plot driven. Hell On The Heart has a strong story arc. I, of course, want to believe the characters are as memorable as the story line. But to use an outside example,
    in the Raiders series can you tell me the names of the heroines? Everybody knows Indiana Jones and can state the story lines, but if you can’t name the other characters then the stories are plot driven.

    Lovely post. Thanks, Susan


    • I love HELL ON THE HEART! Chezi is the heroine. John? the Hero. I remember Chezi (am I spelling that right?) because I thought it the best name for her. I don’t remember the bad guy’s name. It is a plot driven story. I don’t remember the heroines names in the Raiders stories.

      Thanks, Nancy


    • If the Indiana Jones stories had worthy heroines, I’d remember their names. In the first movie, she was a whiny petulant wanker. In the second, she screamed all the time and sang badly. The third one, they could have been onto a good heroine, but she turned into a spineless Nazi that was in it for the gold, so again, not “heroine” material in my book. I could be wrong and I would be willing to admit it if I am. Lethal Weapon, however, had three heroines even though you never met Victoria. Vicki, Rika, and Lorna.


  2. “On the Prowl” by Christine Warren. I read for character, as it’s not so much what’s going on that intrigues me as much as who it involves. Yay for all your awesomeness!!!


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