The Art of the Plot Study (NaNoWriMo 2016)

National Novel Writing Month is such fun – writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. This year I’m using it to complete a 50K “plot study”. I hope it becomes a great way to give the inner critic a much deserved vacation.

I like the idea of a new term for this, how about “plot study”? In art, “a study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes. Studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering subjects and to plan the elements to be used in finished works, such as light, color, form, perspective and composition.”

I’d define a “plot study” as “a study is a draft done in preparation for a finished piece. Plot studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering characters and to plan elements needed, such as story arc, characters and plot techniques.”

Hope to see everyone working on something fun, whether you’re in NaNoWriMo or not. 

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A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

perilous.jpgThe second book in Deanna Raybourn’s new series is a romantic suspense with elements of mystery. Her prose and story-telling is excellent, very beautifully rendered, so that even if you’re not a big fan of the smoldering chemistry between the protagonists, you’ll stick around for the writing.

Set in England in 1887, Veronica Speedwell is a butterfly collector with a secret past and a passion for observing. She’s a cross between Flavia de Luce, Sherlock Holmes and a romance heroine. She habours a not-yet-consummated longing for the handsome Stoker, who may look like ruffian but acts not at all like one.

Veronica is asked to do the impossible – clear an artist convicted of murdering his pregnant mistress in one week before he hangs. Caught between the royalty and attractive but morally questionable artists, Veronica and Stoker have their work cut out for them.

If you’re a mystery lover, then the murderer will likely be obvious in the first few chapters. There are certain things you just know how to look for. But how Veronica and Stoker discover and trap the killer remains an interesting and satisfying read.

(Review of book #1, A Curious Beginning)

30-day ebook loan courtesy of NetGalley.

Behind the Lines by WF Morris

behindlines.jpg“Her eyes were shining like stars – stars in the mist.”

A moving account of a kindly, decent soldier who accidentally kills a cowardly senior officer. Instead of trying to explain, he makes a run for it, leaving behind friends and his ambulance-driving fiancee.

He ends up living among the deserters. Not unlike the military, the deserts have their own code and pecking orders. Rawley goes from a decent officer to an unkempt but decent deserter, filthy and ragged.

Between scavenging and run-ins with the military, the casual moments of horror are made all the more stark. When Rawley runs into his financee again, she wants to have the honeymoon before they are drawn apart. But Rawley is “clinging to decency” by the barest thread in refusing. She says “two weeks of happiness out of – perhaps a whole lifetime. It seems such a little to ask of life.”

But the ending, so poignant, is well worth the read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

flaviaIf you like snarky protagonists in Gothic mansions with a passion for crime solving, you will love Flavia de Luce. This is the 8th book she features in, complete with beautiful phrases and lovely title. You don’t need to read the earlier books, but you’ll miss out on a depth of character if you don’t.

Flavia is a precocious 12 year old girl living with her cold British father, resentful elder sisters and brooding loyal manservant. She’s a passionate chemist and believer in science. She loves her bicycle Gladys and her chicken Esmerelda more than she loves her family, but occasional hints of sentiment poke through.

“The de Luce blood is stronger, after all, than sentiment.”

The mystery in this installment is the death of an old woodworker, which Flavia solves while trying to cope with her father’s desperate illness, the death of Esmerelda and overly enthusiastic newcomer Carla. A light mystery compared to some of her others, but the book has plenty of action and a sad ending.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

Finished book #2 at last

 

In August, I sent book #1 of my 1920s mystery series to a few agents and editors. My fingers are crossed but I won’t hear back for at least another few months. And realistically, I’m likely to get a stack of polite rejections.

But who cares today?! Hurrah for finally finishing book #2! I’ve lost count of how many major and minor revisions I’ve done as I started it a few years ago.

laughing20s

This 1920s photo is pretty much how I feel!

exciteddog

But this sweet, crazy-eyed dog is probably how I look.

I hope everyone’s work is going well lately, any major milestones you’ve hit?