M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Does Your Story Arc Bore Your Readers?

How many times have you read a book whose middle crawls into a bog? Or worse, disintegrates in the middle? I just happened to stop reading a structurally sound romance that bogged down in the middle with predictable action. The book landed on my trade pile, half unread. 

Oh, the author had craft skills aplenty as well as several books published by major publishers. She even built three major conflicts built into her plot line so the book wasn't a straight romance -- boy meets girl -- girl loses boy -- both decide they can't live without each other. Problem? The solutions and characters she introduced to carry the action forward were cliches I read hundreds of times. I gave up when the MC family appeared on the scene. -- My life is too short to read the same deal again.

So ... if it's easy to lose your momentum in the middle of one book ... 
what are your chances with a trilogy? 

Part of my vacation break involved cleaning and organizing two shelves of my keeper accumulation. Two boxes of books went.

What did I keep? Favorite series by favorite authors got kept. Odd books that I shelved mostly got traded as did lessor work by authors. Kept my A. L. Merritts, though even if the writing and attitudes are as old fashioned as Edgar Rice Burroughs. -- Decided to trade the Great White Nobleman turned ape when I found a couple books leftover from previous cleanings. The Barsoom novels are long gone.

Then, I discovered Nora Roberts' The Sign of Seven Trilogy misshelved in the "Ls".  Now I consider Roberts a romance writer. So, I was I surprised I'd even kept the series about three blood-brothers fighting an ancient evil plaguing a small southern town. Each book in the trilogy centers on the romance of each friend and the woman who enter his life to help efeat the evil manifestation. 

While there's backstory and flashbacks aplenty -- on how three friends release the evil when they become blood brothers, the history of the conflict through time, and previous visitations of the evil on the town -- the past doesn't slow the present-day story down. A remarkable achievement in itself. The books deserve study for this point alone.

The trilogy doesn't suffer from middle-of-the-book sag either. The second romance is as intriguing as the first ... and the third. How? When there's an obvious "happily-ever-after" lurking at the end of the trilogy? Well, it comes from the pairs being very different from each other in their wants and needs ... and skills. These are all three dimensional characters who know what they want and have quirks enough to send them in different directions than you might expect. And will get what they want ... if the evil doesn't get them first. 

Both the evil entity trying to destroy the heroes and the clash of personalities among the would-be lovers give the books plenty of conflict, but Roberts adds conflicts with secondary characters as well. 

I'm not going to mathematically check it, but I think I detected a neat little three-part formula Roberts uses. She sets up the conflict/attack -- gives us the the attack or fight -- then, lets her characters relax and absorb what they learned. Sometimes, this is three chapters ... sometimes only one.

Rating: Must give the triology --  Blood Brothers, The Hollow, and The Pagan Stone -- five stars. Hey, I'm keeping them to read again.


Surprised myself. I putzed through the holidays adding bits and pieces to Hag Stone Magic. The surprise? I had a title I liked. ... At the moment the draft's tedious writing because I'm naming characters and building back story. Yeah, I'm a seat of pantzer.

Celebrating Authors has posted an excerpt of Troublesome Neighbors on their blog. Why not click over there an take a look ... and visit some of the other authors too. Below is my Tweet about it ... in case you'd be kind enough to re-tweet and maybe mention on Facebook.

Who saves who? Renna or her pet pig? #read #free sample Troublesome 
Neighbors - @CelebratingAuthors: bit.ly/YODtCJ #fantasy

Last but not least:
Have a wonderful year, guys. 

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