Intrigue–Keep Them Turning Pages

So I just finished re-reading Holes by Louis Sachar, and I rembered why I both love and hate it. Love it because it is a masterpiece of storytelling. A tightly-woven, page turning, thrill a page read. I hate it because I will forever wish I’d been the one who had written it. Ah well. That aside, in studying the structure of the story, one element really stuck out–the intrigue. I have a theory I’ve shared with my critique group: if you don’t tell the reader what they need, they’ll quit reading. If you don’t tell the reader what they want, they’ll keep reading until they get what they’re after. Sachar doesn’t disappoint. The entire novel is built on a framework of expanding intrigue in two ways. Page to page intrigue. And the chapter to chapter version. The reader is sucked in from the first line: There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. Well, with that you can’t just stop there. You have to know why there is no lake at a place called Camp Green Lake. As the reader learns in the next few pages. (Spoiler Alert Below:) … Camp Green Lake not only has no lake, but neither is it a camp, aaaand there’s almost nothing green. In the next few pages of Chapter One, the reader is sucked into the revelations of what makes Camp Green Lake the “paradise” it is. Chapter Two builds on the atrocities of Camp Green Lake and introduces us to our hero Stanley Yelnats who, we are told, was from a poor family, “and had never been to camp before.” Chapter Three opens with a horrible bus ride and a gun-toting guard–and heaps of intrigue. We aren’t told what Stanley did to be assigned to Camp Green Lake. Instead, we are exposed to an explosion of questions we want to be answered. From sad sprinkled details of Stanley’s experiences as a bullied young man to recollections of his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!”–we are ensnared into Stanley’s world and engulfed in mystery. Again, we don’t know if he is guilty or not. What we do know is that we feel sorry for him regardless, and we want to know more about him. To top it off, we are treated to a couple of other tidbits that will weigh heavily throughout the story–tidbits that are interesting enough in their own right and force us to find out what they mean. I won’t go on recounting each chapter, but know this, by the time Sachar plops... read more

Exclusive Cover Reveal! The Trinity Key Trilogy

WWAT is excited to reveal the covers for the Trinity Key Trilogy: Into Aether, Escape Aether, and Save Aether, an upcoming young adult Steampunk series by Linda Fry. The entire trilogy will be released in March of 2016. Pre-Order Links: Smashwords: Amazon:     Into Aether Colorado teen Theodora (Theo) will do anything to find her missing mom, including travel into the hidden and mysterious Victorian subculture of Aether. She takes a ride with airship pirates to a floating island full of strange automatons and even stranger people. After a century-old feud reignites, she uncovers the alarming truth about her family’s past. Finding her mother is more important than ever.           Escape Aether Valera longs to escape her sheltered life and overbearing mother. She just never imagines that her opportunity would arrive after being kidnapped. Now she has a decision to make: face a world filled with danger and discover her own power, or return home where it’s safe and live in a gilded cage.         Save Aether Julia never had a real family until meeting Theo and Valera. Now that they are united by the Trinity Key, they are plagued by nightmares. Danu, the goddess of Aether, is in agony and calls out to them to free her. However, the Elders who rule Aether don’t want to give up their power and warn the girls to stay away from Danu’s tomb. Julia must decide whether to trust the Elders or to follow her instincts and unleash Danu upon the world.     Q & A Time I’ve been asked to answer a few fan questions, so here we go… Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea for writing this series? I really love the idea of mashups – taking two seemingly unrelated genres and creating something new. For example, for the Trinity Key Trilogy, I mixed Steampunk and Celtic folklore. I was reading about a book on folklore and came across an interesting legend, and I’ve been fascinated with steampunk for a while. Once I had the concept, the story just wove itself together. What have you learned about the steampunk genre while creating this world? I’ve learned that steampunk is a diverse genre that goes beyond the typical steam machine technology idea. There is everything from cyber punk to diesel punk to Tesla punk and more. It also has a varied, creative,... read more

Some Advice on Synopsis Writing

When I finished the ending to my first novel, it was a wonderful feeling. I knew I needed to go back and polish some things, but it was great to finally be done. In my naivety, I thought the hard part was over. What I didn’t know was all the writing I would have to do to hunt for an agent. After I wrote multiple versions of pitches and query letters, all of which sounded great one day and then awful the next, then I moved on to writing a synopsis. It sounded pretty easy—just a quick run-down of what happens in the book. That’s when I realized the simple story I thought I had was an intricate monster of subplots, all of which could not be ignored. In the midst of this headache, I decided to take a break and start my next novel. I thought it might be helpful if I did a little planning this time. What if I started with the pitch, and then wrote the query followed by a short synopsis? To my surprise, this is what a lot of authors do when brainstorming for their work. I used the Snowflake Method, which takes you through sentence summaries up to page summaries for storyline and characters. Things do change when you actually sit down to write, but I was glad to have a skeleton of a synopsis to refer back to when I finished. So if you haven’t written your novel yet, check out the Snowflake Method: But if you are in the uncharted seas of synopsis writing for your finished novel, check out these tips: Take time to learn what’s best for you—this means trying out multiple ways of synopsis writing. Some people like to write short summaries for each chapter and cut it down from there. This didn’t work for me. I ended up with six pages and no idea what to cut. So I learned it’s better for me to focus on my pitch, my main theme/character goal, and expand from there. Here are a few different sites that might help you decide: Limit the number of characters you name—you really only need to name your main character and the antagonist. Too many names can be confusing in a short summary, so use descriptors for the supporting characters—his mother, the ultimate warlord, the cute neighborhood girl, etc. Only name other characters if they are recurring throughout the story... read more

Don’t Strike Out on Your Pitch

If I was completely honest, I’ve been afraid of the pitch since my first conference. Before that I never heard of it. I learned that attendees paid to have 5-10 minutes with an agent, yet after I still didn’t really get it. I figured if an agent or editor read my work and they liked it, then that’s all I needed. I cheered for agents that allowed a sample chapter and dreaded the agents that wouldn’t even allow sample pages (I usually dodged them). But a good manuscript isn’t enough, that query, specifically the pitch is important, and probably at least part of the reason I didn’t get a lot of requests. So what is a pitch? When I first began to ask around, I heard such things as “pretend you’re in the elevator and have until the next stop to get the agent to ask for your manuscript.” Oh that’s it, sell all 80,000 words in a sentence or two. Then I heard from some it should be a comparison between popular books or movies, set up as _____ meets _____. I read a lot, but I couldn’t think of the perfect comparison (Check out this for comparisons: ). Then of course my queries were falling flat. I was frustrated. One favorite website, had a link to an article called The Art of Pitching: A Story in a Sentence by Lynda Pflueger ( She wrote that pitch is “a carefully crafted, short, verbal statement that will make an editor or agent want to know more. It should be concise and compelling. Its purpose is to intrigue and inform. Think of it as a type of advertisement.” As writers we need to advertise ourselves because with 150 queries a week, why will an agent read my sample pages over another? The pitch makes a difference. The pitch shows marketability. An agent/editor looks for it in your query and asks about it at a conference. It’s worth making time to practice and perfect pitch. Fortunately, I stumbled across more help when I found a blog post on ( ), called Secrets to a Good Logline and purchased Get a Literary Agent by Chuch Sambuchino ( ). I learned some dos and some don’ts. Do be specific and do aim to elicit emotion. Don’t reveal the ending and don’t go into the subplots or unnecessary details. I also learned I could do a one sentence seller without going... read more