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Writing intimacy is breaking down barriers. It's opening long-held secrets and exposing them to the critique of another.

Writing sex

Writing sex is breaking down barriers.  It's opening long-held secrets and exposing them to the critique of another. Words of wisdom from an old post regarding the difficulty of writing sex:

  • Sex is easy to write.
  • Intimacy is hard to write.

Writing sex is writing logistics.  Tab A in Slot B.  It’s the physicality of the act.

Writing intimacy is breaking down barriers.  It’s opening long-held secrets and exposing them to the critique of another.  It’s raw and vulnerability and an enormous amount of trust.  Writing intimacy should be a pivotal point in the story of the characters involved, pushing them into uncharted territory and sealing the way back to the way they were before.

Don’t cheat your characters and readers by writing a sex scene.  Make it something more, something intimate.  Your story will be stronger for it.

All the best,


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The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, including how to outline your novel

The Plot Thickens

Tonight, I’m conducting a writing workshop for the West Oahu Women Networking Group based on a previous workshop titled The Plot Thickens.  I’m positive I can’t cover everything I’ve learned in the last fourteen years of writing, but I would like to touch on plotting, especially goals, character’s motivation and how to get them embroiled in conflict.

Jack Monroe and I wrote a book on different ways to plot.  No two writers do it the same, and, more often than not, no two books demand the same way.

To purchase The Plot Thickens, 21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, click on the following links:


ibooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo:

The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, including how to outline your novel

The Plot Thickens


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This is the last of a three part series on Motivation, Goals and Conflict, as told from the view of the characters from the book and movie, “The Princess Bride.”  I hope you’ve enjoyed a different twist on the three major components of character development and plot.

Conflict is the “why not” of your story

It is the dragon (external), the physical force preventing your character from reaching his goal.  It is the demon (internal), emotions your character must face, the force within, his Achilles heel.  (Thanks to Julie Garwood for the dragon/demon comparison.)

Conflict has to be internal and external in order for your character to grow.

Internal conflict brings the character’s biggest fears into the light.  His strongest defense, the thing he thinks is his greatest strength, may be his fatal flaw.

  • Inigo is the highest ranked swordsman in the world, but is downed by a Florinese blade.
  • Westley’s greatest strength is his love for Buttercup, but when he thinks of her to block the pain from the Machine, it isn’t enough.

Conflict must escalate throughout the story and make things progressively worse.

  • Westley must persuade the Dread Pirate Roberts not to kill him every day.
  • The Man in Black climbs the Cliffs of Insanity in pursuit of Buttercup.
  • The Man in Black fights Inigo and Fizzik and outsmarts Vizzini.
  • Westley is turned over to Count Rugen and is tortured.
  • Westley dies.

There are five points of major conflict in a story

  1. The inciting incident, the major hook that forces the characters into action.
  2. The first turning point, where a deeper motivation is revealed.
  3. The midpoint, or point of no return.
  4. The second turning point, where the character’s core motivation is revealed.
  5. The climax, the biggest conflict of all, the darkest moment.  a) Westley dies b) Inigo is stabbed and realizes he might not avenge his father’s death c) Buttercup realizes Westley is not coming to rescue her.

The Climax is the point when the protagonist and antagonist inevitably meet for their final confrontation, when only one emerges as the winner.

  • Westley and Prince Humperdinck have a battle of wits in Buttercup’s bedchamber.
  • Inigo and Count Rugen have a battle of blades in the billiard room.

The Resolution is the conclusion of all conflicts.  It’s the return to a new ordinary world and gives the reader his ultimate payoff.

  • Buttercup, Westley, Fezzik and Inigo ride toward the Florin Channel.  (Ignore the book’s false ending of Buttercup’s Baby.)

Conflict is necessary for your character.  Without it, your reader doesn’t become engaged, loses interest in the characters and wanders away, never to return.  And isn’t that a shame?

Make awful things happen to your characters.  Make them realize their biggest fears.  Then do it again and again until you don’t know how to get them out of trouble.  If you don’t know (you’ll figure it out in time) your reader won’t, and they’ll be there until the last page.

Last pages sell the next book.

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