Do Writers Write Alone? by Linda O. Johnston


Do writers write alone? 

The answer is yes… and no.

Just look at The Writers in Residence.  This group is composed of several women who love to write, and do write extensively.  Our writing takes place alone, since actual writing is generally a solitary pursuit.

But then there is this group.  As many of us as possible get together for lunch monthly as well as blogging here on a schedule, and keeping in touch via email about what’s going on in our writing.

So though we generally write alone, being in communication with each other is also important to us.  And The Writers in Residence is far from being the only writing organization.

books-on-shelfIn fact, when I meet someone who’s a new writer, or who wants to write, and would like my advice on how to proceed, my first response is generally to tell them to join a writing organization.  A general writing organization is fine, but if they happen to write in a genre, then that organization should focus on whatever genre it is.

Why?  Writers enjoy helping other writers.  We encourage others to write and give advice on how to write and how to sell and promote what we’ve written.  Newbies can learn a lot from organizations and talks that are given there and meeting new people with similar interests and… well, a lot of ways.

So me?  In addition to The Writers in Residence, I belong to the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, including their Los Angeles chapters.  That’s because I write mysteries.  I additionally belong to the Romance Writers of America and its Los Angeles, Orange County and Santa Clarita chapters–because I also write romances, mostly romantic suspense.  Then there is the International Thriller Writers.  Yes, I’m considering writing a thriller.  There’s also the Dog Writers of America.  And as any of you who are reading this and are aware of my writing know, nearly everything I write these days has dogs in it!

I also attend quite a few writing conferences.  This year, that will include Malice Domestic, which is all about cozy mysteries, as well as the Romance Writers of America National Conference.

notebookI enjoy interacting with other writers, learning from them and informing them of anything I know that might be helpful to them.   Plus, I love hearing their writing information and suggestions.  I know I’m not alone in that.  So if any of you reading this are writers who want to learn more–and what writer doesn’t want to learn more about our craft and related topics–then join a writers organization or a writers group, or more than one!

AnSecond Chance Soldierd by the way, I’m delighted to say that my first book to be published this year, Second Chance Soldier, is currently available.  It’s the first in my new K-9 Ranch Rescue miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and it’s all about dog training, mystery solving and, yes, romance!

Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries for Midnight Ink. She has also written the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink as well as the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spin-off from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.  She additionally currently writes the K-9 Ranch Rescue miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense about a ranch where dogs are trained, as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  And yes, they all involve dogs. Her most recent release is her 47th published novel, with more to come…soon.



Candy                    Well, it all started because of the chocolate. You know – all that extra chocolate that abounds over the holidays. You can’t leave it sitting there. It has to be eaten. It would be rude not to.

But then, in the cruel light of day, you realize that your clothes really, really shrunk in the wash – especially around the middle…  Then, it was that late-night infomercial for exercise equipment that beckoned. Just what I need, I told myself. And it was on sale.

Problem was, that when stretched out to start my work-out, the equipment was over 8 feet long. This is where the Yak Shaving kicked in again. (For those who missed it, I wrote about ‘Yak Shaving 101’ in the April 2017 Blog on this site. It’s the system of the many unintentional, side-tracking steps one goes through to achieve one’s original goal.)

In order to make room for this work-out equipment, so I could use it in the living-room – several things needed to be removed. Best place for those boxes of files, DVDs and things left there ‘to deal with later,’ was in my office cupboard. Yak Shaving fully in gear, I had to clear out the office cupboard first.


Over the next two days, I got rid of six large bags of trash, shredded two large bags of financial papers and gave a car-load of things to the local Cancer Discovery Thrift Shop.

I really didn’t need those four reams of assorted colored copy paper, six unopened boxes of Sharpies, when one would suffice – stacks of used folders with names scribbled all over them, and plastic bags. What was I saving Barnes and Noble plastic bags for?

A whole shelf was filled with pay-slips from acting jobs and residuals going back too many years to own up to. I pulled out a few important ones, just as reminders of what I had once done. The rest got shredded.

But the other side of this challenge reaped all sorts of rewards. Apart from loads of empty space, I even found a $100-bill in an old note-book!

I went through boxes of my old photos from shows and films I had worked on, before I quit acting to focus on my writing-career. I had forgotten many of the great adventures I had in my life – some reckless moments that had me wincing, as I came across plane, train and boat tickets. Did I really go there alone at such a young age? Crazy! A lot of “what was I thinking?” moments, too.


As Guardian in Dr. Who

But I sure met a lot of interesting people in my travels. And, of course, the movie premieres I attended, visits to the Cannes Film Festival when the real movie stars and legendary directors, producers, composers were still around. I found notes from a flying lesson. (What? Where? Why?) And the myriad of odd jobs I have done since I left school so early to pursue my dreams. (Photo from Rosie’s performance in Dr. Who)

I also came across a couple of Trader Joe’s chocolate bars – too old to eat, alas. How did they get in there? Probably hidden from my late-husband, Rick, who would devour chocolate if he saw it – and either he was on a diet and should not eat it, or more likely because I wanted to eat it and I knew the chocolate bars would not remain if Rick came across them. (It’s an old, married thing – for those singletons out there.)

Trip of a Lifetime 2009 240

I found some very special mementos from Rick, incidentally. Notes we had written each other, more birthday, Christmas and Valentines cards. Re-reading those simultaneously brought a big grin to my face, warmth to my heart – and a lump in my throat. I remind myself constantly how lucky I was to have loved and been loved by my husband.

In so many adventures along the way, I learned new skills: like turtle-catching, for one. The horse-back riding lessons were not quite so successful. But I can dance a mean Charleston, and cook up a tasty meal from left-overs with a recipe Cary Grant told me he got from Doris Day. I can still cut a basic sewing pattern from my days in Fashion Design, (carefully) handle snakes, write a good Press Release and can tell you lots about the early history of Hollywood. Until this enforced de-cluttering, I had forgotten the many roads I traveled.

I started making notes, as I uncovered more treasures: another splendid Yak-Shaving side-step. But the memories I noted, the dates, the forgotten names recovered, were all heading in one direction. More writing projects.



This Yak Shaving has its good points. I am delighted to open my office cupboard door to see so much space. Those boxes that had to be moved into said cupboard in order to make space to use the new exercise machine? Well, once I focused on the de-cluttering and asked those required questions: “Do I love this object, do I need this, does it bring me joy?” The answer was “no” all round. So I got rid of those boxes, too.


And as I now have the space to do all the push-ups, pull-ups, leg and stomach exercises I want – I can contemplate the new stories, articles and books I intend to write as I work out.

As I look through those recovered memories, would I do things differently, given the chance? Sometimes, yes. But mostly ‘no.’ I wouldn’t be where am I am now and I like where I am. Yak-shaving complete – and surprisingly successful.

If you dig back through your own past – would you do things differently? And if so, what? Hmmm, Food for thought – as long as it’s not chocolate.



Rosemary Lord

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born ROSEMARY LORD has lived in Hollywood for over 30 years. As an actress, her credits include Monty Python, Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Days of Our Lives, L.A. Heat and more. She did voice-work on Titanic, Star Trek, Shakespeare In Love, The Holiday and Pirates of the Caribbean amongst others.

Also a former journalist, she wrote about Hollywood’s Golden Age, interviewing such luminaries as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston. She was a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures.

Rosemary lectures on Hollywood history and is the President of the Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She is a member of MWA and Sisters-in-Crime.

She is currently writing a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.


DEDICATION by Miko Johnston

Miko first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no ‘help wanted’ ads for poets in the classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from New York University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. She is the author of the A Petal In The Wind Series, including recently released Book III – The Great War .  Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington.


As I begin the fourth book in my Petal In The Wind series, the only thing I know for sure is the novel will be dedicated to my father, George.

He was born in a province of Germany in July 1919. Do the math – his mother gave birth to him about nine months after Armistice Day. Not a unique event in Germany, or any nation involved in World War I. Add eighteen years to that and you get a new generation of men ready to fight in 1937. Within a year German expansion had begun with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. World War II loomed. Being Jewish set my father on a very different path.

*      *      *

When you face something monumental, seemingly impossible to get through, you can do one of three things. You can retreat. You can plow through no matter the obstacles or odds. Or you can detour around it. When it came to difficult conversations, my father picked number three. Always.


He talked to people, including my brother and me, in a kind of code. When he couldn’t be direct or graphic about something, he’d use humor or quote American isms to elucidate. He’d occasionally fall back on a childhood joke or expression. We learned, over time, that he was what is called a Holocaust survivor, an unfortunate victim-label. To ensure we understood what happened, he spoke to us about that time in his life, but never about the worst of it in highly descriptive words. He kept that burden to himself.


My education on the subject began simply enough with a question that was dealt with in an equally simplified manner. When I asked at age three about the numbers tattooed on my father’s arm, he told me it was his phone number.  As a kindergartener, I asked him about an orange book, missing its dust jacket, shelved in our bookcase. It fascinated me with its odd-looking letters dancing along the spine – I thought it was Chinese. My father told me I could read the book when I was old enough to read the title.


Several years later I looked at the orange hardcover’s spine and suddenly the fancy font letters had transformed into English words. I brought the book to my father and said, “It’s called, The Tiger Beneath the Skin”. I began to read it that night.


Today I would describe the book as a selection of tales about Jewish experiences during Nazi occupation with a hint of paranormal, like a cross between an anthology of parables and episodes of “The Twilight Zone”. I recently saw a copy on Amazon, wearing a dust jacket, and learned for the first time that the book has a subtitle: “Stories and Parables about the Years of Death.” At the time I read it, some of the stories sent chills up my spine and some intrigued me. I’m sure many went over my head, which is why I can’t remember them all, but a few were unforgettable. The stories all had a peculiarly uplifting message, whether of the Nazi officer driven insane by his murder of a blind Rabbi, or the man who brought a sense of calmness and dignity to a trainload of Jews walking into the gas chamber.  Something of a selective chronical of events, the book gave me an inkling of what had happened. It also began my quest for knowledge about that period of history, and my father’s life.


My curiosity ripened by the time I’d reached my teens. I questioned my father about everything, and he answered my questions in his inimitable style. He had a knack for getting the information across in a way that wouldn’t lead to nightmares. Part of it was his own attitude. Despite everything he went through, he still maintained a positive look on life and could find humor in the darkest situations. He once hosted a reunion with fellow Auschwitz survivors. I heard the three of them laughing at one story. When the men left I asked my father what was so funny. He explained that one man, who’d been charged with filling “holes dug in the ground” with rocks, was so weak that he fell into the hole with the rock. Of course, he never said why the holes were dug, or what they contained.


I often gravitated to people who had survivor parents, thinking we’d have something in common, but we often didn’t. My friends’ parents always seemed more damaged than my father. They held onto that terror and sense of danger all their lives and passed that fear onto their children. My father’s biggest mishegas (craziness) was stockpiling non-perishable food in the house. That my father survived physically was remarkable, but that he survived mentally was absolutely miraculous.


*          *          *


I went to Berlin in September 2003 to visit the villa known as the Wannsee-Conference House, headquarters of the infamous SS during the Nazi era. It’s where my father had been kept in slave labor until the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, when fifteen Nazi officials drew up a doctrine known as the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.  The answer was total annihilation; all remaining Jews were to be sent to concentration camps, including my father. In 1992, the building became a memorial and educational site. My father had worked with the museum’s curator and Berlin’s mayor to create a permanent exhibit dedicated to slave labor during the Nazi era; his picture still hangs on the wall. Unfortunately, he never got to see it. He passed away six weeks before the exhibit opened in January 2003, so my husband and I went in his place.


We both found the museum very moving, especially the Final Solution exhibit, but I didn’t fully sense my father’s presence there due to his verbal detours. Oddly, it took a stop at a local hotel to bring me to tears. I stood in front of the building, staring at a large empty banquet room with a wooden floor and picture windows overlooking Lake Wannsee. One night, my ‘slave’ father had snuck out of the villa and went to this hotel when they held a dance. The SS guards in attendance, who knew who he was, sat and laughed as he danced with several clueless fräuleine. Standing there, I could vividly picture the story my father had told me forty years earlier, and wept.


The fourth book in my saga moves into the 1930s. I can’t help but think of my father and what he endured. He may be gone, but his story lives on and will continue to do so, thanks to what I’ve written and will continue to write. That is why the book will be dedicated to him.


Should Short Stories Include Big Character Changes?

headshotJacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad About Murder. To find out more, visit her website at



Pet Sychic Valentine FlattenedI was writing a Pet Psychic short story for St. Valentine’s Day. It seemed like the perfect time to have Bowers propose to Frankie, but I wondered if that would be fair to readers of the series. On one hand, it would encourage people to keep up with the shorts. On the other hand, not everyone enjoys shorter fiction, so they might be confused when they picked up the next novel.

I’d run into this problem before with a Harlow Brothers short mystery, also involving a romantic situation.

In both cases, I took out the big changes and will use them in future novels. Did I do right? Should I have gone with what felt natural?  In the Pet Psychic instance, I’ve thought of ways to incorporate the proposal in a more creative environment, so maybe my concerns about including a marriage proposal in a St. Valentine’s story came from my creative muse.

So, I am curious. Do you think the short stories in between novels should include major changes to the character’s life? Or should those only appear in the novels?

Dropping in Quickly…Then Staying for a While

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of seven award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. Visit her website and Amazon Author Page.

Fotosearch_k8804412Several events/ideas have brought me to this post. My continuing interest in the importance of setting in conjunction with “taking me there,” G.B. Pool’s recent post on Openings, and my enjoyment-of and fascination-with audio books. I’ve mentioned in past posts how much I enjoy audio books—and now I’m asking myself why, in that there might be a couple writing-nuggets there worth paying attention to.

Being taken (dropped) into a protagonist’s world is what reading is all about for me, and has also been mentioned by other readers to me. In that line of thought, I’m currently listening to an audio series called Cherringham Mystery Shorts[i], and though the blurb for these audio book offerings didn’t immediately grab me, the narrator did. Neil Dudgeon[ii] I’ve liked his acting and “aura” from first seeing him in Mrs. Bradley Murder Mysteries—and I’m now realizing a lot of the like is the sound of his voice. When listening to Neil read these stories, it feels like I’m actually in Cherringham, UK. I can visualize the dual female and male protagonists, see their world. Part is the writing of course, but a large part is the immediate involvement that comes with hearing a spoken word, versus reading a sentence. Indeed, I think if the narrator reads well, the reader can so easily be “taken there.” Dropped into the character’s lives.

How can a writer do that without having Neil read their book (smile)? I suggest the knack/art/skill, is to take the reader into your protagonist’s head with your writing POV. Then once inside, see the world through their eyes. A Big deal I think, and not that easy without simultaneously stagnating the story or “dragging” the action and dialogue. But once a reader is with your character, so much easier to go into their world. There is a downside though with character identification, and one that has caused me to not finish reading more than one book. Once engaged with a character, and/or their environment, if you don’t like the character-person, interest is gone. Most recently, I didn’t finish such a book because even though the author quite successfully took me into their world, and was indeed a very good writer, I didn’t like the character or the character’s world. A future post maybe on what makes a likeable character—a protagonist you want to root for?

I’m throwing-out in this post, that a narrator, if good, does that “taking you there” easily and quickly—including setting, events, and personalities. Would very much like to hear from readers and writers reading this post on your experiences and thoughts about audio books in the comments below.

SWCoverOn a personal note, I would love to have all my books as audio, but don’t sell enough (not yet! Smile) for many narrators to take a commission-split chance on me, and can’t afford the narrator I want with a hefty flat out payment! (I’m talking about someone famous of course like Neil Dudgeon or Hugh Frasier) The talented Mei-Ling Downey, did take a chance on me and narrated Lies of Convenience, on Audible. What a joy to my writing-heart that is!

On the flip-side, a few comments from other writers have pointed out not everyone is as fond of audio books as I am! Nonetheless, the key point I’m aiming for is–paying attention to bringing your reader into your character’s world is crucial to reader enjoyment and writer success—whatever the format. Paper, eBook, or the spoken word.

Happy 2018 writing trails!Fotosearch_k8475028

[i]Written by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards about a retired NYC policeman who moves to England and lives on a houseboat solving crimes with a divorced lady co-protagonist and her two teen aged children.

[ii] Of Mrs. Bradley mysteries way back when, and currently Barnaby in Midsomer Mysteries.

A Library By Any Other Name…

by Jackie Houchin

Mention “Valentine’s Day,” and instantly visions of  cute or sentimental greeting cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and bouquets of red roses come to mind. You may even dream of romantic dinners or diamond bracelets.

But it was none of these things that Kristin Molloy of Mission Viejo, California, wished for last year for Valentine’s Day.

“I love books and libraries,” she said with a smile. “So do my kids. We love to go to our Mission Viejo library to check out books. Growing up, everyone in my family had a book to read around the dining room table. I wanted my own library!”

From left to right: Jenna Brown, Kaitlyn Schisler and Astha Parmar take a photo with the Little Free Library, a book kiosk at the Lake Forest Sports Park designed by the three from Cadette Girl Scout Troop 1859. Contractor Bradlee Rodecker helped in building the house-like kiosk.

Her husband, Kevin Molloy, a fireman, knew exactly what she meant. Earlier that year while visiting the Lake Forest Sports Park and Rec. Center they spotted an amazing tiny wooden library on a pole. Designed and built by three Girl Scouts with help from the Park staff, the cheery blue and white painted Little Free Library is a house-like box of books. Visible through two Plexiglas doors are perhaps 30-40 books for all ages. Anyone can take a book to read…free. After reading it, they can return it or bring back a different one. The organization’s motto is “Take a Book, Return a Book.”

Kristen thought her own Little Free Library would be great for their neighborhood.

IMG_2702Kevin drew plans and constructed his Valentine’s Day gift, painting it to match their house. He checked with city regulations (though not all the Libraries I visited did) and sunk a post into their front lawn three feet from the side walk and about 24 inches from the ground. Three small flagstone steps invite kids to visit. He attached a mailbox flag which is extended when new books are added.

Kristin loved it!

(The height of the Libraries is a personal preference. I saw ones sitting on a base at 3 and 4 feet high.)

The family says they have quite a few kids & teens stopping to choose books on their way to/from a nearby park. The couple’s children, Georgia and Ryan, enjoy sharing their own books as well.

Check out the organization for information on buying or building your own library, and to see an amazing variety of Little Free Libraries, including some that look like a church, schoolhouse, caboose, or English telephone booth!

Of course, right away, I had my hubby build a Little FREE Library for ME for THIS Valentine’s Day, and paint it to match our house. (I’ll let you know how it goes in a later post, if you are interested.)

Other Little Free Libraries in Mission Viejo.

IMG_2676      IMG_2705


Now let me tell you about some other things to LOVE and to GIVE on February 14th, and these are especially meaningful to us writers of books.

I love a libraryThe 14th of February is also LIBRARY LOVERS DAY.

Here are some things you can do to celebrate:

  • Visit your local library and check out a book or film.
  • If you know someone who doesn’t have a library card, encourage/help them to get one.
  • Volunteer time at the library (shelving, tutoring, reading to kids), or donate money and/or a few of your books.

Without the library, you have no civilization.” ― Ray Bradbury

“Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.” ― Jo Walton

“The library is like a candy store where everything is free.” ― Jamie Ford

“Libraries made me – as a reader, as a writer, and as a human being.”  –Laurie R. King


book-giving-day-bookmark-original-copyThe 14th of February is also INTERNATIONAL BOOK GIVING DAY.

Here are some ways to participate:

  • Share your favorite book with a friend.
  • Give books as gifts to your own children or to those of friends.
  • Donate books to children’s libraries, schools or charities.
  • Leave books in places where they’ll be found, such as doctors’ waiting rooms, train or bus stations, or airports.

“Give a Book” is a UK based charity with the sole aim of giving books where they will be of particular benefit including prisons.

“Give a Book” works with Ellie’s Friends, a charity who helps women who are recovering from Cancer. They send a monthly mixed selection of light reading to be enjoyed. Each bundle contains ten titles and is delivered to a different recipient each month.

“Give a Book” also works with First Story, a registered charity which places published authors in schools to hold weekly workshops on creative writing. At the end of the program, the students’ pieces are published in their own anthology.





What else can you do for your Sweetheart on February 14th? (Click to Tweet)

Library Lovers Day & International Book Giving Day share February 14 with Valentine’s Day. (Click to Tweet)

Open Your Story with a BANG! PART TWO by G.B. Pool


A while back I posted Part One of this Blog. Here’s the rest of the story…

There are a few other things to think about while you are writing that OPENING to your story. Remember, it might be the only thing an agent or editor reads. Make him or her want to read the rest of it.

How To Open a Great Short Story using the 5 Basic Elements covered in Aristotle’s The Poetics: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, and the General Theme or Point of Your Story (Man Against Nature Man Against Man; Man Against Himself; Love Conquers All, etc.)


The perfect plot is simple, not complex. Aristotle from The Poetics

1. The Plot in a Short Story especially, but most stories in general should –

a. Have a beginning, middle, and an end, but start in the middle of the beginning. This makes the reader want to see what he missed so he keeps turning those pages. EXAMPLE: “I already told you. I met the guy in a bar. We got to talking. Somehow he knew I’d been in trouble with the law before.” (Something bad has already taken place and this guy is explaining it.)


b. Get to the point with very little, if any, backstory. You can add that later. EXAMPLE: “But you’re married, Janice.” (Obviously something has elicited this reaction. Now the reader will want to know what Janice has been up to.)

c. Hook the reader with a compelling reason to continue reading; an “out-of-whack” event; something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next. EXAMPLE: “How long has he been in the water?” I asked, knowing by the bloated, blue body it was too long. What was left of the corpse’s clothes had shredded, exposing large masses of distended flesh. – From Damning Evidence – by G.B. Pool – (Obviously our private detective will have another murder to solve.)

d. A story-worthy problem or situation is the heart and soul of your story; your annual Christmas letter doesn’t cut it, neither does just a series of bad things happening to someone; there has to be some extenuating circumstances that brought about this calamity.

e. Or have something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next: EXAMPLE: John Smith didn’t know he was an amnesiac. He discovered that and the fact he was married to two women when one of them turned up dead.

f. Make sure the Opening Scene has some relevance to the rest of the story, whether it actually figures into the plot or echoes the theme. Opening in a beautiful flower garden better reveal a dead body in the posies. Or hearing about a long ago train wreck better foretell another “train wreck.”


2. Characters
a. Don’t introduce all your characters at once, but begin with an important one.
b. Don’t over describe your characters at first; leave some traits for later, but start with something compelling like the smoking gun in her hand.
c. And remember, actions always speak louder than words, so have your character do something or see something right away.

3. Dialogue: It gets you into the story fast and moves the story along even faster than merely telling the story.

a. Dialogue can set the stage (EXAMPLE: “The bridge is out!”), define a character’s education level or regional origin by their accent (EXAMPLE: “Honey, did y’all get another dawg?”) or get into a character’s personality (EXAMPLE: “I loathe you,” she said, grinding her cigarette into the back of his hand. “Have a nice day.”)

b.Dialogue, whether it’s an internal monologue or between two people, performs a major function. (If it doesn’t, rewrite it.)

i. Dialogue with occasional body language enhances (describes) the character; (EXAMPLE: “Go ahead. Date my ex-wife,” he said and then slammed his fist into the wall.)

ii. Dialogue advances the plot (EXAMPLE: My name is Johnny Casino. I’m a retired P.I. with a past. I just hope it doesn’t catch up with me. Before I went legit, I ran numbers in Jersey for Big Louie “Fingers” D’Abruzzo and then busted heads in Miami for Big Eddie “Mambo” Fontaine. But at the ripe old age of twenty-four, Little Johnny beat a hasty retreat to L.A. when somebody slipped the cops a hot tip and all of a sudden, I became the fall guy for the Mob.) FROM THE JOHNNY CASINO CASEBOOK 1 – PAST IMPERFECT BY G.B. POOL

iii. And Dialogue gets you up close and personal as if you were eavesdropping on the conversation; EXAMPLE: Before Donald got out of his chair to greet me, I launched. “Are you out of your freaking mind? Marrying somebody before you even buried your wife! Do you want me to save your butt or direct traffic to your hanging?” I was speaking in a crescendo, starting around contralto, and ending somewhere in the soprano range.
“I never loved my wife!” he declared in clear basso profundo.
“Did you kill her?” I yelled.
“No!” he shot back.
Note: As the dialogue gets more intense, the fewer words are used.)
4. Have a terrific Setting or Sense of Place.
You want to set the stage whether it’s an attic room or a ballroom, a secluded path or a desert vista. Paint that background and then get out of the way and let your characters experience it.
EXAMPLE: It was going to be the hottest damn day of the year. Those Santa Anas were kicking up, turning the L.A. basin into a blast furnace. If it didn’t cool off, half the state would catch fire. From “Heat” G.B. Pool

5. The Point of the Story
Reread your story and ask yourself: Does this make sense? Does your opening tie in with the ending? Does the Title fit the story?
The Opening: I couldn’t believe they found Brad’s body. I thought I buried him deeper. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

The Closing: “They think an animal killed him, dug a shallow trench to hide his kill for later, and must have forgotten where it was buried.” He walked closer and put his warm hand on my arm. “It was ruled…death by cougar.”
Aaron smashed the plastic bag containing the vodka bottle against the fireplace and the glass shattered. Then he took my hand and led me upstairs.
I’ll always wonder if he ever read that “cougar” book, but I’ll never ask. Lovers have to have some secrets. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

(FROM THE OPENING, Our protagonist obviously had something to do with Brad’s death. At the CLOSING, her boyfriend must know it, too, but they will both postpone the inevitable until later.)
As for the TITLE, “A Role to Die For,” several people died while she was securing those roles. That’s showbiz…

In Conclusion: This might be a lot to think about, but opening your story well will have readers follow it to the end… and maybe read your next story. Write On…