writing the heart of your story

BOOK: writing the heart of your story
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Table of Contents

Writing the Heart of Your Story


A Guide to Crafting an

Unforgettable Novel


C. S. Lakin




Writing the Heart of Your Story: A Guide to Crafting an Unforgettable Novel


Copyright©2014 by C. S. Lakin


Cover designed by Ellie Searl, Publishista®


All rights reserved.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.





Ubiquitous Press

Morgan Hill, CA




Books by C. S. Lakin


Writing Craft

Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage


Contemporary Suspense/Mystery

Someone to Blame

Innocent Little Crimes

A Thin Film of Lies

Intended for Harm



The Wolf of Tebron

The Map across Time

The Land of Darkness

The Unraveling of Wentwater

The Crystal Scepter

The  Sands of Ethryn

The Hidden Kingdom (2015)

Time Sniffers




Praise for
Writing the Heart of Your Story


“A veritable compendium of sound writing advice and technique. Written in a style that is both accessible and fun, Lakin's book will be a welcome companion on your writing journey.”

~James Scott Bell, best-selling author of
Conflict and Suspense
Plot and Structure


“C. S. Lakin’s addition to the vast oeuvre of ‘how to write a novel’ wisdom is just that—a fresh and motivating take on conventional wisdom, but with unconventional heart. This is highly accessible teaching that transcends ‘how to’ and goes deep into ‘why to’ in a way that will force you to choose between reading it again and jumping on your own project. Bravo.”

~Larry Brooks, author of
Story Engineering
and blogger at Storyfix.com


“As authors, our job is to make people feel, and to do this we need to connect with our own deepest selves in the hope we can meet the reader where they are. This book will teach you how to delve into your own heart in order to impact those who read your words.”

~Joanna Penn, author of
From Idea to Book
and blogger at TheCreativePenn.com


“I read dozens of writing craft books every year. All too many of them are ho-hum, been-there-done-that. This one is absotively posolutely not. Lakin offers a refreshingly structured—and yet freeing—approach to not just creating a solidly entertaining story, but to crafting a tale of emotional resonance and resilience. Her useful writing exercises and spot-on story sense offer epiphany after epiphany. This is one I will read and reread.”

~K. M. Weiland, author of
Outlining Your Novel
Structuring Your Novel


“C. S. Lakin once again shares her generous heart and knowledge and experience with writers in this inspiring and inspired
Writing the Heart of Your Story
. Ready to take your writing to the next level? Lakin offers practical exercises and clear examples to help you bring heart to your own stories."

~Martha Alderson, author of
The Plot Whisperer
series of writing books


Writing the Heart of Your Story
, C. S. Lakin won’t just lead you through the basic process of writing a novel, from plotting to writing your first paragraph, from finishing your rough draft to editing, she will challenge you at every step to do the hard work of finding the throbbing heart hidden somewhere at the center of your story. This is bloody work and not for the faint of heart. However, Lakin has a confident and experienced kindness that will leave you encouraged to take on even the most sanguine story.”

~Joe Bunting, author of
Let’s Write a Short Story
and blogger at TheWritePractice.com


“C.S. Lakin provides solid, thoughtful advice to writers with her resource
Writing the Heart of Your Story
. Susanne’s book is filled with practical tips and inspiration to guide and support writers of all experience levels.”

~Elizabeth Craig, mystery author and blogger at MysteryWritingIsMurder.blogspot.com




Table of Contents


Part One: It’s All about the Heart

Chapter 1: Targeting the Heart
Chapter 2: The Entrance to the Mother Lode
Chapter 3: Unloading the Nonessentials
Chapter 4: Plot Goals—Seeing Is Believing
Chapter 5: The Major Dramatic Query
Chapter 6: First Thoughts for Your First Paragraphs
Chapter 7: The Hook of the First Paragraph
Chapter 8: A Few More First-Scene Essentials

Part Two: The Heart of Your Characters

Chapter 9: Characters Are Everything
Chapter 10: The Essence and Persona of Character
Chapter 11: Creating Not Good but Great Characters
Chapter 12: Getting to the Core of Your Characters
Chapter 13: Ordinary Characters Can Be Extraordinary
Chapter 14: The Clash of Characters
Chapter 15: Character Arcs
Chapter 16: History as Mystery
Chapter 17: Bad Guys Aren’t All That Bad
(or at least they shouldn’t be)
Chapter 18: Secondary Characters Have a Life of Their Own

Part Three: The Heart of Your Plot and Theme

Chapter 19: The Plot Thickens
Chapter 20: Themes That Speak to the Heart
Chapter 21: Going to the Movies to Mine Themes
Chapter 22: Lessons from a Pig and Some Guys Going through Midlife Crisis
Chapter 23: What’s Your Motif?

Part Four: Scenes—The Heartbeats of Your Story

Chapter 24: The Essence of a Scene
Chapter 25: Beginnings, Muddles, and Endings

Part Five: Adding a Little More Heart to Your Story

Chapter 26: The Heart of Your Setting
Chapter 27: Space and Time
Chapter 28: The Inevitable Ending
Chapter 29: The Universality Is in the Details
Chapter 30: The Secret to a Stress-Free Novel Journey

About the Author





Part One: It’s All about the Heart



Chapter 1: Targeting the Heart


“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”



What would you say is the difference between a good book and a great one? Between a forgettable novel and a classic that lingers long in your memory, maybe even for years? Between a book with a title and plot you’ve forgotten mere days after you read it and one with lines that haunt you for years, and characters that seem so real you find yourself thinking about them over a lifetime and wondering what they would say or do in a given situation? Some good books provide an entertaining read, much like a good meal will satisfy. But then there are those other books.

You know the ones I mean. Those are the ones you hope you’ll find as you look for something significant to read, the ones you earnestly search for as if seeking a precious gem, with the desperate hopefulness of a miner panning for gold, day in and out, waiting for the big strike. For when we find that rare book, we drink it in, the way a wanderer long lost in the desert falls upon an oasis full of cool, refreshing life-giving water. A book with that kind of magic—that resonates with our heart and somehow fulfils a need in our soul—that is the mother lode. Books like that are more than just a good, or even great, read. They speak to us on some integral, deep level and nourish us. They speak to our heart.

BOOK: writing the heart of your story
6.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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