Putting some flesh on those bones

Putting some flesh on those bones

Are you still with me? Got your Beat Sheet ready? Now that you’re sketched out the main arc of the story, It’s time to dive in and make a scene by scene outline. This is where that prioritized list and Beat Sheet get translated into your story. Think of the Beat Sheet as high level telling what will happen in your book. Now, it’s time to get to showing.

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I'm Plotting Something

I'm Plotting Something

After I finished drafting the Haverhill project, I decided to get into a plotting frame of mind by reading a book that’s been on my TBR shelf for a while, Save the Cat Writes a Novel. If you’re not familiar with the Save the Cat plot structure, I highly recommend checking it out. It started as a guide for screenwriters to help them develop successful screenplays. The method focuses mainly around something called a Beat Sheet. The idea is that to keep your story moving and following an arc that will keep readers turning pages, you should focus on a set series of story beats.

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Getting Started

Getting Started

I talk to so many people who say that writing a book (novel, memoir, non-fiction) is a goal or theirs but they don’t necessarily know where to start, or if their story is interesting enough. So, I thought I would share how I get started on a project. If you’ve ever listened to me talk about writing, you probably know that I’m a plotter. I like to outline. I plot everything from novels to emails to my kids teachers.

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The Mermaid and the Moine Thrust

The Mermaid and the Moine Thrust

Between the carpark at Inchdnadamph and the start of the Traligill Glen is a tourist marker explaining the geological significance of the area. I found these markers that dot the Highlands incredibly informative, but this one had an interesting story. In one section is spoke of geologist, Charles Lapworth whose first called attention to the dramatic Moine Thrust in Assynt back in 1882. According to the sign, Lapworth wrote about having nightmares about being “bodily caught up in the Moine Thrust” and crushed between the tectonic plates that meet near there. Now, I have an uncle who is a geologist, and for a second I tried to imagine him having nightmares about plate tectonics. It made Lapworth seem a bit hyperbolic.

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The night I met Rab Ballantyne

The night I met Rab Ballantyne

By the time I went to Scotland in April of 2015, I had already written the story of young Rab. I had always known that Sarah would meet her father when she went to Scotland, but I wasn’t entirely sure how the weight of losing/giving up Molly and their child had sat on Rab through the years. I didn’t know where he would be in his life, or what he would have done with himself in the intervening time. Until I met him, strangely in the very place where he should have been.

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For your listening pleasure

A couple of readers over the last week have mentioned music to me, and I thought I would share some with all of you.

Since Sarah MacAlpine is an ethno-musicologist and the jumping off point for her journey is a song, music plays a big part in my writing process. It helps me unlock the voices of certain characters, keeps me focused on the theme of the book, triggers the right emotions for a particular story-line. There are many different reasons why I use music when writing.

I thought you all might appreciate a peek into the music that I use when working on these books. So, I am making a couple of my working playlists public on Google Play Music. If you don’t subscribe to this service, you should still be able to listen for free with maybe a few ads. Here is some more information about the service.

The first is one that I used a lot when writing Cauldron to unlock Molly’s voice in my head. It’s called Once & Future book series - Molly’s Mix if you’re searching for it in the app. Here is a link. It is a blend of Appalachian and Scottish folk songs.

The other is Once & Future book series Dermot & Sarah. This is a playlist of songs that capture some of the turbulent emotional journey of Dermot and Sarah. So there are a lot of ballads and a few sweet love songs. Including the new addition of “The War” by SYML. Thanks Ashley for that recommendation.

If you have a song that you think applies to either of these lists. please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for music that helps. Maybe we’ll add it.