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How to Add a Spark to Your Story

Updated on January 14, 2015

A Few Words of Explanation

Last week I wrote an article about how writers can write about locations they have never visited. With the aid of the internet and our imaginations, it is quite possible to transport our readers to a town, and make that town come alive, even though we have never stepped foot on that location.

As an example, I wrote the introduction of a short story. Let me give you the opening paragraphs and then we’ll move forward with this lesson.

“He stepped off the bus at the Greyhound Station and set his eyes, for the first time, upon Franklin, Indiana. He was a southern California boy, blond hair, blue eyes, and dimples to die for. He was raised with palm trees and the smell of the ocean, as comfortable surfing as walking, but nowhere in Franklin would he find the golden beaches of his past. This was farming country, and the golden beaches were replaced by green fields and amber waves of grain.”

Later on in the intro, I told my readers that my main character was looking for work, and if he didn’t find it in Franklin he would be moving on soon. That is where I left everyone, and that is where this lesson continues. You can see the entire introduction by clicking on the insert to the right.

At this moment, all I have is a very short story, but what if I wanted to expand it and make it a novel? How can I take this opening scene and give it wings? How do I propel a very innocent opening scene through 100,000 more words?

We do this by adding sparks to the story. A spark is an event that challenges the main character and forces him to react. The average novel is about 100,000 words in length and again, on average, that means I’ll need a spark every 25,000 words or so.

Rather than ramble on about it, allow me, if you will, to teach by example. What follows is the first spark that will take my character on an adventure. The story picks up with my main character leaving a café, walking down the main street of Franklin, Indiana, in search of work.

Walking the main street of Franklin in search of work
Walking the main street of Franklin in search of work | Source

The First Spark

The heat shimmered on the roadway as he trudged on. Perspiration dripped from his brow, and his blond, curly locks were soon damp and hung limp on his shoulders. A gentle breeze blew from the north and tall cumulus clouds dimpled the sky.

He covered the mile slowly, his strong gait hampered by the elements, and just when he was about to decide that Frankin held no interest for him, he came upon the Grange the waitress had mentioned. The parking lot was filled with Ford pickups and small tractors, and men in checkered shirts and ball caps stood in small groups discussing life, crops, prices and, of course, the weather. He nodded to them as he passed by and climbed the steps into the main office.

Behind the desk stood a tall drink of water with broad shoulders and a belly to match. He was busy writing in a ledger as the stranger approached.

“What can I do for ya?”

The visitor to Franklin figured he must look quite the sight, sweat-stained and dusty, like something the cat dragged in. There was no chance of getting hired, he figured, but he was here now so what the hell.

“I’m looking for work. The waitress in town suggested I check at the Grange to see if any farmers needed a hand.”

The big man put down his pen and reached out a hand. “My name is Bruce Fisher, and I’m the manager of this Grange. I didn’t catch your name, son.”

“I’m sorry, Mister. I plumb forgot to give it. I’m Cody Willis, from Malibu, California. I just got into town and, like I said, I’m looking for a job.”

As Cody spoke to the manager, he took note of his surroundings. Behind Fisher was a desk, and at that desk sat a matronly sort with beehive hair going seriously gray. She was carrying an extra fifty pounds and didn’t look too happy about it. She looked at Cody, closed a magazine she had been reading, hefted her extra weight up and left the room through a side door. Through the door glass she could be seen picking up the telephone and dialing a number.

“Well, Cody Willis, I don’t know of anything right now, but check back tomorrow and maybe something will have come up. You might try the Toyota plant across the road. I heard they might be hiring.”

Cody thanked the man and retraced his steps out the front door and back to the oven outside. As he walked across the parking lot a police car entered in a hurry and came to a stop ten feet from him. The driver and passenger doors flew open and two burly cops exited with guns drawn.

“Down on the ground, now!

It’s like being back in California, Cody thought. Too many times he had seen a similar situation back home. Gangbangers, druggies, pickpockets and shoplifters, spread out on the ground, arms yanked behind them, wrists cuffed. He never thought he’d see it in Frankly, Indiana, and he certainly didn’t expect to be the object of so much negative attention. He complied and sprawled on the pavement.

“What did I do, officer?”

“There was a young woman murdered three blocks from here. You match the description of a suspect seen fleeing the murder scene. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney……..”

What kind of conflict will propel your story?
What kind of conflict will propel your story? | Source

And We Are off and Running

The first spark has been provided, and that spark, the arrest, will propel the story for the next 25,000 words. When that spark has died it will be time to add a new one, and then another, and another, until my target total of 100,000 words has been reached.

And that’s all there is to it, he said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The good news is it gets easier with practice. The bad news is it’s never really easy. Great writers make it look easy, but even the greats struggle with storyline and pace. Even the greats will hit mental roadblocks, and watch as the spark dwindles and threatens to disappear.

If writing were easy everyone would do it and do it well.

Your protagonist must meet a series of challenges
Your protagonist must meet a series of challenges | Source

Various Schools of Thought

There are writers who will outline a novel, and the sparks are known before they ever sit down to write that first page. I’m not one of those writers. I let my characters tell the story, and my sparks generally come from my characters and from my own personal muse. I wait until they all whisper in my ear and direct me to the next spark. I don’t know of any other way to describe the process.

I mentioned earlier that there should be a spark every 25,000 words. Is that etched in stone? No way, but what is etched in stone is the need for sparks throughout the book. Very few novels can flow properly without fuel of some sort. It is the writer’s job to provide that fuel.

I hope that helps you as you prepare for the adventure of novel-writing. As always, if you are still confused, or need further explanation, you can contact me at your convenience.

Happy Writing!

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I love your response. True that! Too much excitement makes Bill a crazy person. LOL

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sparks in stories come so much easier than they do in our own lives, which is really the best. I don't know if I'd want THAT much excitement in my life. Great topic.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      it is the same idea, Glimmer, Much harder to do with the types of articles you write, so I commend you for finding a way.

      Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Now I want to read more Bill! I try to add spark with my little brief stories at the beginning, but more with my photos. Sort of the same idea...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, I'm honored that you have a folder with my articles. Thank you dear friend. That means a great deal to me.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I think Mary summed up our appreciation of this article very well -- another valuable tool for our writer's toolbox. Long ago, I created a special folder with all of your articles, bookmarked. I often go back and re-read your advice. Thank you! :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always my pleasure, vkwok. Thank you!

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for more great advice, Bill! One of the most important parts of the story is how much life is in it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cristen, I learned that lesson a few years back reading writers like Bruce Catton and his Civil War series. Nonfiction for sure, but written in fiction style, and it was magical the way he did it. I'm glad these help you and of course, I am grateful.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Excellent advice. I can apply that lesson to my nonfiction writing too. Of course we are friends and I read all (at least I try to read all) of your posts, but I read them for another reason too. I don't write fiction but reading your advice to fiction writers helps me thing out about my genre. I am able to be more creative, which leads to better writing. This is advice I can really sink my teeth into. Thank you, Bill,

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, you are going to hate my answer: I really haven't experienced writer's block. There will be times when I am stuck on a phrase, or a certain way of saying something....for me, that's writer's block. During those times I shut down the computer and go work outside, or take a walk in the woods. If I give my brain a rest, the creativity comes back on its own. I hope that helps.

    • Debbie Snack cake profile image

      Debbie Villines 2 years ago from Iowa

      Hi billybuc;

      Well, now I have this Cody stuck in my mind; it helps me stir up, my writers block; I seem to be having troubles getting past, that's one reason my hubs is written down so much, and the length is very short. How do you get past your writers block episodes?

      Enjoyed your post; well done, as always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not at all, Zulma. I love watching the creative process in other writers. Keep doing what you're doing, and you didn't miss that curve ball at all.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Swing and a miss. I didn't see that curve ball coming. Not this soon anyway. Never mind. I can work with this twist. You don't mind if I add my two cents do you? ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maj, you have me laughing out loud. Go kill that despicable human being and watch your story come to life. LOL Thanks for the chuckle.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Grand, I will probably be here still when the heavens open up and we are all called. :) Thank you for your kind words, my friend, and welcome back.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hey I love a bit of spark. So easy to write without thinking of the eventual reader and how to captivate them. Also thinking of a sort of novel I have tucked away - fairly boring - might go back and murder someone. They deserve it. Need to sparkle...

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Very nice to be reading you once again, Billybuc. Your writing has grown so much over time and I'm so jealous. I still have to do the second chapter of my novel! Encouragement and inspiration are your trademarks, and your lesson about sparks is telling me what to do with chapter 2. Now comes the hard part....writing it:(. Thank you so much. For a while I had forgotten that there is a gracious man in Hub pages named Billybuc. Today is a good day.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, it is easier than it seems, although not easy. If you can figure out that sentence you are fully capable of writing a novel. LOL

      Blessings taken, shared, and sent back atcha

      bill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Isn't that just like you, Bill? You spark and run!!!! Of course now I have to finish the story in my head..what happened next??

      100,000 words...O my....I may never get that many down, with or without sparks. My friends would laugh if they heard me say that as I am not exactly a person who is at a loss for words :D

      Take care of you all. Hugs and blessings and many Angels are on the way once again to you all. ps

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And I do appreciate you, Mary. Thank you and Happy Thursday to you.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Yet another tool for our writers toolbox. I must say your example reads like an excerpt from a book.

      I am carefully paying attention to every lesson you give us and do so appreciate them.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shoot, John, I really had no plans on this going further. Sigh! Just what I need....another project. :) Thanks buddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE. I appreciate it, and you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, I can't play a musical instrument. Much too hard for me. Writing is so much easier. We all have talents, do we not? Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cris. I'll be by to see you shortly.

      Happy Thursday and love from Oly

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Amazmerizing, I'll have to remember the hot poker for my next novel. I can see where it would be useful. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful lesson here Bill. I can see how "sparks" are needed throughout a novel. I have not yet written a story that has 25,000 words but even short stories need a "spark" or two. Your example story is great and now you have to continue it so we fin out what happens to Cody...you made it too darn gripping to stop there.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Informative and so interesting to take in.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      As always, it's so awesome. Very useful and beautiful tips for writing a story. But it is not so easy a job. Thanks for sharing.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      "If writing were easy everyone would do it and do it well." - so true.

      Great, useful, educational hub.

      Love from the sky~

    • amazmerizing profile image

      amazmerizing 2 years ago from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA

      Thanks for the cute story. Seems we may be cut from the same cloth... only my characters usually don't whisper... they scream!!! Actually I like it better that way as its too easy to ignore the whispers... incidentally... that's why sometimes I get a hot poker after them... they need it when that spark threatens to go out!!! Hahaha TFS ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I'm terribly organized and structured. That's what makes this creative process so magical for me. :) Thank you! You've done yeoman's duty today reading my hubs.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      They really are transferable, Dora, and that's the point of all these. I want people to reach beyond the comfort zone and see the similarities in all writings.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for your kind words, Bill. Have a great Thursday. One step closer for you to being a full-time writer.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, we'll just have to wait and see. I never planned on this being a book, but who knows? I'll wait and see if my muse wants it done.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I like reading about the unfolding method. I'm such an organized person (generally so) at heart that it intrigues me not to have something generally planned out.

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      But do you have an end in mind, billy?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glenn, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. That's exactly my process. As I'm writing about the first spark, the second one comes to me. The story unfolds as I write, and I love that process. Thank you for stopping by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Yes, I'm sure it helps, although I may not write a novel either. You're a great teacher and some of your ideas are transferable or adaptable from one genre to the other.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. You continue to show us the way with your knowledge and expertise. Thank you for the education.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I’m not planning to write a novel. But I read your hub out of curiosity. It never hurts to learn something new, even if it’s not presently needed. And “learn” I did, from you.

      The thing I found most interesting is your way of letting the characters guide the progress of the story. I think that anyone who wants to write a novel, but is hesitant because they don’t know how to start, should take heed of your lesson.

      It definitely makes it easier to go with the flow, adding those sparks every so often, especially if one doesn’t have the entire storyline all worked out in one’s head to begin with.

      You didn’t say it, but what I got from your explanation is that our brain can develop the story as we continue writing. For that matter, isn’t that how much of our writing is conceived?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, great question, and I might add it to the Mailbag on Monday. To answer quickly, not terribly important in the case of this short story, because it is just used as an example. If I were writing a novel, I would want it very accurate. I've seen authors make up towns, and I don't see that it makes much difference to the story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, considering the fact that I can't paint stick figures, I'm not sure I agree. :) But i do understand what you are saying. Thanks for the visit, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You bet, Missi...glad to help.

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Actually Franklin, Indiana is just 30 miles south of Indianapolis and is not nearly as rural as you describe. How important is the geographical accuracy of your stories? Is it better to set them in fictional towns such as the TV show "The Middle"? It is obviously in Southern Indiana, somewhere near Indiana University, Terre Haute and not too far from Indianapolis, but does not give a town name or exact location. What are the advantages to being in an actual town unless set in a big city like Boston or LA?

      "Plumb forgot"?

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      This is great and you read along and sudden jolt for sure. I always say it is easier to be an artist than a writer . When you paint a picture it is love or hate..However you have to keep a reader spellbound for hours.

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      missirupp 2 years ago

      That would be great, billybuc. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...Missirupp, who says my mind hasn't exploded? :) I'll answer in Monday's mailbag...how's that? The quick answer is I designate certain days for certain projects, but I'll go into more detail on Monday. Good question and thank you.

    • profile image

      missirupp 2 years ago

      Billybuc, I have a question and wasn't sure where to leave it. How do you manage many projects at once? I have three projects going plus the HubPages. I am reading or writing all day. So my basic question is, how do you balance everything you do without your mind exploding?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alan, I'll be laughing the rest of the night. He does look like he's taking a leak, doesn't he? or should I say 'don't I?"

      You are right of course. Our characters very often write the stories with just a little help from us should they get lost in the forest.

      Always a pleasure my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. I think teaching by example is the most effective way, as you well know.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...damp squibs, Ann? Love that description...no hubbers for sure. Thank you! I do think spark is the perfect word. There is a combustion that happens when creativity meets pen and paper, isn't there?

      Rest well tonight. I'm sure you've earned it.

      bill

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      (Here I am, buried under this haystack!)

      Ah, that's better. Now where was I? Not a lot of people will know thus, but that character in the grey hat in the picture above looks like he's taking a leak. Are you sure you wanted to use it?

      That wasn't it, though. Seriously.

      You never know where your character will take you. One minute he's after a job, next minute he's Public Enemy No.1. Food for thought.

      Or he might be riding through woodland with his friends, and next he's almost surrounded by Norman cavalry with lances. How do you get him out of that? Bowmen amongst the trees is the answer, but not before your hero or one of his friends has been wounded by their 'pgstickers' in a sensitive place and the nearest he can get for medical care is a convent.

      Take it from there, Bill!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've certainly given an excellent example of a spark, Bill! Thanks for sharing it.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Great example, bill and therefore a great lesson! The word 'spark' is very apt, isn't it? It literally sets the story on fire.

      Your writing has the ability to get people sparked up and ready to write too; sharing these wise words and hoping many more are helped by them.

      I have this image of little sparks going off in writers' brains. Sadly, some only have damp squibs (not hubbers, I hasten to add!).

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I've never been there. I picked it from a map. The picture is local and just seems similar to some midwest towns I've seen. I'm glad it seemed authentic, so thanks for that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teacher, evidently my spark achieved its purpose...thank you and it's nice to see you again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      esmonaco, I think it is entirely possible and necessary in nonfiction. I've read many good nonfictions that were propelled by sparks. Best wishes to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, it appears that Franklin is a good place to avoid. LOL...thank you!

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I really enjoyed this great example of "spark" - THANKS!

      But, my real question is where did you come up with Franklin, Indiana. If you really took that photo, you were there at some time. This is the community where a big bunch of my "shirt-tale" ancestors settled in the mid-19th Century... and some still live there. Just curious!!!!! ;-)

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 2 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Wow...came in for a lesson and got caught up in a story...now I want to know what happens to Cody! You sparked my attention!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 2 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Billy, Your lessons continue to teach me, as I try to absorb them all. I'm currently writing a non fiction and think I need to add some spark to it as these real events take place. Would you advise this in a non fiction? Thanks again for all you do.

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Looking for work in Franklin, Indiana? Good luck. LOL.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's how I feel too, Sandra. I never stop learning from the writings of others. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Frank. You need no help in this area, but thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marcy! As long as my creativity exists I'll keep sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jamie, it gets easier with practice. I know it seems daunting at first, but believe me, it does get easier. Best wishes to you, and thank you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Martie. It's always nice to hear from you.

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 2 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Great advice as always Bill. I've got a couple of different books I'm working on currently and every tip helps.

      Take care and blessings to you.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I remember Cody, he was the serial killer that disappeared from the Malibu area a short time ago. He ditched his car, and they lost his trail. Your keen eye has spotted him in Indiana.

      Or did I just make that up, reality versus creativity, I don't remember?

      lol

      Now, I think that I understand the need for drafting the first cuts. Thanks

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      Good training detail... I too think all stories short or long needs spark.. again this reference tool proves worthy thank you Billybuc :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 2 years ago from Planet Earth

      Love to see your tips on creative and dynamic writing, Billy! Keep it up!

    • ForLoveofCupcakes profile image

      Jamie Jensen 2 years ago from Chicago

      I love your writing, Bill! Coming up with sparks is something I definitely need help with right now... I'm trying to delve into creative writing bit ideas are difficult to get a hold of (and keep a hold of)!

      Thanks for the help!

      Jamie

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Molly, thanks for your observations. Don't describe the main character? I can see the logic in that...if I were writing a novel I probably wouldn't do it. I would let others describe him throughout the book somehow....so yes, I can see that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lori, you are very welcome. I doubt this story will be expanded. I just tossed it out there for an example....still, though, I can see possibilities in it. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Anna. I think it was aging inside of me all those years and finally was allowed to surface. I love creative writing...it is such an outlet for me, and I'm so happy others enjoy it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, I love your analysis. To answer your question, when the office worker got up and went to the other room, she made a phone call to the cops. That's how they knew to arrive there...but of course, those things would be revealed if this were really a book....as for the dialect, those things are taken care of when I do my second draft. I don't concern myself with character voices my first run through.

      Great observations my friend.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Billy, your tips are priceless and will even keep experienced writers in line.

      Thanks for sharing your recipes of success.

      :)

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

      You are very good at writing the long descriptions, but the short description made me feel a bit awkward. I blame my high school English class. We were taught not to describe the main character. You have more experience writing than I do, though. I'm going to be using this to connect my preplanned points.

      I can't take an instructional book seriously when it has the adjectives "Stupendously Awesome" in the title. Thankfully, the reviews make it look lighthearted.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Well I want to know what happened to poor Cody. This was very helpful. I always get frustrated when I've tried to write a novel or short story. I, like you, like to let the characters write the story but at some point along the way I hit a wall. Thanks for the tip.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      You really are very talented. The creative writing was full of vibrancy and is screaming for a longer tale to unfold.

      Going for the double your teaching ability shines brightly too.

      For someone new to this full-time writing malarkey not so many years ago you are nailing it!

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      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I enjoyed my virtual stay in Franklin Indiana, and I see the spark.

      I would have failed at writing a dialect for those in Franklin Indiana, and your character doesn't sound like a native of Malibu. You describe him looking like a surfer, but talking like a southerner, of some sorts.

      One of the reasons that I don't watch TV shows like CSI, and the multitude of the others is that I have a reality problem in their cases. My wife says it is just a show, but I can't suspend reality. In the lawyer shows, I keep calling out objections and failure to follow criminal procedure, and others to the point where it frustrates her viewing pleasure.

      I am sure that I am doing the same thing with this spark. I can see how it would be effective as a spark. I would, and let me remind you that from my engineering career, I am analytic.

      Maybe it would be part of the spark twenty five thousand words where it would be developed, but the time here is too short. He walked from the cafe to the grange, and then inside the grange to the parking lot. What possible reason would the cops be there moments after he left the managers office??

      I am only bringing this up to see where I went wrong, as well as why I don't read or write fiction.

      Please don't shoot me, I am reloading. lol

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, honestly, I don't have all the sparks when I sit down to write. They come to me as I'm writing. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Missi....Jodah is an exceptional writer for sure.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I can honestly say that so far, I don't know what Cody is going through....but there's still time for me to find out. :) Thanks buddy.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      As you say sparks are required throughout the story to keep the readers interest till the end. I do not know how authors have all the sparks before they sit to write must be quite a task. Great hub.

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      missirupp 2 years ago

      I like how you say a story can't flow properly without fuel. For me, there has to be some consistency in changing directions with the characters compared to that character moving in a straight line. I just read one of Jodah's short stories "One Way Ticket," and he did just that.

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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Been there done that, hihihihi I can relate to Cody. Thanks for the lesson on "spark".

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, if I were Cody, I'd be on the next Greyhound out of Franklin, but I suspect he has other plans. :) Thanks for stopping by and Happy Wednesday.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Well, Cody certainly got a fine howdy-do from Franklin, Indiana!

      Great illustration of 'spark', Bill. Already we're climbing into Cody's thoughts and emotions as this unfortunate set of circumstances unfolds. Now we get to see what he's made of.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, that's all I need is another novel to play with. LOL Thank you, though, and Happy Wednesday to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kim. Coming from an accomplished writer makes your advice very valuable.

      bill

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, as always and especially here, "Wow!" You totally gave us spark and so much more here! Thank you for the wonderful example of this truly and sounds like you may have the great beginnings of a new and upcoming novel here on your hands! Happy Wednesday, my friend! ;)

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      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      This is great advice. We need to remember that a story needs many 'knock-them-off-their-socks moments. I never jot down how my stories will play out. I guess I'm like you and let the characters do it for me. Your advice to spice it up every so often is a home run and what makes a story come alive. Thanks for the lesson, Bill. Noted.

      Kim