Category Archives: Writing

The Irish Firebrands Story Arc.

When I started writing Irish Firebrands, I’d never taken a creative writing course.* I detest outlining, and didn’t plan any of my academic or non-fiction writing, so I completely “pantsed” the novel, too, and finished it three years later, with nearly 200,000 words. When I saw this great story arc illustration, it looked familiar, so I compared my novel to the graph, and sure enough: it’s exactly the pattern that Irish Firebrands follows. Here’s what it looks like, added to the illustration:

The Irish Firebrands Story Arc

(click to enlarge, or follow text link to download original graph)

The existence of a chronological story arc does not mean the story was written that way. I started writing at a point in the book that became the end of Chapter 23 and the beginning of Chapter 24. Then, I wrote the second half of the first chapter (at the Establish Routine arrow) and the Inciting Incident. I wrote the end of Chapter 30, the beginning of Chapter 9, and the very last scene of the book, before I wrote the beginning of Chapter 1.

A lifetime of reading went under my hatband before I began writing Irish Firebrands. My reading and writing tastes run to literary fiction, often of epic length, which can support this kind of shark’s-tooth pattern. The simpler, bell-curve shape below, may be more appropriate for the short stories, genre novelettes and NaNoWriMo novellas that make up the majority of the independently published work that’s currently on the market.


If you’re a “pantser” author, and have graphed your book, I’d like to see your story arc pattern. Please post a link in the comments section, to show how it looks.

* I still haven’t taken one. Life is too short, now, for that. The Daughters of Zeus have plenty of plans to keep me busy, until “They” have to pry the keyboard out of my hands.



Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Engaging the Senses (re-blog)

After reading this great advice, I revisited my posts about examples of sensory-input writing and found 17, including a recipe and a survey for the literary foodies among us. I write long-form fiction that has plenty of room for comprehensive sensory involvement, but as phantomwriter143 suggests, every story can benefit from sense-appeal: “Which one would draw you in the most as a reader?”


The Nose Knows.

More Olfactory Observations.

Don’t Give Me the Stink Eye, But…



A Sight for Sore Eyes.

The Eyes Have It!



Hath Music Charms…

The Sound of Muzak.

We Write The Songs

Eh? What’s That, You Say?

The Sounds of Silence.


Fire Burne, and Cauldron Bubble.

Novel Nibbles & Celtic Connections.

Survey: Recipes from Irish Firebrands.


All You Need Is Love.

Touching You, Touching Me.





Writers draw readers in to their imaginary worlds, their characters’ lives, and the driving story that ultimately leaves the reader wanting more.

And one way successful writers do this is by including every single one of the senses in their writing.

We all know the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.


While there is debate over other non-traditional senses including balance, proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, heat detection, and pain, I’m gong to talk about the big five today.

Too often, writers focus on the sights and sounds in their creative works, but they miss out on the touch, taste, and smell aspects.

Sight and sounds are crucial, of course. We need to see what the characters see, but the other senses get left behind too often.


For example, did you know that smell evokes more forgotten memories than any other sense?

neon free smells MGD©

Yep. It’s true. I use this very…

View original post 396 more words


Filed under books, Literature, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing

Inconvenient Facts: Reading Current Events.

One of the main characters in Irish Firebrands is a political journalist, who writes newspaper columns, and reports on television, too. The story doesn’t go into his writing, but the Muses left hints about his career that make me wonder about their plans for yet another book in the saga. I guess the Muses want job security, too! Knowing how to read current events may help novelists to write plausibly about fictional reporters on their beats….

The Passions of Patriots: A Novel ~ Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

2005_Spanish_Levantine_warfare_in_Parker-Pearson 3 Click on the page image to read article.

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” has been variously attributed (Twain? Hemingway?), but it accurately describes the dilemma of reading about current events, especially during wartime. Apparently artists have been among army camp followers ever since cave walls served as the Neolithic hunter-gatherer’s news feed, pictured at left.

Napoleon’s motives for carrying a printing press on campaign may have included not only a need to control scuttlebutt amongst the troops, but also to help manage the spin that local rags might have put on his image.

Battle of Waterloo A contemporary sketch of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

The American Civil War was documented extensively in battlefield reporting art, but it was also the conflict during which photojournalism got its start: even the battlefield artist had his picture taken. (Click on images to enlarge.)


The advent of battlefield…

View original post 614 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under books, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing