Fictional Framework

I will continue on with what I learned when Michael M. Alvarez spoke on Nov. 6th, at the Joyner/Green Valley.

First, Last Clichés:

Red Herring— A false or deliberately misleading trail; a diversionary tactic. Dates from 1800s. Comes from the use of strong-smelling smoked herrings as a lure to train hunting dogs to follow a scent. They also could throw the dogs off the scent, and it was this characteristic that was transferred to the metaphoric use of red herring.  See W. F. Butler (Life of Napier, 1890).

The Real McCoy—The genuine article. Probably originated in late 19th cent. America. A young boxer named Norman Selby changed his name to Kid McCoy and began a successful career in the ring. For years he averaged a fight a month, winning most by knockouts. Hoping to capitalize on his success, other boxers adopted the name Kid McCoy, but on March 24, 1899, the real Kid, in a now legendary bout, finished off Joe Choynski in the 20th round. The next day’s headlines in the San Francisco Examiner proclaimed, “Now you’ve seen the real McCoy,” and the description stuck. This explanation is somewhat verifiable, but there are several other theories to its origin. One is a Scotch whiskey made by the MacKay company was called the real Mackay or McCoy.

Smell a rat—Suspect something is wrong. A very old term alludes to a cat sniffing out a rat. John Skelton used it in The Image of Hypocrisy (c. 1550): “If they smell a rat, they grisely chide and chant.”

So, how many did you find?

 Michael M. Alvarez talked about Fictional Framework.  So I will tell you the whole kit and caboodle about what this is.

Fictional Framework means that all that happens in a story, happens for a reason, and it all has to make sense.

The elements in every mystery have to have:

1.      Interesting and Believable Characters

2.      Create an interesting and believable killer (you must balance 1 and 2)

3.      Need a good cast of suspects—3 for a novella, 5-6 or more suspects in a novel

4.      Victim’s death must not be trivial—need a good reason why victim was killed

5.      Setting – (regional, business type, etc.) something out of the ordinary is good-example is Tony Hillerman

6.      Interesting Plot and Subplots –Robert B. Parker can do in 200-210 pages what other authors do in 300-400 pages.

7.      Clues and red herrings

8.      Have to have a logical, satisfying conclusion—avoid bringing together too quickly

Logical ending needs to have a motive, means, opportunity. If you fail on these, then you have a novel that is dead in the water.

The Play Fair Doctrine – a writer gives all information and clues for the reader to be able to figure everything out. If he doesn’t, the reader will be fighting mad.

 Hope you’ve learned something like I did, and

Keep Writing!


Mystery vs. Thriller/Suspense Novels

Went to listen to a great speaker on Mysteries vs. Thriller/Suspense Novels

First, let’s do Last Clichés:

Par for the Course—Just about typical or average. Believe it or not, this term comes from golf.
Par means the number of strokes set as a standard for a particular hole or for the entire course, a score not attained by the majority of players. This term was used to other activities in the 1920s. However, often used with a mildly derogatory or deprecatory connotation. i.e. “He’s nearly half an hour late; that’s just about par for the course.” Up to par means “to meet a standard or norm,” while below par = “less than satisfactory,” by extension in poor spirits or health. See C>E> Montague (1867-1928) Fiery Particles.

Alive and Kicking – Very much alert and alive; still surviving. Originated with fishmongers who described their wares, meaning that they were extremely fresh. Mid-19th cent. coined a cliché. Recent version = alive and well, originated as a denial to a false report of someone’s death. French singer Jacques Brel, boosted this expression with his show and recording which was translated as Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Popular in the 1970s.

Own Up To—Confess, admit to something. Dates from mid-1800s. This expression uses own in the sense of possessing responsibility for something. See the Boston Journal (May, 23, 1890).

So, how many did you find?

I went to my writers’ club speakers presentation. Michael M. Alvarez told us some history starting back in 1841 when Edgar Alan Poe wrote the firs detective mystery. Then in 1868 Wilkie Collins wrote Moonstone.

Mysteries have puzzles, and are like putting pieces together. The murder mystery is the most interesting which includes red herrings, false alibis, climatic scenes. Of course we all know in 1887 Doyles’ Sherlock Holmes series, and in 1920s the Agatha Christie mysteries had very engaging characters and interesting stories. After that, the publishers began putting books into categories or genres.

The real McCoy mystery novel is called a series of interviews.

So what’s the difference between a mystery and thriller or suspense novel?

A mystery—the reader does not know who the killer is until the end, but the reader should be able to smell a rat.

A thriller (which has elements of suspense) sometimes lets the reader know who the killer is at the beginning and reader has to figure out the how to stop the killer or catch the killer. Thrillers are faster paced (Mary Higgins Clark was good at this) and definition of suspense is anticipation of what happens next. Every ten pages something happens.

A mystery can do the same with short chapters, which gives the illusion of moving fast.

In the first 15 pages, the killer should be introduced—not necessarily by name.

Next blog will continue with what I learned about the Fictional Framework.

Keep Writing!


How Many Blogs Do you Follow?

First let’s do last clichés:

To Put my Food Down—To take a firm position. This refers to putting one or both feet in a fixed position, which represents a firm stand. Versions of this exist from the 16th century on. It became current in 19th century. See the OED cites James Payn’s The Lack of the Darrells (1886).

To Keep Body and Soul Together—To sustain life, sometimes just barely. This frequently describes a job that pays scarcely enough to live on. This term refers to the idea that the soul gives life to the body, which dies when the soul is separated from it. This dates back to the early 18th century cliché around the mid-19th century. See Manchester Guardian (1974) by Susan Lowry.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword—Writing is more effective and powerful than fighting. This appeared as a proverb in 1571 (“No more sword to be feared than the learned pen”) and then took a different form in Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621): “The pen is worse than the sword.” It appeals to writers ever since. See Time Magazine (1990) “The Pen is Mightier” article.

How many did you find?

Well, it’s par for the course that I missed a few weeks of blogging. Had company and I celebrated my birthday, and still, I’m alive and kicking.

I’m wondering how many bloggers do you follow? How many do you follow faithfully? How come?

When I find a blogger that gives me writing information, I sign up for their email, so I get alerted when they blog. I have to own up to the fact that maybe not all of their writing interests me, but usually it benefits me in some way. Some of the ones I follow are: Frances Caballo; Jan Friedman; Live, Write, Thrive;

What bloggers do you follow? Do they have signups to be sent when they are out?

Keep learning and Writing,


How much Time do you Devote to Writing?

First let’s check the clichés:

 To Fill the bill—to suit a purpose, to satisfy requirements. This originally came from 19th century American stage. Poster announced a program, listing star attractions and then added lesser-known entertainers to complete the show (or fill out the bill). By mid-century, the term had been transferred to other areas—it acquired a primary sense of providing what was needed. Harper’s Magazine in 1890: “they filled the bill according to their lights.”

Mind the Store (to)—Take charge in someone’s absence. Dates from about 1900. It originally meant literally taking over the business of a store when the owner was temporarily away. Later it expanded to more general usage.

Broke Ground (to break ground)—To be innovative; to start a new project. Dates from 16th century. Literally meant to break up land with a plow. Figuratively used by late 17th cent. by the poet John Dryden and others. In 1830, De Quincey described Jeremy Bentham as “…who first broke ground as a pioneer…,” – this expression was already headed toward clichédom.

So, how many did you find?

I heard someone say if you don’t write at least two hours a day, you aren’t a writer.

I’m going to put my foot down and disagree. Lots of time I may not be actually writing (by hand or typing on computer), but I’m thinking about my story, getting ideas for either a story or characters. Sometimes I’m even going over my story in my head, figuring out more scenes.

There are all types of “writing” and ways to do it. My writing keeps my body and soul together. Makes me happy. I don’t write for money or fame—it would be nice, though. I just love to tell stories and, hopefully, entertain others.

I also believe the pen is mightier than the sword, so all of you who write, keep writing. You can either entertain others with stories, essays, poetry, etc., and/or you can impart knowledge. I pray that I do a bit of both.

Some writers commit to a certain amount of pages per day rather than the time. Stephen King, at one point in his career, committed to 10 pages a day. Some do five pages a day. Of course, it all depends on the writer how much time or how many pages one does in one sitting.

My time writing per day varies each day. Some days I’m writing all day, some a couple of hours, some, not even one sentence or word written.

Even if you only write ten minutes a day—you are a writer!

Enjoy, and

Keep Writing,



Your Write Time

What’s Your Responsibility as a Writer

Finding Time to Write

Speaking about how, why, what you Write

On Monday, September 11, 2017, I spoke to a group of church ladies at a luncheon about my writing.

But first,…

Last Clichés:

Quiet as a Mouse—Means subdued or hushed. This dates from the 16th century and probably refers to the behavior o a mouse that stops dead in its tracks at the approach of a cat. The mouse remains as quiet as possible—to avoid notice. Also used as still as a mouse—it’s been repeated over and over, outliving the still older version quiet as a lamb (14th Cent.)

Knock on Wood—Hope for good luck and/or avoid misfortune. In Great Britain used as touch wood. This phrase is based on superstition that rapping or touching on anything wooden will avoid a disaster, especially after a person has boasted. “Touch wood, it’s sure to come good,” is the proverbial saying. Might have an ancient religious significance, maybe from time of Druids, who regarded certain trees as sacred, however the exact meaning has been forgotten.

Blaze a Trail, to—To begin a new enterprise or find a new path. Comes from the practice of marking a forest trail by making blazes—spots or marks on trees made by notching or chipping away pieces of the bark. First used in 18th century America by scouts who marked new trails for the soldiers behind them. Used figuratively from the late 19th Cent. on.

All For Naught—All done has been in vain. A poetic word for “nothing.” Naught formerly meant “worthless” or “morally bad.” See King James version of the first Book of Kings (2:19): “The water is naught and the ground barren.”

A Mixed Bag—A haphazard collection of people, categories, or objects. Dates from the 1st half of the 1900s. A Behrend, Samurai Affair, 1973: “Representatives of the press, a mixed bag in age, but not in sex.” Means—journalists of different ages but all either male or female.

So, how many did you find?

Well, this week I put together a panel of four local women writers to speak at our church ladies’ luncheon. The program was 20 minutes, so to fill the bill, each lady had 5 minutes to tell how, why, what they write, and if religion has any effect on their writing. I had to mind the store and do the introductions for the panelists, even though I was one.

I write psychological thrillers; Bonnie Willemssen writes humorous essays and a column for the local newspaper, as well as working on a book about her adoption and how she met her birth family, and is writing a cozy mystery; Mary Maas writes pictorial history books from Nebraska, freelance articles, poetry and homespun essays, plus she published Sisterhood of the Wounded Breast,a collection of stories written by survivors of breast cancer; and Bonnie Papenfuss writes book reviews for the local paper and poetry.

After giving a brief bio of each speaker, I broke ground and told my story. What is my story? Check out my About Page. But I also told the luncheon that I have always made up stories. I was shy and quiet, so writing was my main way of communicating. That’s how I ended up with my first boyfriend in high school– a writing assignment in study hall where I sent a fictional account of me to a very cute boy. He liked it so well, we became friends. My first husband and I used to argue, but my arguments were always written on paper.

I wrote poetry (for myself only), and started writing mystery children’s stories for my son. I published a couple in magazines. But then, he grew up, so I started writing what I thought were adult mysteries. However, my editor says they are psychological thrillers, and I have an alter ego that she would not want to meet in an alleyway.

I took correspondence classes, joined writer’s groups and joined an on-line critique group while I lived in Baja Mexico during the winter months for 25 years. When I returned to the States, my writer’s group encouraged me to self-publish my novel Night Terror, which I begin in 1989 and finally published in 2013.

Anyway, when I finished my story, the other ladies told their stories. All of us have different backgrounds and write different genres, but our passion from writing shown through. Hopefully, we encouraged some of the women in the audience to start writing. I know we inspired a few, because they wanted to join our critique group in town.

So I say, until next time,

Keep Writing!


Back to Blogging

Sorry I’ve been away, but now I have my blog site reset and back in business.


Last Clichés:

Drum (something) into one’s Head—To force an idea on someone by means of persistent repetition. This has been used since the early 19th century. It’s compared to drumbeats over and over. John Stuart Mills used it in his Political Economy (1848).

Let’s Be your Own Person—To be in charge of your own actions or affairs. This expression is very old. Chaucer – who often portrayed strong women—used it in Troilus and Criseyde, c. 1374.

Sign on the Dotted Line—To indicate one’s full acceptance of terms being offered. The dotted line reers to where you put your signature on an official document. Dates from early 1900s. P. G. Wodehouse used it in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921.

Tear Your Hair Out—Show extreme grief, anger, or frustration. In ancient times it was customary to show grief by literally pulling at your hair. Practice was referred to by Homer in the Iliad, with reference to Agamemnon, and shows up in other ancient writings. Shakespeare used it in Troilus and Cressida (4:2), and Thackeray in The Rose and the Ring, (1855). Now, we use it for anger or vexation, and entirely figuratively.

So, how many did you find from last post?

Unfortunately, for over half the year, I’ve been quiet as a mouse on this blog post. I’ve been traveling, dealing with family issues, and other business disasters. Hopefully, knock on wood, all are in the past, and I can get back to my writing.

I’m going to try and blaze a trail and start, not only writing on my novels, but blogging and working on social media. I don’t believe my writing is all for naught, and as you know, I include clichés in my blog post. I hope you enjoy finding them and then learning about them in the next post. I will continue to do this and will try to impart writing knowledge, also. So, I will try and write once a week and give you a mixed bag of writing information.

Until next time, check out my novels, Night Terror, and Vanity Killed on Amazon, and above all else,

Keep Writing.



E-Book Publishing

Happy Thanksgiving!
More about the self-publishing, but First:

Last Clichés:

Hit the Spot—To satisfy or please extremely well. This American slang dates from the mid-19th century. It was widely popularized through a commercial jingle heard on the radio in the 1930s and 1940s: “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot, twelve full ounces, that’s a lot.” It remains current.

Nuts and Bolts—The essential components of something. This alludes to basic machine parts. Dates from the mid-20th century and is a bit puzzling. Why the use of nuts and bolts and not nuts and screws or wheels and gears? T.E. Allbeury used it in A Choice of Enemies (1973).

Chasing Rainbows—Trying to achieve impossible things, pursuing illusionary goals. Comes from the old tale about finding a crock of gold if one digs as the end of the rainbow, where it touches earth. Expressed in 19th century. A popular song – words by Joseph McCarthy and music by Harry Carroll – “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” based on Chopin’s C-sharp minor Fantasy Impromptu was published in 1918. Used in several motion pictures, including Ziegfeld Girl with Judy Garland and revived in 1946.

How many did you find?

I’ll drum some of the same ideas from Print Publishing into your head with an overview of E-Book Publishing:

  1. Determine your goal
  2. Find-tune your manuscript
  3. Hve it proof-read by at least two people (besides yourself)
  4. Make corrections
  5. Add the “necessary” pages
  6. Write the book “blurb”
  7. Create cover graphics
  8. Set up a KDP Account at Amazon
  9. Prepare the manuscript for online e-book publishing (KDP, for example)
  10. Preview online
  11. If you make changes, upload the new file
  12. Determine price and distribution channels
  13. When it is exactly the way you want it, release it for online publication
  14. Review and tweak any errors or problems as they come up throughout the life of the book

As you can see, the first 7 steps are the same as Print Publishing.

Now, let’s be your own person. #8 is set up a KDP account at Amazon. Just follow their step by step instructions. And you’ll have to sign on the dotted line to receive your royalty checks. You’ll be paid every month (at the end) for book sales from 60 days prior. i.e. January royalties will be paid end of March.

Download free Amazon KDP instructions available at KDP stands for “Kindle Direct Publsihing.”

After you get your manuscript formatted, preview it. If you make changes, you just upload the corrected version.  EVERYTIME YOU MAKE CORRECTIONS EITHER FOR E-BOOK OR PRINT –RENAME THE FILE AND SAVE AND BACK UP ALL OF THE VERSIONS.

Don’t tear your hair out trying to do this on your own. It’s easy, but if you find it frustrating, then hire someone to help. I use Debora Lewis at Arena Publishing for my cover design and probably will use her for formatting from now on.

References for Print and E-Book self-publishing:

Search for “royalty-free” images. There are several photo sites out there.

Good Luck and Keep Writing,



Self-Publishing on a small budget

Went to a great talk the other day. But first–

Last Clichés:

Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth—Accept a gift in good faith. Dates from St. Jerome’s biblical commentary (c. A.D. 420) on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. It’s based on fact that a horse’s age is revealed by its teeth. Looking inside a horse’s mouth therefore will tell you if someone is passing off an old nag for a spry colt. The same expression is found in French, Italian, Portuguese, and other languages.

Captive Audience – An audience that cannot escape a particular presentation—a play, speech, sermon, etc. I.E. “the preacher always makes his sermon twice as long on big holidays—he knows he’s got a captive audience.” Originated in the U.S. about 1900.

Did you find them?

Heard JoAnn Bassett the other day. Her talk on Self-Publishing: Professional Results on a Shoestring Budget hit the spot. (See:

She spoke about Print Publishing and ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to speak about E-book Publishing.

The nuts and bolts of her print publishing talk:

  1. Determine your goal and budget
  2. Fine-tune your manuscript
  3. Have it proofread by at least two people (besides yourself)
  4. Make corrections
  5. Add the “necessary” pages: i.e., a information page at beginning or end to establish your ownership and prevent lawsuits. It includes the copyright and ISBN number of your book
  6. Write the book “blurb”
  7. Set up the interior pages for on-demand printing (Adobe Acrobat) Do on your own by using CreateSpace templates or have someone do for you.
  8. Create a cover: graphics, text, and photo: You can either create your own cover or hire someone to create the cover for you. Make sure you get FREE graphics or photos that say “royalty-free” images.  Text for your cover includes: Title, Sub-title (if any), author’s name, a very short synopsis of the book (the book “blurb”), author photo, a short author bio, barcode, isbn and spine.
  9. Do the on-line set-up on Getting your book into print using CreateSpace is easy and free. There’s a step by step process and even have templates for you.
  10. Set a per unit price
  11. Order a preview copy and review and reread for errors and/or omissions
  12. Order copies to have on hand for book signings or reviews

Using to self-publish your book is not chasing rainbows. It has how-to do information for all the above.  It’s free and they walk you through all the steps.

I used it for my two books: Night Terror and Vanity Killed. I will use them for my next book, but I may have my cover designer from Vanity Killed do not only the cover design again, but she also formats the interior for an inexpensive fee. Would be well-worth it.


Keep Writing,




More about Antagonists and Choosing a Killer

I’ll continue with my talk, But first–

Last Clichés:

Silver-tongued Orator—A persuasive and eloquent speaker. Term around since 16th Century, when applied to a preacher Henry Smith (c. 1550-91) and to Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618), a translator. Silver is equated with something fast-flowing and dazzlingly bright, and is a natural metaphor for eloquent speech. The best-known recipient of the “silver-tongued orator” was William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), who not only was a wonderful speaker, but advocated the free coinage of silver; he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2896 as a result of a speech in which he said, “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

Get to the Point—to address the main issue, speak plainly. This term, which in British parlance is usually phrased come to the point, dates from Chaucer’s time. Chaucer himself wrote in the “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales, “This is the point, to speken short and pleyn.”

Get up and Go—Vital energy, enthusiasm. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1987) hyphenates this term and lists it as a noun, originating in the U.S. in the early years of this century. It has numerous precedents—most common—get up and get, still used in some parts of the U.S. Lady Bird Johnson used it in the early 60s.

So, how many did you find?

Now don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but here’s the rest of my speech from Nov. 1, 2016:

The best antagonist is someone who already plays a part in your protagonist’s life. All my characters are connected in some ways; therefore, the killer is too.

A great antagonist believes that his motivations are valid and his actions justified. He is the hero in his story. My killers know they are doing what needs to be done “in their own mind.” And when you read my books, you’ll see the killer’s thoughts and know they know they are doing the “right” thing.

Create a character whose motivation for opposing the protagonist’s story goal is as strong and logical as the protagonist’s reason for opposing the antagonist’s goal. Of course, my killers are demented in a way and “logical” is in their own mind. They also need a story arc, a change of character in some way. Do my killers change? You decide.

Make an antagonist your readers will love to hate. Let him win occasionally and give him a “kick-the-cat” moment. We need to see why he is the antagonist. I also like to give him at least one endearing quality. I want my readers to make a connection with him. Even if he’s a complete jerk, find one point of connection, one point of contact, between your readers and the antagonist. Find the last surviving ember of his humanity. Fan that ember to life and show it to your audience.  In Night Terror, my first book, the arsonist will not hurt an animal. Always saves the pets. To tell the truth, I’m not sure about the killer in Vanity Killed. Let me know what you think, but I think it has to do with love.


(At this point I read from my Book, Night Terror, Chapter 17.) excerpts as examples I’ll place here.

The dog is heavy, but I manage to lift it up, carry it outside, and set it down onto the grass by a bush. Before walking away, I pat the sleeping form.

The car door squeaks as I shut it with agonizing slowness not wanting to attract attention on this street. As I pull slowly away from the curb, a cat darts in front of me. I slam on the brakes, barely missing it. Trembling, I sit at the wheel as I watch it race off into the dark. Tears roll down my cheeks and glancing heavenward, I mutter, “Thank you, for letting me miss the cat. It might have been Sheba.”

I stay for a minute longer, getting my emotions under control.


Never create an antagonist who exists merely to obstruct the lead. You will end up with a shallow stereotypical character.

Now, with all those tips in creating an antagonist, how do you choose your killer? Not really sure, but I can tell you how I do it.

As I’ve said, I write from the point of view of the hero and the killer.  I write my book and the characters tell the story. Even though I’m writing in the killer’s POV, in the beginning, I’m not really sure who my killer is. Unconventional, yes. Does it work? For me it does. At least in my two books, Night Terror and Vanity Killed. And so far, working in my third book, which has a working title: Birthmark. It’s about a woman who goes shark fishing in Baja, and her shark has a body part in it with a birthmark on it. She’s determined to find out who was in her shark.

When I wrote Night Terror and Vanity Killed, I had an idea who the killer might be.  It was one of three different characters. Little did I know there was a fourth one lurking in the background. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I finally come to a spot in my story, where I have to decide who the killer is. After I decide that, then I finish the book.

When the rewrite comes along, I make sure that the clues are in the story that Could lead you to who the killer is. Hopefully I’ve done well, and you won’t know until the killer is revealed.

When I wrote Night Terror, I had a detective read it. He came to me every day with a different character in mind for the killer. When the killer was revealed, he said, “Naughty, naughty, the clues were there.” I considered that high praise coming from a professional detective.

When I wrote, Vanity Killed, I thought I knew who my killer was. However, when the ending was nearing, the real killer popped up and changed my idea.

Right now, my third book, Birthmark, I’m at the juncture where I must decide which character is the killer.  I’m sort of at a standstill, trying to make that decision. I have it narrowed down among three characters. The other night, I thought I’d decided, But, then there’s this one character who keeps yelling, “No it’s me!” I never know who’s lurking in the shadows that will present him or herself. That’s the fun of writing my stories. Sometimes I’m shocked at who the killer is as much as I hope you are.

I hope this helps you decide and choose your killer.

I had a captive audience that day. Hope you read to the end here and enjoyed.

Until next time,

Keep Writing,



Part of my speech re Creating Antagonists

My speaking engagement on Nov. 1, 2016 went well.

It’s been awhile, but here are the last clichés:

Do it up Brown–To do something perfectly. Not sure where it came from. Might allude to the brown color of meat that has been thoroughly cooked. To Do Brown first appeared around 1600 in England. However the exact phrase was used in print only in the mid-19th century and in the U.S. (“‘Done up brown,’ as they say on the Bowery,” Lorenzo Dow, Sermons, c. 1849). One of Eric Partridge’s consultants believed that “brown” referred to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry (1859), an incident contributing to the Civil War, but the term was known before that. But to do someone up brown meant to deceive someone, and to do oneself up brown meant to get oneself into a jam. Both are obsolete.

Picture Perfect–Exactly right, especially in appearance. From the 12th century. It alludes to the precise resemblance of a painting or photograph to its subject, as in “The day was picture perfect for a picnic–not a cloud in the sky.” Time Magazine used the term as the caption for a photograph of the presidential candidate Al Gore, his wife Tipper, running mate Joe Lieberman, and Lieberman’s wife Hadassah, calling it “the purest moment of their campaign” (August 21, 2000).

So did you find them?

Even though I wasn’t a silver-tongued orator yesterday, I’ll pass on some of what I spoke about.

There are 3 types of Antagonists:

  1. The antagonist is an obstacle that gets in the protagonist’s way and prevents her from achieving her goal. Can be a person or nature or society. Like cancer, or an avalanche, or a bully.
  2. The antagonist is a villain who has a goal that goes against what the protagonist wants. Unlike an obstacle, the villain has a goal of his own that often doesn’t even involve the protagonist until she is compelled to stop him because she doesn’t want his horrific plan to come to pass. They are usually in crime stories. My antagonists are villains, at least that’s how I see them.
  3. The antagonist is a competitor; he wants the same thing the protagonist wants. They have the same goal, and if one succeeds the other fails. They say that these are usually common in thrillers, action/adventures and heist stories, where both are after the same priceless artifact, etc.  Even though I write thrillers, my antagonist is a villain, and I’m sticking to that.

When I write, I write in two different tenses. The Protagonist is in third person, past tense. Then, with their own chapters, I write in the killer’s POV in first person, present tense. I do that so you know when you are in the killer’s mind set.


An example from my writing would be from Vanity Killed, Chapter 1 first page:

Today, the prized possession dies.

I hide behind the brocade drapes and peer through the sheer curtains at the front parlor window. Everything looks distorted.

My heart pounds. Blood rushes through my veins. Chills shoot up and down my spine. I shudder from the rush. The kill is happening again.

The window stands ajar and I hear Sarah Hudson’s heels staccato-click on the brick walkway outside. Carsonville’s foghorn blasts its eerie warning. The clicking halts. Sarah tilts her head. I feel certain she abhors that warning of imminent grayness closing in just like I do. We detest the cloying salt sea odor that mixes with the stench from the pulp mill. That mill has been spewing its odors for decades, but will soon be shut down.

The minute I learn she wants away from her Northern California home town, I set my plan in motion. Sarah Hudson will spend eternity here.


Let me get to the point. There are all kinds of tips for writing your Antagonist or Killer. Use the internet and do research.

Some say your Antagonist is more important than your protagonist. You need to build a solid villain. Even the greatest protagonist in the world cannot truly shine without an equally well-rendered opposition. However, the reverse is not true. Your protagonist, even if a bit shaky, and your villain shines, you can still tell a very successful story.

Of course, you spend equal time developing your characters whether a protagonist or an antagonist. They should be equal in strength, so they can fight a good fight. I try to develop all of my characters in my books, no matter who they are, because as you’ll see, they might turn out to be my killer.

Depending on the type of antagonist, they either have conflicting goals or the same. However, the Antagonist is the character who MOST stands in the way of the protagonist achieving the story goal.

The Antagonist and Protagonist should have conflicting characteristics. But, your villain doesn’t have to be evil.  Again, that depends on the type of story and type of antagonist you are using. Don’t make the antagonist too weak or too strong. My killers are evil. As my editor says, “You may know me as a shy, loving person, but I have an alter ego you do not want to meet in an alleyway!”  Where that comes from, I have no idea. Might have come from my husband who was always reading true crime stories.  Some of those killers are scarier than what I could come up with. Always told people, if something ever happens to me, look toward my husband.  Now, I think the reverse might be true?

I have lots of get up and go, but I’ll stop here and continue my antagonist tips and how to choose a killer for next week.

In the meantime, Keep Writing,