Please help me welcome author Sarah Carr. She is sharing a bit of advice on constructing a scene.
Each scene should contain a beginning, middle and end, similar to the structure of a novel. This element of story building is important because scenes illustrate a story as it happens, propelling it forward. In turn, that scene then forms into the next and so on. A scene should be intriguing and lure a reader in, making them feel like they’re a part of the story, tugging them forward.
For me, the setting is key in a scene, which then brings my senses into play. My first step when creating a scene is painting a mental picture and establishing it into words. For instance, am I standing on a dock? If so, can I taste the salt in the breeze? Does the wind make me shiver? Can I hear the birds flying overhead? Can I see boats bobbing in the water? All of these elements are key in creating a visual for my readers. Now that I have this beautiful canvas, I start to think about the potential dilemmas and conflicts that can occur here. I break out the questions: “Who”, “What”, “Where” “When” and “Why”.
From here, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps it’s late at night and my character was a witness to a grisly crime. She’s running away from a murderer and is cornered on the dock. Here’s another scenario. Maybe my character recently lost a loved one and she’s seeking solace from the water as she watches the sunrise. She meets someone who causes her question her life. The story could go in a completely different direction. Possibly, my character is about to embark on a cruise and overhears a crewmember say there’s something wrong with the ship right. Does she investigate the situation herself? Will she get caught? With painting one simple picture of a “dock”, there are numerous different scenes that populated in my head.
It’s these types of actions I used in Revealing Hamilton to get the story from start to finish. Below is a part of a scene from my new release, Revealing Hamilton.
Something felt wrong.
In the living room, an ottoman rested on its side and a magazine lay open on the floor. A colorful article advertising Las Vegas blared from the pages. From the corner of my eye, the screen of Connor’s cell phone caught my attention. I watched it periodically blink, communicating new messages awaited.
I went to the kitchen next and found the latest stack of mail on the island. The top envelope made me cringe when I saw the return address. It was another letter from the State of Washington. This one was addressed to Amelia Brooks.
My identity had been an issue for years. Since age 18, I submitted multiple requests to change my last name from my grandfather’s back to my parents. With each attempt, the paperwork came back denied, stating my name was Amelia Benedict or another obscure surname starting with the letter “B”. Double-checking each field, I clearly filled out the forms to read Amelia Hamilton, but was contradicted every time. I determined it a sick way for my grandfather to haunt me from the grave. The latest correspondence would have to wait.
A broken wine bottle and bandage wrappers were on the counter next to the refrigerator. Droplets of dark fluid created a path from the bottle to the sink, making me shudder. The room began to feel too warm and nausea flooded my stomach. I grabbed a rolling pin from the island, gripping it so tightly my knuckles hurt.
“Calm down, Amelia,” I said. “There’s a logical explanation and no one is going to hurt you.” I forced my mind away from childhood memories of a basement.
Swallowing hard, I tiptoed across the living room to the bedroom. As usual, the door was cracked open. I held the pin over my head, ready to attack in an instant. From where I stood, I couldn’t see more than the corner of the dresser and a beam of soft light. I took a deep breath and pushed the door open. A flashlight rested on the nightstand, pointed toward the ceiling. As I scanned the room, my jaw dropped and my heart paused.
“Connor?” I dropped the makeshift weapon at my feet.
Fantastic scene! I loved your explanation of what goes through your mind as you contemplate the setting. Thank you for sharing.
Now lets get down to business and find out all the juicy details about you and your new book.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 32 years old and Revealing Hamilton is my first published novel. By day, I work in a radiology billing office and I’m a novelist by night. I live in Washington State with my wonderful husband and son. In my spare time, I like to splash in mud puddles and smell bookstores.
Did you always want to be an author?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a circus performer. I hate heights, so I’m not sure what I was thinking back then. I did start writing stories when I was a child and dabbled with it on and off. It was only a few years ago that writing became a necessity to my day.
What is your favorite part of being a writer/author?
I love plot twists. One of my favorite aspects is when a reader tells me they didn’t expect a story to turn out like it did.
A conversation with a stranger changes Amelia Hamilton’s life forever. When she learns her grandfather faked his own death, normalcy slips from Amelia’s grasp. To make matters worse, he is coming for her in less than seven days. What she hasn’t determined is why.
Amelia’s grandfather, Marius Benedict, once headed The Physician’s Coalition, an elite group of doctors who threw the Hippocratic Oath out the window. Years ago, they used a low-risk medical research study as a front to their experiments. Without their consent, innocents were injected with JackRabbit7, a hazardous substance used to alter their DNA. The victims were left with less-than-desirable super-human powers or excruciating death. Years after he disbanded the group, Marius has a new plan and is reforming The Coalition.
Max, a mysterious stranger from the Insurance Agency, offers to help keep Amelia safe. He introduces The Agency as an underground government organization that contains and eliminates those who intend to harm the world. To protect The Agency, the truth of their activities are concealed and replaced with sugar-coated stories in the media.
Over the course of the next week, Amelia has to accept the truth and learn who can be trusted. At midnight on her 23rd birthday, a contract between The Coalition and The Insurance Agency will expire, giving Marius full rein to approach his granddaughter and finish the project he started with her so many years ago.
When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?
The idea “hatched” in 2005. Keep in mind, I wrote a little and then put the story away for a long time. I’d pull it out and work on it occasionally, but in 2008 I really started diving back into the story. I submitted it to Ruby Lioness Press in December of 2011 and it was under contract shortly thereafter.
Where do you get your inspiration?
So many places! I think music and my writing environment are very important aspects of creativity. I love to write at coffee shops, on my couch late at night or with my writing group. As long as my iPod is playing, the creative juices are flowing.
Do you plot and outline or do you just write? Plotter or Pantser?
There’s no easy answer to this for me. It’s a little of both. I have a general outline of where I expect the story to go. I branch out the outline from there and “pants” it. It doesn’t always turn out the way I expect and I embrace my characters for having minds of their own.
Can you tell us a little about the process of getting your first book published?
Honestly, RLP was the second publisher I submitted to. Ever. The one other company I submitted to, turned me down in a matter of days. When I found out I was pregnant, I had absolutely no creativity so I put a halt to writing for a while. I jest my son stole it from me for the nine months I baked him.
What book have you most recently released?
Revealing Hamilton is my first published novel. Each novel in the series is known as a JackRabbit7 novel.
What was your favorite part of the book?
There’s a moment toward the end of the story where Amelia has a massive realization and a lot of “tidbits” of story click. When that light bulb goes off is when the story snowballs.
I love that part of the story!
Rate your story in terms steaminess?
On a scale of 1-10? Currently, Amelia isn’t so savvy in the ways of relationships, but for the novel as a whole, I’d say a 3 and that’s being generous.
Do you have another book in the works?
Yes. Embracing Hamilton, the sequel, is under contract to release in early 2013. At this point in time, I have plans for at least four novels in the series.
What advice would you give new authors? What have you learned about the business?
If you’re passionate about something, keep at it. Join a writing group. Find other authors who write the same genre you do. Bouncing ideas off of one another can be extremely helpful.
Boxers or Briefs?
Pizza or hamburger?
Beer, Wine, or mixed drink?
If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be? Would you write or read there, or do something else?
I’d say Maui or anywhere tropical. I’d write and spend time with family.
What were your first impressions of each other? As an author~ My first impression of Amelia was, “Good grief, this girl is accident prone. I hope I don’t break her by the end of the book.”
What’s your favorite characteristic Amelia?
My favorite characteristics of Amelia’s are her drive and determination.
What are Amelia's plans for the near future?
It’s always up in the air considering the company she incurs.
Thank you Sarah for being my guest today! It was fabulous. I hope you had as much fun as I did.
Be sure to visit Sarah@
Where to find you @
Websites, Blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, etc.