Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Anatomy of a Plot with Guest Blogger: Shannan Albright

Win a copy of Dark Passion Rising and meet our April featured author Shannan Albright today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

As a writer I am always looking for that perfect combination of plot and characterization. A lot of writers keep a journal with them to write down their notes on an idea. For me since I am always near a computer I have a file for story concepts. I write a brief concept of maybe a paragraph or two then put it away. I go back to it after a day or so and see what may be viable.

Not all of my ideas pass this stage. If the idea has no spark of interest I move on to another one. I don’t totally trash the idea since something may come to me at a later date. I run about 80 percent on instinct when working out a story idea. If my gut is telling me this is good I start with the characters that will populate my world, then the plot.

My process of writing is to build the skeleton first. That would be the characters. What type of person are they? What’s their background? Short term goals? What are their quirks? I look at all of this within the concept of the story idea. Then I work the muscle structure, in other words the plot. I place brief notes at this time about key turning points, conflicts, and crisis. Now I know the basics of the story. This is when my instinct kicks in again telling me if this is a story worth telling. If the answer is yes I fill in the blanks and build an outline of each chapter.

Now that I have the bones and muscle of the idea in place it’s time to start writing. Keep in mind that even though I have a kind of blueprint to the book to follow that doesn’t necessarily mean that I follow it to the letter. Many times while writing the characters want to take it in some other direction. I give them free reign to do so since I can always go back to my original idea for that particular chapter. Before you ask yes, I do listen to my characters and though it may sound weird to readers most writers I know do carry on an internal dialogue with the people they have created.

I am always on the hunt for that perfect story that will grab a reader and pull them in to my world. Between my instincts, compelling characters, solid plot and a believable world where the reader can suspend belief. If I have done this then I have done my job as a writer. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing people say they loved your book and though hearing from your peers is also nice it is the readers that gives you validation. They are the ones who can make your career after all.

For me it all starts with an idea that grows through the process. It may be entirely different from the one I started with but that’s alright with me because the creative process is also a part of the great hunt to get that story.

A Note from the Book Boost: Shannan, I love how you've turned your plot structure into a human anatomy lesson. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing your method with us. Please tell us more about your latest book.


Tambra Ellis has just had her world turned upside down! Surviving a bite from a Lycan, attracted to one hot vampire guy and now she has to look forward to turning into something from some bad werewolf movie.

Marcus Valerian has enough on his plate without the added complication of Tambra Ellis. Fiery and independent? Sure. Beautiful with a body made for sin? Oh Yeh. And a human cop. Tambra is everything he needs to stay away from.

As leader of the Tribunal’s enforcers it’s up to him to find out why the Dark Breeds are going feral and killing humans in ever increasing numbers. Tambra’s life is in the balance as the secrets of her past place her in the middle of old deceits and a betrayal that will change the world forever.

Will Marcus and Tambra’s love survive or will it be too late.


Marcus moved to the door in a burst of speed, and stopped with his arms folded across his chest, lips compressed into a thin line as he glared at her. He drew his brows low in a scowl.

“W…what the hell are you?” she stammered, unable to mask her unease.

“I am not here to harm you. I have been the one tending to you as your body adjusted.” “You haven’t answered my question,” she pushed.

“That’s because it’s not relevant to the situation.”

“Like hell, asshole. If it affects me then it is my business.”

Marcus liked her toughness, finding it remarkably refreshing. Her strength was impressive, not many could make it through the beginning stages of the change when turning from human to Were, yet she had fought through it. She had overcome it all, despite how badly she had been injured.

He used his most reasonable tone to calm her, knowing that the next few minutes was crucial to keeping her receptive to what he had to say. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, making his tone as calm as he could manage. “At this time the only thing we need to focus on is your change. You are not out of the woods as of yet. There are too many things that could go wrong.”

Her eyes widened in horror as she took a shaky step backward.

“Oh, God. This isn’t happening. It can’t be real. Werewolves don’t exist.”

“Believe me, they do exist. Denying what you have seen will be foolish and dangerous, for you and everyone you’re around.”

“No. I don’t believe this. I won’t believe it. There has to be some logical explanation for what I saw.” The sharp edge of hysteria rose in her voice. “I will not turn into a dog. I don’t even like dogs.”

That made him smile despite the seriousness of the situation. She was absolutely adorable and he was in deep shit because of it. Yet, he couldn’t seem to make himself care. “Wolf, not dog. You were bitten by a Lycan, not Lassie.”

“Ha, ha, laugh it up big guy. You don’t have to worry about fleas.”

Laughter rumbled out of him, surprising him as much as it seemed to anger her. Tambra stood in front of him, her golden hair tumbling wildly down her back, clutching the comforter tightly to her breasts. Her blue eyes glittered with anger and Marcus fought the urge to pull her into his arms and stroke her soft, creamy skin. He clenched his hands into fists and kept still. She was still too pale, evidence of the weakness he knew was plaguing her but, damn, she was magnificent. A true warrior, ready to fight regardless of the fact she couldn’t win.

Want More Shannan?

Visit her website here: www.shannanalbright.weebly.com
Visit her blog here: www.shannanalbright.blogspot.com

Pick up your copy of her book today. Click here!

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good post! Your process sounds quite close to mine.