Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Analyzing The Lincoln Lawyer for Plotting Tips

Have you ever analyzed a book that kept you riveted to the pages to see how the author did it?

Last January I attended a workshop with Kara Lennox and one of the handouts was a Three-Act Structure. While this is nothing new to most authors, I've never been one who could actually "plot" a novel before I write. It's always seemed to "get in the way" of letting my creativity flow. It's something I have always struggled with, and also the reason I get bogged down when I hit the middle (or Act II).

After seeing previews of The Lincoln Lawyer, I decided to read the book. I never like to see a movie before reading the book behind it. The book always goes into much more detail so I know what really drives the characters (and let's face it, movies don't always follow the book). Having never read anything by Michael Connelly before, I didn't know what to expect. The book in a nutshell  is about Mickey Haller, a defense lawyer with a well-deserved bad reputation. He cares more for money than he does about his clients, always looking for loopholes in the system to free his clients even though they are guilty. When approached to take a case for a very wealthy man, he chooses not to question too deeply why the man wants him. All he sees are dollar signs. As the plot twists and turns, Haller grows in grace and character as he begins to refocus on many things in his life. When he finally realizes that his jaded mind missed seeing "an innocent man" he helped railroad into jail, he knows he has to find a way to free him. But, at the moment, he's caught in a trap to defend a man who is pure evil, while Haller looks over his shoulder waiting to be arrested for a murder he didn't commit. And, oh yeah, he needs to stay alive while doing all this! It's a riveting character-driven book.

After reading the last page, I sat and pondered how in the world Connelly had pulled off writing such a great book. I've always been taught to chase your heroine up a tree and then throw rocks at her. Connelly not only chased Haller up a tree, he tossed huge stones, knocked him down in a briar patch with lethal thorns that ripped at his flesh as he tried to free himself.

I decided to pull out the Three-Act structure and compare that with The Lincoln Lawyer and much to my surprise, the book followed the structure to a "T." I've decided to spend time analyzing further into the book and see how each layer of the book falls into this type of plotting. And, yes, I'm definitely going to apply this to my newest book. I'm determined to learn how to do this right!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hold Your Nose and Say...

I have a cold! That's exactly how I sound right now. Seems I had it first, gave it to hubby and he decided to give it back again.

As a consequence, I totally forgot to post the author interview with my dear friend, Pamela Thibodeaux yesterday. We have rescheduled that for April 4th. She's a fabulous author, and a wonderful person. I know you will enjoy learning more about her.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So My Doctor Said, "Don't Do That..."

Yesterday I had my six month checkup with the doctor. My weight loss and exercise has paid off. Blood pressure optimal, heart rate significantly lowered, weight down 14 pounds. Hopefully the lab work will show my sugar level has dropped, too.

Then I asked him about the horrible pain I have when I try to kneel. Very sharp, excruciating pain at a level off the chart, radiates on the outside of my left knee. I can't bend it to get down without this intense pain that leaves residual pain for hours. I thought it was arthritis in the knee or something. He said, "Not arthritis. Sounds like nerve pain or bursa pain." Me: "So what do I do about it?" He: "Don't kneel!" So, then I said, "Okay, but will I be able to play a piano?" He: "Yes, you'll be able to play the piano." Me: "That's wonderful. I've always wanted to do that."

Doctors! Guess I'll just have to deal with kneeling on one knee only.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Sheriff is in Crisis, but I Have Spiny Balls Everywhere!!

So, here I sit contemplating the next scene in my novel while staring out the window and knowing I should be outside while the weather is decent to work on the yard. We have a sweet gum tree in our front yard. Hubby planted it because of it's fast-growing nature. The squirrels LOVE it. Right now, all the bare limbs are covered with these round prickly balls. I call them spiny balls. Lots of crafters love to use these to make wreaths. The squirrels love them for the hidden seeds inside the little indents.

Not only are the limbs covered with these balls, but so is the lawn! Picking them out of the grass is a real pain, literally. So, I rake them into piles and put them into yard waste bags. As quickly as I rake them up, more fall down. The only good thing I can find about having them is the exercise involved in raking.

 Ah, but Sheriff Taylor is calling me to help him out of the dilemma he is facing. Okay, writing wins! I'll just wait until the limbs are bare to tackle the yard.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Survivor!!! Russell Got Voted Out-Gotta Love It.

I've been a Survivor fan for years. I really thought I might not watch the episodes this year since they brought Russell back on for the THIRD time.

I was happy when the show did not focus so much on him the first time, nor the second. This episode really had me laughing. Poor Russell not only couldn't find the idol, but he also learned that he wasn't in control as he's been in the past.

I wonder how many other people cheered when his name was read? It's the FIRST time he's ever been voted out...although, it may be temporary. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Astronauts Life Depends On...A Computer? Yikes!

Just read where astronaut Stephen Bowen was stranded on a small platform at the end of the 58-foot robotic arm yesterday outside the International Space Station. Computer problem, they said. He spent more than a half-hour waiting while holding a luckily weightless 800 pound broken pump. Now, I don't care how many times man has been in space and doing space walks, it must be frightening to know your life depends upon "a computer."

Do you suppose those computers get viruses?