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Sarah Daffy

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Sarah Daffy last won the day on May 20

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About Sarah Daffy


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    Lost in a dream, always in motion.
  • Occupation
    I write. And write. And write. Oh, and I am also a dancer, screenwriter, musician, baker, writer, metal detectorist, animal lover, future author, fellow Christian, writer, and artist. Did I forget to mention I am a writer?

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  1. Opening Well
    Opening Well

    Author David Farland has some tips for how to grab your reading right from the outset.




    There is a list of things that you need to do in opening a story. In fact, depending upon the author you talk to, there are dozens of different lists.

    For example, one editor that I respect recently suggested that in the opening, you need to establish the “Ghost” of the story, spelled G.O.S.T.

    G stand for the Goal—that does your character hope to achieve. Does she want to return to a younger time, solve her financial problems, escape her father’s influence?  

    O stands for the Obstacles your character faces. Is it another person, the basic facts of life, health problems, society as a whole?

    S stands for the Stakes of the story. What real personal emotional stakes are on the line for your character? It isn’t enough to say that the world is in danger. The world is too big a place, too unknowable, too unlikeable. Frodo Baggins didn’t give a hoot about the world—Gollum in his cave, Shelob in her lair. He cared about Hobbiton, about his little home at Bag’s End. In the same way, your protagonist needs to love her little sister, her house on the beach, or something else that she feels deeply connected with.

    T is for Tactics. What strategy does your character devise in order to get what she wants? If your readers don’t know what she plans to do and why she plans to do it, they won’t care about the story. If your protagonist learns about a problem and then just walks out her front door, we have no idea where she is going. She could be taking a walk to calm down, or perhaps going to a bank in the hopes of robbing it. There can be no tension until we know what she hopes to do and why.

    Of course, other authors have their lists of things we want to do in an opening. Orson Scott Card has a list of questions he wants to answer for his reader. Here they are: “What’s going on?” “Oh, yeah?” “Why should I care?” 

    In the opening, we have a character who is typically introduced in the process of doing something. We need to explain what that is, what her motivations are.

    When we get to the “Oh, yeah?” question, we need to help the reader buy in to the story, to engage their “suspension of disbelief.” In science fiction and fantasy we often start with a premise that might sound wildly implausible. For example, I might have two characters arguing while strolling on the surface of the sun. So an early job as writers might be to explain the premises of the story in such a way that walking on the sun becomes believable. 

    In a similar way, I might have a character who is engaged in an extraordinary endeavor—let’s say a quest to overthrow a foreign dignitary. I might need to work hard just to explain the character’s motivation and methods for doing it. If my protagonist is a head for a covert government agency and a trained assassin, he would try to resolve the problem a lot differently than if he were a pastry chef.

    Then we have the question, “Why should I care?” This one is so important that it may take a lot of work. It may be that the protagonist is facing a problem that the reader is worried about. It may be that you need to emphasize commonalities between the reader and the protagonist. 

    If your reader doesn’t care about he protagonist, chances are good that the reader won’t make it even a few pages into the story. I’ve abandoned books hundreds of pages in simply because I found the protagonists’ to be unlikeable. Sometimes their mores are reprehensible, their habits disgusting, and their very thoughts revolting. So I toss the stories.

    Algis Budrys used to say that there are seven parts to a story, and the first three of those come in the opening. You need to establish a character (usually a protagonist), in a setting, with a significant conflict. This might sound easy, but just doing those three things in a way that is alluring and entertaining can be a challenge.

    For example, let’s take your character. If you’re introducing a protagonist, you might want to do it in a way that illustrates who this person is at heart—what things they love, what they fear, what secrets they hold. You might want to astonish the reader with the protagonist’s skills or motives. You may even want to hide information on the protagonist’s background for introduction later. 

    More importantly, you may have an entire cast that you need to begin introducing in an opening scene—an antagonist, a lover, a teacher, a dear friend. So just introducing the characters can be tough. Once you get more than three characters in a scene, just staging where each is in relation to the others can be problematic.

    As far as the setting goes, you need to answer basic questions of where and when this story takes place. Is it in a hole in a ground where a Hobbit lives? What kind of a hole is it? And what the hell is a Hobbit?  Beyond that, what is near at hand for the protagonist, what is in the midground, and what’s in the background? What time period are we in? What time is it exactly? What’s the light source for the scene and what’s the weather like today? 

    What of conflicts? Every character usually has at least one, and probably several. The protagonist might be late for work when the car breaks down. She doesn’t have money for a cab, and needs to be to work by ten.  She might have a sick baby and she’s worried about it, but by the end of the first scene in a short story, our protagonist usually has a jaw-dropping moment where she realizes that she is in for the most-significant fight of her life. Maybe she gets to her job as a teller and finds that her bank has been robbed, and that everyone working in the bank was killed, and now the police think that it was an inside job.

    That fight might be with an ex-spouse for control of their daughter, or it might be a fight with a rare disease that threatens her life, or it could be a struggle with an addiction that could ruin her life, but it needs to be significant.

    I like to add something to Algis’s list, however. I like to add a hook. A hook is any little tidbit of information that makes the reader wonder.

    For example, consider the line by Dickens: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” When and where is this story taking place? Well, these words could easily be penned by someone who was looking at our world today, but Dickens was talking about the world of London and Paris just before the French Revolution.

    This is what I call a “setting hook.” It’s designed to make people wonder what and when the setting is. So the hook actually works toward fulfilling the reader’s needs in receiving a story.

    There are a lot of kinds of hooks. I talk about eight of them in my Writing Enchanting Prose courses, and Alfred Hitchcock played with a couple of others, but having hooks in the opening of a story does some subtle things.

    All stories rely in part on a sense of mystery—what is going to happen next? Why? How will the character resolve this problem? When will the detective recognize who the real killer is, and so on. 

    By using a hook early on, we create a mystery. Just by getting involved in that mystery, the reader’s brain is given a little burst of dopamine, a reward for having begun the story, which then induces the reader to read on. As the author answers that mystery over ensuing paragraphs and pages, it creates a sense of trust in the reader. On a subconscious level, the reader begins to recognize that the writer will not just raise questions but will also answer them in a compelling and exciting way. 

    In short, the opening to any story promises the reader a sense of fulfillment.




    I have received all the help I was looking for, therefore I am now closing the thread. Thank you everyone for your input.

  3. How do I get beta readers?
    How do I get beta readers?


    You can certainly send a copy of your book to beta reader via email as Zee suggests, but you can also use Google docs to upload a version that you can then point a beta reader to. The advantage of the google.doc route is you can put some controls on the document so the beta reader(s) can comment, but they can't download your document. So it is a little more secure - they don't get a complete copy of your work.


    I'm sure piracy would not be an issue for any of the regulars on this site, but if you have outside beta readers it might be safer.

  4. 34 famous first lines you wish you'd written
    34 famous first lines you wish you'd written

    Writetodone.com posted this infographic of 34 famous first lines. Doing it in separate windows so it's easier to read.






  5. Can you quote info from Google in a book?
    Can you quote info from Google in a book?

    Hmmm...I don't think I'd fool around with Google. Why not just rewrite it a little.

  6. Flash writing
    Flash writing

    To everyone,

    I'm sorry this was posted publicly. Was not my intention.  Please forgive me for my rant.  I have not lost my faith through worse situations.  This is also not just spooky, but also Mary Kaithe. I don't know how I did this or what I did wrong to have to resister using my other pen name.  I promise you all that I will try to overcome these feelings of doubt and self pity.


    I want you all to know that God is using you in my life for encouragement and to awaken areas I was not aware are still there.  Wow I'm embarrassed. I won't give this up.  I've been writing all my life, and I am a DRAMA QUEEN.


    thank you for being there,

    I will rely more on faith and Jesus

    I promise,


  7. New Christian Science Fiction Published
    New Christian Science Fiction Published

    Ron Grasmick and I just published a new Christian science fiction book entitled The Jesus Road II.  It's up at Amazon now.  Wish us luck on sales!



    Jesus Road Vol II with Ron for website.jpg

  8. Reading Your Old Writing
    Reading Your Old Writing

    Bringing this thread back to life for this gem:


    Which Tony Stark(s) best describe your reaction when you read your old writing? 😬😂 Mine is 4 and 7.



    tony face.jpg

  9. Film-Related Question
    Film-Related Question

    Does anyone know if you can photoshop with videos? I'm trying a free trail of Adobe and I'm a little lost. Free trail ends next week so help is appreciated. :)

  10. It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day
    It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day

    Thought this song was fitting for this time. 



  11. Killing your darlings
    Killing your darlings

    OK, I am sure we all have our own heart-rendering story of having to ditch scenes we have written. So  I am interested to know how people cope with it and why they felt they had to ditch the scene.


    I'll go first.

    This is very recent. In fact today I was working on the plot line for the 2nd part of Granny Annie. I had in mind to have the scene of Cora being reunited with her loved one in a 'heaven'.   (I posted a while back)


    It is going to have to go - because I want to bring things full circle with the end back to Demons.  I won't tell what I have done, but I have drafted a different ending which is going to more suitable but Oh, it hurts😢

  12. Book Reviews
    Book Reviews

    Yes, Sarah, please do!

  13. Out of Touch - Funny!
    Out of Touch - Funny!

    Ran across this hilarious gem:



  14. One Word Theme
    One Word Theme

    That's a nice adaptation of what Johne had to say, Zee.  Forgiveness is a great theme.  And nice answer, Jared.  And Shamrock, I don't believe that was not deliberate!

  15. Today's virus giggle
    Today's virus giggle

    Saw another good one:




    I feel like this is played out at all supermarkets these days!

  16. Character Name Help
    Character Name Help

    I just discovered (Sorry, Johne, I'm a little slow) that Scrivener has a name generator! Male/female and several nationalities.

  17. Majority of authors `hear` their characters speak
    Majority of authors `hear` their characters speak

    My characters often speak to me. They usually say something like: "Seriously? That's my dialog? Who says things like that? Please write me better or find someone who can!" 😒



  18. I would like to help-especially as proofreader
    I would like to help-especially as proofreader


    Hello everyone,


    I am willing to help within this writing community! I would like I want you to know that I am not a professional writer by any means, though trying to become one,. However, I would like to help anyone if I can! I am very meticulous in the work that I do and I absolutely love to proofread and edit! I believe  I can complete other writing tasks successfully. I have posted a couple of writing samples on here though a while back. I would really appreciate any experience that I can gain here! 


    Thank you,



  19. Today's virus giggle
    Today's virus giggle


  20. Friday Funnies
    Friday Funnies

    It's been a while since we've done one of these. Because laughter is good medicine... and with no co-payment!








    And finally, inspiration for mystery writers.



  21. Oxford Comma Required by Law!!!!
    Oxford Comma Required by Law!!!!


  22. 7 Classic Opening Page Mistakes
    7 Classic Opening Page Mistakes
    41 minutes ago, Johne said:

    I'll call and see you: my WIP begins with someone waking up with amnesia.


    Ooh, and imagine if that person woke up in the hospital. Trifecta!  :D


    Now you've got me thinking of how to use all seven at once.  A person having a meltdown at a doctor in a hospital, the POV rapidly shifting between the doctor, patient, and nurses, all being named (of course), but not much is revealed about anyone, and the hospital is on a different planet (with five moons). Then the scene abruptly ends as the person wakes up. But which person from the dream is it? 🤪    

  23. Google Translate Songs
    Google Translate Songs

    For some reason, the post of the video of the computer generated country song reminded me of Malinda on youtube, who takes songs through google translate and then sings the retranslated song. They can be absolutely hilarious. She's done a lot of them, just search "Disney google translate song" and she should show up. 


    here's one of my favorites.




  24. When Computers Compose Country Music...
    When Computers Compose Country Music...

    I heard about this on an old Joanna Penn podcast where she was discussing the intersection between artificial intelligence and creativity. Apparently computer geeks trained an algorithm with various parameters from country music, then set it loose to compose a song -- lyrics and melody. This was the result, performed by human musicians.



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