Monday, October 1, 2018

Keeping an Ace up Your Sleeve by Annette M. Irby

Ace up a Sleeve*

I don’t gamble and I haven’t visited any casinos, but here’s some advice for my Christian writing friends: always keep a few aces up your sleeves. 

When you’re working out the meat of your novel, whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, always keep a few things/ideas/plans in reserve. Then, pull them out when you need them:

* conflicts—it’s important to find balance with conflict and tension in your novel. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader so they give up. Keep a list of possible conflicts you could add as your story unfolds. You may not use all of them, have them on hand just in case.
* plot elements—when you’re wrapping up one situation, have another one brewing. Introduce it early enough so that it can become central when the earlier plot threads are resolved.

* characters—feel free to introduce new characters as your story develops. Always be purposeful and intentional, but a new character can enliven a story.

* plot twists—ask yourself: what is my reader expecting? How can I turn that expectation and surprise them?

* layers—you can add new layers at any time to both characterization and plot.

If your ideas have run dry, it may be time to stop writing and instead brainstorm some of the elements above. Then, you'll have lists to draw from to problem solve.

So, how about it? Shall I deal you in?

Your turn: What are some story elements you keep for those just-in-case scenarios of the writing process?


Finding Love on Bainbridge Island
Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington

Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago. 

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more here on her Seriously Write Page.

Links to connect with Annette:
Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Friends Group:

* Ace/Sleeve photo credit: Pixabay
** Author Photo credit: Sarah Irby at Irby Photos