Starting Over

In case the writers among you might find a process valuable, I’ll confess that after writing and diligently revising fourteen novels, half of them published, over twice that many years, I still feel like an apprentice.

About a hundred pages into my latest, I decided a new synopsis might give me some clarity. Then, while attempting to whittle 1500 words down to a number I could use to acquaint an editor with the story, I recognized a need to zero in on the growth of the main character.

So I created the following character outline and action idea drawing on the theories of Jon Franklin’s Writing for Story and Michael Tierno’s Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters, two of the texts in the Story Basics class I teach online with Perelandra College:


After Skip loses his dad to an accident and suspects he may lose his mom to madness, with much trepidation he takes on the role of his mom’s protector.

The challenge becomes harder when his severe crush on troubled Petra interferes with his focus on mom, and harder yet when Petra’s guardian is accused of murder, and still harder after both she and Dawn, Skip’s mother, disappear.

When he finds Petra in the company of Foster, the murder victim’s son, who is armed and dangerous, he faces the need to choose between protecting her or searching for Dawn.

His choice results in a harrowing trek through a storm in the forest. Compelled to face death, he draws on his faith and discovers by conquering fear he has opened himself to a love so selfless, it gives him the strength and will enough to rescue Petra and Foster, uncover the truth about the murder, and allow himself to once again be Dawn’s son, rather than her protector.


Conflict:   With Dad a zombie and Mom (Dawn) acting crazy, Skip considers himself Dawn’s protector.


1. Skip falls for Petra and feels torn between pursuing her and protecting Dawn.

2. Skip suffers jealousy over Petra’s apparent fondness for Foster Meeks.

3. When Dawn goes missing and Skip dreams of her in Heaven, he not only dreads that he’s lost her, but suffers deep guilt for his failure to protect her.

4. When the choice arises whether to protect Petra or search for Dawn, he goes with Petra and trusts that Dawn can survive without him.

Climax:  In the night forest, he overcomes the fear of death, which awakens him to unselfish love. From that he gains strength and resolve.

Conclusion: Because Skip no longer feels the need to protect Dawn, he can be a boy and concentrate on winning the girl.

By the way, in case you missed this opportunity, maybe you’ll help me out by following  this link:  Then you can read the description of Newport Ave and as much of the preview as you feel like, then proceed to nominate. It’s a mighty good story and the last day to nominate is today or tomorrow.