Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children and three dogs. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and her military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (ICRA Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn. September 2012 will launch her highly anticipated A Breed Apart series with Trinity: Military War Dog.
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Happy New Year’s, Y’all! Honestly, I’m struggling to believe that this is 2012. For one, it’s the year all four of my kids will be teens (13, 13, 16, 19) and this year also sees the completion of the Discarded Heroes series with the final, explosive conclusion—Firethorn—and it also brings the release of the much-anticipated A Breed Apart series about military war dogs and their handlers. And I, for one, want this year to pack a mighty punch, sending the Nightshade team off with a bang and thundering into hearts with Trinity: Military War Dogs.
So. How do we do that? How do we pack a punch in our stories, one that grips our readers by the throat and never lets go? To my delight, Firethorn is receiving a lot of praise, being called the best of the Nightshade books and earning 4.5 stars from Romantic Times. So, I sat back and tried to examine what I’d done in that book that is garnering acclaim. Here are a few things I think are integral to capturing our readers:
1.) Relatability – I believe one of the strongest components of the human existence is relationships. Everything in our lives is somehow connected or linked to our experiences with other humans. It’s the way we were wired. Some more than others need constant companionship. When we find things in common with others, we tend to have a closer, deeper bond. We also are more inclined to want to spend time with the person(s). The same is true in fiction—when our readers feel connected to or can relate to what a character is going through, you reach them on a deeper level. They will also trust you more.
2.) No Holds Barred – Life never holds back on us. We’re thrown unbelievable circumstances, some so bizarre and unbelievable that it’d never pass muster in a novel. Yet, that’s what happens to us. It’d be wonderful if life was nice to us, but that’s not going to happen. Yet time and again, we instinctively try to protect our characters. We have this “oh no” moment, then immediately yank the reins back and say, “I could never do that to my character.” That is a big mistake. Unleash life on them.
3.) Pacing – Somehow, the “warp” button got punched and society is blazing forward. Think about it—you’re in line at the drive thru. It takes longer than 10 minutes. And you’re angry, wondering what’s taking so long. The same thing can happen in fiction—the story is there, it’s pretty solid and compelling, but the pacing is lackluster at best. Chunk unnecessary scenes and get your characters moving. When writing, I look for what I call “kitchen” scenes. And I take a machete to them. Kitchen scenes are often set in kitchens (wow, profound, huh?) or other domestic settings…and really, all you get out of them is a long bit of narrative or dialogue between two characters. Get your characters moving, use these scenes to inject some of the subplot, or characterization, or setting. Just keep it moving.
One tactic I use is to write out the gist of each scene on a 4X6 card, along with whose POV it’s in, and what the point of the scene is. If there’s not good movement through those scenes, (say two are “kitchen” scenes), then I unsheathe the machete and hack away.
Another tactic is to watching for long pieces of narrative or ping-pong dialogue. These are often used for information dumps or internal dialogue. Sometimes they’re absolutely necessary, but at others times, they’re just slowing down the story.
One last tactic is a bit more subtle and intuitive, but if you use longer sentences, bigger words, that automatically slows down the mind, forces it to read and process slower. Kick things up a notch during a high-impact moment with shorter words and sentences. Fragments even!
So, I hope this might help you pack some punch in your story, grab your readers by the throat and never let go—yet, at the same time, prevent strangulation due to excessive boredom.
Looking for a fun, power-packed 2012! Happy New Year, Y’all!
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Former Marine and current Nightshade team member Griffin “Legend” Riddell is comfortable. So comfortable he never sees the set up that lands him in a maximum security prison, charged with murder. How can he prove his innocence behind bars?
Covert operative Kazi Faron is tasked with reassembling Nightshade—the black ops team someone dissected. Breaking Griffin out of a federal penitentiary amid explosive confusion may turn out to be her last assignment. What will it take to convince the fugitive that whoever set him up has also dissected the Nightshade team? As Kazi and Griffin race to rescue the others and discover the traitor, love begins to awaken in their hearts.
Can a covert operative and the felon she’s freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?