The Inner Turmoil of Your Characters

by S. Dionne Moore

We all have an inner demon, that one area of our life or tragic event of our past that we struggle to overcome. This inner demon doesn’t have to be something terrible; it can be something as simple as pride or a tendency toward selfishness. For many of us it’s more than one thing. Some people wear their inner demons for all to see, or talk about them ad nauseaum. On the flip side, there are those who are reticent to speak of their struggles or who hide them well. In our stories, inner turmoil is an essential element to creating a realistic hero or heroine, and how each character shows or doesn’t show their inner turmoil makes for some great characterization.

As writers, we go to great lengths to develop outside obstacles for our characters to overcome, often forgetting to make the hero/heroine real to our reader. A reader will connect with a character whose inner conflict they can relate to. Before you set pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, know your Most Likely Reader (MLR) and target a problem common to their age group.

With my MLR being mothers whose children are grown and gone, the heroine in my debut novel, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, begins to experience the full onslaught of Empty Nest Syndrome as one by one her children cancel their plans to come home for Easter dinner. Empty Nest Syndrome taps into LaTisha’s greatest fear, that of not being needed.

Of course, being a cozy mystery, LaTisha also has a murder to solve. Solving the death of her former employer, Marion Peters, helps distract LaTisha from her quickly dwindling dinner guest list. This distraction also adds a dimension of realism to the character’s inner turmoil—how often do we experience the need to cork emotional upheaval (inner turmoil) in order to deal with outside problems?

Take characterization to new heights by making sure your hero/heroine has a solid inner conflict. Make sure it is a characteristic common to your MLR, or one your MLR will understand and identify with, then weave it into your story, or even put the inner conflict at odds with other characters. The best stories often use this tool (one character’s weakness is another character’s strength) to improve the conflict or tension in their novel.
Finding the MLR for your story takes some research. Let’s say you have done your research and found that the most likely reader of your romantic suspense are females between twenty to forty years of age. This is the group who you want to target when planning the inner turmoil of your heroine. Write the story with them in mind, their struggles and fears, hopes and disappointments. Not only will your story be stronger for it, but you have also simplified your marketing plan by understanding the makeup of your MLR.


S. Dionne Moore is a historical romance author who resides in South Central PA with her family, surrounded by the beautiful Cumberland Valley and lots of fun, historically rich locations. Brides of Wyoming is a repackaging of three historical romances set in Wyoming and due for release November 1, 2016

Dionne Moore, an obvious pseudonym, is the author of the LaTisha Barnhart Mysteries. Books one, two and three (Murder on the Bunions, Polly Dent Loses Grip and Recipe for Deceit aka Your Goose is Cooked) are all available via Kindle.

For more details:

Murder on the Bunions (A LaTisha Barnhart Cozy Mystery Book 1)
LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.

She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.

Advice on Writing a Novella Collection

by Patty Smith Hall

A few weeks ago, my first novella collection, The American Heiress Bride Collection from Barbour Publishing hit the bookstores, and I was tickled to death. After fourteen published books and novellas, it may seem funny to get excited over, but it was a dream come true for me. Working with the staff at Barbour has been a goal of mine ever since I helped them with multi-city book tour several years. I learned a great deal about marketing and what goes into the publishing process during that tour, and saw firsthand the dedication Barbour had to producing the best books possible.

But most of all, I loved writing it because of the amazing writers I was blessed to work with every day. They taught me a great deal about craft so I asked them to share some of their wisdom on writing in a novella collection with you today.

Lisa Carter, author of Under the Turquiose Sky—The positives of working with other authors is you have someone to help share the marketing load. It’s also an opportunity to learn from others as well as have fun together!

Susanne Dietze, author of The Reluctant Guardian—I’m a visual person so I make on excel spreadsheet when I plotting. My columns aren’t just labeled by chapters but also things like ‘the point of no return’ or black moment.’ In a novella, there isn’t a lot of time to hit those beats so I like to have structure to show me what to focus on.

Cynthia Hickey, author of The Shady Acres Mystery Series—The great thing about working in a collection is the ability to reach new readers you might not have the opportunity to reach otherwise. But remember—you’re dealing with a multitude of personalities and authors who do things their way. Be flexible.

Anita Mae Draper, author of Romantic Refinements-Being in a collection gives me the chance to work other authors of varying experiences where we share craft and media skills, and multiply the promotional factor. You need to work as a team and abide by the group’s decision-even if it’s not the one you wanted. Remember, the end result is what’s important.

Kim Woodhouse, co-author of In the Shadow of Denali—Write a detailed synopsis so you know exactly where you’re going. Yes, they’re hard work, but it’s necessary in our creative field if you want to succeed. In a novella, you have write tight. There’s no room to go off the rails-so write that synopses!

As for my advice, go into the experience with a teachable spirit. Be open to the other writers’ suggestions and be willing to present your own. And always pray for each other.


Advice on Writing a Novella Collection by Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Go into the experience with a teachable spirit~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Be open to the other writers’ suggestions~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Patty Smith Hall is multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour. Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who is due to arrive any day now. Her new release, Hometown Heiress in The American Heiress Bride Collection is available on Amazon or your local bookstore.

Going Too Far

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I hit send and sighed. This first draft of the first act of my new play didn’t come easily and I wasn’t happy with what I’d produced. I knew there was something wrong but couldn’t put my finger on what it was that left me wanting to drag the document into the trash. I thought about doing just that for the next few days as I watched my inbox with trepidation, believing my instructor’s comments would not make me happy. When her critique arrived I sighed again and hit open.

As usual, the instructor was frank about her thoughts and didn’t hold back the criticism. But there were things she liked so I was encouraged. Then I got to the part that I knew wasn’t right. And I started to smile. My instructor didn’t mince words but they were words I wanted to hear – words that clarified why the lines weren’t working, words that made me want to jump right back in and get to work on it again. They were words that made me glad I hadn’t dragged the document into the trash. And I was thankful.

The problem? My instructor expressed it this way – “It’s your characters telling us what to make of that moment that begins to feel like the playwright “telling us” what to think and feel, instead of trusting the moment and the image to speak for themselves. I like to think that I am called to plant the image, the debate, the relationship and I let the Holy Spirit do the rest. People love to figure things out for themselves. I think this is why Jesus spoke in obscure parables and resisted explaining right away. It’s a holy practice – to ponder.”

Yes! That was it exactly. I had simply gone too far, said too much, given too many answers instead of leaving the questions to be pondered.

And I wondered, do I do this when I’m talking with people who don’t know my Jesus? Do I go too far in trying to lead them to Him? I thought about the time when I came to Christ, a tumultuous time in my life when I desperately needed answers but did not want to hear them. I thought about my brother, simply saying, “God bless,” every time he left my home. Those two words tolled like a bell. He didn’t have to preach at me. The Holy Spirit was quite capable of making those two words do their work in my heart and my life.

“A holy practice, to ponder.” Yes. And another holy practice – to write sparingly, allowing the Holy Spirit room there, too.

“Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible.” (Elie Wiesel, author of Night)

“This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Going Too Far by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)
Trusting the moment and the image to speak for themselves~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)
Jesus spoke in obscure parables and resisted explaining right away~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central
Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult
daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short
listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four
devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work
has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark

Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 
most recent release is Celebrate
This Day
, a devotional book for special
occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 
up to receive her devotional column, The

Write What You Know or Not?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

We’ve all received the following writer’s advice:

“Write what you know.”
“Write what you don’t know.”
“Visit the novel’s setting.”
“No need to visit the novel’s setting.”
“Write family dysfunction.”
“Avoid family dysfunction.”

There’s evidence to substantiate every one of the above comments: the guidance has worked successfully for several writers.

Challenges are buried beneath the best of advice.

Do we write what we know, or do we research for the information we need? How do we writers discern what works best for us?

Perhaps the best answer is the wealth beneath each writer’s wisdom. When a writer conducts research, she steps into writing what she does know. The following are seven items to consider when adding detailed research, and the result is a powerful story.

  1. Focus on Sensory Perception. People remember events according to their own experience. These memories can add a personal touch and help you sort out truth.
  2. Visit the setting, but when that’s not possible, interview and read first hand information that addresses sensory perception. Churches, diners, museums, libraries, newspapers, and historical societies are rich sources of information. Study the people you interview. What does their body language reveal as they speak about special moments? Painful moments? A great way to communicate local flavor is by evoking the sense of taste. Whether you are in the States or halfway around the world, depicting food and drink brings a plus to your writing. Ever watch a travel show? By showing a restaurant, a food vendor, or a meal in someone’s home, you can offer awareness into that culture. Brushing your finger across the vegetation, dip your feet into the water, pet an animal, or embrace someone different. Experience the surroundings. Pick up a baby or hold a hand. Laugh. Cry. Ask questions. This may be difficult, but it always brings a reward.
  3. Use Emotion. Readers identify with how people experience and process the happenings in their lives.
  4. Write actively with strong nouns and action verbs to root readers into your adventuresome story.
  5. Enlist your imagination with what you learn about the area. Some years ago, my son and I visited Gettysburg. We were so moved, we thought we heard the cries of the soldiers. Listen to the sounds of nature. Tune your ear to the dialect of those you interview.
  6. Subscribe to logic that blends all you explore and choose to use.
  7. Dig into the traditions and customs for the setting’s richness. This can be a gold mine of authenticity. 

When a storyteller creates what she knows by carefully examining setting, she’s an expert in her own right.

How do you view your story’s setting?

Write What You Know or Not? by DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

7 Things to Consider When Adding Research to Your Book~ DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

Challenges are buried beneath the best of advice.~ DiAnn Mills (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at