Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the big reveal, and how i can make it work

 I'm outlining some new books, see, and that on top of some recent reading got me thinking about the Big Reveal.

You know: the Big Secret that comes out and changes the book. Things aren't what the main character (or the reader) thought.

And yeah, I'm working with a Big Reveal idea. No, I won't tell you what it is. Sigh. There's always one, isn't there?

Anyway. Seems to me that the BR (we're friends now, the BR and I, so I can call him that) the BR is all about timing. Whether it works depends on where in the book you put it. And where in the book you put it depends on how much gets torn down by the secret coming out.

There are first act BRs, the kind that start the story. Neo takes the pill, and finds out the world is a lie. Or: surprise! you're the fairy princess. Now come with me to Fairyland and save the world. Or: you know that old ring you've got lying around, Bilbo Baggins? Well, let me tell you something...

Think about it. These can't sustain a second act climax. If the story's about the fairy princess saving Fairyland, she'd better get started right away or it'll be boring. Ditto with Bilbo's ring being the RING OF POWERRRR. The only place for that BR to go is right at the beginning -- it's the initiating incident.

But we can do second act climax BRs. This is what modern mystery/thriller writers do. The hero finds out who the killer is, and spends the third act chasing the killer down. No earlier than second act, or it won't be a mystery. WIthout the reveal, the purpose of the book is defeated.

And your second act climax BR better be like that -- it's the purpose of the book. It's earth-shattering. Luke, I am your father.

That's not only the 2nd act climax of The Empire Strikes Back -- it's the 2AC of the whole trilogy. It's that big. It changes the way Luke looks at everything. It makes sense of information we've been fed for two films.

There are third act climax BRs -- the twist ending. Think Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart. Wondering why you can't find the killer, Mickey? Wondering why these murders keep following you around? Open your eyes, son, and smell the blood.

Brrr. Just thinking about that one gives me shivers. Love it. But the point is that this BR is the 3AC. It's too late for Mickey to do anything about it. He's already in too deep. If he'd figured it out earlier, the situation could have been saved. But not now. Game over.

Good twist endings are rare, for the simple reason that they're hard. It's like writing a story with 2 opposing yet plausible interpretations, keeping everything consistent along the way -- and the twist has to matter. We have to care that Mickey's... well, that Mickey's what he is, in case there's someone poor deprived soul out there who hasn't yet seen Angel Heart. You know who you are. DVD store. Get thee.

We even have epilogue BRs, otherwise known as the Dirty Twist Ending You Rotten Screenwriter. Think you know who Keyser Sose is? Think again. But the false solution's already packaged up so neat and tidy that no one will ever believe Chaz if he told them, and in any case there's nothing he can do. Again, very difficult.

Anyway. My point is the if you're using a BR, you have to look at where to put it. Ask yourself: how much of a mess does the information make of the situation? What are your characters going to do with that information? How does it change the way they behave? Does it require immediate action? And what's already done that can't be undone? What's happened that the MC can't take back, and must now deal with?

Is it a story-starter, like Neo taking the pill? Does all the story's action stem from the reveal? Is everything before it just the set-up? Is it the kind of reveal that you'd put in the back cover copy, to explain what the story's about? If so, it belongs in the first act.

Is it the kind of secret that you'd never put in the back cover copy, because it'd 'give the story away'? Is it the purpose of the story, like the killer's secret identity? Is it the Fact that Makes Sense of the Whole Thing, like the fact that Iron Man's trusted friend is the bad guy, and now he must go and put things right? If so, it belongs in the second act, and the 'putting things right' is the third act.

Or is it too late for anything to be done -- is the action over, and the BR just makes sense of it all, for good or ill? Then you're looking at a third act BR.

And please, please: don't make it the 2AC when it should be the initiating incident. That spells lame. OMG the hero is a VAMPIRE!!! Sorry. You're a few years late with that one. Make it the start of the story, and run with it.

Anyway. Them's my thoughts. Gotta go plot my book now :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

YA romances, and what I didn't get until now

Been reading a few YA books, just because they happened to reach the top of my TBR. Some really enjoyable ones. Some not my thing. But I figured something out:

You don't write a YA romance the same way you write an adult romance.

Wow. Yeah. The big issues, huh? This may not seem like rocket surgery to some. But I figured out that the reason I get so frustrated with a lot of YA romance -- here you can picture me cursing and throwing things at a really big screen showing the New Moon movie -- is that THERE'S NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

We keep getting TOLD how much in love Edward and Bella.. umm, I mean the characters in a YA novel... we get TOLD they lurve each other and will DIE without each other and can't LIVE for a MOMENT APART... but we're never shown why. We're never shown what she thinks is so great about him. There's no basis for any real relationship.

My epiphany was this: in a YA, no one cares.

In a YA, love is meant to be mysterious. The heroine isn't supposed to understand why she thinks the Mysterious Boy is so hot, or why she feels drawn to the half-angel-demon-fairy-vampire-witch boy who's trying to murder her/drag her to hell/suck her blood/use her skin as wallpaper. It's meant to be all perfect and dreamy.

In an adult book, you would never get away with this. Beyond a few chapters of insta-lust, that is. Readers want more.

So yeah, I get it now. Doesn't make it any less frustrating to read, though. The YA romances I like best will still be the ones where I get to see them like each other.

What do you guys think? Do you buy into instant YA lurve? Ot do you prefer to see more than just 'there was something about him that drew me in', etc.??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

i'm interviewed at smexy books!

Does this mean I'm famous? Yes, yes, I believe it does... 

I'm interviewed by the lovely Tori at Smexy Books today, talking about the Shadowfae series, snake shifters and what else I've been working on, among other things. Come by and have a chat, and leave a comment for a chance to win POISON KISSED.

Yo can also check out Tori's 4-star review of POISON KISSED, wherein she says:

"Fast paced and smoothly written with plenty of action, danger and internal conflict, Hayes writes an addicting dark and erotic urban fantasy that appeals to the darker side of our nature. The part of us that we like to keep hidden and safely under wraps. I will definitely be reading the next one in this series."

Awesome! Thanks, Tori!

In other news... I'm home from vacation. This means I have to get back to work. What am I working on, you ask? Bit of this, bit of that. Maybe more Shadowfae. Maybe something else. When I find out, you'll be the first to know...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

who's your favourite bad guy?

First, on the topic of good guys: I saw the Pope today. Cool! I'm not even in his club, but it was still cool. Check out his Benedictness in the Pope-mobile in St Peter's Square at my Facebook page.

Moving right along... I'm guest posting at Dirty Sexy Books today, where the lovely Rebecca has kindly given POISON KISSED a four-star review. She says:

'...it's dark, sexy and dirty, and it's also fearless. Her stories go places that many writers fear to tread, and I appreciate the wicked eroticism that she injects into every scene."
Awesome! My work here is done :) you can read the rest of Rebecca's review here.

Of course, I'm giving away a free copy - come by and tell me which bad guy (or girl) you'd love to see get their own book or movie for a chance to win.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

guesting at fiction vixen

 I'm a guest with the fabulous Fiction Vixen today, talking about what I love in urban fantasy and the cliches we'd love to put to rest. And giving away a free book, of course. Come check it out!

Monday, October 11, 2010

fantasy book giveaway winner!

Sorry for the slight delay, but I've been busy gawking at St Peter's basilica... got here too late to see the Pope. Maybe next time :D

There's much more security here than there was ten years ago when I last visited -- back then, there was no metal detector or anything. You could just walk straight into the church. Still, it's better than the alternative. This place is a work of art, and anyone who tries to damage it is a scumbag, I don't care what religion they are.

Anyway. Without further faffing about... the winner, chosen at random, of my fabulous fantasy book giveaway is...

Jennifer Schmidt Helmerick!!!!

Yay! Congrats! Jennifer wins a book pack containing these fabulous books:

Thanks so much to everyone for entering, and welcome to all my new Facebook and Twitter friends!

I'll be doing some more giveaways on Facebook soon, so stick around.

Friday, October 8, 2010

the steamy side of UF

 I'm guesting today (Thursday) at All Things Urban Fantasy, talking about the steamy side of UF and why you should get into it. And giving away a copy of POISON KISSED, of course!

Come by and check it out!

Also, don't forget to enter my fantasy book giveaway, which runs until this weekend. Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, Merrie Destefano, J.K. Beck and me. We're fantasy. We're hot. You know you want us. Git on over there and enter!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

UF vs PR -- what's your fancy?

 I'm guest posting at SciFiGuy today (Tuesday), talking about the difference between romantic UF and paranormal romance -- which do you prefer? Who are some of your favourite couples? Come over to SciFiGuy and tell me, and have the chance to win a copy of POISON KISSED.

Also a reminder abut my fantasy/romance book giveaway, ending this Saturday. I'm giving away books by Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, Merrie Destefano, J.K. Beck and moi. Check it out on yesterday's post here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

fantasy book pack giveaway!

To celebrate my release week, I'm giving away a book pack of some awesome fantasy and romance books that released this week too. Here's what I've got:

AFTERLIFE by Merrie Destefano
VENOM by Jennifer Estep
BAYOU MOON by Ilona Andrews
POISON KISSED by Erica Hayes (that's me!)

That's a whole pile of really cool books, and they can all be yours!!!

If you live where the Book Depository ships, you can enter. So leave a comment here, telling me what you've done out of the following (one entry for reach):

- Friended me on Facebook (that's the Like button at the top of the page, folks)
- Followed me on Twitter (I'm @ericahayes)
- Tweeted this contest (you can RT my tweet if you like)
- mentioned this contest on your blog/sidebar (include the link so I can gloat!)
- any burning questions you want to ask me, about books or anything at all.

If you really hate FB and you don't have a FB identity, tweet me @ericahayes with an anti-FB rant, and I'll include you in the contest too :)

Contest is open until... oh, let's say, next Saturday 9 October, midnight EST. Winner chosen at random.

Let the fun begin :)

P.S. I'm on the internet sporadically at the moment, like once a day maximum. So don't be offended if I don't reply immediately. But I will reply :)