Wednesday, July 25, 2012


There are many "dark moments' in life. They're the times when we think we can't....or won't be able to see our way past to the next day. When everything crumbles around us and appears hopeless, brings us to our knees, and sometimes can even shatter our faith.

The "dark moment" in a novel is the time when a character comes to a fork in the road, must make certain decisions, or come up against a heart-wrenching situation. How a writer portrays the characters actions and reactions to the "dark moment" can very well mean the difference between a flop or a page-turner. And let's face it....every author wants a best seller.

Here are a few tips for creating an effective "dark moment":

Misunderstandings, lack of trust, bad decisions, being too proud to ask for help, etc., are some elements that bring a character to the "dark moment". I find a book more interesting when the author doesn't reveal what lies ahead....but instead allows me, as the reader, to walk beside the character and experience what he/she is thinking, feeling, wondering, fearing, etc.

Tension is build it! But don't back a character into a corner without having a credible way of getting him/her out. Nothing loses a reader's respect for an author more than a flimsy plot or an unbelievable ending. Even when writing paranormal themes, or creating new worlds, a writer must make the reader believe the situation could really happen.

Cliff hangers are exciting, but know when to solve the issue. Lingering too long in the "dark moment" can become boring and exhausting. Stay fresh, shocking, throw in a twist or a sub-plot, a dramatic solution, and then an interesting conclusion.


Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


In the cosmetic world, outlining the lips makes them look lush and full; outlining the eyes makes them appear larger, more defined. In the writing world, outlining is the key to consistency. Especially if you're writing a series, as I am currently doing. In a few weeks I will begin book five of my historical series, BETWEEN THE RIFLE AND THE SPEAR.

Without an outline I would not remember the hair color, eye color, personality, relationships, enemies, wants, needs, and desires of all my characters, especially those who appeared in book one. Following through with a consistent context would be very hard if I did not have an outline (or a character profile) to refer to.

Outlining is a very simple process that works wonders. A lined notebook is all you need, heading each page with a character's name. Then, as you create this character, list a description.....eye and hair color, skin tone, bodily build, and height.

Next paint an accurate picture of the character's personality; example: secret fears, desires, wants, needs, goals, and future hopes. Are they trustworthy, honest, loyal, responsible, determined, sneaky, etc. Having a list of these key elements handy will help you to correctly portray your character's actions and reactions when put into the plot and scenes you've created in your storyline.

Then add family relationships to each character's page....who is the mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, etc. In this way, when you are working, let's say.... on book three of a will know exactly the family dynamics, ages, names, special dates, etc. A quick reference saves time, plus less interruptions will keep plot ideas flowing.

Outlining is the key to consistency....and consistency builds a reliable story.


Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

Monday, July 9, 2012


My writer/published author friend, Deb Tompkins has critiqued many writing sessions as well as being a contest judge. To learn more about Deb and her books, log on to:

Below Deb shares some of her tips and a few writing mistakes of the many entries that crossed her path:

1.) If you are lucky enough to have your characters talk to you....listen! Don't try to force them to do things out of character or bend them to fit the plot. If this problem arises, you either need to add a different character or use a different storyline.

2.) Beware of your timeline in regard to elapsed hours, as well as changes in light and season.

3.) Research! Often a dirty word. I'm not fond of it myself. But some things can't be faked and you will annoy  the reader if you get it wrong. For example, if your story is about cowboys and horses, getting information from the local hack at a boarding barn isn't going to be  the correct research for writing about a cattle drive. That would be like asking a person who races bikes to supply you with info for a story about the Indy 500.

4.) If your plot isn't moving you can call it "writer's block", but most likely it is because of a lack of information. Try reviewing the "facts" to find where the gaps are. Can you produce a complete listing on each character's physical and mental background or experiences? Could you draw a map of the story's area? Do you know all the high and low spots of the plot? Who is motivated to do what, and why?

Monday, July 2, 2012


Every author needs a hook.....not the kind Captain Hook threatened Peter Pan's crew with....or the sort you'd use to crochet a blanket with....but more like what you'd find at the end of a fishing rod. But a writer's hook is baited with words, instead of worms, that lure the reader like a helpless fish into the pages of a book.

While sitting upon my front porch during the summer vacation from school, I'd often watch the neighborhood children ride their bikes and rollerskate down the street. I loved reading books, but it would be even better to have a friend to spend time with as well. However, it was highly unlikely the kids would stop their fun just to sit upon a porch with me....unless I had something better then riding bikes and rollerskating to offer them. So, I put on my thinking cap, as I heard Miss Diane from the Romper Room School television show say, and created my first hook.

Along with reading, I also loved to color in a Barbie coloring book. When I finished my masterpiece, I'd write a brief outline in the page's margin. I'd list Barbie's favorite song, flavor icecream, the color of her bedroom walls, her dog's name, her favorite television show, etc. From this outline I created little skits, using sock puppets and paper dolls as characters. Then I began putting on plays while sitting on my front porch. Eventually I got some curious watchers.

Soon the bikes were dropped upon the lawn, skates were removed, and I had everyone's full attention. As time went on, some of the children also wanted to be a part of the show. So, together we'd make their puppet or paper character, and I'd write a spot for them in the play. My hook made for all of us many hours of fun and friendship.

In my time-travel novel, ALTERED JOURNEY, my hero was sent back in time to save his parents from being murdered. Since it was doubtful anyone would listen to a grown man...a stranger telling them of their demise, I had to use another tactic....I needed a unique hook. I then decided to send the hero back as a three year old child, but with a grown man's brain. In this way he would be accepted by his parents, but mentally capable of concocting a plan whereby to save them. As it happens, he came upon his past during the time his mother was potty training him, and weening him from breastfeeding. You can only imagine his humiliation. But he needed to play along in order to save their lives.