Writing is a tough profession. The competition in today’s publishing world makes the strongest writers think twice about their commitment to excellence. Those of us who are lured by the magnificence of story are committed to creating a world where our readers slip into the shoes of our characters and are whisked away to an amazing thrill filled with uncertainty.
A writer has a gauge by which she measures her stories, the one she is currently writing and the future projects that are being shopped at publishing houses.
My personal barometer is for each reader to Expect an Adventure. This aspiration is a two-way street. If I don’t have the adventure of a lifetime while I’m writing the story, then how can I expect a reader to feel the same exhilaration? When I laugh, cry, hate, love, argue, discover, run for my life and leap high mountains, I expect my readers to take the same plunge. Oh, the span of emotions that expands the human heart.
Each book has to have deeper characterization than the previous novel, a more intricate plot, a setting that challenges the storyline, and more emotive conflict. No pressure there!
Once I establish my premise, my quest for dynamic characters begins. I insist upon an unlikely heroine—a woman who is qualified and able to solve a problem. She’s a feminine creature, capable of feeling a variety of emotions, and she’s mentally strong, a woman who uses her wit to meet each new challenge. This woman may or may not be Christian at the beginning of the story, but she will learn to solve her problems through a Christian worldview.
The hero is a strong man who appreciates many aspects of the heroine. They differ in views and argue, but they learn to work together while they step from one danger to another.
The villain is motivated by greed. He’s highly intelligent and charms his followers with power, money, or wit.
Premise, characterization, and plot are tightly women. My plot must parallel the heroine’s chosen profession and put her into danger as she reaches for an impossible goal. She flexes her muscles and goes to work.
Plotting involves asking questions. What is the worst possible thing that could happen to my character? How can I raise the stakes in every scene? How can I keep the reader on the edge of her seat and glued to the pages of the book? My personal standards must meet the demands of today’s readers.
Are my readers breathless? Filled with excitement? Do they sense the danger? Are they swept away in a romance?
What setting interests or terrifies my heroine? I believe in research to validate my setting, and that means stepping into unfamiliar territory. I’ve been to Sudan, rode the line with the Border Patrol, interviewed treasure hunters, and made friends with the FBI. In Attracted to Fire, my hero and heroine are Secret Service agents who understand sacrifice and commitment.
If the passion for story will not let you go, I challenge you to take the plunge and write it!
Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.
She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.