Kaye Dacus -- Writing Series
Reviewed by Valerie Comer
Copyright © 2010, Valerie Comer, All Rights Reserved
Kaye Dacus is an inspirational romance author and teacher of writing skills. Her blog at http://kayedacus.com/ is devoted to Kaye's favorite movies, being single, and--what I'm featuring here today--her how-to-write series.
I found Kaye's Writing Series Index (http://kayedacus.com/writing-series-index/) when I was researching a conference I planned to attend. I was quickly sucked in by the long list of topics she'd blogged about over the last several years. Part of the reason her posts fascinate me is that she works very visually...and very differently from how my mind operates. Going through Kaye's archives is rich in challenges for me to discover new ways of feeding information to my muse.
One of my favorite sections on her list she's entitled Be Your Own Casting Director--Character Casting. In these posts she pulls in her love of movies and how her plotting methods revolve around finding fascinating characters onscreen then discovering (in her own head) a new story featuring this actor. But she takes character casting to a height I've never seen or heard of elsewhere by pulling screenshots out of the movie and pasting them into Microsoft PowerPoint. If she's basing a character on Paul McGann (one of her examples), she'll find him in various parts of the movie and snag screenshots of him angry, happy, shouting, etc, as references for the writing process.
In her section on Storyboarding, she links to her own novels' supporting documentation as .pdf files to demonstrate how she uses PowerPoint for storyboarding settings and plot. One of her novel trilogies is historical, much of it taking place on a ship. So she found an image of a similar ship to add to her PowerPoint storyboard, as well as adding interior room shots, costumes, seascapes, etc.
Kaye creates a PowerPoint page for each chapter showing the setting, characters, etc, as they'll be played out in the various scenes. When she builds a fictional town, she draws out a map on a piece of poster board and glues images of buildings and parks on it in the appropriate places.
Even her discussion of plots and subplots is visually oriented. She likens a novel to a decorated Christmas tree, suggesting that the smaller the tree (the shorter the story) the fewer types of ornaments you have room for so it looks balanced and tasteful. On a ten-foot tree, there's space for a greater variety. She breaks down the various types of ornaments--and sub-plots!--to show the reader literally how this works.
Some of the other topics she's blogged about include creating bad guys and girls, the villains of your tales, as well as credible characters for every occasion. She has series on conflict, on dialogue, setting, story hooks, voice, point-of-view, showing vs. telling, and her version of 'Beyond the First Draft.' She's taught about the ins and outs of writing series novels as well as her specific interest, inspirational romance.
Kaye has shared her own story of how her love of writing turned into a career as a published author. She's blogged about writing conferences, formatting manuscripts, entering contests, reading critically, and networking.
In short, Kaye Dacus not only has four books in print and more contracted, she enjoys sharing what she's learned along the path. Her writing series links archive can keep a writer with a desire to learn new methods content (and sidetracked!) for many hours.