About the Author
Jem McCusker is a Middle Grade and New Adult author best known for her Historical Paranormal Romance and Middle Grade Fantasy books.
When she’s not learning yoga via you tube she can be found herding small children to various music lessons and sporting activities.
In between writing and reading she mentors teens in Creative Writing.
Jem’s other works include The Tales of Barnley Forest: The Golden Child, a short story for children aged four to twelve.
The Last Druid
This is Jem’s first venture into Paranormal romance and was released in September 2019. It is here we are introduced to our troubled hero, Declan O’Connor and the pragmatic Clara. Their journey continues in Crossfire releasing later this year.
3 things every writer needs to know
Do you want to know three key elements that are essential to every story? Do you want to ensure that your readers keep turning the page? Look no further. I’ve provided an introductory breakdown in this article that if used properly, will ensure you:
- Create characters your readers can connect with
- Establish your characters voice and motivations
- Use tension to control the pace of your story
- Establishing your characters inner conflict.
- By establishing your characters inner conflict, you can plot out their character arc.
Readers want to go on a journey with the characters. If Mary-Sue has no conflict, she has no growth. Your audience wants to see her fail, to learn, to beat the odds. This holds for all your characters.
All humans have their own forms of inner conflict, usually more than one on the go at any given time. By establishing your characters inner conflict, they become relatable, allowing the reader to connect with them.
Example. Excerpt from The Last Druid. Establishing internal conflict, Declan O’Connor.
He was too unsettled to settle. Deep within himself; he didn’t have the capabilities to lead. If he did, his mother would still be alive today. Something his father would never understand.
Breakdown: In this example, using three sentences we establish for the reader that Declan doesn’t consider himself good enough to be the next leader and knows this will be a source of conflict between him and his father.
- Internal Monologue
- This gives your readers a secret -V.I.P – All access pass to the inner workings of your characters mind that ordinarily they wouldn’t have. Think of the movie, What Women Want starring Mel Gibson.
It is an excellent literary device that allows you to establish your characters voice, understand how the character sees themselves, their impressions of others and show their private thoughts.
This is the equivalent of sending your character for an x-ray. Seeing their inner workings allows us to connect with them further. This solidifies the connection you make when establishing the inner conflict.
Example. Excerpt from The Last Druid. Internal monologue, Declan O’Connor.
Twelve Mages and Seers stood within the henge. Declan knew them all. Most needed their heads checked. They dressed in black cloaks with their family emblem stitched on the front, like a uniform.
It was the equivalent of screaming, “Hey Traditionalists, over here. Come find us.”
Declan shook his head in disgust. They had forgotten the witch trials too quickly. It never ceased to amaze him that the Traditionalists they were sworn to protect were so eager to kill them, the Gifted.
Breakdown: In this example, we get to use x-ray vision to see how Declan feels about the situation he is in. It also gives us his impressions of the other characters on the page and establishes his voice.
- Raise the stakes
- Raising the stakes increases the tension, hooks the reader and motivates them to find out how this will be resolved.
Raising the stakes is an excellent plot device to aid in the pacing of your novel. Use the stakes to build on the internal conflict and keep raising them until the worst thing that could possibly happen to your character happens. This is your climax.
Example. Excerpt from The Last Druid. Raising the stakes, Declan O’Connor.
“I volunteer Declan to fetch the Druid’s daughter.” Patrick stepped forward, his voice filled with pride as he looked to his son.
Declan’s stomach lurched and he felt all the colour drain from his face. Just that morning he had failed to calm a storm. How was he supposed to secure the girl, manage the pitfalls of the task and maintain his stores of power?
He knew his father thought this would help him to become the next great leader.
Declan recognised it would only shine a spotlight on his weaknesses.
Breakdown: After establishing his inner conflict earlier we know that the worse thing that could happen to Declan is for him to fail as a leader and disappoint his father. In the above example, he has been volunteered by his father to go on a quest of huge importance. This request has been witnessed by the other mages he is intended to lead in the future. Failure to succeed would be his ultimate failure.
Remember, this is only one example of raising the stakes. Declan is now about to journey on a quest. The stakes must be raised again; the quest can’t be easy for him. As we raise the stakes, the reader goes on a journey with Declan. We see him succeed, fail, learn and grow.
I make no claims of being an expert. Just another foot soldier, wading through words, worlds and ripping good yarns.
I hope that I’ve managed to provide some helpful examples to others that are on or thinking about starting their writing journey.
Please remember, this is a vary basic overview on inner conflict, internal monologue and raising the stakes. If you’d like to know more feel free to reach out to me on the socials or via email.
Until next time…