Betty’s Tips

Happy New Year, Dear Readers,

It’s that time of year again. The garden is covered in snow, all the remaining fruits of last year’s labors are canned, pickled, or frozen for future use, and I am left with my seed catalogs and my imagination, planning what to grow this year.

I’ve decided to make some changes, moving some plants from their previous locations, adding new varieties, and eliminating (gasp!) the least productive. It reminds me, in a way, of planning and editing a book.Everything has to be in the right place to make it all work together in harmony. So, I go back to the basics, just as I do with my garden. I have to select which plants will deter pests, what will grow best in my garden’s conditions, and what will bring me joy. This matches up well with what elements are important to a story: character, setting, plot, conflict, theme. 

I can’t imagine just going in and digging in the dirt without a plan. Much like my rows of plants going from north to south, a novel has a basic layout. I particularly find Michael Hauge’s plot structure to be useful—even if it was originally designed for script writers.

We writers aren’t all the same. Some writers are “plotters” while others are “pantsers.” Plotters plan ahead while pantsers “write by the seat of their pants!” I found a good guideline for plotters at: There are many other ways to approach outlining, though, including this from Paperback Writer,  or the Snowflake Method (which suits the season!). But is there much help for pantsers? Indeed, there is: A Pantsers Guide to Story Structure!

Moving things around, just a bit, can make everything work better. According to “Sequence of Events in a Story: How to Order Scenes to Build Suspense,” it matters where you put your brussels sprouts—er information—so that the reader can make sense of your story without ruining a surprise. And it’s so important to get the right balance.

When I want to surprise my readers, I have found advice at this link to employ a plot twist

And what is a great story unless it has a great harvest—er—ending? Here are some tips on ending your story with panache. And what better way to end this message—except to wish you a very Happy New Year and all the best for your writing—and gardening—in 2023!

Betty Wryte-Goode

Betty Wryte-Goode is a writer and mother who lives in the Lehigh Valley. Her passions include writing, reading, shopping, gardening, and exploring the internet. Betty is always looking for writing tips, so if you have any you would like to share, please send them to her through our Submissions/Contacts page.

Mixed-Up Words of the Month

Noisy vs. Noisome

Both of these adjectives, at first glance, suggest the sense of hearing, but only one relates to that sense. The other has a very different meaning.

If something is noisy, it emits sound—usually at a high volume. Clamorous, boisterous, and cacophonous are synonyms. It connotes unpleasant sound, e.g. The noisy crows drowned out the lovely song birds.

Noisome, while containing the same first four letters, does not pertain to sound. It is defined as disgusting, offensive, and usually pertains to odor! In addition, it can mean harmful to health. The noisome garbage cans gave the house an air of rot. Putting them together: Despite the noisy crowd being held back by police officers, the medical examiner diligently inspected the noisome, deteriorating corpse found in the alley.

Comments are closed.