Matching the Premise of Your Book to its Setup

One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve given out in the last 6 months is some variation of “your setup and your other submissions materials are telling or selling two different stories.”

And it oftentimes comes down to the setup or opening chapters of the book not matching what was promised by the author’s premise (i.e. their Twitter or query pitch).

So in this week’s (very late) blog post, I want to go over what I mean by that, and why it’s so important to make sure that your setup and the premise of your book match each other.

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Using a Character Sketch to Identify Character Moments

If you’ve ever worked with me, either freelance or at Carina, you know that I am all about character. Characters are the enactors of your plot, so I believe you need to make sure you spend a good chunk of time developing, nurturing, and understanding the people whose story you’re writing—because let’s be honest, it is very much their story.

Setups are the reader’s introduction to the character (or characters) who will be enacting the premise you’ve sold to them, and so, you need to make sure your setup starts with that quintessential character moment that shows who the characters are, what they want, and most importantly, what they need (the implicit internal goal).

But while it’s easy to brainstorm ways you can torture your character and mold them into their end form, it’s not always easy to identify the opening character moment (it’s kind of a chicken or egg problem). 

So I wanted to give you a process that will help you narrow down that opening moment by doing a little character work.

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Unapologetic & Rooted Characters | #LifeLike with Jadesola James


Episode Description

Nobody writes African characters like my friend, Jadesola James. In this episode, we dive into what experiences she brings to her characters, and redefine what HEAs look like when your characters are unapologetically them. It’s all about creating those experiences that call to a specific intended reader—if you know, you know.


Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to the Path to Print podcast. 

This week, we have our second guest episode on a segment I knew I would have to have on the podcast and call life like. Life like episodes are all about looking at writing representation that actually matters. We’ll look at how our cultures define and influence us as creatives, but also show that culture or ethnicity and race is not a monolith. And that everybody has a different way of connecting to it and expressing it.

Me and my guest will talk about our core traditions, customs, and beliefs, as well as point to moments of being, and feeling seen in media and celebrating the things we love most about who we are.

Today, I’m joined by an amazing author and a friend, someone whose romances has given me all the old school woo and charm I’ve been yearning for. Someone who’s not afraid to quietly challenge the status quo on not really having already rooted African or African American characters in romance novels. She loves summer thunderstorms, Barbara Cartland novels, long train rides, hot buttered toast, and copious amounts of cake and tea. She writes glamorous escapist tales designed to sweep you away.

When she isn’t writing, she’s a reference librarian and a scholar of American romance publishing. Her hobbies include collecting vintage romance paperbacks, and fantasy shopping online for summer cottages in the north of England.

Welcome to the podcast, Jadesola James.

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The Opening Character Moment | #ConvosOnCraft with Mary Calmes


Episode Description

It was super hard not to fangirl over THE Mary Calmes y’all! But we definitely went deep into her backlist, talking about nailing those opening character moments and the things you have to keep in mind when you’re writing and revising them.


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Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to Path to Print.

This week, we have our first guest episode on a segment that I like to fondly call Convos on Craft. Convos on Craft episodes are all about peeling back the curtain and getting into the nitty-gritty of how you put together your story from the developmental side of things. Me and my guests will talk about process, book stats, resources, and advice to help you grow into the amazing author I know you already are.

Today, I’m joined by an amazing author. Someone who is an auto-buy and comfort read author for me. Seriously, as soon as I knew this quarter’s topic would be about setups she was the first person I thought of asking to talk about opening your book with iconic character moments.

She believes in romance, happily ever afters, and the faith it takes for her characters to get there. She bleeds coffee, thinks chocolate should be its own food group, and currently lives in Kentucky with a five pound furry ninja that protects her from baby birds, spiders and neighbors’ dogs.

Welcome to the podcast, Mary Calmes.

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Pacing Yourself

One of the most common critiques authors get from a beta read or content edit of their manuscript is to watch their pacing. Pacing will make or break your book, because it’s what helps keep the reader engaged. If your pacing is off, then you’ll lose your reader as they’ll cease to care what is happening, even if your character is perfectly crafted. Therefore, pacing is one of the things an editor will look at to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Defining Pacing

First let’s look at what an editor means when they say the pacing of your book is off.

Pacing is defined as the speed at which a story’s plot moves forward. Now, the pace of your book doesn’t, and probably shouldn’t, stay the same over the course of the book. You want action scenes that read fast and get your blood pumping, but you also want moments where your character has down time to chill with their friends, or reflect on past events. What matters is consistency. A consistently paced book that has well planned plot points ensures that there isn’t too much action or to little in large chunks that make the readers lose interest. Consistent pacing is a God send because it keeps the reader engaged, builds the suspense, and makes for a smoother read.

The standards for what is considered to be a “good” pace are very much determined by the genre of your book. If you are writing an action-driven thriller, mystery, or urban fantasy novel, then you must have a quicker pace than if you were writing a more emotionally driven romance or spiritual journey book.

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