A previous blog on plotting stated unequivocally that there were billions of plots, and that is true, but I am going to make a rebuttal to my own earlier position today. As a courtroom lawyer for 43 years, I feel entitled and even obligated to counter this position with the argument that there are actually only 20 plots, not billions, as argued by author Ronald Tobias in 20 Master Plots which I recommend. Of course I am not reading or enforcing the fine print as I make these assertions, for each of the following plots has infinite variations on the basic theme.

First, let’s differentiate a story from a plot.

Story: is a chronicle of events strung together like beads on a string. The reader asks, “what comes next?” Many times the story is character driven, with people and their interaction center stage.

Plot: Plot is a chain of cause-and-effect relationships that create a pattern of unified action and behavior, and requires the ability to remember what has already happened, and a need to figure out the outcome. The reader asks “why?” Agatha Christie’s mysteries are good examples of plot driven.

What are they? Here is a list of these twenty “master plots”.

Quest, Adventure, Pursuit, Rescue, Escape, Revenge, The Riddle, Rivalry, Underdog, Temptation, Metamorphosis, Transformation, Maturation, Love, Forbidden Love, Sacrifice, discovery, Wretched Excess, Ascension and Descension.

Take any of these separately, or in combination with another, and there you have the basis of your story. In a following blog, I will give a real life situation that will demonstrate this.

In my novel, Nimrod’s Peril, [...]

More on Write Your Own Novel–how many plots are there?

Plots for Novels and Short Stories

A plot is a plan or a scheme to be followed, like a road map. I always worried about making my plot unique, so I wouldn’t be imitating someone else. Then I remembered the quote from Ecclesiastes, which was amended by the satirist Ambrose Bierce: “there’s nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of things that we don’t know.”

That gave me courage to consider all of the books that have been written, and are being written right now, which have plots similar to some earlier book or story, and it opened the door to writing my way about anything I please. I could use up a legal pad writing possible scenarios starting with the letter “A” and working through the alphabet, and have a dizzying list of exciting settings to describe and write around—even stealing some ideas already written by famous authors. They won’t mind—many are dead, most won’t recognize it if they read it.

I wrote Dawn’s Revenge, a thriller set in the New Orleans French Quarter, and modeled the evil sheriff on a very good friend, the old south gentleman sheriff of the Parish I lived in at the time. He read it, praised it, and didn’t even recognize himself as the bad guy. I was afraid for a little while.

So how do you go about writing a story? Start.

So how many possible plots are there? I know how many. It is precisely 13.8 billion (4.3 × 1017 ), which coincidentally is the exact number of years and minutes and seconds since the Big Bang, the creation of the universe. Isn’t that unusual? And that’s how many plots there are.

More on Steps To Writing A Book–What Do Readers Want?

What Do Readers Want

If I had the answer to that, and the answer to the right place to drill for oil or the right stock to buy, it would be too easy wouldn’t it? Writing is a game like any other game–it has an anatomy: The parts of any game are to have a goal, freedoms and barriers within the game. No goal, it is a poor game. Too many freedoms, no game, too many barriers, no game. So the elements are balanced, and we have to have a game for life itself is a game and all of the things within it are games within games. Writing is a game and one must play to win or he is just a dilettante, fiddling around with it going nowhere.

The author must have a purpose in creating the work. Is it to inform, entertain, enlighten, inspire, make money, position oneself? The list can go on, but one should analyse one’s motive and go from there. I am simply driven to convert when I know about so many things into words that communicate to do any of these things listed. Like throwing something against a wall and hoping it sticks, and getting enough sticks I know I am on the right track for I have reached my target and the target responds favorably by accolades and preferably by sending money or clients.

An author must write about something he or she knows about and loves for it to flow to another’s mind and be duplicated–be precisely what was sent and intended. I say red apple, and I hope you get a red apple. A reader sees a book on the bookstore shelf–if the cover and [...]

ANATOMY OF A THRILLER NOVEL, Steps to writing a book

Did you know that you can break anything down to its basic anatomical parts, study each, and have an understanding of the whole? This is necessary as steps to writing a book. Every exciting story told by man has contained certain necessary parts to make it appealing. There are seven of them:

(1) There must have a character, someone you describe and identify, who wants something.
(2) There must be context—where it is located, what is happening in the story.
(3) There must be a problem that the character has that he/she must solve to get that which is wanted.
(4) Effort to solve the problem, fail.
(5) Repeated failure, or increasingly near attainment.
(6) Victory or death.
(7) Validation of the win (or loss) “He’s dead, Jim.” “Who was that masked man?” Closure of the story.

This is the beating heart of every story that wins. Why? Because it extolls the best of man. Beset with tribulation he/she finds something within that transcends even themselves and wins the day. Everyone loves a winner, particularly one who loses over and over and still persists and vanquishes the problem whether it be an evil villain, a physical disability, distance or barrier.

In my novels Dawn’s Revenge, a thriller set in the New Orleans French Quarter, Command Influence, the story of a case when the author defended and won a military court martial trial, and Nimrod’s Peril, an adult fantasy, they had these elements threaded through the action in each.

I want to write a book where do I start?

To know where to start you need to know where you are going to end. What will the reader know after reading your piece or your book? Is that the result you wanted? One famous author said she wrote the last sentence of her books before she wrote the first one. That gave her a target, for then she knew where the end point was. Of course, in writing the story, all segments, even the whole texture and initial ideas may change, for that is creativity. But you must have an ending point at the beginning. With no destination, you just wander.
If you want to write a book about your life, of course you can’t know its end, but you can tell it until the present. So when I want to write a book where do I start? To plot a novel or book of any kind you must have this final idea in mind to plot the essential steps to getting there. If it is about a system, method, device, idea you have created, the whole thing is laid out for you to start with.
You know all about it, you just color it in, follow the dots that are already systematically organized in your mind about it. The trick is to make it colorful, interesting and readable. That is where the skill of a ghostwriter comes in. It is part of your life, what you know, and it is worth paying to have it expressed beautifully and memorably, so that the inner you comes through its organization, layout and perfect prose. It is worth the money. You are not a Dollar Store item. You are a unique, one of a kind [...]


I know there is a book in me. It is like an itch. I think about it a lot. Maybe I should write a book about my life. Dang, I know there is something to write about! Is this called writer’s block when I haven’t even started?  I don’t even know the steps to writing a book. 
Aha! I used to love to fly kites as a kid. I built them and won a contest. I bet I could write about that! Now I can start writing a book! OK! Well here I go.

Have you ever had this itch?  It’s a beautiful urge to create something wonderful, and we all have that in us. The solution is simply to find somethine we love, and as they say, love will find a way–your muse will find a way. Everyone has a muse, and she is there waiting for you to call her out of hiding. If you have found your item, and then don’t have time to write it, or try and dead end somewhere, call me, I will help you write in just the way you would.

Make yourself a permanent icon by writing your book

A book by you turns you into an icon of knowledge about your subject. You are an instant authority. It is a kind of magic. You are transformed into a mystic personnae who not only has inscribed his mind onto pages that everyone can read and comprehend, but he has etched his name in eternity for now he has a legacy that will endure far beyond his lifetime. Write it. If you don’t have time, get a professional ghostwriter to preserve your spirit through your words throughout time.


Alright!  I am now all ready to write. I have my pen, already dipped in ink, and the paper is just waiting for my deathless prose.

I want to write a book where do I start? Hmm. Maybe I should write a book about my life. Well, what are the steps to writing a book? 

Oh my goodness, my pen is dry already. I have been thinking about this for a half hour and haven’t written a thing! This is harder than I thought! My mind wanders. 

 Maybe I should get some of that software for writing a book, or free novel writing software. But I still need to have something to write about to get started. I hear that those programs really don’t work for a real writer. They say they are a waste of money.    

Sigh!  I just don’t know what to do. I want to write and need some ideas for writing a book.

I have scratched my head about this long enough. I have some money. I think I will call a Ghostwriter. I hear Sledge is one of the best. He will give me a long free consultation.

OK, here goes. He looks like an accommodating chap. I am calling him right now! 


Publish Your Book, Traditional Style

You asked yourself “I want to write a book where do I start?” You have told your friends, “I want to write a book about my life,” and you asked “what are the steps to writing a book?” You knuckled down and wrote it. It took a while, you were smiling all the way through as the words appeared on the screen and your fingers flew over the keys.

You were so proud of your new book. You spent months, maybe years, writing it. Your friends and family say it is a winner. You dream of your book on the front shelves at Barnes and Nobles and having interviews with Oprah.

You send it to a publisher, and are shocked at it being returned with a little clip of paper saying it isn’t what they want. They don’t say why. You try this again with another and get a reject stamp. Not to be discouraged, you try to get an agent, and get the same treatment. You feel like you are dying.

Hey, it is not the end; it is the beginning. Mario Puzo submitted The Godfather forty times. Hang in there, you may make it.
Computers and word processors churn out hundreds of thousands of manuscripts daily. Publishers and agents are flooded. If their first readers don’t like the title, the idea from your summary or just the way you phrased something, it is pitched. Your book could win a Pulitzer or be a soaring best seller, but it can easily be overlooked.

If by some stroke of luck, they do like and publish it, and at the same time one of their hot authors like a [...]

Self Publishing Your Book

You wanted to know how to write your own novel, the steps to writing a book, and how to start writing a book and you did it! Your efforts at getting getting a publishing house to publish it failed. Don’t despair! You can publish your hard won book yourself. Others have done it and soared to the top, why can’t you? How do you do it? Here’s how.

Make sure your manuscript is perfect. Have it professionally edited. Don’t rely on your own editing it is like the old saying, “being your own lawyer is having a fool for a client.” Pay for someone to do it right.

You have two ways to go. First: send your book to a self publishing company like Create Space, which is affiliated with Amazon. I published three of my novels with them with great satisfaction. They will offer a scale of services from the least expensive to just printing your book with you supplying the cover art, etc., to the whole enchilada with editing, cover art, publishing to Amazon and even help in marketing. They will help you put it on Amazon as an ebook as well as your physical copy.

You will have a book you can hold in your hand, give to your friends, market online through your website, and you have your legacy.

Second: Publish it as an ebook. You won’t have a physical copy unless you want to pay to get it, but you will need an appropriate title and a cover to display. The only problem is formatting the manuscript. You may have to hire someone to do this for you, or you can learn how yourself. Once [...]