Friday, July 18, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger - Donna Dawson

Hey Look! It's Donna Dawson - or is it Donna Fawcett? Either way, it's great to have her on the blog. Donna and I have known each other for awhile now, and recently spent a few scant moments together in Guelph, Ontario at the Write!Canada conference. She's a great deal of fun and a fast wit. She's also written a swhack of books! Take a look at her offerings below.

Donna and her husband live in rural Ontario and she is actively involved in music ministry in her church. Using her military upbringing, her experience in home teaching and her love of horses, Donna writes faith suspense novels, non-fiction for home schooling families and faith romance novels.
Donna is going to share with us the art of "sandbagging a scene". There are many ways to talk about this art - Geralyn Beauchamp started us off with her article, and now Donna is adding to the discussion with her contribution to the blog. I know you'll enjoy!

Visit Donna at her website:

Books by Donna:

Katherine loved her husband Darryl deeply. And his betrayal cut deep. When OPP officer Jason Wolfe comes to the door to break the news that Darryl was killed and his car scorched, it is more than Katherine can bear. Follow the heart pounding trail of a murder investigation that turns into so much more as Katherine and Jason struggle to keep their growing relationship in check. (to be released in 2009 through Awe-struck books)

Vengeance is a fast paced novel that deals with the struggles of wanting to hand out revenge against those who turn on us. It challenges our morals and our beliefs with its difficult questions. This mystery/thriller will keep you turning pages.

When John Quince moves to an estate near Plano, Tx with his fiance, he isn't prepared for the intrigue, murder and the journey back in time to ancient Israel. A masterpiece in mystery plotting.

A middle-aged woman wakes up to discover her husband lying comatose beside her in the Australian outback.
A young doctor questions God’s will after losing his devout grandmother to breast cancer.
A lonely waitress stuck in a small town wonders how God could possibly use her.
A missionary in Africa, dedicated to serving God, has a horrific car accident that leaves him brain-damaged.
A shy twelve-year-old girl struggles with the idea that God wants her to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper telling people God loves them.
In every instance, these ordinary people discovered that God was waiting to dry their tears and help them see His plan for their lives, where good eventually emerged from the hurt and confusion.
The Adam & Eve Project is 2007 top eight novel for Word Alive Press. A fast paced mystery/suspense novel it asks questions that aren't often voiced. Dealing with human manipulation, government conspiracy and spiritual warfare, this book has been compared to Robert Ludlam's and Frank Peretti's works.

Heather is a teen who has spent her life struggling against an uncontrollable anger. She escapes to the streets of Toronto to spare her family. This mystery/romance novel helps us to see street life through a different set of eyes. It reveals the struggles of spiritual warfare, surviving abuse, escaping the streets.

Scene sandbagging
What is it and why is it so important in writing fiction? To be quite honest, I hadn’t known it was referred to as “sandbagging a scene” until I began preparing for this blog. I simply knew it as a scene hook. So what is it?

In fiction, the writer is in a constant battle to keep the story pace moving swiftly while describing the environment and action. He or she must do this without seeming obvious and in the meantime must keep the reading engaged. Far too often a writer will begin to describe a scene and forget to put the hook into it. They tell instead of show their location and before they know it the reader gets bored and closes the book.

In my upcoming novel Chinook Winds my first chapter is a perfect example of sandbagging a scene. I spend the whole chapter describing a ranch between Sundre, Alberta and the Rocky Mountains. I paint a beautiful picture of rolling hills and dry dusty fields; of drought and tough times; of the hard work of ranching. But I don’t want to put my reader to sleep so I weave in a problem. Some foals are missing and our heroine, Gillian, is worried. I use her eyes to show the setting but we see it through her actions as she looks for her foals. She doesn’t find them the way she’d hoped. The presence of vultures circling above a field leads her to them and we discover three dead and a fourth thrashing in the dirt in agony. I close the chapter right there and what do I accomplish by doing that? I make the reader reach for Chapter Two.

In my new release Vengeance I use the same concept in my prologue simply by not naming my characters. The reader follows their actions as they capture a Beluga whale and inject it with some unknown serum. The un-named man proceeds to kill every member of the fishing vessel he has hired for the capture. The reader leaves the chapter wondering who the man is and what’s in the serum. They really want to know what will come next. And yet through this prologue I’ve piled a lot of detail about the tundra and the Hudson Bay area into it without boring the reader. They now know everything about their imaginary surroundings but they most certainly aren’t asleep.

It’s all fine and well to get descriptive and detailed. That’s what it takes to get a reader to dive into a scene but a writer must do more than that. We must hook that reader with a problem that isn’t immediately solved. And we must do that over and over again in each setting—use some little piece of information to keep the reader wanting more. Sandbag your scenes—reinforce them with little hooks that will make your settings more than just pretty places to visit.
Okay faithful blog readers, what say you? Have you got the promise of unresolved conflict in your scenes?
How do you resolve a scene without resolving the overall conflict in the book?
Share you "hook" or "sandbag" with us on the blog (in the comments section). You can ask Donna questions, or leave comments for her and she will respond!
I bid you good writing.

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