Monthly Archives: March 2015

Catastrophe Looms – Riverton Road Monday

Excerpt from A Wrong Way Home by Alice Orr.

Dramatic North Country SkyMatt had to get back to Kalli Corner and tell Kara, but first there was one more thing he needed to know from Junior Dawson.

“Why are you telling me all of this?” Matt asked.

Dawson shrugged.

“Let’s just say my loyalty was to Tony Benton. I got no loyalty to nobody else. I could have helped this damned fool, but he wasn’t smart enough to do what he had to do to make that happen.”

“What did he have to do?”

Dawson rubbed his greasy fingers together in a gesture Matt recognized to mean money, probably a lot of money.

“I gave him a chance, but he wouldn’t come across,” Dawson said. “So I’d just as soon see him go down.”

Matt remembered what Kara had seen through the window. Dawson being threatening, except that maybe Dawson didn’t have solid evidence like Benton did. If that was true, Dawson’s threats would have been as empty as his eyes were now.

Telling all of this to Matt could be Dawson’s way of getting even. He was left out in the cold now that Benton wasn’t around to offer a cut in his dirty deals in return for whatever equally dirty jobs Junior was willing to perform. He’d tried for a final payoff, but that hadn’t worked out either. Now Dawson was having his revenge.

“So did you get what you came for?” Dawson asked.

Matt hesitated before answering. He couldn’t help feeling a little dirty himself from just talking to this guy.

“Yeah, I got what I came for.”

Matt didn’t say thank you. He walked fast to his truck and drove away even faster. Away from Vincent’s Garage and Junior Dawson. Matt drove with one hand and clicked Kara’s number on his cell phone with the other. Several rings later, she answered, but it was only her recorded message.

“Leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you.”

Matt reacted to the sound of her voice by pushing the gas pedal closer to the floor.

“It’s Matt. I’m on my way home. Call me when you get this.”

Matt put the phone on the dashboard and concentrated on piloting the speeding truck in the direction of Riverton Road and Kalli Corner. Something told him he’d better get there soon, not just because of what he had to tell Kara or even because of how much he missed her. Like a premonition, something told Matt that Kara needed him, and she needed him right now.

He spun the steering wheel and roared into the Kalli driveway with gravel spraying from his truck tires. The front door of the house flew open, and his mother hurried across the porch and down the steps. One look at her face made Matt’s heart clench with the terrifying recognition that his premonition had been correct.

“Kara’s gone,” Angela shouted as he screeched to a stop. “I thought she was resting in her room, but I just went up to check on her and she’s gone.”


My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at This is my 12th novel and this post is a dramatic excerpt.

 Alice Orr –


All’s Well that Ends Well – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: How do I make my story ending sell my book?

Casablance ending Answer: The ending of your story doesn’t sell this story as much as it sells your next story. Have you ever finished a book and wanted to throw it across the room? Or maybe actually did throw it across the room? Very often the book’s ending made you do that. And also made certain you wouldn’t buy that author’s next book. Avoid being thrown across the room. Avoid losing a reader for your next book and the ones after it. Create a story ending that doesn’t frustrate. Create an ending that satisfies.

The end game of your story is a danger zone. Partly because you’re most likely tired of these people and their situation by now. In fact your head and heart are already deep in your next story. So you must be careful not to write the end in this rhythm. Gallop – Gallop – Gallop – The End. That ending does not satisfy. That ending lacks the essential Big Bang.

I’ve used the film classic Casablanca in earlier posts to illustrate the Dramatic Opening and the Middle That Moves. Casablanca is also a great example of the Ending That Satisfies. The story has two threads – an action suspense thread and an emotional suspense thread. Both are tied up with a bang at the ending.

The action climax is an actually audible bang when arch villain German Major Strasser is shot dead. The emotional climax is more drawn out and that slightly slowed down pace is part of what gives it impact. Rick – played by Humphrey Bogart – tells Ilsa – played by Ingrid Bergman – why she must take the plane to Lisbon and safety not with him but with her husband Nazi hunter Victor Laszlo.

The plane engine rumbles to life in the background. A single tear trembles on Ilsa’s perfect cheek. And Bogie says some of the most memorable lines of his career. Later on he’ll walk off with Vichy Captain Louis Renault who has suddenly discovered his inner good guy. But the Big Bang really happens when brooding cynic Rick finds his own true heroic nature and sacrifices his heart for the good of the world and his soul.

We could hardly be more satisfied and it all looks smooth and easy but don’t be fooled. To carry off an ending that works like this well there has to be a plan. To create a Big Bang ending for your story you must plan the climactic scene in detail. Don’t write a word till that plan is perfect. Plan mostly action and dialogue and keep all of this action on stage in the immediate present. There are more steps as well.

How to Plan Your Big Bang Ending

  •  Plan mostly action and dialogue, very little narrative.Plan to keep all of this action on stage, in the immediate present.
  • Plan dialogue that is spare, to the point and memorable.
  • Plan on intensifying the pace, faster than what has gone before.
  • Plan lots of physical movement in the scene.
  • Plan lots of intense sensations – sight, sound, smell, texture and more.
  • Plan to plunge your protagonist into peril.
  • Plan one more obstacle to arise for your protagonist.  Make it formidable.
  • Plan a confrontation between your protagonist and antagonist.
  • Plan on milking that confrontation, while keeping up the intense pace.
  • Plan for your protagonist to cause action, not merely be overtaken by it.
  • Plan to communicate your protagonist’s feelings, with impact, to the reader.
  • Plan on incorporating fear, even terror, among those emotions.
  • Plan the presence of real danger to your protagonist in this scene.
  • Plan an outcome in the balance.
  • Plan that outcome as crucial to your protagonist.
  • Plan for your protagonist to be nearly vanquished in this scene.
  • Plan for your protagonist to be racing against time.
  • Plan for your protagonist to triumph in the last possible moment.
  • Plan for your protagonist to triumph by the narrowest of margins.
  • Plan for this triumph to be uplifting and inspiring.

The purpose of a Big Bang ending is to reverberate after the last page is turned. To lodge in the psyche of the reader and be remembered. All the way to the bookstore or the Buy Now button and the purchase of your next title.

You must stage your final scene the way a choreographer stages a dance. The result will be a powerful Dramatic Ending at full circle from what will have to have been your Dramatic Opening. And equally or even more thrilling. Find out how to write that Dramatic Opening in my previous post “Well Begun is Well Done”.

Now you must recognize that your story is over. You and your protagonist have exploded out of the explosive situation you exploded into on page one. You must resist the temptation to hang around a while longer. You’ve taken your reader on an unforgettable ride. Leave before she has a chance to catch her breath. Leave before he’s had enough. Leave them wanting more.  No Epilogues Please.

When you’ve accomplished all of that – Here’s looking at you kid.


 My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at This is my 12th novel and it does have a dramatic ending.

Alice Orr –


In Praise of Fierce Women – Orr What? Wednesday

There’s no force as fierce as a woman with a purpose she’s determined to fulfill. This was true as ever last weekend at Liberty State Fiction Writers’ Conference in New Jersey. So much impressed me there but I was most impressed by the fierce women who made the event speak to me in ways I needed to hear.

The first of these women was Rayna Vause the Conference Organizer – fierce with service from my initial sighting of her in the morning until my last after the final workshop was done. Rayna tends to be mild mannered but ferocity is mostly about dedication to a goal rather than personality. Rayna’s goal was to help the rest of us.

She was answering someone’s question when I first spotted her and doing the same when I saw her again at late afternoon. In between – the day Rayna had orchestrated spun around us all. She was fiercely determined that we would have an amazing experience and we did.

After lunch I moderated a workshop titled “Raiders of the Lost Arcs” with Kathryn Craft – a woman who is fierce with knowledge. Her complex subject was story structure and lunch had run long. Kathryn had to capsulize a lot of information into an impossibly short time and she did.

I took so many notes my wrist hurt. I also had an epiphany about my own writing process and how emotional arcs keep a story moving. Or slog to down if not artfully portrayed. Kathryn was determined to enlighten us and we were enlightened.

It was dinnertime when Liz O’Connor – who writes as L.G. O’Connor – joined us at a corner table in the hotel restaurant. Liz and I had been alphabetically slotted next to each other at the book fair earlier. Her energy and enthusiasm were evident from the start and continued through our dinner conversation where I discovered that Liz is fierce with encouragement.

The two other authors with us are at the beginning of their careers. Liz couldn’t have been more generous with her long experience and fund of facts about both traditional and independent publishing. Liz was determined that these new writers would be armed with information for the battle they must wage to become published and they were.

On the train back to New York City I was tired but filled with my own ferocity. Fierce with gratitude for the women with fire in their spirits that sets the rest of us aflame.


My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at This is my 12th novel and the heroine is definitely a fierce woman.

 Alice Orr –