Category Archives: Storytelling

Second Chance Love – First Class Storytelling

I adore Second Chance Love. The one that got away, or you let go because you knew they weren’t a good match for you. But that was then and this is now, and the nostalgia filter has performed a reality reconfiguration big time. Through that pink-purple, or whatever color combo suits your starry eyes, memory crush has morphed into whatever your dream combo may be. Mine is George Harrison meets George Carlin and imports Desmond Tutu for the heart chakra. That guy I would diet my literal behind off because of, pay every cent I have on plastic surgery for, and throw in several self-improvement courses too. Why? Because he’d be my Second Chance Love.

Who is your Second Chance Love? Is it a real-life person that actually exists somewhere between the layers of your experience, distantly or maybe not-so-distantly, past? Do you remember the actual name, or would you prefer to provide a new one? Do you remember the details of this heartthrob’s personal backstory, the poignant pathos of a stricken childhood made even more lamentable by painful recollections of puberty? Do you fancy yourself the one and only capable of healing said wounds? Or maybe you simply anticipate running into this individual at a high school reunion, or some such event, and wowing his/her knickers off, perhaps literally, with your scintillating present-day self.

I don’t know your answers to the above queries. What I do know is that you have the makings of a Second Chance Love story. Your reunion or sexy soul salvation or dreamboat heartthrob fantasy has storytelling legs that reach all the way to the ground and then some, because everybody loves a Second Chance Love story. Why? Because everybody has at least one such story of their own. Everybody has googled at least one hot-memory someone from their past, which means everybody is a hot readership opportunity for Second Chance Love storytellers.

In my latest novel,  A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5, Amanda Miller has unfinished business in Riverton, battlefields she didn’t conquer her first time around there. The most dangerous of those battlefields involves Mike Schaeffer, the young love she lost long ago. She wishes she could write an alternate ending to their story. “Look at me,” she’d say. “See the woman I am now. Don’t you wish you had noticed me back then? Sorry. You missed your chance.” Then she’d walk away without a backward glance, but it’s too late for that, too late for anything between Amanda and Mike. Or so she believes, until she sees him again.

I love Second Chance Love situations, not only for their market potential, but for their plot scenario potential too. They allow me to jump straight into the heart of the story without a lot of “meet-cute” at the beginning, when I’m supposed to be hooking the reader and grabbing her attention. I’m not a big fan of the meet-cute. Two attractive people meet in a cut, usually at least somewhat contrived situation and are attracted to each other. Sparks fly. Clever banter abounds. But where is the real story? What plummets the heroine into a dilemma so intense, dramatic and powerful she will have to scramble and struggle to escape. How is the reader hooked? Why is her attention grabbed?

I write romantic suspense so my lovers-to-be can meet over a dead body, which diminishes the cuteness factor considerably. Still, on first encounter, they might tend to circle one another bantering cleverly anyway. Three more of my Riverton Road stories refuse to follow that scenario. In A Wrong Way Home and A Vacancy at the Inn, heroine and hero were past lovers, though very briefly, and in A Year of Summer Shadows they’ve been eyeballing each other for quite some time.

Only A Villain for Vanessa is not a Second Chance Love story. Each of the others saves me a lot of work as a storyteller. The preliminaries are done with before page one. The “I’m so-and-so. Who are you?” part is past. More important, I have backstory to work with and develop. Backstory rife with conflict that gives my present-time front-story huge potential for intensity, drama and power. I’ve given myself a strong story advantage even before my story begins, and I’m in favor of advantages. The challenges of storytelling are enormous. I’ll take any help I can get. Second Chance Love stories are a great source of such help. Storytelling possibilities abound. Get out there and grab yourself some.

Plus, I love Second Chance Love stories because I believe life is all about chances, second or third or fourth or however many chances we need to succeed.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

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A Time of Fear & LovingDon’t miss this chance to read Alice’s new Second Chance Love story. A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5 is available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

What readers are saying about A Time of Fear & Loving.

“Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.”
“Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t want to sleep.”
“The tension in this novel was through the roof.”
“A budding romance that sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.”
“I never want an Alice Orr book to end.”
“The best one yet, Alice!”

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The Best Story Idea – Dig Deep – Wait for It

Redge and Alice at Home

A best story idea. In my opinion, this is one of those. It’s about two grandkids, an incontinent dog and how I took the path of most resistance. But first, I must own up to something. I’m not a dog person, which could explain why we had three cats and no dog until 3:15 p.m. one December Saturday. The two grandkids began a ten-day stay with us on that date, and ten days with an eight and three-year-old to amuse can be a challenge, which would explain the dog decision, if it hadn’t already been made several weeks before.

Our granddaughter, the eight-year-old, really wanted a dog and reminded us of this regularly, with dog stories, dog stickers, dog drawings and plenty of dog talk. But, what sent her message straight to my heart was Halloween. After several seasons of princess looks, this year she’d insisted on a brown puppy costume with white spots. Right then, I knew we had to get a dog. Three-year-old brother agreed, though he’d have preferred a dinosaur, and that was the source of this Best Story Idea. Meanwhile, I silenced my personal doubts by asking, “How much trouble can a puppy be?”

We set off for PAWS with small pooch intentions and a pet carrier and collar to match. I’d convinced myself all would be well, until the pooch with the most kid appeal turned out to be something other than a small puppy. He was a large, reddish-brown, part-husky mix titled Taylor and, as it happened, the perfect centerpiece for a Best Story Idea . He needed a home, and the grandchildren wanted to give him one. Plus, the trip to the shelter, combined with the pet selection process, had been long and arduous, and, frankly, I was tired. So, I agreed, though I suspected this was not my own Best Story Idea ever.

We put Taylor on hold while we hurried off to buy a dog crate larger than some apartments I’ve lived in. On the way, our granddaughter came up with Redge as a more fitting name. Taylor sounded too aristocratic for a lop-eared, cross-eyed animal of lumbering dimensions. Exactly how lumbering? I tried to measure him once, but Redge thought we were playing Capture the Tape Measure, along with the measurer’s hand. You’ll have to take my word he was a very large dog. You will also have to take my word that he gradually lumbered into my heart.

There are loads of Redge-experience anecdotes, most Best Story Idea material, many having to do with the fact that being cross-eyed caused him to see anything approaching him as an attacker.He lunged a lot, frightened people a lot, including the grandkids, and, when we tried tethering him for a brief moment of peace, he dragged our sizable dining table across the room. The leading dog trainer in the area finally threw up her hands and said, “Maybe you could find him a home in the country.” Eventually we were forced to take her advice.

That should have been the end of this particular Best Story Idea, except I had some self-examining to do. Why had I brought a dog bred to be a natural chaser into a house with three cats? Why had I taken the path of most resistance to adult common sense and good judgment? The truth was I knew the answer to all my Redge dilemma questions. Back on dog-search day, I’d been impatient and tired and eager to be done with the entire scene, so I latched onto the first choice instead of holding out for a better one.

As writers, we too often do the same when we don’t wait for the Best Story Idea. We latch onto the first word or phrase that comes to mind, or the first character quirk, or the first action gambit. We don’t push ourselves deeper into our imaginations in search of the word that most vividly expresses what we need to say, or the character detail that is less a quirk than a revealing motivation, or the plot turn that grows organically from what has already happened but is nonetheless unexpected.

We don’t wait long enough, or think clearly enough, or exercise our brains hard enough. The resulting scenario lumbers across the page, destroys the furniture it should have polished to a patina and, worst of all, disappoints the readers we were supposed to delight and enthrall with our Best Story Idea ever.

Why not write right past our first, most easily available choices to the better ones lurking further down? Then press on even deeper to the best we have in us, the phrase or detail or event that makes a story come alive and dance into our readers’ hearts, without a hint of lumber in its pace along the path toward an extraordinary read. Which is what occurs when we work hard and wait as long as it takes for the Best Story Idea to appear.

As for my previous reference to incontinence, at the same years-ago moment I was writing the first version of this cautionary tale, Redge was peeing on my kitchen floor. I like to think he was puddling me another Best Story Idea.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

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Alice writes romantic suspense novels. Check out her storytelling choices in her latest book A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

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Character is Everything in Storytelling – My Greatest Heroine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfWe create many heroines in many stories. I believe our most powerful heroines re-create pieces of powerful women we have known. The quintessential powerful woman in my life was my maternal grandmother. Whenever I write a strong woman – as I do every time I write a woman as hero – Grandma is part of her in one aspect or another.

In the novel I am about to publish – A Villain for Vanessa – the heroine travels a long way into the unknown to find what she hopes will be a better life. Grandma did that in the late 1890’s. The exact year differs in different research sources. As with many family stories there is disagreement on the details. Debate runs rampant regarding the why or how or what.

What isn’t disputed in the case of Grandma’s migration is that she traveled alone. She was a small town girl of eighteen or nineteen or maybe twenty depending on which source I credit. She sailed from England in what I imagine was the lowest class of passage and entered this very new world for her by way of Canada.

My best guess from the bits and pieces of fact I’ve found is that her expenses were paid by a family with several children. They were bringing her to what would one day be my hometown in the remote northern region of New York State. The same region where my newest novel and the three before it are set in a fictitious town named Riverton.

The family that bought Grandma’s steamship ticket was previously unknown to her. So was the climate where she would live. I imagine her caring for the children of strangers through the shock of her first frigid North Country winter. I remember her incredible garden when I was a girl and wonder if she was recreating the warm springtime English gardens of her own girlhood.

I’ve studied the customs and fashions of the specific time period when she migrated. I picture her in a white shirtwaist and dark skirt and of course a hat being greeted by people she’d never laid eyes on before. No relatives or friends had preceded her to America. She was on her own. That took courage. It was a wonderfully brave act – the behavior of a heroine.

My Uncle John had a picture on his wall of Grandma at that young age. Her hair was pulled up in a kind of Gibson Girl poof with a bow in back. But it was her eyes that captured me. They were young and most likely blue. Her skin was pale and most likely blushing. Grandma was beautiful. I wish I’d inherited that picture. I carry it in my head and heart instead.

Above all I carry in my head and heart the gentle smile in that picture. The same smile I would bask in decades later when she taught me which flowers to harvest from her amazing garden and exactly where to cut each stem. Nowadays I bask in her more aged smile gazing down at me from another picture on my wall in this room where I write.

She did her best to instill in me the courage it took to put her button-shoed foot on that lonely ship from Plymouth. The example of her courage carries me through challenge and heartbreak and triumph too. I in turn instill that courage in the strong women I write. There is something of Grandma in each of them. Not only her bravery but her loving heart too.

That’s why my heroines are so dear to me. I believe character is everything when it comes to storytelling. Everything good in my life began with Grandma – including the strong women who grace my stories. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. The photo here is of Alice Jane and me Alice Elizabeth at two and a half already modeling my model heroine.

 

Alice Orrhttp://www.aliceorrbooks.com https://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter https://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

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A Villain for VanessaRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. Official launch June 17 – will be available here. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE eBook at the same site and most other online book retailers.