Bookmark and Share

In a novel, the story resolution is much more complex than “The End.” It differs from the rest of the writing in the novel in that it is usually written in expository style with the goal of finishing up the story for the reader. It should not be too long nor should it be too short. It should neither be overly detailed nor too enigmatic. However it must tie up all the loose story threads. Here are eight questions you should consider answering when writing your story resolution.

  1. How did plot experiences change your major characters?
  2. Did your protagonist succeed in her goals?
  3. Did your protagonist fail to meet her goals? Why?
  4. What impact did the protagonist’s success or failure in her quest have on her?
  5. What impact did the protagonist’s adventures have on others close to her?
  6. Did she learn anything from her quest?
  7. Did her experiences result in any changes in her previous lifestyle?
  8. What might the future hold for your main characters?

Your story resolution is basically a short summary of what has happened in the story and the results as well as a very brief indication of what the future might hold.

More Tips:

How to End a Mystery Novel

How to Write Endings for Mystery Novels

Posted by: nancycurteman | July 11, 2017

Add a Prologue? Yes. No. Maybe so.

Bookmark and Share


Should I add a prologue to my novel? This is a question that authors often grapple with. The answer is Yes. No. Maybe so. The definition of a prologue doesn’t help much in our effort to answer this question. A prologue is for the author’s purpose simply a separate introductory section of a literary work. Not enough information to make an intelligent decision. To add or not to add still remains a question. Let us explore the possibilities of “yes, no, or maybe so.”

Yes, add a prologue if it
• is essential to the novel
• provides reader information about the history leading up to the present action in the novel such as a war.
• hooks a reader by raising compelling questions
* provides the reader with a reason for which the story is being told. Maybe an old man writing a memoir about his life for his children.
• provides a character’s perspective or point of view that may not appear again in the novel until much later.

No do not add a prologue if
• it is a stalling tactic
• the information in the prologue can be woven into the body of the story.
• the story can survive without it
• it gets too long
• it is true that most agents hate them

Maybe consider a prologue if
• it provides backstory on a character that would not fit in the novel
• you remove one you’ve written and the story doesn’t make sense without it
• you’re sure your readers don’t mind starting a story twice because that is what happens when a prologue precedes chapter 1.

Prologues may have their place in your novel but consider carefully before deciding “yes, no, or maybe” add a prologue.

More Tips:

How to Format a Novel

How Authors Use Foreshadowing

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 27, 2017

Stories Happen When Ordinary Life is Disrupted

Bookmark and Share

Stories happen when there is a disruption in the life of an ordinary person living an ordinary life. An event of some kind places a character in a completely new situation. A novel opens with a character going about a daily routine when suddenly something happens that turns her world upside down. Tension thrives on the contrast between the old life and the new one.

Authors can create all kinds of disruptive events—environmental, social, psychological, lifestyle, criminal or catastrophic.

• A new job forces a character to move from sunny California to Barrow, Alaska.

• A middle-class man loses his job, can’t pay his bills and becomes homeless.

• A woman is attacked in her home and becomes terrified of being alone.

• A student from a lower socioeconomic family receives a scholarship to attend an aristocratic private college.

* A character survives a flood that destroys a town.

• A woman witnesses a murder.

The question that will become the plot of the novel in all these situations is: How will the character adjust after the momentous event.

More Tips:

How to Murder Your Mystery Novel Plot

How to Create a Plot for a Novel

5 Plot Points in a Novel

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 17, 2017

Cable Cars, a San Francisco Treasure

Bookmark and Share

San Franciscans and tourists alike love the city’s iconic cable cars. They are indeed one of San Francisco’s unique treasures. In fact these cars are one of only two National Historic Landmarks that move. The other is the St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans. The San Francisco cable car system is the oldest and largest system in permanent operation and the only one to still operate in the traditional manner with manually operated cars running in street traffic. Furthermore, the cable cars’ continued operation of service is locked into San Francisco’s City Charter.

The cable car itself was not difficult to invent because it is similar to many multiple passenger vehicles dating before 1860. It was the operation of it that was difficult. The cable part needed technological innovation. This is where Andrew Hallidie came in. He invented the cable car system right here in San Francisco in 1873

Here’s how it happened. Hallidie’s father, a British inventor owned a patent for a wire rope cable. Hallidie used this wire cable to design a conveyance system for hauling ore from mines. When he immigrated to the united states in 1852 during the Gold Rush he noticed horses and carriages had a tough time getting up and down San Francisco hills. He decided to build on his earlier design to solve the problem. He conceived the idea for a steam engine-powered, cable-driven rail system in 1869.

Hallidie began construction of a cable line on Clay Street in May of 1873. The Clay Street Hill Railroad began public service in September of 1873. San Francisco added more cable car lines and by 1889 there were eight different lines. By the end of the 19th century there were 53 miles of cable car tracks woven throughout the city.

Hallidie’s cable car system survived the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, two World Wars, political attempts to have the cars removed in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and became the worldwide symbol of San Francisco that it is today.

There are three lines running today: the Powell/Hyde line, the California line and the Powell/Mason line. The oldest line still in operation and the only one to run east to west is the California line. It runs up and down the steep hill of California Street from Nob Hill to the Financial District.

The Powell/Mason line runs from Union Square to Fishermans Wharf past North Beach. It stops right in front of the Cable Car Museum, a “don’t miss” site for cable car buffs.

The Powell/Hyde line begins at Powell and Market Streets This is the favorite line of Lysi Weston, the main character in my new novel, Murder Lurks in the Fog. This line passes Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world, and provides amazing views of the bay. The line ends at Fishermans Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.

You can purchase a one-time ride ticket on board the cable car or a seven-day San Francisco CityPass. When you come to San Francisco, wear flowers in your hair and ride the cable cars.

More Travel Tips

5 San Francisco Activities Dear to San Franciscans
The San Francisco Village of Chinatown
North Beach: An Historic San Francisco Village
A Bushman in San Francisco?

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 5, 2017

New Lysi Weston Mystery

Bookmark and Share

In response to readers’ requests I’ve set a Lysi Weston mystery in San Francisco. In Murder Lurks in the Fog, readers will tour the City by the Bay with Lysi as she unravels a murder in her hometown.

Trouble dogs my wannabe sleuth like the fog that shrouds her beloved San Francisco. First an old friend goes missing. Next the friend is linked to the murder of a beautiful young socialite. Then another suspicious death clouds things even more. Enjoying the beauty of the City by the Bay takes second place when a trail of suspects leads to a jealous husband, a resentful stepdaughter, and the son of a vicious mob boss. Lysi pressures Aussie, Maynard Christie, an ex-homicide detective, along with her Harlem colleague, Grace Wright, into helping with the investigation. Before Lysi knows it, she’s become the target of a sociopathic hit man.

Murder Lurks in the Fog is now available in both print and ebook formats.

More tips:

Lethal Lesson

Murder Casts a Spell

Murder Down Under

Murder on the Seine

Posted by: nancycurteman | May 24, 2017

A New Lysi Weston Mystery Novel

Bookmark and Share
Travel and mysteries are two of my passions. So of course I write mystery novels and set them in places I’ve visited around the world. My amateur sleuth Lysi Weston, a corporate trainer, has solved murders in Australia, South Africa, France, and Montana as she traveled in her job.

Many of my readers have suggested that I set a story in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Francisco. I’ve taken their advice. My newest novel, “Murder Lurks in the Fog,” set in the city by the Bay, will be available by mid June.

In “Murder Lurks in the Fog,” Lysi Weston returns home to San Francisco for a few weeks of well-earned vacation from her taxing job as a corporate management trainer. Her plans to share a quiet respite with Australian Detective Maynard Christie are thwarted when she learns that a close friend has gone missing. Lysi, with her proclivity for sleuthing, tries to unravel the mysterious disappearance. The situation becomes more complicated when Weston discovers a connection between her missing friend and the murder of a beautiful young socialite. She drags her earthy, Harlem-born colleague, Grace Wright, along when she embarks on a labyrinth of trails that leads her to suspect a jealous husband, a resentful stepdaughter and the son of a vicious mob boss. A second suspicious death muddies Lysi’s investigation effort as she becomes the target of a sociopathic hit man.

Along with murder investigation, Weston will guide readers, along with Christie and Wright, through her favorite San Francisco sites—some well known to tourists and others known only to locals.

I will let all of you know the moment “Murder Lurks in the Fog” becomes available both in print and ebook formats.

More Travel Mysteries:

Murder Down Under
Murder Casts a Spell
Murder on the Seine


Posted by: nancycurteman | May 14, 2017

Johnny Foley’s Irish House

Bookmark and Share

San Francisco is famous for it’s international restaurant scene. You name a country and you will probably be able to locate a restaurant that serves the excellent cuisine of that country. Here’s an example: If you would like to experience a wee bit of Ireland in San Francisco, go to Johnny Foley’s Irish House. Established in 1998 it is one of San Francisco’s quintessential gathering places. Located just steps from historic Union Square, it’s an authentic example of what makes the Irish pub truly unique. This is the reason I chose it as a setting for several scenes in my new mystery novel, Murder Lurks in the Fog.

My characters sit at one of the tables in Johnny Foley’s dining area sipping a brew while analyzing details of a homicide investigation. You too, can lounge at a table or sit at the friendly bar and chat with the kicky bartenders and other
patrons while enjoying one of about twenty draught beers. You can also choose wines, Irish whiskeys or a variety of cocktails. You might even catch a Warriors game or World Cup Soccer competition on the giant screen over the bar. The friendly atmosphere makes you feel like you’re on the set of a “Cheers” television program.

The food is fabulous! Chose from a large variety of Irish delights such as Cottage Pie, Bangers & Mash, Steak &
Mushroom Pie and Irish Stew. For dessert try a Chocolate Hangover, Irish Soda Bread & Butter Pudding or Pumpkin Crème Brulée.

After dinner, head down to the cellar for great musical entertainment.

If you come to San Francisco, put Johnny Foley’s Irish House on your list of must see sites.

More Travel Tips:

Taste a Bit of Ireland in San Francisco

Posted by: nancycurteman | April 30, 2017

How to Format a Novel

Bookmark and Share

Every author needs to know how to format a novel. Of course this knowledge is essential if you choose to self-publish because the full responsibility for correct formatting will rest with you. But it is also important if you choose to work with an indie publisher or even a midsized publisher because you need to look for correct formatting when you proof your novel. Here are some formatting strategies:

Margins Your book has two types of margins: Exterior (top, bottom, and outer edge) and the “gutter.” Exterior margins should be set at one half to three-quarter inch. The “gutter” should be set at one inch so when the book is bound, all the inside print will be visible.

Font Most publishers and readers prefer black, twelve point, Times New Roman font. Use a larger font size for your title and chapter headings.

Page Numbers Insert your page number in a footer at the bottom of each page. Place them on the outside of each page (left side on even-numbered pages, right side on odd pages). Do not put page numbers on the title page.

Headers A header usually consists of the author’s name on the left side of even-numbered pages and the book title on the right side of odd-numbered pages. Don’t place headers on the title page or other pages that are not part of the actual story.

Title and Author Page Center your title about half way down the page. Double space and add your author name.

Copyright Place the copyright page on the reverse side of the title page. Along with the copyright include statements that no part of the book may be reproduced, etc. You can also add your ISBN number and contact information on this page.

Chapters Begin a new chapter on an odd-numbered new page. Use bold text and type the chapter number about one-third down from the top. Skip a couple of line spaces and begin the text of the chapter.

Scene breaks Insert two or three blank lines for new scenes. Center a symbol or set of symbols of some kind in the blank space—# or *** or •••

Justification Justified text adds a tailored look to your novel. Line up both the right and left edges with hyphenation to avoid one word ending up as the only word on an otherwise blank page.

Indents New paragraphs need half-inch indentions.

Formatting your novel is pretty straightforward and essential to ensure the presentation of your novel will not include any errors that will distract your readers from enjoying your story.

More tips:

6 Ways to Create Powerful Verbs
How to Add Creative Transitions to Your Novel

Posted by: nancycurteman | April 17, 2017

Small Details That Can Make a Big Difference

Bookmark and Share

Mystery Novels consist of some basic elements—protagonist, antagonist, plot, setting, conflict and resolution. Most mystery writers understand these elements and can fold them into an interesting, well-written story. However, authors may run into small uncertainties about the proper way to write some small details. In this post I’ve assembled a few small details that can make a big difference in a story. You may have wondered about some of them.

  • The man is five feet tall or The man is five foot tall. Which is correct? The answer is that it depends. In general a simple test can tell us which one is correct. Nothing is 6 yard long, it is 6 yards long. And we do not say that there are twelve inch in one foot, but twelve inches in one foot. Thus we would say, The man is five feet tall. But, consider this. We would never say “a 12 inches ruler.” we’d say “a 12 inch ruler.” When using the term as a compound adjective it does sound better to say the 5-foot-tall man. When using an adjective modifier, use foot.
  • A character shakes his head or nods. What is the difference? Noddingthe head is an up and down movement and means yes or I agree or approve. People nod off when sleepy.
    Shaking the head is a sideways movement and suggests a negative response such as “No.” People also shake their heads to show disapproval, disdain, despair or disappointment.
  • Italics or quotation marks for titles. Where do you use them? Generally speaking italics are used for titles of large works, book, movie and television show titles.
    Quotation marks are used for sections of works—chapter titles, magazine articles, poems and short stories.
  • A word about ellipses. An ellipsis is a set of three periods preceded and followed by one space ( … ). An ellipsis can indicate an omission in a quote, trailing off of a thought (I thought that … It’s not important) or hesitation (I want to … I mean … it’s like this … ). One further point about the ellipsis. If it is at the end of a sentence, don’t forget to add a fourth dot for the period.

Correct use of these small details could make a big difference in the quality of your writing.

More Tips:
Writing Craft Rules: Never Say Never
5 Elements of Writing Craft
7 Ways to Make Your Writing Clear and Concise
6 Most Misused Punctuation Marks In Fiction Writing

Posted by: nancycurteman | March 24, 2017

Lysi’s San Francisco

Bookmark and Share

Lysi Weston is the main character in my travel mystery series. Her romantic “crush” is Aussie homicide detective, Maynard Christie and her best friend is Harlem-born Grace Wright. Weston, an international corporate trainer travels the world in her job. My mystery novels follow her on journeys from Australia, Southern Africa and France. My newest novel takes her home to San Francisco and follows her as she roams through some of the famous and not so famous sites of her beloved City by the Bay. In my book, Weston shares San Francisco sites with you, her fans.

Lysi lives in a condo on Franciscan Street near Coit Tower. She often walks her German shepherd up the nearby Filbert Steps. The 377 steps pass through quaint cottages and lovely gardens and end at Coit Tower. At the top of Telegraph Hill she takes Maynard into the 210-foot Coit Tower to see the lovely fresco murals depicting the history of everyday life of San Franciscans.

One of Lysi’s favorite places for a relaxing respite from her busy days is in San Francisco in Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden. She takes Maynard for a cup of jasmine tea among clouds of pink cherry blossoms and a rainbow of blooming camellias and azaleas against a background of lush green shrubbery. A five-tiered Buddhist pagoda stands tall in the background as fish float in a stream below the teahouse.

A walk across the Golden Gate Bridge is truly a San Francisco experience. Lysi takes Maynard across the windy bridge. On the Marin side of the span at Vista Point the Lone Sailor Memorial, a life-size bronze statue of a sailor gazes back at San Francisco before sailing out the Golden Gate. About 1.5 million men and women shipped out from San Francisco during World War II to fight the war in the Pacific.

The bridge was designed to sway with strong winds off the Pacific. It can move up to 27 feet. The bridge with its two elegant art deco towers owes its orange vermillion color to the fact that it made it easier to see in fog and blended with the surrounding countryside.

Lysi loves ice cream. She shares that love with her colleague, Grace Wright, by taking her on the Powell Street cable car to San Francisco’s famous  Ghirardelli Square. The iconic clock tower that stands sentry over the famous square was built in 1916 and patterned after the tower of France’s Chateau de Blois. Lysi and Grace enter under the Ghirardelli arch into the historic Square and pass beneath a blue sign with big white letters that read, The Original Chocolate Manufactory. Old-fashioned chocolate processing equipment lines the brick wall in the rear of the shop—a Melanger, Chocolate Mills and a large oven for roasting beans. Tourists from all over the world rub shoulders with locals, old and young as they savor the delicious ice cream.

Other notable San Francisco sites Lysi shares with her friends are Union Square, Chinatown and Buena Vista—famous as the inventor of Irish Coffee.

As you read my new novel, imagine yourself exploring these famous San Francisco sites as Lysi Weston shares them with her story friends while investigating the murder of a beautiful San Francisco socialite.


More Tips:

5 San Francisco Activities Dear to San Franciscans

The San Francisco Village of Chinatown

North Beach: An Historic San Francisco Village

A Bushman in San Francisco?


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: