Author Diane Burton has a new book out, and she’s here today to tell us about it!Thanks, Alina, for having me on your blog today and helping me celebrate the release of my new book, NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense.
From Ordinary World to Inciting Incident
When we’re learning to write popular fiction, we’re told to start with action. At the same time, the reader needs to care about the characters before the action begins. So, we need to see the main character(s) in their ordinary world.
My critique partners have often chided me about dumping too much information at the beginning of the story. Thanks to them, I’ve learned not to do that. (At least, I hope I’ve learned. 😊) It’s not easy, as most writers know. We must learn to pique the readers’ interest without inundating them with more than they need or want to know.
Think about the first Star Wars movie (IV: A New Hope). We see Luke with his aunt and uncle. He’s dissatisfied with working on the moisture-vapor farm and wants to go on an adventure—to the Academy with his friends. That’s Luke’s real world. The inciting incident is when the Empire’s forces destroy his home and family. He can’t stay. He must go forward.
In my new release, NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense, I start the first chapter with Maggie’s brother popping in unexpectedly while she’s loading her SUV with camping equipment. The reader learns that she and a group of 14-year-old campers are going on a weekend trip. Her brother, Jack, mentions her volunteer work plus her teaching high school students. That’s her world.
Jack’s world is his work. He’s an accountant carrying a double load because of his injured partner. He’s beyond weary. After the group goes on the trip, Maggie comes home to discover Jack was in a fatal car accident. That’s the inciting incident. It sets Maggie on a course to find out if the crash was really an accident or sabotage.
I could have started with his accident, but would readers care if they didn’t know a little about him first? Would they care about Maggie’s heartache if they hadn’t seen her in her real world?
While it’s hard to include tidbits of info in the first chapter, the writer needs to dribble in the rest of the information that the reader needs to know to understand the characters better. Again, hard to do without boring the reader to tears. I’ll stop reading a book if it bores me. But, it’s easier to see faults in other’s work than in my own.
A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.
As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack’s an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.
Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that–an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.
A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?
I hope this excerpt piques your interest and makes you want to read more!
During lunch, Jack asked about the camping equipment in the garage. “I thought your camping days were over when Trish moved away.”
As it often did, Maggie’s eyes teared up at the thought of Trish Morrow. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. A natural born leader, Trish could get anybody to do anything—like conning Maggie into helping with the group of pre-teen campers. Last summer, after eight months of unemployment, Trish’s husband took a job in Denver. Trish and the kids followed, and there went the leader of the group.
“We’ve been meeting,” Maggie said around the lump in her throat.
“Suck-er.” Jack grinned. “How many volunteer jobs do you have now? Little League umpire, peewee hockey ref, high school girls’ baseball coach—”
“I get paid for that one,” she interrupted. “Can I help it if the girls wanted to get together to talk?”
“From the camping equipment you were loading into your SUV, it looks like you’re going to do more than talk.”
She shrugged. “They still want to go to Isle Royale. Their theory is if they practice camping all summer and into the fall, Trish will come back for the trip next summer. We’re going on an overnight camping trip tomorrow.”
“You got another mother to help chaperone?”
Maggie grimaced. “Not exactly.”
He dropped his sandwich. “You aren’t taking the girls by yourself? That’s crazy.”
“Add in irresponsible, brother dear. Which I’m not. I’d never take kids on a trip without another adult.” She eyed him with an appraising expression.
Jack held up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I’m up to my eyeballs in work.”
“Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to ask you, although it did cross my mind.”
Despite her brother’s usually super-neat appearance, he loved the outdoors almost as much as Maggie. Sports and scouts were his life when they were kids—just like her. While he went from Tiger Cubs through to achieving Eagle Scout status, she’d gone from Daisy Girl Scouts to earning her Gold Award. That made having a group of campers not affiliated with Girl Scouts a little weird. But, Trish didn’t like organizations with rules and regulations and, since Maggie hadn’t been in charge, she went along with her best friend.
Now her BFF was gone, and guess who was in charge?
“So, who’s helping you with the troop?” Jack pulled a couple of grapes off the stems and popped them into his mouth.
Jack started to choke. She jumped up ready to do the Heimlich until he laughed. She considered whacking him on the back on general principle.
“Drew? Drew Campbell? The guy whose idea of casual is loosening his tie?”
At least, Jack’s tired expression was gone. She tapped her short, no-nonsense fingernails on the table. “I’m so glad I could provide entertainment with lunch.”
He continued to laugh—almost braying.
“I’m loaning him your sleeping bag and backpack.” She worked hard not to smirk.
“Consider it rent for storing your stuff in my garage. And basement.”
Technically, the house was half his, part of their inheritance. After their folks died, she was grateful to leave her one-bedroom apartment. Since Jack already had a condo and didn’t want the upkeep of a house, their home was all hers, along with storage for his belongings.
Jack frowned for a second. “My equipment? You’re loaning out my camping equipment?”
“He’s your friend. I didn’t think you’d mind.”
Jack started to laugh again. “Oh, God. I wish I could be there to watch.” He went off again, laughing so hard tears formed until he wiped them away. “Drew Campbell wimped out of Cub Scouts.”
Buy Link for NUMBERS NEVER LIE
Free with Kindle Unlimited
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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