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Zoé Miller Talks About The Writing Process: Plot holes… And How To Get Out Of Them

Zoe MillerOn day one of the tour for Zoé Miller’s new book, ‘The Husband’s Confession’, Zoe talks about the writing process: Plot holes…And how to get out of them!

What is a plot hole? For me, it’s when you think you’re motoring along quite nicely with your story but quite suddenly you stumble, grind to a halt, and find yourself falling into a deep, dark crevasse with no way out, because someone or something has pulled the guts of the story out from under you.

When I was two-thirds of the way through writing A Husband’s Confession, with the deadline looming on the near horizon, I fell into a plot hole and, believe me, it was quite a scary place!

Some writers wing it by the seat of their pants – they sit down to write a book without an ending in mind, throwing their characters onto the page and seeing where they take them, enjoying the process of letting the story come together in a very organic way. Other writers find this method quite terrifying. They plan meticulously, not only knowing the beginning, middle and end of a book, but all the individual chapters and plot points that will take them there.

'The Husband's Confession

I fall in somewhere in between. I know where the characters are at the start of the book and how their story is going to end. I might not know all the nitty-gritty details in between, but I usually have some fun finding out. I could tell you what they like for breakfast, the name of their favourite movie and much-loved childhood toy, but I only discover my characters’ true colours by the actual process of writing about them.

When I was about two-thirds of the way through writing A Husband’s Confession, I came to know one of the characters so well and empathised with them so much that I realised my planned ending for that character just wasn’t going to work. It didn’t fit with the person, never mind the story or the other people around them.

Aaargh! My first major plot hole.

Then, at around the same time and despite copious hours researching a technical detail on the internet, a last-minute, spur of the moment (and very serendipitous) phone call to an expert informed me that what I had actually planned to happen wouldn’t happen in reality.

Time to press the panic button…or was it?

After the shock of juddering to a halt, with the rest of my story effectively derailed, I allowed myself a day or two of wallowing in writer’s block. There was comfort eating. There was wine. Even some television. There was distance and space from the script. Then, conscious of the deadline on the near horizon, I took myself, my laptop and a large blank notepad away for a few days, to a hotel by the sea.

There were no interruptions at all, no internet either, just hours and hours of time in which to think, imagine, and reflect. From early in the morning until late at night, apart from sparse texts home to make sure everyone was still alive and the house hadn’t gone on fire, I became totally immersed in the story and living in the world of my characters.

My personal writing retreat worked. By the third day, I had the plot re-jiggled in my head, and a bare outline of the remaining chapters prepared.

Plot holes are writer’s friends, even if they don’t feel like that at first; they mean the story and characters have come alive in your head. They allow you to correct the story to ensure the resolution is consistent with your characters and their motivations. Always, in climbing out of them, albeit with grazed knees and scratched shins, you make the story even better.

Zoë Miller is the author of six contemporary women’s fiction novels published by Hachette Books Ireland, including the newly released A Husband’s Confession. Her books are a blend of drama, romance and intrigue. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing she juggles her time between her family and her day job in training and development.

You can find out more at www.zoemillerauthor.com, Facebook/zoemillerauthor, or follow her on twitter @zoemillerauthor

Follow the tour for reviews and features below.

The Husband's Confession Book Tour

The Mill River Redemption By Darcie Chan

'The River Mill Redemption‘The Mill River Redemption’ is the latest book by Darcie Chan.

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie’s aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up – until a shocking tragedy tears them apart. Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother’s will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie’s safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them .

Although I was sent a copy of Darcie’s previous copy ‘The Mill River Recluse’ I never got round to reading it which is unfortunate as I absolutely loved her new book. It was completely addictive and not what I imagined at all. Flashing between the past and the present, the story is seen from the perspective of sisters Rose and Emily, their great aunt Ivy as well as the townsfolk of Mill River, dealing with the sudden death of the sisters mother Josie. The sisters have been estranged for years and Josie’s final wish is for the two of them to make amends with giving them a task to claim their inheritance. They have been each given a house to live in beside each other and they have to work together on a treasure hunt, looking for clues, which is an impossible task since the pair of them have a deep hatred towards each other and not only verbally abuse but have taken to vandalising each others cars and houses.

The chapters alternate back to the past, to when the women were two little girls and had a close relationship and shows how it deteriorates through alcohol abuse and a tragic accident.

The story is cleverly written with a twist that completely caught me off guard and I actually thought it was a genius addition to the story and made it even better reading. As well as a really good storyline, Darcie has created genuinely interesting characters, especially Rose, the older of the two sisters. She is a particularly horrible person that makes reading the book frustrating, selfish, self absorbed with a nasty tongue and a secret alcohol addiction, she feels that the world is against her and shows no remorse for her actions. Whereas Emily, is more placid with a gentle heart and sweet nature but when the two women are together, they bring out the worst in one another.

I really enjoyed the story and found it very easy to become immersed in the drama that unfolded on the pages. An emotional roller-coaster from the very beginning, ‘The Mill River Redemption’ is a captivating story packed with mystery, volatile characters and unhappy relationships. I loved it!

You can buy The Mill River Redemption from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon By Linda Newberry

'Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon‘Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon’ is Linda’s first adult novel but she has been writing Young Adult and children’s books for years.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears. Twenty years later, Anna still doesn’t know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding – with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job – and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants. Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer’s day?

The story starts on the day that Anna’s older Rose disappears and was never found. Twenty years later, people have moved on and assume
that she is now dead as to them, she had no reason to disappear. But, for her family time has stood still.

This book is quite an intense and gripping story that made for intense reading as Anna begins her journey to find out what really happened to her older sister. Unhappy with her own life with her partner Martin, who does come across as quite a surly character, Anna comes to the conclusion that she will never be finally ready or happy to move on with her life until she finds out what happened to Rose. Convinced that Martin has no interest in her quest, she turns to an unlikely candidate for help, Martin’s ex-wife Ruth who has recently lost her mother and could do with a little bit of help in sorting out her mothers stuff. Anna moves in with Ruth and Martins sons and then begins in ernest her search for Rose.

The story is primarily seen through the eyes of Anna, but there are flashbacks back to that day when Rose first goes missing, which sets the story up and also gives you a feel for the absent character. Another interesting addition to the story is the inclusion of the girls mother growing up, her story of living in the swinging 60′s and the upset that she went through when her older brother committed suicide. All these elements have a contributing factor in the unexpected and quite genius twist at the end.

The book is quite a bleak one with a sad premise, all the characters are quite unhappy and at real no point would I have described the story as heartwarming. But I would say that it is extremely compelling and makes for dark and intriguing read. ‘Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon’ is a fascinating story about family secrets and ghosts, a highly recommended book.

You can buy Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Handwritten Girl Takes Part In The Mill River Redemption Book Tour

I am delighted to be part of the book tour for the release of Darcie Chan’s brand new book, ‘The Mill River Redemption’ Check out Handwritten Girl on Friday 29th August and read my review of the book itself.

The Mill River Redemption

The Far Side Of The Sun By Kate Furnivall

'The Far Side Of The Sun‘The Far Side Of The Sun’ is the latest book by Kate Furnivall.

Twenty-three-year-old Dodie Wyatt thought she had escaped her turbulent past – but one night her peace is shattered when she chooses to help a man she finds stabbed in an alleyway. On the other side of Nassau, wealthy diplomat’s wife Ella Stanford plays the role she has been born into, throwing herself into charitable work and charming her husband’s powerful friends. But she has secrets to keep – and those secrets could put her life in danger. When one of the richest men in the world is found dead, these two very different women – Dodie, a shy introvert, and Ella, a confident socialite – are drawn together. With the unstable island spiralling into violence, deceit, greed and death, Dodie and Ella have only each other to rely on, as their lives are torn apart.

‘The Far Side Of The Sun’ is the first book that I have read by Kate Furnivall and I have to say that it was a lovely introduction to the author. The book was an intriguing historical story set in the tropical island of the Bahamas.

The story is seen from the perspective of the three main characters Dodie, Ella and Flynn and starts when Dodie finds a man with a stab wound begging for her help. Dodie tries to save him but sadly he dies leaving her with two gold coins and a strong desire to find his killer. Whilst Dodie leads a poor life, struggling to make ends meet in her small job witnessing at the local hotel, she finds an unlikely confidante in a shape of social butterfly Ella, who wants to help her find the killer even though all fingers seem to point towards Dodie and the young gentleman called Flynn who has employed himself as Dodie’s guardian. Between the three of them, they are determined to find the killer but it seems that the killer wants to get to them first.

I loved this story, immediately you are swept in this historical story with a little bit of romance and mystery which makes it the perfect summer book. The characters are all strong people that individually make the story quite interesting. Dodie is a poor girl who came from England and works long hours to pay for her little house. Independent and shy, she comes out of her shell when her life is put in danger and rebels against the people who threaten her. Whereas Ella, is a stark contrast to Dodie, with no shortage of money and married to a successful man they make an interesting pair. Handsome Flynn is also a nice addition to the story, protector of Dodie, he too wants to solve the murder but it’s hard when they are the main suspects.

One thing I loved about this story, was that it like an old fashioned ‘who done it’ type of a story, where every new character that you encountered immediately became a suspect as you tried to piece the clues together. Also set against the backdrop of the Bahamas, it also gave the story, an element of glamour even though there was quite a bit of poverty in the tale.

An interesting story that I immediately became hooked on, ‘The Far Side Of The Sun’ is a well written and researched story about love and greed and will most definitely have you reading into the late hours.

You can buy The Far Side of the Sun from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.