Books by Melissa Bowersock

Monday, April 22, 2019

Plot-Driven vs. Character-Driven Stories

I would guess that most readers don’t really want to analyze the stories they read; they just want to sink into them and enjoy them. I don’t know anyone who deliberately chooses a book based on whether it’s a plot-based story or a character-based story. So what’s the difference and why does it matter?plot-driven explosion
A plot-driven story is, generally speaking, about an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is a plot-based story. It’s about a very average Englishman who suddenly finds himself in the unfathomable situation of dodging Martians bent on human destruction. The man is forced to make his way across a war-torn land, struggling to avoid the Martians, help others if he can, and find a way to survive. The man himself could be any man or everyman. In this kind of story, the exterior action affects and drives the interior struggle of the character, his emotions and decisions.
A character-driven story is quite different. It’s more about an extraordinary person who may live in very ordinary conditions. The conflict in a character-based story is almost always internal, yet it drives the exterior action. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a character-based story about a very unusual man (or men) whose very nature sets the stage for conflict. Dr. Jekyll must deal with his own emotions at the same time as he is dealing with the consequences of Mr. Hyde’s actions.
In a recent discussion of a plot-driven book with a friend, I mentioned the emotional character arc (or lack thereof) and my friend asked, “Isn’t that only in a character-driven book?” Well, yes and no.
Although each type of story relies largely on a certain kind of action — exterior action in a plot-based story and interior action in a character-based story — both types contain at least the possibility of the two separate layers of story arcs. What I find lacking in so many plot-based books is the arc of the protagonist’s emotional growth, particularly in series. I’ve recently read a few books in an action/adventure series, and while I’ve enjoyed the stories, I’ve realized that they have very little soul to them. They remind me of a season of hour-long TV dramas where the main character starts out at the top of the hour, searches out or is drawn into a mystery, intrigue or conflict, solves the conflict (but not without setbacks and surprises) and finishes the hour emotionally as the same character he was when it started, ready to begin the next installment. While the main character may learn things along the way about his adversary, a secret group, maybe little-known history, he does not, usually, learn much new about himself. The whole point of the show is to bring the character full circle so he can reset and start at ground zero for the next episode.
Granted, someone who is looking for the latest James Bond novel (by whomever) and not finding it is probably not going to default to Louisa May Alcott or Jane Austen. Okay, I get that. But there’s no rule that says a plot-based action/adventure can’t have some emotional growth along the way. I tend to think that the more layers a story has, the more interesting it is. What do you think? Am I asking too much? Is it enough just to have a roller coaster ride? Or do you like your characters with a dash of insight, as well?
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on March 3, 2015.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Now Available: Audio Book of Burning Through

Do you love a good ghost story? Me, too. My book Burning Through came to me in a strange way; strange, except for us writers. Another author friend told me briefly that she was writing a ghost story, except her story had two ghosts, one good and one evil. I thought that was an interesting premise. And, as happens so often with writers, I began to think, "If I were to write something like that, how would I do it?" That was all it took. 

This book flowed so well, so easily, that I wrote it in something like 32 days. I just remember being almost consumed by it. In the mornings I would type up what I had plotted out the night before, and every evening I would explore where the next chapter would go. It all came together seamlessly, and when I finished the book, I knew it needed only a few editing touch-ups before publishing. Here's the blurb:

When Jennifer and Robert Stinson buy a beautifully restored Victorian house, the last thing they expect is to share their home with a ghost ― especially one with a penchant for setting fires. Unfortunately the ghostly arson only creates more tension in their already strained marriage. Jen launches her own investigation into the history of her house and discovers a surprising ally in a sympathetic fire captain. But can she unravel the mystery of the fires before they consume her home, her marriage … and her life?

So what do you do with a page-turner like that? Well, turn it into an audio book, of course! I'm happy to announce that Burning Through is now an audio book, narrated by Susan Iannucci, and available through Amazon, Audible, or iTunes. If you'd like to listen to a sample of it, you can do that here on my SoundCloud page. And if you want to find out how it all turns out, you'll have to read--or listen to--the rest of it.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Now Available: Audio Books!

Have you tried it yet? Tried listening to an audio book on your way to work, on your road trip, on that slow-and-go freeway exodus? More and more people are doing it, and loving it. 

It's been my experience, as an author, that converting books to audio adds a new dimension to the story. It has a way of bringing the characters to life, of adding a depth and an immediacy to the story. A good narrator not only captures the nuances of the characters but conveys their emotions in a much fuller way than the words on a page. 

In that vein, I'm happy to announce that Book 3 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, Star Walk, is now available as an audio book, along with Books 1 and 2, Ghost Walk and Skin Walk. Narrator Laura Wilson has done an excellent job of bringing Sam and Lacey to life in these first three books, and she'll be doing the rest of the books in the series in the coming months. If you're already fans of Sam and Lacey, you might consider the audio books, because it's experiencing them and their adventures in a whole new way.

Not sure if audio books are for you? Want to listen to samples? It's easy. Just go to my soundcloud page and you can try out any of my audio books. 

If you haven't yet "met" Sam and Lacey, Book 1 of the series, Ghost Walk, is always just 99 cents. 

All my books are Annie-approved!