Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Linda Rodriquez' book, Plotting the Character Driven Novel Review by Juliana Aragon Fatula

One of the first writers to reach out to welcome me was the mystery writer, Linda Rodriquez. We met many years ago, at AWP in Denver, Colorado and she kept in touch via social media. She invited me to join the Stiletto Gang last year and I began blogging about being a writer. My excitement after reading her book on writing: Plotting the Character Driven Novel, grew into a fire that burned bright. I devoured the one hundred and twenty pages in record time. I returned and highlighted text, tabbed pages, and took notes. I’m a lifelong learner and enjoy the challenge to improve my writing by studying master writers like Linda.

Linda explains in her book how to “use character as a springboard to a strong plot.” The beginning chapters cover the basics: How to Use This Book, Writing is Thinking on Paper; To Find Time to Write Your Novel, You Must Take Time to Write; Motivating Yourself to Write in the Time You’ve Created; Learning to Read as a Writer; and It All Starts with Character.        

Her book provides concise instructions and writing exercises. Linda writes, “What if? Those two little words are the most valuable tools of the novelist at the beginning of the book.” Her book offered me a guide and exercises in writing, and plenty of motivation.  She also recommends other books on writing by master writers. I visited my local library and read the books she suggested. Many of the books she suggested, recommended the same book, Stephen King’s, On Writing.

I had just read King’s book and felt jazzed by the influence it made in my writing. But, I was missing the woman’s voice. King writes about his experiences as a male writer. Linda helped me face my fears with her female voice on writing. I can’t help shouting praise for both books; however, I prefer the format of Linda’s book. She teaches the writer with quick chapters and gives examples of her first draft notes, journal freewriting plot documents, scene analysis, chapter outline and character freewriting and reveals several samples of her own writing from her mystery novels. The samples from her personal writing notebook makes a great model to follow.

Her chapter, Ending with a Bang, contains five writing exercises that helped me with my struggles to finish my first draft of my manuscript. I pictured myself sitting in a classroom with Linda in her writing workshop. Her book speaks directly to the reader in her unique voice both nurturing and challenging her readers to finish their novel. I learned valuable writing tips. I recommend her book on writing because it is brilliant. Trust me, I’m a fiery Aries with a bright flame of curiosity and hunger for knowledge and Linda’s book gives the reader power and skills to burn with excitement using “character as a springboard to a strong plot.
P.S. Turning Sixty this Spring


April 2, 1957 the year of the big spring blizzard.  Colorado Highway 115 between Fort Carson and Canon City closed due to hazardous roads. I was born in to a storm. How cool is that?  My father explained to the State Trooper that his wife was having a baby thirty miles south in Fremont County and begged to be allowed to drive through the storm to rescue his wife and baby girl. Born under the fires sign, Aries, I burst into the world from my Mother’s womb like the Aztec god, Huitzilopochtli, the warrior who saved his mother from being murdered by his sister Coyolxauhqui the moon,  and the four-hundred Centzon Huitznahuac, who were thrown into the sky and became the stars. I’m a fiery-being from Aztec mythology. I was born into the blizzard and fought the elements to survive. I’m fire, stone, heat. I came into the world to save my mother from the blizzard; I warmed her body with my blazing aura. I’m a force like the wind, snow, and ice that closed the highway and stranded travelers on Highway 115.

Sixty years ago, I entered el mundo with ice melting flames. Named after my great-grandmother, Julianita. The stars lined up and created my destiny. Not everyone understands my loud, gregarious, bombastic personality; but the few who do, get a passionate, loyal and protective friend. I want to thank Linda Rodriquez for being a positive role model for me and I aim to make her proud of me and to be a positive role model for young women aspiring to be writers. This is my birthday gift to myself. I’m going to finish my novel and dedicate it to all of the women who struggle to make sense of the world and who retain their sanity with writing, mystery, humor, romance, and high heels. Thanks Linda for everything. You are an inspiration to all of us women writers. Viva las mujeres!


  1. Such a great review! I already have this book on my to-get list, but need to go ahead and get it! Congrats again, Linda--on so many counts.

    1. I read it from cover to cover and then read it again, real slow. lol. It helped me with my writing. I never wrote anything but poetry, short stories, and children's plays. Now I am tackling my first mystery novel and Linda's book is like taking a master writing class.

  2. Wow! Spent the morning at the doctor's and getting some test run. This was really something lovely to come home to this afternoon, Juliana! Thank you so much! I'm glad the book is helping you. I can't wait to read your novel. I know you'll work hard an make it wonderful.

  3. A great resource book! Very well done, Linda, and such an important topic. Great post, Juliana.