Building believable & compelling plots - Authors A.I.

Alessandra Torre
June 5, 2024

In a recent Draft Friday, I was joined by author Dr. Rhonda Lawson, a literary strategist, book coach and 23-time published author who shares actionable tips on building compelling plotlines through planning, foreshadowing and character development.

Here are some key takeaways from my conversation with Dr. Rhonda:

  • Character-centric approach: Rhonda emphasizes the importance of character-driven plots. She creates characters that readers can care about, even if they may not necessarily love them. The goal is to make the characters relatable, allowing readers to see themselves or someone they know in the story.
  • Plot development: The plot often originates from a character’s situation. In her book “A Dead Rose,” she explored the challenges faced by a successful woman in her relationships, aiming to make readers understand and empathize with her choices.
  • Creating believable plots: She learned from Eric Jerome Dickey the art of revealing the plot without explicitly stating it. She recommends dropping subtle hints or “crumbs” along the way, providing readers with clues that will make the eventual plot twists more satisfying and logical.
  • Testing the plot: To ensure that the plot works, she discusses the plot with trusted individuals, conducts research on similar situations and uses beta readers who provide honest, critical feedback.
  • Compelling plots: Rhonda believes a compelling plot revolves around making readers care about the characters. To achieve this, she suggests incorporating foreshadowing, flashbacks and callbacks (generally a relevant reference to an event that took place earlier in the narrative). Drawing on emotions and making scenes relatable to readers are crucial for a plot to be compelling.
  • Complex characters: Creating characters with depth, complexity and sometimes conflicting qualities adds to the richness of the plot. Characters like Denzel Washington’s in “Training Day” or Dexter in the TV series exemplify this complexity.
  • Beta readers for feedback: She recommends using beta readers to get honest feedback on finished drafts. While free beta reading services are available through various platforms or author groups, paid services like Fiverr can also be considered.

It was a great discussion, one you won’t want to miss! Click below to watch our 30-minute recording and hear the questions we answered from the live audience. Keep scrolling if you’d prefer to read the transcript.

More info:

Try out Marlowe, our A.I., for a critique of your novel: authors.ai/marlowe/

Check out Dr. Rhonda Lawson’s books on BingeBooks.

Enjoy the show? Check out our past First Draft Friday episodes.

TRANSCRIPT:

Alessandra: Hello everybody, and welcome to First Draft Friday, brought to you by Authors.AI. My name is Alessandra Torre. Today we’re joined by Dr. Rhonda Lawson, and we’re going to be talking all about creating compelling and believable plots. This is a topic we really haven’t touched on. I can already see the room starting to fill up, and I’m really excited to dive in. For everyone watching, don’t be shy. Chime in with your ideas and questions. Dr. Rhonda, can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you?

Rhonda: Absolutely. So hello everybody. First of all, thank you so much Alessandra for having me on the show. I’m really excited. My name is Dr. Rhonda Lawson. I am a 23-time published author. I’m also a literary publicist, and I always make the distinction literary publicist because I don’t really deal with celebrities and the like. I like to help authors get publicity and exposure for their books. And then I’m also a book coach, an editor, and a ghostwriter.

Alessandra: So you are not ever busy, right? You have all sorts of time.

Rhonda: I am so bored.

Alessandra: Yeah, we were just talking about how excited we were for the weekend. But we have a pile of work ahead of us. But it is great to just dive into stuff. So with your novels or your novellas, what genre do you typically write in there?

Rhonda: I write contemporary women’s fiction. So you know, the stories are taking place basically in real time. I like to write stories where you might see yourself or you might see a good friend or a relative in the characters.

Alessandra: In the characters. Yeah. Perfect. So let’s jump into plots. So when you’re sitting down to create a book, at what point in time does the plot enter your head? Are your books typically character-based or plot-based; can you walk us through your process?

Rhonda: I’d like to say that my books are really character-based because I like to create characters that people are going to care about. I don’t necessarily write books with characters that people are going to love, because sometimes I want the character to frustrate you a little bit. For instance, I have a book called A Dead Rose, and that book is about a woman who’s fortunate when it comes to her job, you know, with her career, but she is terrible with relationships. She’s the one that you want to shake, you know, like, why are you doing this with this man? She’s that type of woman. But I really wanted the story to be from her point of view so people could understand why she made the choices that she made. Whether they were good choices or bad choices, I wanted people to understand her thought process in that. So I wrote this book and there were times where you’re like, you felt sorry for you and you wanted to hug her, and then there were other times where you were like, woman. I mean, I had people coming to me fussing at me about this woman, but…

Alessandra: That’s great that they cared enough about it. You don’t want them not being frustrated.

Rhonda: And I think we all have a friend, like, why do you keep doing this to yourself? I mean, if you remember the TV show years ago called Girlfriends, everybody had a girlfriend that was something like one of the four, well, five, when you count Monica, one of the five women in that series. And so, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to create characters that even if you didn’t love them, you cared about them. You wanted to see what was going to happen next. You saw yourself in them or you saw a friend in them.

Alessandra: So let’s talk about that specific book. So with that specific book, you had this character in mind, you know, and you had this character, and then how do you build a plot around her?

Rhonda: Well, in this case, she had a number of different plots, but the main plot was when she got married and thought that she had found the one, the one that could look past her reputation, the one who loved her for her. And then she realized that she couldn’t – she didn’t have that man. The man was actually still judging her based on what his friends were saying about her, or based on what her past was. And in that case, it wasn’t that shocking plot. It was that plot where you kind of understood what she was going through. And so, that was where I was trying to go with that book. I just really wanted people to understand her. But then my novella that I did was called Trust, where it was basically the same woman. She wasn’t as loose as the lady in my first book, which was called “A Dead Rose.”

But in this book, this was a woman who had a going on. She had a good career, but she kept falling for the lies of a man who was a very slick talker. And of course, as the reader is reading, they see the lies that he’s telling. But I wanted the woman who wasn’t privy to the lies that he was telling to basically fall for what he was saying. And because I wanted the characters to see why she felt the way that she felt. And then when the big plot twist comes at the end, everybody was shocked, but it made sense because I tried to drop crumbs along the way. So, little things that many people probably would not have thought a lot about if they had witnessed this face-to-face, when they saw it at the end, they said, oh, see, that makes sense. See, I remember when he said this, I remember when that happened, and it all came through at the end, and so that’s what I try to do with my plots.

Alessandra: So do you write those breadcrumbs in as you go? Or do you, do you get to the end and then you go back in and add them in?

Rhonda: No. For me, I kind of know where I want to go with the plot. I know what I want the big plot twist to be. With some subplots, I might sprinkle those in along the way. But when it comes to the big plot, the big plot twist, like with Trust, I knew I had a big plot twist. I needed to make sure that it made sense every step of the way. And so, that was something that I had to plan. I mean, and I actually basically wrote everything down. I wrote my characters down, I gave them their traits, I gave them their habits, everything that I could think of about that character. I wrote those down and I tried to use that as a guide as I wrote the book.

Alessandra: We have a question from Facebook and this author’s saying, do you outline first and have the story beginning, middle, and end plan before writing?

Rhonda: Good question. I like to say that I do, but there are times when I may have an outline, but as I start writing, I may stray from that outline a little bit because I may find myself going in a different direction. But I do at least try to have a plan for any book that I write. Because I’ve tried writing a book where I just sat down and started typing, and I’m like, okay, I’m just going to let this book go where it goes. And for me, it doesn’t work very well. It might be some authors out there who that works well for them, but for me, I kind of have to have a plan of where I want the book to go. So even if I don’t do a strict outline, I try to have some type of an outline where at least I know where I want the story to go. And if it changes along the way, that’s fine. I may sit down and kind of rewrite my outline, but I want to make sure that I stay focused and I just don’t go too far off the beaten path.

Alessandra: I think of it like, as a road trip. For me, I’m a very, I’m very pantsy, so I know that I’m like leaving from Florida and I know I’m going to end up like in San Diego, and I know that I want to stop like here and here and here and roughly how long it should take me to get there. But how I get, you know, from Florida to Texas is kind of up to me. Like, I kind of figure that out as I go. But I know if I end up in, you know, Oklahoma – not Oklahoma, but if I end up in Montana, something’s gone wrong, I’ve gone too far off base, so I’m the same. I have like my major stops along the way and that’s where I go. Another great question. This one’s from Kit on YouTube. How do you test the plot to see if it works and at what stage?

Rhonda: Wow, now that’s a good question.

Alessandra: That’s a great question. I would also like to know the answer to this question. It’s not an easy question.

Rhonda: I think for me, maybe testing the plot is a little different for me than it may be for some other authors. But I actually try to talk with people. I do two things. I’ll talk with people and people of course I can trust who’s not just going to take my idea and run with it.

Alessandra: An intelligent reader or author.

Rhonda: But I do try to… well, I guess there are three things that I do. The first thing I do is I may talk with people and just see what their reaction is to the plot. Or sometimes I just say, you know what? This is going to be a good plot, or this is a good story and I’m just going to run with it. And there have been other times where I’ve actually done a little bit of research where I’ll look for case studies. I’ll just do like maybe a Google search, and I’ll look for case studies or news articles of maybe similar situations that may have happened, and I’ll kind of use that as a guide to how I want my plot to turn out, because sometimes truth is a little stranger than fiction. And then the last thing I do is once I’m done writing a book, I’m a big believer in beta readers. And I don’t like to use beta readers who are friends of mine, unless I know that they are very serious about writing. I love my sister, I love my mom, but I don’t think they’ve ever told me that one of my books was bad or one of my stories.

Alessandra: They love you too much. That’s the problem.

Rhonda: Exactly. So often what I’ll do is I like to contact people I don’t know very well, or people who are very serious about the art of writing. And I say serious about the art of writing, because there are some people who just want to write because they might think it’s a great way to make some passive income, or it’s a good side hustle. But people who are very serious about writing, those are the people I like to talk to. And so, I’ll send them the book once I’m done writing, and then I will ask them specific questions like, did this character resonate with you? Did the plot make sense? Did the conclusion make sense? And I’ll ask them certain questions, did the timeline make sense? And as they send those responses back, I’ll kind of know where I might need to tweak my story.

Alessandra: I love those answers. And I think for me a lot of times I’ll just do like a short outline just to make sure, because I have gotten into the issue before where I’ve pantsed a book and then I’ve written myself into a corner. And it’s like, I’ve put my characters in an impossible situation, and I’m not very creative about getting them out of situations. Like when I’m watching a movie and all hope is lost, I can’t figure out, I mean, I don’t know what I would do as an author to get them out of this.

Rhonda: I remember my very first book, it was called Cheating in the Next Room. I didn’t self-publish the book. I used a print-on-demand type company, which was a very good company. I have nothing against them. They’re the ones who got me into the industry. But when a bigger publisher said that they were interested in publishing the book, they wanted me to make it longer. And I was like, I don’t know where to go; I’ve done everything that I need to do with these characters, so I really had to talk to some other people so they can help me to figure out where I needed to go with these characters because I was too close to the story.

Alessandra: Yeah, yeah, a hundred percent. Someone from Facebook says, do you write in sequence or do you write scenes as they come to you and then put it all together later, or a mixture of both?

Rhonda: Very good question. For me, I write in sequence, but at the same time, I’m also that person who kind of writes an outline. So sometimes I know where I want the character to go, and I just have to refine the process of getting them where I want them to go. Maybe it’s a mixture of both now that I’m thinking about it because I do try to write in sequence, but at the same time, before I start writing, I’ve already kind of planned where I want the story to go. And I don’t do a very formal outline. I just kind of decide where I want the story to go. Now, one thing I do always do as a character profile, so I know who my characters are, I know what their habits are, because I think sometimes in a story instead of saying he chewed a piece of gum, maybe I’ll say the woman looked across the room and saw a man carefully unwrap the gum, lick the side of it, and then put it in his mouth. If I’ve already told you that this is what this character does. And the woman who’s looking across the room, we already know who she’s looking at.

Alessandra: Yeah.

Rhonda: Yeah. So in a way, I try to make that outline, but I do try to write in sequence, but I still know where I want the story to go. I know where I want the character to go.

Alessandra: What point of view do you write in? Because if you write in first, do you also then write all of one character at a time, or do you typically write in third person?

Rhonda: Very good question. For me, I like to write in third person. I will tell you the book I was mentioning earlier that was called A Dead Rose. I wrote that book in first person, but I wrote it in first person because I wanted to feel like a diary because I really wanted you to understand that specific character. However, most of my books are written in third person, and when I write them in third person, I only write from one point of view at a time. So one scene may be written from one character’s point of view, but then I may switch scenes to go from another character’s point of view, because I never want to confuse the reader. And I know there are some people who like to write third person omniscient, where they’re writing from basically everybody’s point of view. And I think that that takes a certain skill set.

And for me, because of the types of books that I write, and I know who my audience is, I think for me, it’s easier for me to write in one point of view at a time. So if I’m writing from Isis’s point of view, I’m going to keep her point of view the entire time until I need to move over to somebody else’s point of view. One case in point is, my book Some Wounds Never Heal. There’s a scene, one of the very first scenes in the book, the husband and wife, Alexis and Jamar, they’re driving in the car. They’re riding in the car, and they’re driving to Virginia Beach, and the character starts with her being upset. Why are we going to Virginia Beach? I don’t want to go to Virginia Beach, because she has a history there. She’s like, why am I going there? And so, I’m writing the scene from her point of view, but what I did was, I wanted to create some type of action that would signal to the reader that I was moving to Jamar’s point of view, but what I didn’t do is try to go back and forth. So I wrote the scene to where I was writing from her point of view, and then I had her look over at Jamar, and that was the signal that was switching to his point of view. And then I stayed with his point of view until I either changed the scene or changed the chapter, so that way I wouldn’t confuse the reader as to who was talking and who was thinking.

Alessandra: That makes perfect sense. We have some good questions coming in. So before I move into some of these, the topic of today was building believable and compelling plots. So let’s talk for a minute about believable and then talk about compelling. So are there mistakes you see authors make or do you have any suggestions when you’re looking at your plot, how to ask yourself or how to know is this a believable plot?

Rhonda: Okay. For the first part, with the believable plot, and this is something that I learned with my first book; sometimes people don’t want real life. They want to be shocked, but at the same time, they want the shock to make sense.

Alessandra: I like that.

Rhonda: When I start to plan the plot, what I’ll do is, I kind of figure out where I want this to go and what type of crumbs do I want to drop along the way. And I mentioned the late great Eric Jerome Dickey. Years ago when I first became an author, I was fortunate enough to do a book signing with him. There were a lot of authors doing this book signing, but I was fortunate enough to sit next to him and he bought one of my books. I was like, yay. But one of the things he told me about plot development was that, when you want to create a plot twist, you have to tell your reader what’s going to happen without telling them it’s going to happen.

And what he meant by that was dropping crumbs along the way that aren’t going to give away your plot, but when you finally reveal the plot twist, all those crumbs that you dropped along the way made sense. And so when I wrote my book, Trust, this is what I wanted to do. There was a scene where the character who was this slick-talking man who had a number of women just believing everything he said, and he was on a date with one of the women. He was having an argument on the phone, and he was talking about, “I can’t believe that you would call me while I’m with this woman. You know I really love this woman.” He was saying things like that, and she’s feeling good. She’s like, listen to him stand up for me. But the reader knows that – I mean, at first the reader thinks, “Wow, that’s really nice.” But as the reader starts to read the story more, they say, okay, well maybe this didn’t exactly happen the way we thought it did.

So every time I write a story, I think about those words that Eric Jerome Dickey told me about just dropping those crumbs that are going to tell the reader that something’s coming, but without giving away your plot. And so that’s something that I tried to do with Trust, because I had a huge plot twist at the end, and I didn’t want it to come across as like, oh my God, how did this happen? I never want people to say that. And I’ve read books that where they tried to basically explain the plot at the end, but there were no clues along the way that would make the reader say that this plot twist made sense. That’s what I’ve always tried to do is, make sure I drop enough clues so the plot, the plot twist makes sense.

Alessandra: And one thing I learned a couple of years ago was, not always, but oftentimes you need another explanation for those breadcrumbs, so that the reader goes the whole time. They’re not even really paying attention to those breadcrumbs that much, because they’re like, oh yeah, of course he’s, you know, late again because of this other thing. So they keep attributing those breadcrumbs to this other false scenario. You know, versus them not having any explanation for those breadcrumbs, and then they’re trying to figure it out because readers are so smart, and they will figure it out if they’re not given, like a plausible sub, you know, an alternate scenario that they can kind of fall into. That makes perfect sense, and I love that quote from him. So give away…

Rhonda: You tell them what’s going to happen without really telling them it’s going to happen. So basically you’re saying you’re dropping crumbs along the way, so that way when that plot twist happens, you start to think back on those crumbs, like, oh, that’s why he said that, or that’s why he did that, or this is why she thought that, and so everything just starts to make sense.

Alessandra: Absolutely. So that’s believable. And then we have an author asking, what are the main qualities of a compelling plot? So when you think of a compelling plot, what are you really describing there? What makes a compelling plot?

Rhonda: Okay. I think the best way to describe this is that, you want your readers to care. Because there have been times when I’ve read a story and I didn’t care about the characters. You want the reader to care what’s going to happen next, and sometimes that might take foreshadowing where you’re going to give them hints as to what’s to come, or maybe callbacks or flashbacks where they start to think back on what actually happened. But I think that in order for you to make a plot compelling, you have to be able to drop those breadcrumbs along the way. And then you have to also be able to develop that character in such a way where people really care what’s going to happen to them. I think that James Patterson was very good when he wrote the books, the Alex Cross books, you cared about Alex Cross, you cared about what was going to happen next, because he always seemed to put his emotions into whatever case he was trying to solve. And I think that’s a big piece of it, is when you can bring in emotions when you can describe a scene in such a way to where your reader can picture what’s going on, or as they’re reading, they can think back to their own experiences. When you can do that, that makes the plot compelling.

The other thing is, when you reveal that plot twist, the reader should understand why the character is upset or why the character is working so hard in this situation. Why were they trying to resolve this situation? So, everything needs to make sense. I’ve read some stories where people are trying to drop hints, but it doesn’t make sense. Like, okay, why does she care that much? Why is nobody calling this person on her bull? So, I’ve always tried to do that. I mean, a character can have the stupidest reason for believing the way that they believe, but I always feel…

Alessandra: But they have to have a reason, right?

Rhonda: Yeah. The character should have a reason, the character should have a reason, but at the same time, the sub characters should recognize that your reasoning doesn’t make sense. Maybe somebody should call them out on it. I mean, I watch this TV show and every week when I watch the show, I’m yelling at the TV like, why is nobody calling her out? So I always feel there should be at least one sub-character who is going to call that person out for why they feel the way they feel. And I think that what helps bring in the emotion. That’s what helps draw the reader into the story and makes them want to keep reading to where they put the book down because they have something else to do, but they hurry up and pick it up again because they have to know what’s happening next. They have to know why this person feels the way they feel.

And this is why politics is so amazing, because you always want to see what that person’s going to do next. Whether you love our former president or not, you always want to know what he is going to do next; that’s what helps us to continue to read a story; draw on that character’s emotions, and that’s what’s a compelling plot. If you can draw on that reader’s emotions, if you can make that reader see what the character sees and feel what the character feels, that’s what’s going to drive your plot forward. That’s what’s going to make your story readable.

Alessandra: So when you’re developing your characters, like you talked about in the beginning, and you know everything about them, so their motivations is also a part of that, why they’re doing whatever. And also like what they have at stake, right? Like raising the stakes so that if they don’t get whatever, there are serious consequences.

Rhonda: Absolutely. One example I like to use is the movie Training Day. We all hated Denzel in that movie. He was the meanest, dirtiest cop you can find, but at the same time, you almost didn’t want him to get caught at the end.

Alessandra: I know. I love that.

Rhonda: For some reason, you like the guy, but you –

Alessandra: I don’t know why, but yeah.

Rhonda: For me, that’s what we call a complex character. There’s a story that I’m still kind of going across in my head where this person is really an evil person, but he has almost a good reason why he is the way he is. And when you can do that, you’ve made the character complex.

Alessandra: Like Dexter or somebody, you know, I mean, you can have serial killers that we root for the same thing.

Rhonda: Yes. I hate to say it, but people almost felt sorry for Jeffrey Dahmer when they saw the movie.

Alessandra: I’ll have to watch the movie now. Yeah, I haven’t seen, but I love everything with that sort of thing. We are almost out of time. We have two minutes left.

Rhonda: Time went by so fast.

Alessandra: I know it. We do have a question from Gregory Rivers on Facebook. He said, I’m just about finishing my third novel in the series, and though I think it’s interesting and encompassing, how do I find out if in fact these books are any good? Do you have any suggestions for Greg?

Rhonda: Yes. Beta readers.

Alessandra: Honest beta readers, yes.

Rhonda: Yes, honest beta readers. This is why I normally like to use beta readers I don’t really know because I feel like the ones who don’t know me very well are going to be the ones who tell the truth. And I will say this; there are some beta readers, you pay them and then, but if you belong to organizations, for me, I’m a part of a wonderful sorority called Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. And often, I know that there are a number of ladies in my sorority who are readers. And so sometimes when I’m finished writing a book, I’ll go to our sorority Facebook page and say, “Hey, I just finished writing this great book. I would love to have five people to read the book, or three people to read the book and give me their honest opinion.” And that helped me out a lot. It doesn’t take the place of an editor, but what it does do is it helps you to kind of find the holes in your plot.

For instance, I ghost-wrote a story for a guy, and I had beta readers read the story, and I asked them specific questions. I actually gave them kind of a form that I wanted them to complete. And they told me, “Well, I wasn’t sure about the ending.” Or they said, “Well, I think that this one thing that the character said to another character just seemed like something people say all the time, you know, can we fix that?” And for me, it helped me to find holes in the story that I didn’t see because I was so close to the story. It was his story, but I was one who wrote it and sometimes I could be a little boosie about what I do. I’m like, don’t tell me that the story wasn’t this or this. So, this is why I like to use people I don’t really know because it helps me. So what I would say when I see he’s asking where I find beta readers; you can look for organizations. If you are a part of author groups, sometimes other authors can help you with beta reading. Or if you really want to go with a paid service, you can go with a paid service. But I just feel like there are a lot of free services that you can use where you’re still going to get honest and critical feedback.

Alessandra: Yeah. It’s kind of, Greg, question of how much you want to work for it, because there are a lot of free resources and there are a lot of free opportunities for beta readers. I just went through this with another author and they used Fiverr and it was like 15 to $25 for each beta reader and they got some really great feedback from that. And some of the beta readers were more expensive, some of them were like a 100 and 125, but then they got like full pages of feedback and I was really impressed. I had low expectations, but it was pretty good. And I think they hired three or four through Fiverr and might have spent like a total of $200, maybe more like 150.

Rhonda: That’s great. I never thought of going to Fiverr for a beta reader.

Alessandra: You want to find a beta reader that reads in your subgenre, not just your genre.

Rhonda: This is a great point, if my specialty is in contemporary fiction, you may not want to come to me to read your children’s book.

Alessandra: Yeah, a hundred percent.

Rhonda: Think about people who actually have expertise in the genre that you’re writing in.

Alessandra: Yeah. And that they like that genre, because I could read a military sci-fi, that’s the best thing ever, and I would be like, “Ah, I don’t know. It’s a lot of shooting and tech stuff. I don’t know about this, you need to change this.” We are out of time, so I’m so sorry if we didn’t finish. Let’s try to just answer these super-fast. Dr. Rhonda, would you say that you should use Beta readers on your work in progress or should it be finished? Should it be a polished first draft? At what point do you bring in the beta reader?

Rhonda: I bring in a beta reader after I’m done writing the book. But for me, I’m really done writing my maybe second draft and then I’m ready to show it to people. If you are going to show people your work in progress, I would say that maybe that should be somebody that you kind of trust. I may not go to a stranger with a work in progress, but if I know somebody who I can trust, who is serious about the art of writing, and I say that all the time because you don’t want somebody to just say it was good. And then they don’t give you any constructive feedback.

Alessandra: Yeah, I agree with that. Thank you so much Dr. Rhonda. If they’re interested in reading some of your books, is there a book you would suggest they start with and where can they find your titles?

Rhonda: Well, my very first book was Cheating in the Next Room, which was about an affair that happens and then everybody who was affected differently by that affair, you know, just how they were affected by that affair. So that was my very first book. And I actually wrote a series based on that book because everybody seemed to love one of the characters, and it wound up being the character who was in the affair. I thought everybody was going to hate her, but everybody asked whatever happened to her, so I wrote a few more stories about her. One of my favorite novels was “Trust,” because I really love that plot twist that happens throughout this book.

Alessandra: I’m going to have to read that one.

Rhonda: It’s the one where you think, you know who did it, but you don’t know who did it. That’s all I’ll say.

Alessandra: Well, I’ll try not to psychoanalyze it now that I know that it’s not who I think it is.

Rhonda: My last book was actually an anthology. It’s called a New Renaissance, a celebration of African-American fiction. I brought 11 different authors and they all wrote a short story in a different genre, but my story is about a woman who was buried alive, and almost the entire story is about what’s going through her head as she’s lying there buried alive. It’s my first time doing a scary story.

Alessandra: Oh my gosh, I love that. And somebody from Facebook said that Trust was really good.

Rhonda: Oh, thank you.

Alessandra: Yeah, so you have a reader in the group. But thank you so much Dr. Rhonda, and thank you for everyone who joined us. We’ll be back in two weeks with another First Draft Friday, and you can catch all of the episodes if you visit us at Authors.AI and check out the First Draft Friday section. And if you haven’t visited Authors.AI, we have a fantastic artificial intelligence called Marlowe that can read your manuscript.

Rhonda: I love Marlowe by the way. I used it twice. I don’t see how I’m ever going to edit without Marlowe, so thank you so much for making that service available.

Alessandra: Oh, you just made Marlowe’s day. Yeah, that’s really great and you guys can try out Marlowe for free. She has a free basic report. So, thank you all. We’ll see you in two weeks and thank you so much, Dr. Rhonda.

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