Saturday, December 6, 2008


This past weekend we went to the mountains and we did something we hadn't planned. We went to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Have you heard of it? It's the nation's largest privately owned home. It was built in 1895 on an 8,000 acre estate. With 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces, it looks just like a castle.

The last time I was there, I was was pregnant. I thought it was fitting that I was returning eleven years later with my daughter. Our first visit was during the spring when we could see the beautiful outdoor gardens. But this time were were visiting during the Christmas Season and we were able to see all the beautiful Christmas lights. We took my in-laws as an early Christmas present and we created some wonderful memories. I'll be blogging more about our trip next Friday at

The spontaneity of this trip remined me that sometimes we need a few surprises in our writing. If you are a plotter, and things in your story seem to be going flat or your critique partners mention that the characters are predictable, you could probably use some spontaneity in your story. The key is creating a believable motivation.

There has to be a reason for everything your characters do, even if it is a misguided reason. Two great ways to create spontaneity is:

1) Have a character do something he/she would never do. You could do this by introducing a new sub-character for the sole purpose of forcing them to behave differently. Or you could create a circumstance that would up the stakes and force them to make a decision on the spot.

2) Throw in an accident, an illness, a natural disaster, or an obligation or responsiblity that your character didn't have before. This is a plot twist that could change everything, or at least the next few chapters, to shape up a sagging middle.

Spontaneity is one of the nice little surprises that readers love to discover--like a hidden gem in your story. It keeps them intrigued and flipping the pages to keep reading. Spontaneity isn't only good for books, but a great spice in real life, too.


  1. Oh, I love the Biltmore HOuse!! I went a few years ago at Christmas and did the candle light tour. It was gorgeous.

    Loved the photo!!


  2. By the way, the background in the photo with us isn't a fake. It's really the inside of the Biltmore House. It's that gorgeous inside.

  3. I love the photo of your family! I've always wanted to visit the Biltmore, especially at Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

    And thanks for the reminder on writing and our characters. I always need help there. ;)

  4. Jenn,
    I love the Biltmore. I've been in the spring at at Christmas. I loved them both. During the spring there was a wedding and I got great pics of this bride and groom surrounded by all these tulips.
    Thanks for the reminders.