Aya Taliba Ayodike

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Hi Janet, 

Welcome, welcome. 

I don’t have any visual images of what the 12th century looks like at all, at all. So when your book comes out I’ll be very interested. You have a tight but do-able deadline, so go brave.

Your ‘when…must’ statement is basically good, but the 3 parts need more connectedness. At least I could not make proper connections between ‘an unfeeling father’, trust issues, and B’s dream. What the protag wants is very clear, so we can see him forging ahead trying to achieve his dream. 

I agreed with all of Dave's questions, they were mine too.

Happy writing.


Girl, I’m wrangling with my own story-lines as well, so don’t feel you are alone. The key is to be flexible. Nothing is fixed in stone. My W.I.P began as a detective story, moved to a romance and is now a domestic drama. That’s because I was unclear about what story I really wanted to tell.

It’s actually not as hard as you think. Start off by answering: what is the story you want to tell? 

You have 3 basic parts already spelled out: 

1. Rowan became estranged from her daughter because of the latter’s gender orientation, but patched things up. 

2. Rowan’s daughter is now getting married to another woman. 

3. Rowan must control her present reaction to maintain a good relationship with her daughter.

Just add to it as logically as possible.


Don’t ever feel you are taking advantage, we are all in this together, and we are here for each other. 


Not as good as the last one, because 

i.You went back to Rowan being shocked, meaning she did not know about her daughter’s gender orientation.

ii.Confusion about whose father, Rowan’s or her daughter’s? Two very different stories here. Either way, you definitely need to spell out what ‘make peace with her past’ means.

Much much better. Now I can tick 4/5. Past is juxtaposed with present, with two different kinds of conflict revealed – with her daughter then, with herself now.

✓Does the statement make you intrigued about the book? Yes,  because the gender issue is very current and it is clearly made subordinate to the mother-daughter relationship here.

✓Can you see the bones of a story here? Yes, the process of making peace with her past.

✓Does it give you the sense that there has been or there will be change(s) in this world? Yes, the emotional upheaval for Rowan will result in a stronger person as well as a stronger relationship.

✓Does the protag want something? To maintain a good relationship with her daughter. 

X Do you have a clear idea what the book is about? Not yet. ‘make peace with her past’ is the gist of it, but what exactly does that mean in terms of plot and action?

Thanks for the comments, they helped me more than a little. My biggest problem is that I know so well what is happening that I cannot distance myself enough to read like a first-time reader. 

I did not intend for the reader to be confused about the Milky Way imagery, and it is explained later, but it is not a dream world. Peter is an architect who conceives building designs patterned after concrete objects esp. the stars, and who uses optical illusions in his drawings so that you can see both the building and the concrete object, depending on the angle of your head. 

I have to find a way to make that super clear to the reader from the start.  

I really appreciated the comment about the dual inciting incidents as well as the insert suggestion. Thanks.

Hi Naomi, Welcome to the group. The pivot of this story is Rowan’s reaction, but why is it anger and outbursts, rather than surprise or shock? Presumably because she knew about her daughter’s gender orientation long before. If so, why the anger now? It’s clear what Rowan wants, to maintain a good relationship with her daughter, and that is the point of interest for me, but I feel the ‘when… must’ statement is a little weak in spelling out a conflict that can be sustained for the length of a novel.

Good work, Johanne, I liked the whole set-up. Plenty questions arising from ‘overbearing’, ‘finally’, and why she is the sole inheritor of both home and business. The interplay of mother/Rosemary and siblings/Rosemary awakened my interest. I’m looking forward to lots of confrontations and conflict in the narrative. The ending is a little vague. What exactly is her idea of a place for herself?  Go brave…

Use Becky’s 3 guidelines to help you beef up your other ideas: what if – when…must – main character’s desire. They helped me clarify my ideas tremendously.

Hi Ben, Taliba here. Welcome to the group. You have two unusual takes on the ‘grim reaper’ idea. 

  1. Not sure I understand the logic of the premise. People have stopped dying, yes, but I’m unclear how/why that messes up Death’s retirement plans. If people have stopped dying, isn’t that a good thing for D? He will have nothing to do, and can therefore retire. 

I was certainly interested in seeing how you would make the travel through the realms of life, space and time captivating for the reader. 

  1. Why is it imperative that the last man help Death? Makes D sound incompetent. The rest of the idea sounds like it would make an interesting story.

I liked the ‘comic’ notion, but I feel it might be difficult to pull off. Good luck!

Hope I’ve helped. 

Hi Dani, Welcome to the group. Here are my comments:

-I liked the musicality as well as the meaning of her name.

-An interesting but tricky story. I imagine you may have already worked out some of the details: How come her brother was not savvy enough to not get entangled? What exactly does ‘entanglement’ mean? Why can’t her brother free himself?Will the (human?) harvester want to harvest a merman?  Is a relationship between human & mermaid doomed to failure?

-I like the romance element, but as stated it makes it two stories.The daughter intro was intriguing and I’m interested in hearing how everything would hinge on her. The presence of a daughter means he is a mature man, with a past, which I am eager to hear about.

Wow! Great inciting incident. You had me with you tense and wondering all the way from the time the car swerved on the road to the revelation of the surprise villain. A great action sequence.

That said, you need to tighten the opening. Throw away Stevie, introduce the protag properly, and ex out all the repetitious bits. Give a little hint or two before the big reveal that Malcolm is the villain to give the reader some spice. Not sure you need to over-drug the poor girl with a second dose though.

The backstory of her accident and inability to drive need not be given here, it complicates the opening unnecessarily. Just a hint of it needed.

We do not get a clear idea of the protag’s life before the inciting incident, or what she wants now.

What genre is it, a thriller?

Hope i helped. Taliba

Hi Will, Hope this is still relevant.

WHEN Will finds out, after the death of his father in Denmark, that he will only inherit his cottage if he meets certain conditions, he MUST travel there and carry on his undisclosed 'work' for three years.

It’s a good story idea, conditional inheritance and mystery work. But a cottage sounds tame, give him some much higher stakes to work for, like maybe a million dollars? Gold bullion? I’m very interested in what the undisclosed ‘work’ that will take three whole years is! Don’t disappoint me…

The second one:

WHEN Liva discovers from a therapist, that she is suffering from serious mental scars caused by her father leaving when she was six years old, she MUST find him and find out why he left.

I’m less impressed here. The story idea is also good, uncovering buried childhood secrets, father/daughter relationships etc., but why does she need a therapist to discover her own suffering? Makes her sound brainless…! Six years old is big enough and self-aware enough to recognise that she has a problem. Not sure I like the detective element: why must she find him? You’ve got to give good reasons for this. But finding out why he left could be a big enough mystery to make me read on. 

Happy writing


Hi Janice, I'm in the process of reading your inciting incident and commenting right now. Did you previously post up your 'when...must' statement?

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