To be a writer

By 21:35 , ,

I would love to write a bestseller book, but who wouldn't?

But you can be a writer without a book. Everyday is a mass of words and characters, just waiting to be written. It becomes so involving like a separate world in which to immerse yourself.
So what to do with this...
Firstly I would recommend keeping a notebook, write down the characters you think of or the exciting phrase and although it may seem mad but talking it aloud can help especially with dialogue and human interaction.
Secondly, I would suggest planning. The best pieces of work generally come from those who plan. Take advice from successful books - try and work out why you like them, what makes them a pageturner.
Recently I was thinking about conflicting characters and how actually a novel tends to have lots of interlinking storylines that are spurred on by characters who clash. For example in the Miniaturist:

  • You have the main storyline as Johannes tries to sell the Meerman's sugar
  • This leads to a conflict between Johannes and his sister Marin as she tries to get involved due to the fact that Johannes doesn't sell the sugar fast enough
  • Nella tries to fit into the strange environment whilst also trying to cope with the fact that she won't get the marriage and family she hoped for
  • This leads to a conflict between her and Johannes which is eventually resolved 
  • Johannes' secret leads to the destruction of their life
  • Otto has to deal with racism but highlights a new side of another character
As you can see, there are a lot of different interweaving lines. It can be difficult to try and get this kind of complexity into a book and surprisingly you need a lot more content than you would think. You not only need the main storyline but you also need to think about characters back story, why they act the way they do and what motivates them to do this. You also need to think about, all the different situations and how the character would react to this.
In "The Weekend Novelist" by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris (definitely an excellent buy for anyone who needs a good plan on how to go about writing a book), they describe two different lines of a story. You have the heroic line: departure, initiation and return or the mythic journey: cage, escape, quest, confrontation with dragon and home. Most stories follow one of these two paths. This can be useful at making sure your book remains fast paced. Another thing that helps increase the pace is to not tell the reader everything. Slowly, drop into the novel little bits of information to make sure at the end of every page the reader is asking why? Why is that happening? What is going on? Also don't make the questions too obvious, get it so the reader has something niggling in the back of their mind - something is wrong with the picture but they can't work out what.
Now, I'm not saying this is easy. It's difficult and that's why people struggle but it can be done. The other hard thing is making the decision: do you ride the wave or make it?
When there is a bestseller like "Twilight" or  "The Hunger Games" then often what follows are books of a similar nature. After "Twilight" there was a surge of Vampire and mythical creatures books. "Twilight" was the wave and the others where authors who rode that wave. If you make the wave then you are the first and it can be incredible but it is a risky business.

That is just my little bit of advice, let me know what you find helpful - are there any techniques that you use or that you don't use any more?

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Have a wonderful week,
The Clumsy Wordshaker

Photos courtesy of , Jessie Burton "The Miniaturist" and

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