Adam Santo, author of two books is today’s Guest Blogger. His debut novel Temperature: Dead and Rising was introduced last year on this blog and today he gives readers some tips for novel writing:
So, you’ve always wanted to write your own novel. Good for you. It’s an invaluable endeavor to produce a beautifully edited book, also called a manuscript. But there’s a secret to writing no one mentions to a new writer. It isn’t like you can stir instant coffee into a cup of hot water and expect it to magically happen. A lot more goes on under the cover of a book than just words. I hope to explain the writing process in a simplified manner as to how a fictional novel is put together.
In a work of fiction, such as a fantasy novel, an author must bend the rules of our world to fit into their hero’s world. Those rules must still have consequences to match a real world application, just like when the headlights of a car are left on all night. You already know the battery will be drained by morning and won’t crank up. The battery is your hero and the power drain is his/her failing powers after they get used. This is the vehicle that makes a reader believe it could happen (sorry for the bad pun).
Now that that this little rule has been covered, and it’s an important one, I’ll move forward to starting a novel. An
outline creates the backbone to what should happen in your manuscript. They can be indispensable and should
not be forgotten about. Outlines range from typical outlines you most likely used in high school, but I like to use an arch for keeping track of events. It’s a timeline bent on a curve to support major scenes and spaced to add
secondary plots. Paste this outline to a wall of your workspace and refer to it often.
Speaking of plots, I know the timeline will get your manuscript from point A to B, but that makes for a dull story.
Interaction between bit characters is necessary to further a plot and add spice with hidden agendas. Joining broken story lines will keep the reader guessing what comes next. As an example – what happens to a minor character on page twelve should link to page eighty. These small plot fillers help a novel become great. Just make sure they tie into the story. Characters as fodder and character plot fillers are two completely different animals. Try to make the fictional people relevant to your story and final ending.
The time has come to build up your main character and supporting players. Think about making a biography of
each player in the novel. Start with personal features like eye color, hair and color, height, possible skin color, age, and their style of clothes. Where were they born? Do they have an accent? The list can go on forever; just pick the most important and go with it. There is always time to change something later.
Now that you know what they all look like and how they should sound, I would suggest using the characters to tell the story. What the heck do I mean? It’s simple; Joe’s running through a forest with Jill when a tree root comes up expectantly. Do you describe it to the reader? No. Jill yells, “Look out!” in a rush of panic. This brings in the reader. Let the characters do the work for you and you’ll be happier for it.
You’ve got all the pieces in place to start. Twists have been worked, character deaths planned, climax…
We forgot about the pinnacle point of your story! Trudging along endlessly towards a fruitless ending won’t make return readers. Mini climaxes are good for character development and self-discovery, but defeating an inner demon or a real foe will tie loose ends up nicely. Growth for a fictional character is absolutely imperative. Readers are on the journey with your hero; living vicariously through them. Make it worth their while to root for them.
Have them stumble and get back up with dirty knees that don’t wipe clean immediately. The reader will feel your
character’s pain if they can’t get clear of a problem right away. Don’t hurt them too bad, that becomes sadistic and will lose the reader’s interest.
No one can tell you the exact formula to write a bestseller. You might as well load a shotgun with .00 buck and hope something hits the target audience. That’s how writing is. The end result to storytelling always plays out the same – write to please yourself and readers second. It is the best bit of advice I can offer. Follow that and everything else will fall into place.
Adam Santo was born and raised in Southern California. He joined the Army for a short lived career as a soldier. Currently, he lives and writes in Florida with his family and faithful dog, Copper. His next novel “Bitter Cold” was just launched, see his Book Trailer.