Posts Tagged ‘story planning’

Picky questions on the novel

For writers, what is the hardest part of a novel? Maybe it’s page 1 and page 400–and many big chunks in between. Some books go like that.

But today I’m more interested in what’s the most important part of a novel. Despite how crucial a good ending is, and how challenging the middle is, I think the beginning is the critical place. At least the beginning in terms of the musing you do before you write.

For me, first come the big-picture questions.

Big, sloppy questions.

1. What genre? Some of the aspiring writers I meet are surprisingly conflicted about what type of story to write. My only advice is to read in likely genres. Read a lot. Learn what stories you adore. You’ll be spending many years with them.

In my recent two books forthcoming from Saga, the answer to the genre question was Fantasy.

world fantasy logo
2. What kind of fantasy? Paranormal espionage. So many kinds of fantasy. Just read the nominees for the World Fantasy Award, and you’ll see the amazing variety of the literature. Read More…

What are you talking about?

Theme is a loaded word. In fiction, it aroused the suspicion that we’re preaching about something. Can’t we just give the story a compelling plot and great characters? Why should there be a theme?

gldn theme

The Golden Theme: How to Make Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator

The answer, I’ve been learning, is that theme is to help clarify for the writer, why she or he is writing the book. And what the book will be about, boiled down to its essence.

I usually come into a novel’s theme after working on concept and characters for a couple weeks at the outset of my planning process, I develop/recognize the book’s theme about then, and it guides the major decisions of the plot and much of the execution.

In fact, theme has guided every book I’ve written since 2008. Because of Brian McDonald. Read More…

The mess of the novel.

Photo on 2012-05-07 at 18.06As I wade into the waters–of my next novel–I am struck once again at how little I know. How do I begin this marathon?  How much information is needed right here? Is this supporting cast sufficient? Is the tension getting on the page, or is it only in my head? Does this new concept fly or falter?

I must confess I do not know. And, mind you, I’m writing my twelfth novel.

It’s not as though I’m unprepared. I have an impressive notebook chock full of planning. I wrote a great synopsis that tells me at least one version of the story really works. I have character sketches and key scenes creating a classic structure. I have a killer title. Read More…