Not long after penning my own birth announcement, I began writing fiction and was instantly hooked. Since then, for better or worse, my friends and loved ones have enjoyed or been subjected to my ramblings and manuscripts, up to and including my recently published novel, ABSOLUTE RECALL.
As I work on what I hope is the final editing of the next, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned (and I need a distraction). Along with the joy of writing, there are rules, or elements writers use when creating a story. They are:
Your characters are your participants in your story, they are the who. The main character is called the Protagonist. The character in opposition to your protagonist is called an Antagonist. Any other characters that interact with the main two, are called Minor characters.
It is important to give your characters their own personality and stick to it. Don’t blend traits with other characters through the course of the novel, so that your reader is left saying, “I don’t believe she would do or say that. She’s to shy, but her mother would.”
The plot is what’s going on, your story line, the what. It’s simple actually. You start with an event, move to a climax, and end with a resolution. Of course, the idea is to keep them turning pages from beginning to end.
The setting is the where and when of your story. It’s up to you if you chose to write what’s familiar or to venture out and research new lands. Be careful though, I once had a Beta Reader correct me when two of my roadways didn’t cross somewhere in North Carolina. Google Maps said they did. She lived there and said they didn’t.
And I don’t know if any of you remember a few seasons back, a show called, “The Glades”? It was a short-lived show set in my neck f the woods that completely ignored setting. They would go to lunch in a city on the other side of the state (a 4 hour drive), taking highways that couldn’t lead them there, and return before they were missed. I found it distracting.
The theme is the moral of your story or the why. I always have the most trouble with this one. (Do I really need a why? I have all this action. Maybe I’m not deep enough.) I’ve been told there are only a certain amount of themes and writers just implement variations of them. You can actually Google them, and pick the one that suits you, if you’re stuck. Now, how do I know that.
The style of your story is the how, how it’s written. Every writer has a unique style, a voice. There will always be well meaning people available with a critique, a lesson, a criticism, lecture. I come from a place of gratitude, and listen to them all. I’ve learned so much. But never let anyone change your voice.
Something else you need to know before penning your manifesto is that when it comes to publishing, your word count will depend on the Genre you write in. My genre is romantic suspense which makes my word count between 80,000-100,000 words. Literary fiction can go as high as 125,000. Mystery and Horror are set between 70,000 and 90,000. And Young Adult is 50,000 – 75,000. So, depending on your genre, you may want to cut down on the adjectives or develop a descriptive flare.
When done correctly and tastefully, using the rules and elements, you sometimes get to write (get it?) the wrongs in your life. With a change of a name, a description, or a location, it’s fiction after all. Those of you who know me, would not be shocked to find me include, let’s say the goalie of the hockey team I live and breath for – have season seats for. This way I could torture him for nearly 400 pages – like he did me all season – then on the very last page, have him wake up in the Everglades surrounded by his new gator team mates. I feel better already.
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Pick up a copy of my romantic suspense novel ABSOLUTE RECALL available now at Amazon.com, Friesen Press.com, and Barnes & Noble.com.
FROM THE POINT Always, Lori Flynn