Tuesday, January 24, 2012

CRAFT ALERT: How do you Write a Book Part 2

How do you Write a Book? Part 2

We move into the stretch of time when I started to organize. Why?

My plots were convoluted. Didn't know where I was going. I'd forget whether the heroine had blue eyes or green, and what HAD the villain done to which character in chapter eleven? Duh!

I first followed Pam McCutcheon's great book "Synopsis." Followed it's guidelines line a bible. I worked with Debra Dixon's "GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. I outlined "In the Arms of the Enemy." Did it stay true to the outline? NO. Emphatically NO. My characters had other ideas. We went in other directions. BUT, THAT'S OKAY. I'm going to repeat THAT'S OKAY. There are many ways to approach a novel. I'm approaching it the way I'd do it. But, I've heard of so many other interesting approaches.

So, I needed a theme. I needed to know what the story was philosophicially about.
From what I knew about theme these are some popular themes: "There's no place like home." (can you guess that one? Yep. "Wizard of Oz." It doesn't tell you the story, but it does tell you the main idea throughout the plot. Dorothy tries to get home. Period. She helps her subcharacters get what they need along the way, but the main focus is getting home. What about Lord of the Ring. what's the theme there? "Destroy the Ring" whatever the cost. The ring must be destroyed. Or (as I'm not great in the theme department, myself) how about "You will find the strength you need within yourself." You could say that for many of the characters. The theme kept me on track.

In Waterlilies I might say "You can run, but you can't hide." No matter what the heroine does, she cannot escape the obsession and persistence of her ex-husband. And this theme can go for the other main characters. The hero has been running from himself and his guilt for years. The villain has been running from his downward spiral into madness, but can't escape.

You should also have a few other basics to take you through your story. Each character needs a goal. Something for which he/she's striving. Goal Dorothy: Kill witch to GET HOME. The Ring: Destroy enemies so you can DESTROY RING. Waterlilies:
Catch villain before he kills her and takes a lot of other people along for the ride.

Motivation: Dorothy: wants to get home where she belongs, where she feels safe, where her people are. The Ring: Destroy enemies so you can destroy ring and bring peace to the land. Waterlilies: Catch villain so he won't kill her and she can lead a peaceful, happy life.

Conflict: ALL stories need conflict. Let me repeat. YOU MUST HAVE CONFLICT IN YOUR STORY. No conflict? No story. Not really. Dorothy's conflict: A Witch is doing her best to make sure Dorothy never reaches the Emerald City where the Wizard will help her get home. The Ring: Just about everyone at one point or another tries to stop Frodo from destroying the ring. After all, this is the one and most powerful ring of all. The one ring that will give the bearer the power over the land and its people. Some motivations are pure, some not so much. Waterlilies: The heroine (her name is Annie) has conflicts all along the way. A villain who wants to destroy her--he wants her alive or dead. Even her detective gets in the way whenever he can. (after all, it IS romantic suspense)

Resolution and growth: There has to be a resolution and ought to be growth for the characters, at least the main character. Dorothy kills witch, still nearly doesn't get home then discovers she could have gotten home anytime she wished were she to just rub those blastic slippers together and say "There's no place like home. . .. " and she realizes home is where she belongs and goes home in peace. In the "Ring" all the characters must grow in strength of mind and body in order to destroy this monstrosity that otherwise will destroy them all.

Waterlilies: Well, I'm not telling. You need to read the book to find out. Then you can tell ME how the main characters grew.

Which leads us to character development. I've read many books on character and taken several courses on character throughout the years. Some of the best: The Writer's Journey by Chris Vogler, Heros and Heroines by Viders, Cowden and LaFever, 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters by Viders, Storey, Gorman, Martinez, Morgan Hawks (I can't remember her website. She writes erotica, but take a look at her website.
She has wonderful articles on the art of writing and characterization.) There may be many more now. I'd love to hear about them and read them.

Developing characters is great fun. And, if you want to REALLY have fun have a casting call. Yep, just like in auditions. Find actors or actresses, models, photos of people in clip art etc. and do lots of cuts and pastes. I've found some great role models. ie: In "Arms of the Enemy," the heroine looks a lot like Nicole Kidman. In "Waterlilies," the heroine looks like Gwenyth Paltrow with her long blonde silky hair and in "Legacy" the heroine is based on Jennifer Connolley
(see Beautiful Mind.) The heroes are between a young Pierce Brosnan and Hugh Jackman. Villains oooooh how about Cary Ewes (he was nasty in "Twister")Unfortunately, I can't remember some of the other prototypes. I doubt you'll see the resemblance when you read the books though. Remember, they're a picture in my MIND.

I think I'll have to make a part three tomorrow. I'm dying to get back into Karen Wiesner's book First Draft in 30 Days. I remember doing a whole enchelada about description from her book.

To cut to the end, real quick. Read "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Browne and King. But that's for later.

Take care and have fun. Part 3 is tomorrow, then maybe I'll post another page of "Waterlilies" on Thursday.



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