Magic Versus Grounding
How do you like to write your fiction? Do you like magical settings and characters, or do you like some grounding elements that may give the story more realism? I would choose one or the other for good continuity. The Harry Potter books are a good example of magical worlds. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is an example of grounding a magical and fictional world. She gave her vampires and werewolves characteristics of nature or used cultural folklore to make her settings and characters more real to the reader.
To ground a fictional story you can utilize science as well. You can stretch the imagination of the reader but still keep a small piece tied to the ground.
A Reader’s Game
At one point, you probably have asked yourself – “How do best-selling authors do it?” “How do they keep their readers coming back for more?”
An easy answer to that question is with another question – What keeps us coming back to our favorite authors?
However, part of their magic is that they know how to play the reader’s game – they challenge their readers. They give them more of what they want, but at the same time, best-selling authors seem to know when to stop, and how to encourage readers to look for more inside the story. They feed the story slowly, and they give the readers morsels of mystery and awe, of emotion and feeling, and the readers love the game.
But most important is that they seem to love the game of writing as well, they love what they do, they are true to the story and their characters, and they respect their readers.
The Magic of Best-selling Authors
What is the key to enchanting writing? What is the secret of best-selling authors? I am sure that most of us, at one point, have been captivated with a book from a favorite author – being that person a best-selling author or not. How do best-selling authors get to captivate so many readers? It seems natural to think that they plan their writing and target a certain section of the population to obtain readership. Right?
This could not be further from the truth. While being interviewed many best-selling authors have said that they write for themselves – as in the case of Stephenie Meyer or Lee Child. They say that they are honest to the story when writing, and they keep honest to the reader. They seem to be of the opinion that if you evoke feelings in yourself when writing the story, you will evoke feelings on the reader as well. Another trend is that they also mention how blessed they feel to be doing what they love – to write.
So there is no big secret of best-selling authors. It seems that they write with passion for themselves – and they love it.
“Write what you know.”
I have heard many authors say this, when watching their interviews. This is a very good point and excellent advice for us aspiring writers. Even when writing fiction and creating our own universes, those universes have to be filled with something – and that is when “what you know” comes handy. At the beginning, it is easier to write from knowledge than going through lots of research and deep waters. It is good practice and it comes from you. If you have a background in law, you will probably apply your knowledge in that mystery or crime novel, and so on …
That doesn’t mean that we will be writing what we know forever; at one point or another, we will embark towards unknown seas and shake our confidence a bit. It just means that it is easier to write about something that will flow naturally to us and keep us going. Eventually, we all know when it is time to cross that bridge.
Character’s Point of View
When writing fiction it is important to consider your character’s point of view – where is he/she coming from? The life experience and the amount of detail of who he/she is, determines how the character moves throughout the story. A character that grew up and lives in the slums will know little about social etiquette or let’s say, playing golf (unless the character is learning that particular skill and of course it would part of the story). For example, you cannot write a chapter where this same character – with no previous golf experience – will beat a golf pro in a game (unless you are planning to include some special magical abilities in the story, or paranormal, such as re-incarnation or past lives) – you get the point.
Make your characters believable, alive and your readers will identify with them.
From Movie to Book
We have read the book, we loved it, and pray for it to become a movie. It seems that more and more books, especially for young adults, are making it to the big screen. I prefer to read a book first, then watch the movie. Some people become inspired by a movie to read the book. However it goes, one seems to complement the other – although some book lovers may disagree and say that a book stands for itself – and that is true. Let’s say that they enhance each other and this relationship between book and movie makes good commercialism.
I have heard best-selling authors being interviewed about their involvement in the process of their book being made into a movie and their opinion is very similar. Most love it, consider it an honor, and view it as a complete different process. Some don’t want to be involved much in it, but enjoy having a little bit of input. But most, if not all, agree that they want the integrity of the characters to remain true to the story – and I think that is what makes one to enhance the other in the relationship of book and movie.
We all enjoy to read a good story – in our heads we visualize it – but when the story becomes alive in the screen and special effects are added, our senses become alive – the icing on the cake.
The story that I love …
Who do you write for? Although books are categorized or targeted for sale to particular groups of readers, such as young adults … I keep hearing best-selling authors saying during interviews that they sat down to write a story that they would love. Some of them say that they wrote the story for themselves. This is a very important point since it determines how you approach the writing of a piece.
If you sit down to write the story that you love, you will be connected with that piece much more that if you think that you are writing for such and such group of readers – a bit of pressure there. Of course some authors will take advantage of a trend, such as the trend of vampires. It seems that since Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight and the sequels and it was a hit with young readers as well as adults, everyone is writing about vampires and werewolves now. The vampire has been awakened again. And that is fine.
So next time you sit down to write, ask yourself this question: “Am I writing the story that I love?”
Respecting your character’s background
Your characters will evolve throughout the story or a series. They will naturally evolve and will become deep and complicated; their personalities will start showing more strength and charisma. If you are attuned to your characters you will respect their evolution in your writing. A character that was bubbly in the beginning of the story, but has gone through a lot of heartache and difficult situations as the story progresses should not be presented in the same way – the situations that you create for your characters will permeate their personalities and modus operandi. Ignoring that important part, will result in a lack of credibility and will make your writing appear fake. Readers interact and identify with your characters, they feel what the characters feel. If a reader does not “feel” a character, he/she may get discourage and stop reading or lose interest in the story.
By being true to your characters, you are engaging the readers and respecting them.
The Role of Music in Writing
Music can inspire you, influence you, and help your mood while writing a piece. Despite your taste in music or writing style, you can use music to create a mood in a scene or a chapter of a novel. Are you writing poetry or a Love affair? Try some romantic music. How about a dangerous scene? Try some fast hard rock. Keep your pen and your feet dancing – and your muse shaking.
Save your Rubbish
How many times have you crumbled that piece of paper and aimed it to the waste basket? How about deleting that file? Hopefully, not that many times. Think twice before deleting or throwing away content that is not passing your approval at a particular moment. Save it. Yes, save that Rubbish! It may not be useful now, but it may become inspirational material for future writings.
We are not in the same emotional wave all the time. Our emotions shift from day-to-day, or moment to moment. What may not appeal to you today, may become useful material later – inspiration for an idea for a story, for a character, an article, or even a poem. Right now, it may seem horrible to you, but it may contain the roots for a good piece.
So before you throw away your rubbish, give it a second chance – in the future.