Continuing with my look at Mirriam’s Recipe for Page turners, today, I’m tackling numbers 5 & 6 on her list which means it would be a good thing for you to click-a click-a the link up there so you’re on the same page as the rest of us.
Yes, I’m fully aware that I might be using the royal “we” at this point. Last month for the blog was fantastic. Two weeks ago, we were rockin along. These last fourteen days for this blog have been in the gutter visit wise.
Ah well. ONWARD!
5.) Do Your Research
If you are going to be writing thrillers, dealing with historical fiction, or contemporary people and events, you are going to have to get used to doing copious amounts of research. Having said that, for the love of your readers, don’t put everything you learn into the book. A writer should always know more about their character, world, or time period, than they tell their reader. Know too, that there are going to be people who disagree with certain facts and getting to the truth is going to be hard.
For example, Mirriam sites that you should know the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath, but not all medical professionals agree that there is a difference. Some split the groups, others say that the real difference lies between the psychotic psychopath and the non-psychotic psychopath.
I’ll wait for you to have fun with that phrase too. It tickles the ears, it really does.
Because this issue deals with individuals and the mind, there’s a wide range of opinions and studies that contradict one another. When it comes to something like this, my advice is to pick the side that you like the best and work from there.
You might want to make a note too, that you’ll catch flack from the opposite camp for whatever you write in the medical arena (do you really want to have a disgruntled psychopath looking for you?) so batten down the hatches.
Similar problems will crop up with historical events where people are divided over what has happened, or what was the cause of what happened. Pick your side, and stick to your guns, but know that you’ll have people picking at you from the other side no matter what you do. You can’t please everyone. You shouldn’t really try.
When I do research, I tend to stick to the surface or generalizations of things, I don’t need to know every last detail of something, and since I primarily write fantasy, I don’t really want the world to resemble this one too much.
I do draw from history, but I have a good general knowledge of western world history as well as ancient history. What I lack, I read about for the specific part of the story that I need. I don’t spend days researching anything. An afternoon, a day if necessary, but no more.
My point is this, don’t spend hours and hours researching things instead of writing. What I have observed with world-builders is that they have a tendency to get hung up on research, and so what happens is that their story is never finished, not in their head and not on paper.
Don’t do that, don’t let the research take over or your fear of not being accurate enough, keep you from writing your story.
Your story is unique, and no one else can write it.
So, write it. I’m sitting here, waiting to READ it.
6. Twist Your Plots Like Licorice
Yes! Exactly what Mirriam wrote, twist your plots like licorice! Everyone wants some surprises but, no reader wants to have the surprises come out of no where. That’s not playing fair. This means that you really need to leave clues throughout your twisting, turning plots. Not so much that the reader gets there a head of you, but not so few that they’re going “Huh?” at the end of the tale. Three of the best books for those “AHA” moments I’ve ever read are The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, and Ted Dekker’s Thr3e. I’ve drifted away from Dekker as he’s gotten into genres that I don’t read any more, and I’m a little uncertain of his beliefs, but Thr3e really did let me put the pieces together and go “AHA” three chapters from the end. Timothy Zahn remains one of my all time favorite writers, followed closely by Frank Peretti, who like Zahn has proven he can write for adults and for youth and weave intriguing, amazing stories for both to enjoy. The best way to learn foreshadowing, is to read people who have mastered the art. So, go to the library and check out the work of these three gentlemen, and begin to twist your plots like licorice.
Onto posts Green and Indigo! We’ve got four more points to cover and then I’ve got some exciting news to share to. Stay tuned.
Encourage one another, Scribes!