Dear Fellow Writer,
Interesting that Fifty Shades of Grey was the bestselling book series of 2012.
Made an estimated $200 million worldwide. A profound success for a self published book - later picked up by Random House, of course. (And who ever said a respectable publisher would never touch a self published book. Hah!)
Curious too that such a blatantly pornographic development of the Twilight story with all its disturbing sado-masochistic connotations should become so popular.
Perhaps the appeal of 50 Shades is in the apparent powerlessness of the heroine. Though she's horribly abused and degraded by her 'lover', she finds him captivating and impossible to live without.
To me this is almost a metaphor for our relationship with the modern world. We all feel powerless in a sense, victims of a constant barrage of insanity, corruption and media exploitation that we eventually feel we can't live without.
A kind of global Stockholm Syndrome - where the aggressors are the greedy corporate machines that have an insatiable need for our 'love' - or rather our hard earned cash!
Just a thought...
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THIS WEEK'S ARTICLE:
Good fiction is about forward thrust.
It's your job to propel the reader through your story without having them feel they are wading through your writing. In fact, your ultimate aim is somehow make the reader feel they're not actually reading at all.
It's what I call transparency - the idea that there is nothing between your reader's mind and your story - nothing as ugly as the text getting in the way!
Q.E.D. is a little acronym you might want to use to help you remember what you need to create compelling fiction on every page of your stories. Q.E.D. stands for:
Questions encourage people to look for answers. When readers read fiction they are asking themselves a series of questions about your characters and about your story.
Only when you satisfy your reader by feeding questions and later on providing answers will the reader feel entertained.
As you're writing, at the beginning of each new page, ask yourself, What question am I going to place in the reader's mind here?
You must have one – it’s what makes the reader keep reading.
Without constantly stoking curiosity, a reader will simply get bored and put your book down - forever.
Empathy is crucial too. We've looked at this in many of my courses.
Not only is it important that you create empathy for your characters early on, but you will also need to keep reinforcing it as you go.
Hopefully the actions that your characters make will take care of some of this. But you should be aware that if you feel your characters slipping away from you, it’s probably because you’re not keeping them human enough - that is vulnerable - to be compelling.
A reader’s total empathy with a character can be powerful.
It is the hallmark of all good fiction writers. To create a hero that is credible and popular is the goal of most leading authors. Because once you’ve done that, you can take your readers almost anywhere with them.
When it’s done well, the reader is totally in your thrall and will trust you to take them further, on the adventure that is your novel, or series of novels.
Use it consciously. Readers rarely spot that you’re doing it deliberately. They only know what they like and that is, for the time they are reading, they probably like being your lead character.
Lastly, D is for Drama.
It’s important that you create drama, conflict and tension at least once on every page. It’s the way of modern fiction.
People want to be entertained. But they’ve seen it all before. On TV and at the movies. Try to think of new ways of being dramatic.
Don't get bogged down with description. You don’t need long explanations or descriptions of things your reader is already familiar with. It’s just not necessary.
Readers want to be thrown into the thick of things immediately. There are a hundred ways to do that but most of them involve action, conflict and drama. If you find yourself wandering from the point and nothing in particular is happening, cut back to where the last piece of conflict was, delete all the verbiage and static writing and move off again – this time at high speed!
Imagine you’re a soap opera writer where every scene counts, and every exchange is emotionally charged. Try not to sink into melodrama – but be aware that you’re writing primarily to entertain.
At the beginning and ending of every new page ask yourself:
Q.E.D? Have I fulfilled the three requirements of compelling fiction?
If the answer is yes then you’re probably on the way to becoming the next bestselling author!
Till next time.
The Easy Way to Write
The Easy Way to Write
THIS WEEK'S WRITER'S QUOTE:
"A professional is someone who respects his trade, tries as hard as he can to perfect his work, and realizes that one failure isn’t the end of the world. Or two…or three." Nathaniel Benchley
Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "Know Your Identity in 2013"