Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bippity Boppity Boo! Creating Magic aka Writing a Novel

As a published author I am often requested to speak to various groups. In those presentations I find myself attempting to explain how I'm constantly amazed at the creative process and how magical it can be at times.

I find it completely fascinating that a fiction writer can conjure up in their imagination; characters, worlds, dialogue and emotions and then write a story that somehow, at least for me, is as vivid as a movie that plays out in their mind. Then, this story is published and a reader picks up that book and the connection is made and they have their own experience as they are transported to possibly another place and time, even to another world, and they are pulled in and held captive by the magic of the story. In fact, many readers tell me that as they read they too can see a movie playing through their minds.

What is that??? It's magic. Call it imagination, call it synergy, call it crazy if you want, but when that connection is made; from writer's mind to reader's mind, it's pure magic.

I just finished a project and am ready to start on my next one. I have two completely different stories in mind, two completely different genres even. I am not sure which one I want to write first. Again, I have to defer to the magic factor. I've decided to start writing both, and wait for the magic to happen, wait for that moment when my passion for the story and the character's ignites and I can't not write the story.

Many people ask me at the writing/book presentations, "How do you know an idea is good enough to write?"

For me, it's about the passion. If I feel passionate about the story, the story writes itself. If I feel that strongly about the story, chances are, the reader is also going to feel those same emotions. I thought it might be interesting to see what other people said about the "magic formula" for write a best-selling novel. The comments are varied, but all of them, I think, are true.

Here are some of the thoughts I found:

There's no "magic formula," unless you consider writing a great novel with an interesting plot and engaging characters a "magic formula." One of the best pieces of advice I could give a new writer (other than to read, read, read) would be to internalize all the mechanics of plotting, pacing, dialog, etc., and then to turn off the little inner editor and Write, Write, Write.

The only formulaic part of successful writing is as follows: there must be a beginning, middle and end, in which there is a conflict, a resolution, and an emotional payout for the reader.

There is a formula, but it's different for every writer and every book. You have to figure out you own.

There is not one magic formula. Instead there are thousands of them. Maybe hundreds of thousands or even more... because there is one inside the head of every agent and editor and it changes every day as they learn new things and add new variables to it. It also changes based on uncontrollable factors - how tired is the agent/editor when they read it? How annoyed are they? Have they just read an article saying that X concept which is just what you have written is really big right now? Have they read an article which says X is really not selling at the moment? Is the sun on their screen when they read your work?

There are a few things that you can do that will make your novel stand out, and one of the most important is to give the readers something that they haven't seen before - something that is a different than most of the stories that you've heard before.

What are your thoughts? Have you found a tried and true formula that works for you? Do you agree with some of these statements? None of them?

Do you believe in magic?


Cami Checketts said...

I think you're right about the passion. If you feel passionate enough about a story to carry you through all the writing, rewriting, and editing then a reader is going to get caught up in that passion and love the story too. Thanks for the great post1

Krazy Kiwi said...

I'm a BIG reader, but I really want to write. I've had a lot of story ideas and I've written lots of bits and pieces but I've never been able to finish a book. What advice would you give someone like me?