Building Blocks of a Best Selling Book – The 7 Rs
Although there are no set rules for writing a novel, there are certain principles that will improve the execution of your story. If you were to bake a cake, wouldn’t you like to know the recipe? Just as there are certain ingredients needed to bake a cake, there are certain action steps, which are necessary for writing compelling fiction.
Likewise, an architect would not try to build a house without a blueprint, or without the proper tools, so why try to write a novel without the building blocks? From my experiences of working with beginning writers, your chances of writing a good book are better when you improve your writing skills. These are some of the nuts and bolts for writing a good work of fiction.
Seven Keys to Improving Your Writing
Regardless of your talent, I found there are seven keys, which will improve your writing. These action steps are reading, writing practice, (including journaling), research, right-brain thinking, reactions, reversals, which keeps a scene turning on its ear, and revisions (or rewriting.)
For a writer, reading is like inhaling oxygen. You need it to exhale the carbon dioxide of your writing. The two are inextricably intertwined.
Reading is key to stimulating the mind and the imagination. In addition, it builds your vocabulary and flexes your creativity muscles. Most of all, it shows you the craft of writing fiction, as well as non-fiction, and the tricks a writer uses to evoke emotions, and to captivate an audience. Reading is a prerequisite to writing.
Make a goal to read as many of the classics as possible. Read the genre in which you would like to write, particularly if it’s romance, mystery, suspense, horror, fantasy, comedy, or magical realism. Set a goal to read at least one new book a week. All great writers are great readers. You need to be a voracious reader to be a good writer!
Writing, (including journaling) is equivalent to a musician’s form of piano practice. Writing takes more than talent; it involves craft. The craft of fiction includes all the skills that fiction writers must develop: characterization, dialogue, plotting, setting, plus many more techniques.
Journaling each morning is another way to become a better writer. In fact, it is crucial to courting the muse. By journaling, you will also learn to check in and check out with your feelings. Remember, Author Henry James said, “A writer is one on whom nothing is lost.” Writing is a spiritual undertaking. Pray before you write.
The importance of research for writers can’t be stressed enough. Why is
research important? It adds depth, credibility, and texture to a work of fiction. Personally, I like to read books, which shed light on some unknown subject. Tell
me something new.
IV. Right-Brain Thinking
Tap into the right-brain, and you’ve hit the source of your creativity. This involves use of free association, free writing, mind mapping, and clustering, which are all functions of the right brain use. Dreams are the most important of all of these. You can use dreams to spark ideas.
Newton’s Law says that for every action, there’s a reaction. In movies, the reactions are called “reaction shots.”
This is just as important to character development in writing fiction. Reactions make for good writing. Reactions will also help with your characterization. Through the five character actions (thinking, speaking, acting, reacting, and interacting), reactions can be shown through thoughts, dialogue, and actions. Each one tells us something about the characters. One character will react to the same situation in a totally different manner than another character. You can look at the outcome of children in a large family and get an idea how people are so different who come up in the same environment.
A reversal is the scene’s climax, a turning point, a change. Not only does it add magic to a scene, a reversal enhances, invigorates, and amplifies a scene. Make sure there is at least one reversal in each major group of scenes. Reversals make your plot unpredictable and heighten the tension.
At the end of your novel, your main character should be changed from the person he was at the beginning. Make sure you take your scenes from positive to negative values, and vice-versa. A scene can start off peaceful and wind up in mayhem. Or the scene can start off chaotic and wind down to a tranquil one.
The biggest reversal in a scene can be from life to death. When you outline, label your scenes for the emotional value. Example: From pride to loss of respect.
Revisions (or Rewriting)
After you have escaped from your draft and have distanced yourself as the writer, you will explore ways to troubleshoot your own and others’ writings for unfocused, incoherent drafts.
When rewriting, finish the first draft. Put aside for one week up to a month. Then do your own self-edit.
In conclusion, it takes courage to write. Remember. “No guts, no story.”