Today Author Expressions is pleased to welcome as our guest blogger veteran author June Shaw. Her writing is well-known to fans of both mystery and romance novels. And now here's June!
What do you do if you get to your computer, ready to become “The Next Greatest Author in the World”—and all it will do is stare back at you?
Your fingers want to touch the keyboard and start striking keys that will make the story you’re creating work well in all areas. You must start in the exact place that will draw readers in. Your very first word and first line must be perfect. Make readers care. Doesn’t something have to happen right there, something that’s going to ensure that they won’t put your book down until the last sentence, and they’ll be shouting, “I want more!”
Certainly you need to create characters who fly off the page, who your readers will care about and not want to leave. They have to be perfect. No, actually they shouldn’t. Your main characters must be likeable but with flaws (so you can’t think of any? Look around, or inside yourself.) Your female lead has to be beautiful (if you’re writing romance), and a striking alpha male would go with her. Mysteries will give you much more leeway for creating people. You’re going to want interesting secondary characters, but only in longer works. Short stories won’t allow space for developing them, even if they start to become so interesting that they’re creeping into the most important spot and taking over your work. If that happens, what will you do with those people? Toss them out like candy wrappers? Consider using them as main characters in another story? So then which story will you begin working on now?
Besides these people, your novel will need a well-balanced plot. This story line will have to race and peak at certain parts and in other places let readers catch their breaths, but just for a second, before you race toward the showdown and slam on the brakes at the end.
After you complete this one-of-a-kind yet not too different masterpiece, you’ll have to let it sit. How long? Half an hour? Two days? A week while you take a well-earned cruise, until you remember you can’t afford one?
Whenever you can’t stand the wait any longer, you get back to your work of art. Only this time, something’s happened to that first sentence. Surely someone hacked into your computer and replaced your enticing draw with dull words. You yourself wouldn’t read beyond this, so what can you do? Start all over of course. Decide that your whole work must have poured out of your fingers well before your first cup of java reached your system, and all of the words you jotted must be thrown away and new ones put in? Or possibly you can force yourself to read the entire work again, this time making your soul bleed while you struggle to improve each word before you type it, all the while knowing that after you finish many drafts of this work, you will need other eyes (that don’t belong to your family) to decide whether these readers agree that it’s good.
Or should you plot before you start? When your fingers are striving to hit the first word in your tome, should you draw them back and make them wait? Possibly if you use a pen and legal pad, you could see where to begin your story and where peak and valleys might go. But a pencil and notebook might work better so that you can erase and feel more like you did when you were accomplishing so much back in school.
Maybe you should just wait awhile till an idea strikes. Surely a better idea than the one touching your mind will come up next week. A month from now will give you time to consider what type story or novelette or novel you really should write.
You have one major decision to make. Do you want to be a writer?
If so, then when that blank screen that wants the first page of your book or the first sentence of your next chapter stares at you, instead of just staring back at it, you will do something, something that will further the writing career you chose. Write a word. Make a list. Come up with names if you must. Jot down all the awful things that could possibly happen to make your character’s life miserable, even all those that don’t make sense. See which ideas excite you, and go with them.
Or set your fingers on your computer keys and begin typing. Write a title or a sentence to start or go on from where you stopped. They can be changed later.
The thing to remember is you wanted to write. You’re stronger than a blank page, no matter how threatening it may look. What comes later might seem overwhelming, but won’t be if you start. Keep going. Strike those keys. Beat that screen. You will thank yourself for being a winner.
Thank you, June! Anyone with questions or comments for our guest author, please feel free.
You can also find out more about June and her novels at: http://www.juneshaw.com/