by Karolina Danek
Books change me.
Their stories influence me.
I become the characters.
I live the stories.
A house sits on a rise of land.
Maybe it isn’t the house
but the character
who lives inside.
Trick or treat.
What are the hallmarks of an amateur novelist?
This is a question I get all the time and, of course, there are many answers: poor pacing, flat dialogue, a lack of believable character development. All of these things are a death kiss for any fiction writer.
However, even if all of these elements are in place and you have the most exquisite dialogue and beautifully realized characters, there can still be something missing in your novel. And very often, it relates to theme.
Theme is something that all readers will pick up on when reading a book, whether they realize it or not. At its core satisfying novels need to be about something — whether that’s something broad like ‘love’ or something as narrow as ‘corrosive corporate culture’. Even novels about gods or dinosaurs or space aliens will have something to say about the human condition — a vein that…
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FILL THE PAGES
Fill the pages of our lives
with words and stories.
Leave no blank pages.
Fill them with people and events.
Stories to tell our children.
Words to light our journeys.
We need to stand in the light.
Enjoy life to its fullest.
It is our right to fill in the pages.
Books change me.
They influence me.
Make me theirs.
I become their characters.
I live their stories.
A REVIEW OF MY BOOK
I was on way with my second book, developing my characters, setting up the story, introducing conflicts for them to overcome. Then the problems began. I started to read articles from popular authors’ sites, claiming to know the best way to set up a story and its characters.
I agree the midpoint should be placed at the middle of the book and be the pivotal spot for the plot, where characters are spun about on their axis by unexpected events or people. However, these authors lecture about specific spots where each plot point is to be introduced. They outline the exact number of pressure points and where they should be placed.
I began to dissect my book, bit by bit. I follow an outline of my own. Each chapter is created to be a full scene with a beginning, middle and end. My midpoint is the big reversal. I didn’t plan on pressure points but I have them; not at the exact percentage points as recommended by the articles but close. After the reversal, I have pressure spots planned leading to the ultimate climax.
I did all of this instinctively, from reading books my whole life. There is a rhythm to writing like there is to music. It doesn’t have to be strictly set at one speed. It can flow at your own pace. Characters don’t have to direct opposites or heroes to your main character, they could play off your protagonist to elicit humor or bring out the story.
There are rules but not hard and fast ones like in math and science. I followed the rules in my past jobs in Finance. I love formulas where you can input your data and come up with the one correct answer. Writing is more creative. There is more than one way to tell a story and each person has a different story to tell.
The beginning of my book has been rewritten four times before I realized that my story has been following the rules of writing but at its own rhythm. My own pace. I’ve stopped reading these preachy articles about the best way to structure a book. Scenes, character arcs, plot points and acts still float around in my head, but once I began writing all of these details took care of themselves. The plot can reach the midpoint and reversal on its way to the climax without any calculations of percentages.
If you’ve read enough books, an author knows how the story should flow. You instinctively know how to introduce characters and how they should play off the main character. I’m off to the finish! I’ve cleared the midpoint and on my way to the climax! Don’t ever doubt yourself. Let your story evolve from inside of you.