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…
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.
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler features an excerpt from The Dead Game by Susanne Leist. A beachfront town, a haunted mansion, people disappearing or turning up dead–these are the elements of gothic horror, but this unique novel has a more than a few twists.
As one reviewer said: The Dead Game by Susanne Leist is a mysterious supernatural thriller with plenty of twists and turns that is well-written and keeps you turning the page. From the first page you start a wild ride and just when you think all is well, she throws in another twist.
Can you feel your heart beating? Is it beating too fast? Do you feel trapped?
This is because you are. You’re standing in a pool of water, in the basement of End House, wearing your party clothes. But there is no party, no host and no guests.
The door behind you locks shut. The only way is forward, through the falling cages with their sharp edges, ready to ensnare their next victim.
Circular saws begin to descend, looking for heads to slice off.
Meanwhile, Linda is upstairs with the rest of her friends being pursued by creatures through revolving rooms. Or are they illusions? What should she do?
The owner of End House takes no prisoners.
The Dead Game has begun.
Linda was passing the empty tables by the tall windows when she felt her arm being tugged—very hard. Before she could react, she found herself being forcibly dragged through the open patio doors and onto the isolated garden path. She came face to face with the mighty Wolf and his trusted companion, Hayden. The grounds were deserted. Everyone had left the gardens and she was all alone with the two wicked vampires.
Wolf glared at Hayden. “Please let go of her arm; we are not animals. We never force ourselves on women.”
“Chivalry among demons—I’m very impressed. Too bad your table manners and choice of dishes leave a lot to be desired,” Linda said. Her hatred of Wolf had just caused her to forget her low position in the food chain; she closed her mouth to stop herself from talking. In the future, she must remember that he was a vampire—the strongest one in the world—and that he could easily destroy her at any time.
Wolf didn’t seem the least bit focused on her. “I didn’t come here to play parlor games with you. I need you to convince Todd to join with us. He can never be human or will ever be accepted by them. He belongs with us. He must stick with his own kind.”
“He’s not like you in any way at all: he cares too deeply for people and is loyal to his friends. On the other hand, you and your kind enjoy killing too much and have no feelings whatsoever.”
“Todd will never be accepted by humans or by his own kind. He will be an outcast with nowhere to go. He must join with us.”
“Todd is human and will always be accepted by humans.”
“Let’s kill her now, boss. She’s going to be trouble. I could take her away and no one will ever see her again,” Hayden said, grabbing hold of her arm again.
Oops, she did it again. Her big mouth had now sealed her fate. She had to learn how to be more assertive without getting herself into trouble.
Wolf strolled over to her with a wicked gleam surfacing in his eyes.
“I have a much better use for her in the future. When she finally comes to her senses, she’ll realize that she will be better off with a real vampire with limitless powers than with a pathetic human. She’ll learn about intoxicating love and passion—not the games that humans play that pale in comparison.
Here comes the human. Let her go for now.”
Linda was horrified to find herself wrapped in Wolf’s strong, muscular arms. She became hypnotized by his black eyes and tempted by his deep voice. He seemed perfect in every way. She only wanted to be with him.
“I’ll be back for you.” Wolf held her tight against his body and whispered in her ear. “I love the way you stand up to me with your flashing blue eyes. Soon you’ll be mine, my beautiful ice queen.”
Linda couldn’t move her body. She was stuck in some kind of trance…she couldn’t leave; didn’t want to leave if given the choice. His voice soothed her and made her think of love, passion, and great need: a need that could be satisfied only by him with his expert hands and mouth. She knew that one day she was going to be with him, to be joined with him.
He lowered his mouth onto hers and drew her into a swirling haze of unexpected feelings and desires. His mouth fully covering hers introduced her to a new realm of pure pleasure. His powerful form enveloped her, making her feel feelings that were foreign and untried for her. She couldn’t get enough of him. She tentatively began touching his face and then his body with an eager and unrelenting hunger. She didn’t know what she needed, but she knew that she wanted and desired this beautiful man standing right before her. Her past life was washed out of her mind, never to be considered again. She begged him to take her with him tonight. In response, Wolf lifted her in his arms, as if she weighed nothing, and turned to leave the party. His beautiful face looked victorious and happy. His black eyes filled with passion. She hoped that it was because of her. He looked down into her small face and gave a hearty roar.
While Wolf carried her in his powerful arms, a dark shadow swooped out of the house and flew directly at them. Linda was knocked out of his arms, and Wolf was thrown across the patio.
She looked up to see who had attacked them. It was Todd, his eyes a deadly shade of green, standing there panting.
Linda backed away in horror. Todd’s eyes cleared and returned to their original dark color. Then he looked at her. “Don’t ever be afraid of me. I’m here to protect you.”
Then he was struck down by Wolf.
They began circling each other like two wild animals. Todd thrust his body at Wolf, causing Wolf to lose his balance, and they crashed together to the ground. Wolf pushed Todd aside and stood back up. He lunged at Todd, who sidestepped his maneuver. Todd retaliated by lifting him high up in the air and flinging him through one of the glass doors to the house. Wolf rose up and dusted glass off his clothing.
He said to Todd, who stood before him, “We are not anywhere near finished, my dear friend. The next battle between us will be more private—without so many witnesses. If I were you, I would watch your back…and your pretty little girlfriend.” Wolf stalked away with Hayden following close behind. Todd quickly followed.
Linda was left standing alone outside. She felt bereft without the touch of Wolf’s lips on hers and the solid strength of his arms holding her. She had felt the unmistakable pull by him on all her senses. In his arms, she’d felt weak and needy—as if she needed him to live. Todd and Wolf were extremely powerful and both had taken hold of her senses.
“The Dead Game” by Susanne Leist is one of those great reads that you stumble across and end up eternally grateful for discovering it. In a vast sea of paranormal novels, The Dead Game stands out in all its horrifying glory. If you’re seeking chills and thrills this book is definitely a great read. Just the prologue will be enough to drag you deep into a plot filled with brilliant twists and turns. Leist brings her world and story to life with strong vivid language that flows seamlessly, lulling you into a tale you’ll never forget. I find her cast of characters to be truly unique and real, expressing human nature as if it were bare before us. Without hesitation I can say this is among the best novels of the year I’ve come across. Highly recommended.
This book, “The Dead Game” would make an excellent horror movie. I just could not get enough of it, and would love to see it on the silver screen. In fact, I think it would be even more fantastic in 3 dimensional.
Let me start by saying: I read this in the dark, along with one light on and in a big house. Wait, did I mention I was alone? I might suggest that , you might not want to do that. I’m just sayin…
Just let me be frank with you here. Okay, wait. I still want to be me. Here goes. I honestly love watching TV, and I know what would make for a good show, or movie. And as I was reading this, I was just so totally freaking out all through it, I could totally visualize everything. I know this book would be amazing as a Movie, you seriously need to read it, because you know it goes. When they turn books into Movies, they ruin them. And if the words are this good, you need to read them now!
Another thing that I loved about this book, was the fact that it is portrayed in Oasis, Florida. As most of you know, I am I currently live in Florida. So I love it when books put Florida, or Ohio on the map, I’m in.
This book, “The Dead Game” has Vampires, Beachfront property, a scary haunted mansion, dead bodies, romance and of course people. What a unique kind of mix.
But let me tell you, never ever go to a place called: “End house” and never attend a party on a Friday night where the invitation envelopes are black. I mean if that doesn’t just say: “It’s going to get weird.” As a warning, then nothing will.
I was so impressed, with “The Dead Game”, I couldn’t put it down. I give it five stars, it was just that exciting. If you’re anything like me, and enjoy horror, with a kick, then you need to read this. And you better be ready to get comfortable, because you’re not going to want to put this book down! It’s just that enjoyable.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE To be or not to be a writer. This has been the hardest question for me. Should I continue with my pursuit? Or step away and claim defeat? One book written. One book sold. It dances around on Amazon and Nook. It reaches new heights in its niche And then it slowly bows its head in silence. The highs feel good and lofty, While the lows feel depressing and sad. Is it worth it? Is it worth the aggravation? I am told that a writer must keep writing. More books to dance around. More highs and lows. Should I keep doing this? Will I keep doing this? Yes, for now As I wait for the next high.
A long journey to become an author. Days of soul searching and hard work. The words need to be enticing and clear. A bridge to the reader’s heart. A movie camera sweeps across scenes. So does a book’s point of view. One point of view shows one angle. Changing points of view can reveal many more.
To be lost in a book is truly a gift. An escape from the mundane and boring. A visit to far away places. An adventure to open your mind’s eye.
Once completed, a book is a treasure. A symbol of an author’s hopes and dreams. A confectioner’s delight to be tasted and savored. To be remembered by many or just a few.
Todd sat with Linda in front of the monitors, watching Shana and Sam roam through the rooms, while Mike and David scrambled over each other to be the one closest to Carl. He was amazed at the sophistication of the computer system as it responded to the actions of the participants.
Once someone entered a room, a switch on the monitoring system clicked to close that door and conceal it into the wall. At the same time, a second door was revealed in the room. When the second door was opened, another switch was activated to make the first door resurface again. Once the second room was entered, a switch clicked to close and conceal that door while revealing a new door in that room. The doors opened and closed to indicate the path that they were supposed to have taken at the party: a path that would have led them in a perpetual circle through the same sequence of rooms.
They watched Sam and Shana—with Mike, David, and Carl following close behind—retrace their steps through the rooms. When they held both doors to a room open at the same time, the switches weren’t triggered. This enabled them to backtrack through the rooms—just as they had done last night: by doing it in reverse and bypassing the system.
Afterward, the group grudgingly left the house without uncovering any new evidence on the identity of the perpetrator of the elaborate scheme. However, Todd felt less crestfallen than the others. He was thrilled to have figured out how and where the rooms had been controlled. The rooms rotated in a circle around the trap door to the attic. Now he was able to formulate a few new ideas about who had been behind the fake party.
The group, which had followed Todd through his discoveries, climbed up behind him into the attic that spanned the entire width of the house. The long room was empty, except for an elaborate computer system with monitors set up along the back wall. Todd sat down in one of the two desk chairs and began to scroll through the rooms shown on the monitors. All the rooms appeared to be empty.
“Let’s test out this fancy equipment and see how the rooms are controlled from up here. From here, I can track what happens when someone follows the loop of rooms.” Todd was impatient to find some answers. Before he found these monitors, he’d concluded that a supernatural force had planned the party. But now he was open to a new possibility: a human could have devised and implemented
the complicated computer system. He didn’t know which was more dangerous, since he was aware that humans could be just as devious and evil as any demons.
“I’ll follow the rooms in a circle and then retrace them in the opposite direction.” Sam was pacing back and forth in the room—over and over again. “And I’ll bring Shana along with me.”
“Linda can remain with me…while Mike and David can follow along with Carl.” Todd said.
They all seemed eager to follow his orders, except for Mike, who shot an annoyed look over his shoulder before climbing back down the ladder. Todd turned his face away, refusing to acknowledge Mike’s silly show of stubbornness. First Carl made unexplained disappearances, and now Mike had issues with authority. All the dangerous missions that he’d led in the past didn’t have all the grumblings, complaints, and disregard for authority that this group exhibited. He knew that if they didn’t learn to work well together as one close-knit unit, then they weren’t going to be successful in defeating their enemy. He had a lot of work ahead of him before he could bring this ragtag group to some semblance of working order.