HOW TO KEEP YOUR CHARACTERS UNDER FIRE
I’m bubbling up with insight from another James Frey book, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II. It’s amazing the tips that he has, and if you want some deeper understanding about novel-writing, I’d suggest buying both of his books. They’re easy reads, and they’re as suspenseful as a novel, in my opinion.
He uses the term, “Light the Fuse.” The idea is that your characters have to start your novel in a dramatic situation, a tough circumstance. It’s the bomb that’s about to blow if your characters don’t escape.
I agree. I believe that the days of drab beginnings are almost done, and if you are looking to be published by an agency, you’d better build empathy for your character quickly, or else your work will be tumbling into the never-ending file cabinet (the trashcan).
Here is a sample dud.
The sunlight beamed through the lining of the silk drapes in the bedroom. Flashes of yellow and pink saturated the room.
If the next line is not a fuse, then guess what. It’s DULL! Who wants to keep reading? Let’s add some Cheyenne pepper to that bland entrée. We’ll just add-on to what we already have.
She rolled over in the 800-thread sheets. Her guilt hid behind her half-hearted smile at the man who was not her husband. What if Erik found out this time?
Now the fuse is lit. We can see that there’s a problem . This lady is in place that she shouldn’t be in, with a man who is not her own. But get this. We are building empathy for her because we are showing that she has some reservations about this affair.
This open door of connection makes the reader empathize with your main. Do you approve of what she’s done? Probably not, but perhaps she’s going to make a case as to why she did it. Either way, we’ve got a story.
The important factor here is that if we just started with the first statement and continued describing events, we might have lost the reader. Get to the predicament, and then you can jump back into the setting.
Sliding out of the bed, her feet sank into the soft, burgundy carpet that massaged her toes. She found her bra and hastily slid it on, not looking back at the man whom she hoped to never see again.
See that? More setting is revealed through her experience of the environment without letting go of the tension. She’s been with this man before, but something in her doesn’t’ want to see him again. I think we might just have a story people!
Happy Monday. Thanks for stopping by!