What it takes to get the job done


There is still a lot of argument going on within the world of writing on how to go about writing a novel, novella, or even a short story. Certain actions on your part as the writer are absolutely fundamental to any story. First of all, the writer needs a strong story idea. Having a vague notion simply won’t work. This applies to all genres. Next the writer needs a hook in the first few pages to capture the reader’s interest and attention. The third thing all writers need are believable characters. How much you reveal about them is down to you. But remember this, the reader needs to know what makes the main character or characters tick.

Secondary characters and those inhabiting the periphery usually don’t need so much detail. Think of them as strangers in a crowd. Do you really need to know every nuance about them? No of course not. If your readers are a bunch of completely nosy individuals, wanting to know everything about every character, let them use their own imagination.That way whether they realise it or not, they become involved in the story.

After that, what happens is largely down to the type of story it is. Not every story needs to be planned out. Some stories literally write themselves as in my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales, where, given the characters I created, they virtually dictated what will happen in each circumstance. As a consequence, writing Glob’s tales was a pure joy.

Others require a degree of planning and a lot of background research like my best selling Scifi-adventure story The Seventh Age, where a lot of the action takes place in various historical locations across the Earth. Plus I made use of events that where happening across the world at the time of writing.

A lot of writers, particularly new ones, can and do over plan to the point where the story they are writing becomes inflexible. Don’t get bogged down with rigid ideas. Flexibility is always key to writing any story.

The same amount of research also applied to Seventh’s archaeological adventure sequel The Forgotten Age. In that instance I had already established the main characters in the previous novel. What I needed that time was yet more background research, this time on Egypt, the Giza Plateau, Egyptian burial rites and customs, Mastabas, and anything I could find on the supposed lost library of the ancients rumoured to be either beneath the Sphinx, or the Great Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops, or Khufu. Even now, eminent Egyptologists still argue over which pharaoh was responsible for its construction.

All of the above points are fundamental to creating a story. After all your hard work, whether or not your readers will like what you’ve written is literally in the lap of the gods.

One other point for you to consider – a lot of publishers and editors abhor prologues and epilogues. Are they necessary? Once again, it all depends on the type of story. While I don’t always use them, they do come in handy to give the reader a preamble before they start chapter one and what happened as a consequence of your characters actions.

Remember this; no matter what, you won’t please everyone, especially armchair critics, pedants et al.

OK that’s it. Back to researching my next novel…

5 thoughts on “What it takes to get the job done

  1. I recently, again, read a highly praised book published by a large traditional publisher that had a prologue, which, in my opinion was quite necessary and well executed for this book. Just goes to show there is a lot of talk and rules, but in the end it depends on the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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