At the moment, I’m churning out more than 1000 words a day of my second novel, a psychological thriller. I wouldn’t call the work easy, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as frustrating – rather, challenging and rewarding. In the past, however, the writing hasn’t always come quickly. Recently, in fact, I’ve thought a lot about previous drafts of my two novels, particularly the problematic areas in the stories.
The biggest obstacle to story telling, I suspect, lies in not knowing what the story is really about. Story telling is fundamentally about people. Character. What motivates a character. Their most powerful desires, their greatest fears.
But characters don’t exist in isolation. They interact with other characters. One character might behave unfavourably to another. The character in question might plan their actions with a goal in mind. Revenge. Greed.
Alternatively, a character might seek to protect or rescue another character. Those characters – “the goodies” – will also need a plan of action.
Will the character achieve their goal? The three possible answers are Yes, No and Don’t Know (open endings).
The central story question forms the basis of the plot. Character-led plot drives the story on. Obstacles threaten to prevent the central character’s aims. In thriller and crime novels, the danger often mounts. If not, the descent into emotional mayhem may intensify.
What’s the best way of telling the story on paper? This is where structure comes in. Viewpoint consideration. Chapter lengths. Whether to divide the novel into sections. Whether to incorporate back story or memory flashbacks. What to concentrate on. In thriller and crime novels, the writer has a number of options. The forensic set up. The current investigation. The effects of the crime on the people involved. The character interactions. In my novels, I concentrate mostly on how an event has impacted the lives of others and how those characters relate to one another.
Finally, theme. What the story is really about. The point the author is hoping to make through their writing.
Just a few of my thoughts.