Today is a special even here at Dag-Lit Central. I’m proud to be hosting my first visitor, Mr R.B. Wood. He’s dropping in here as part of his Magical Mystery Blog tour to talk about what he believes makes a story stand out from the crowd.
So without any further ado, over to Mr Wood.
Writing that Stands Out from the Crowd
When Jonathan agreed to host an article as a part of the Magical Mystery Blog tour celebrating the release of my book, The Prodigal’s Foole, he suggested that the subject for this essay be “Writing that Stands Out from the Crowd.”
I thought “Wow. What a phenomenal subject. Let me thing about that for a while.”
I spent a lot of time researching the subject, more so than I did when I first started the construction of my book.
What I realized is there are a lot of opinions on what constitutes exceptional writing.
So instead of citing writing methods like Snowflake or 1-3-1, Let me tell you what I find necessary for stand out storytelling.
Human beings are wonderfully flawed and complex creatures. Characters should be rich in development, motivations, and history. I spent nearly a year developing the main characters for The Prodigal’s Foole. I can tell you which character broke her arm when she was five (thus leading to the first instance of magic occurring in her life). I know their fears and their triumphs. I know how they each make love and I know their triggers. They’ve become, in some sense, very real to me.
Make your characters three-dimensional. It will be obvious to your eventual readers if you do.
I have to quote Stephen Covey here. “Begin with the End in Mind.” Where do you want to go? What journey do you want to take your characters on? What will they learn? What kind of story do you want to tell?
That last question is key. Be in love with the story you want to tell. If for no other reason than you will write, edit and revise so many times before your book is finished, that if you don’t love your story, you’ll never finish.
I’ll give you a quick example. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes because, quite frankly, he was done with the character. The Public was furious, so the author brought him back (being a good business man). But if you read the Holmes stories post the great detective’s penultimate fight with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls, I think the stories are lesser in scope and impact.
My opinion, of course. But I feel the same way about bringing Spock back after Wrath of Khan and the Star Wars prequels. Fucking Jar-Jar Binks.
Anyway. Map your story out, How you do this doesn’t matter, whether you’re a pantser of a plotter—know where you want to go.
Do your research. If you are writing about Victorian England, read about the era. And no, I don’t mean twenty minutes on Wikipedia. A decade ago, I met a wonderful old gentleman. In World War II, he had been gunner of a tank in the African campaigns. I spoke with him for hours about many things, including his life in the war.
Read the prologue of my next book (included at the end of TPF)–I hope I captured our conversations and his experience. Unfortunately he passed away some time ago so I’ll never be sure.
But my point is this. The three things in my opinion that lead to a stand-out book are Character depth, a great story idea, and research.
Tie those things together, than you can worry about structure, grammar and those other things.
My two cents.
R.B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and quite frankly anything else that strikes his fancy. His first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, is available now from Pfoxchase Publishing and other fine eRetailers. Mr. Wood is currently working on the second book of his Arcana Chronicles series and is host of The Word Count podcast.
His Website/blog: http://www.rbwood.com
His Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/rbwoodwriter
His Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/rbwood
Links for The Prodigal’s Foole
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/Prodigals-Foole-Novel-Arcana-Chronicles/dp/1936827336/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid;=1320359140&sr;=8-1
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Prodigals-Foole-Arcana-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B005WKF71U/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m;=AG56TWVU5XWC2
R.B. Wood has very generously offered to give away an e-copy of The Prodigal’s Foole to the most thoughtful response to his post.
Please leave your comments below – and make sure you include your email address so he can get in touch with you.