I know that the one fact that anyone would have to agree with is the fact that to write fiction is not easy. But, then, there are people that make the efforts and succeed in coming out with very good fiction that turn out to become worldwide bestselling books. And that will make you to wonder: how do they do it? Do they have something that the others do not have in their heads? Or does it mean that it is nothing but sheer talent and not that coupled with the requisite hard work that makes this to be totally possible for them to do so as authors?
However, that is not the case. You know why? Crafting very fabulous fiction has got to do with the fact that you have to learn how to enter into the human psyche in order to be able to get something good that you can work with when trying out to do something in the world of the pen that we writers bring to the fore with such passion.
So here goes: do you want to write something that the readers would be able to identify with when the time comes and they are perusing through your work, through the words that stream across the pages of that book they had spent their money on? Then I think to say that this post might be the thing there for you.
When you as an author is trying to craft the characters that will make up the characterization of the book, then you have to take into cognizance that it is the character that tells the story. They are the ones that will move the story forward and without them, you have no book. Let us try a little experiment.
What is the best book you think you’ve read within the past five or ten years? Who are the main characters in the story? How do they tell their story? Can you still be able to remember what the characters were like even after the passage of a long time?
If the characters had resonated with you so that you still remember the main character and their motivation, then chances are that the characters had stood out, making them something to be remembered by you, the reader. The character may have been too good, or bad, or evil, or too butt-ugly in the book_ the point is that there must be something in the characters that make them to resonate with you so that you do not try to, or dare to, forget them so soon.
Have you read Carrie, by Stephen King? Have you forgotten the main character? Chances are that you haven’t forgotten her. If you’ve read Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game, then chances are that you still remember Eve Blackwell, the evil twin more than you can remember of her sister, the good and proper one of the duo. Have you read “She” by Henry Rider Haggard? If you have, then you can never dare to try to forget that woman herself, the She-who-must-be-obeyed. You can never dare to think to forget them and what they represent.
And THAT is the power of characterization.
I remember in the good old days when I used to beg my kid sister to go and get novels for me to read, and then she would end up bringing all those romance novels that seem to have the same exact storyline. Believe me when I tell you that after I was done with reading each book, then the moment I dropped it, the storyline and the characters would just flee from my memory. It was as if I seemed to develop selective memory loss and that was due to the fact that there was nothing to think to remember in those little shitty characters that just fill up the pages and the reader will just have to look over them in the course of reading the book even if it turns out to be the main characters themselves.
So, the main lesson to be learnt here is that the book is to be driven forward by the force of the characters that the authors choose to employ to tell the story. Make sure that the characters are not forgettable. Think of yourself walking down the street and then you saw a stranger. And there was something about this stranger that never left you, making you to remember them very much for a very long time. There must have been something that made the person to stand out in the street for you to notice them and to keep on remembering them for some time to come.
The same applies to the characters you choose for the book you’re writing. Let those characters stand out in the pages. In my saga, THE WEDDED WHORE, the main male character in the book was so damn arrogant that I got well over fifty rejections for the book from the publishers and the agents I had sent it to when I was in the market looking for the persons that will either publish the work or get the publishers to look at the nook. Here is the exact slip I got from one publisher (name and details withheld_ if you wish to know who they are, then you’ll have to private-message me so I can tell you):
REGRETFULLY, WE DON’T FEEL YOUR STORY IS RIGHT FOR US AT THIS TIME. ———————–(name of the publishers has to be withheld, yes?)
READERS WANT HEROES THAT THEY FIND ADMIRABLE…… blah blah blah . .
(Rolls eyes_ what arrant nonsense).
Oh yes, the point was that they found the hero too unadmirable that they just won’t take the book. But then, guess what, I have received a hell lot of positive reviews from the readers about this same hero that the publishers and the agents won’t touch for anything in this world.
Make sure that the dialogue in the work is moving and very interesting, not all that interior monologue that makes all those literary bestsellers to be such indefatigable bores (Think John Irving in The Cider House Rules). For the dialogue, Sidney Sheldon will make you to wet your pants with laughter at the way his characters talk and the kind of dialogue they use to get the book moving along well. The characters are so moving and so true that you think that the man had taken up some real-life dialogue from some comedians and then added to his books to make them more interesting.
Without dialogue, the book is simply dead, and there is nothing to be said for this. That is the gospel truth about the matter. You bought a book so that you see the characters interact and live their lives_ that is why fiction is called Escapism; so that you, the reader, can escape when the real world seems to be becoming too real for you then. And your characters are some dumb morons that cannot even talk, or the writer seems to be so smitten with the scenery of a particular part of the place that he takes up some forty pages to wail about it in the mind of the character while the reader gnashes his teeth in annoyance and frustration with the whole thing (Think Anne Rice in The Vampire Chronicles or even John Irving in A Prayer for Owen Meany). Ha!! You think that’s funny?
Because I do not think it is funny.
The reader should enjoy the interaction between the characters and not be made to ceaselessly delve into the brains of the characters like some medieval witch looking for the Holy Grail. And occupying the entire pages of the work while doing so. Lol.
There has to be some kind of conflict that the characters have to resolve or else the book is arrant nonsense. The point is that there must b some kind of demon that the characters are facing, and that is what will make the book to be interesting. But you see that in many books, particularly the romances, the authors make sure that their characters have absolutely nothing to be conflicted with. It is just the fact that the characters cannot get their hands off of each other, and, voila! We have a book.
For a book to be able to move the reader maybe tears or rage against or for the characters involved, then there has to be elements of great conflict there or there won’t be nothing for the reader to get out of the book they’re trying to read.
I can tell you, and on very good authority too, that nine out of ten romance readers end up not remembering the storyline of what they read in the books they’re reading. But the thriller writers will be glad to know that there is nothing that will make the reader to forget what they read in the book. However, to be fair to the romance authors, there are romance books with a hell lot of conflict that will make even Jeffery Archer to wish he was writing romances and not the chosen thrillers and sagas he’d got himself embroiled in. So there . . . there has to be conflict or the book is not worth effort being expended into writing it.
The one thing that authors should try to do is to try and get the reader to be very interested in what he’s reading. In other words, there has to be a hell lot of suspense; keep the reader engaged. In the novel I had written: THE WEDDED WHORE, I know that there was so much suspense in it that the agents and the publishers told me to try and market it as something other than a romance book. It was just too suspenseful for them. And why not? That is what the readers want: to be so embroiled in a story that they cannot dare to put the book down. The suspense has got to make the reader to be happy to invest the time needed to get the work done_ read, that is.
Think of all the very interesting books you’d read. Think of Kane and Abel; The Other Side of Midnight… if you haven’t read these books as a writer, then I think there is a problem somewhere. You have to read the most suspenseful books in the market in order to be able to know what real suspense is all about. So there, suspense handled.
The Writing Style
When you are a writer, the first thing to notice is that fact that all authors in the market have their own writing style. There is always something that makes each writer to be very distinct from the other writers around. If you pick up a book written by Anne Rice, then you will definitely know that; the same goes for an author like Sheldon.
There is something unique about each writer that will draw the readers to you_ if you are lucky, that is. Try and develop a writing style that will set you apart from the other writers around, and the world will respect you for it. The secret to doing this is not to try to emulate the writing style of any other writer. Write the way that your pen calls you to do so when you put the pen to paper or the fingers to the typewriter or the keyboard; note that I will only tolerate writers that make the effort to use only the last mode in their work because the others are SOOOOOO archaic to the ears.
Now is the time to sign off, but the writing plan: writing 101, is coming back with more tips to get that blockbuster through the grinder and into the hands of the reader that loves you.
Ani Ugochukwu Kingsley firstname.lastname@example.org
Author of The Wedded Whore
Available here on Amazon:The Wedded Whore
Available on other retailers too.