Hey y'all! Today I am happy to welcome Dale Cusack author of the Grace Trilogy to the blog. I know a lot of you are interested in writing as well as reading & Dale has graciously agreed to do a guest post. Here is Dale's guest post about writing, enjoy.
Firstly let me thank my gracious host Ren for inviting me to guest post on her blog. The world of indie writers owes so much to enlightened young bloggers like Ren.
I could write about how entertaining my books are and why you should all go out and buy them but lets take that for granted and talk about something different. Lets talk about writing.
I’m sure many of you bloggers and readers out there have a half finished novel tucked away under your mattress that you occasionally think you should finish. I’m sure many of you have thousands and thousands of words already put to page. But its still not finished? Why not?
When I started writing, about a century ago, (literally, it was 1995) I was a seat of the pants kind of writer, lets just pick up the pen and see where the story goes. But I found that method had limitations. I also, strangely, found it difficult to cut stuff I had written but maybe an editor would chop in a heartbeat. I guess my writing lacked from experience and a rational hand.
So when I approached my second book I started things differently. I started to think about themes and symbolisms, about the way the heroine, Grace, was to grow. I made notes about her character now and about how she would grow over the trilogy. I noted her weaknesses and strengths. I wondered about how her weaknesses where hurting her now? In Grace’s case she was bullied, and wouldn’t fight for herself. I gave Grace, (the protagonist) allies and enemies (antagonists) as all good stories have and I used Grace’s allies to pick at her weaknesses as much as the enemies would.
This is what makes stories interesting, a heroine who isn’t perfect, whose fatal character flaw causes her to suffer and others to suffer too. Then as the story progresses hopefully the heroine overcomes her great flaw and becomes a better person. In my first book of the trilogy Grace does indeed have to face her fears.
Characters are only part of a good story though. The narrative is also important and a bland narrative will lose a reader as fast as dull dialogue. In my case, I would carefully plan a scene. What is the goal of this scene? How is the heroine affected, or attacked, how does her personality/beliefs/weaknesses come through in her actions? Then I start writing.
Every event I write I stop and think, What is the logical next step in this event? Then I do the opposite. I think a master of this technique is Suzanne Collins in her Hunger Games trilogy. Every scene in her books is a cliff-hanging, nail biting, suspense filled mystery.
This is a great tool for fleshing out and writing highly engaging stories and scenes. Write the opposite of what a reader would expect to happen. Here is a quick example to illustrate.
I leaped across the table and snatched for the pistol sitting there, it slipped onto the floor as my fingers brushed past the barrel. The creature rounded again and came at me for a final attack. I had to get that gun; it was the only chance I had left. I slid across the table and reached over. My fingers closed on the handle. The beast was now upon me, leaping across at me. I lifted the heavy berretta and squeezed the trigger; the creature was so close I could smell it's rank breath. Nothing, the trigger was useless, the gun jammed. This was it. This was the end. I was going to be eaten just like all the others, my friends, Jane.
The beast was on the table crashing down on me. There was a deafening crack. Table Beast and I collapsed in a heap. My head pounded and my vision blurred as I hit my head going down. I pulled myself to my knees. The creature’s breathing heavy. It had punctured a lung as the table collapsed.
The reader’s natural expectation is that the hero would use the gun to shoot the creature, but when the gun jammed the readers is suddenly aroused, wait a minute, what just happened? The gun is jammed? Now how will the hero escape?
Obviously this is a very simple example and just something I quickly wrote for this post, but I think you see my point? So hopefully I have given you some incentive, some inspiration or at least a gentle nudge to dust of that unfinished book and get back into it. I cant wait to read it!
Dale Cusack was born in Australia in 1970 and moved to New Zealand before his first birthday. He has written many short stories and four novels for children.
Dale mainly writes for the tween and teen readers although adults still enjoy his stories. More...
Again, many thanks to Dale. I hope you you all enjoyed this & happy reading!