Plotting, etc

Writing’s easy. Really.

There you are, a terrifying blank screen in front of you. Now what?

You need a protagonist. He needs a name. Let’s call him John Fitzgerald. Hey, Kennedy had to be named after someone, didn’t he?

The name implies he’s of Irish ancestry. Describe an Irishman, as you understand them to be, but don’t tell anyone. Just decide whether he’s tall or short or in between, dark or light hair; or if you want to mess with people’s imaginations, add in Oriental or Black mixture. Names don’t mean much nowadays, as far as ancestry goes.

Now what? Let’s find him something to do. Or be.

Is your novel straight adventure, or do you intend it to be more than that? I do, and therein enters something I’ll call pretentiousness. Good novels have one or more subplots; can your novel have that?

SPOILER ALERT! I’m going to tell you something about my novels. I hope it won’t stop you from reading them.

The Wizards Trilogy has several subplots going.  But underneath is a major theme, what would happen if everyone possessed extraordinary abilities? Mind to mind communication, lifting objects by mental power alone, things like that? There are also themes about responsibility and unintended consequences. And while Combat Wizard is fairly dark, Wizard at Work has an underlying theme of humor. If you liked Donald Westlake’s novels (I did!), you might see similarities. Not overt, but really, so many things go so awry even though the MC and his associates have only the best of intentions. Talent continues this theme.

Then there’s the Darwin’s World series. Totally different, nothing paranormal about it. Straight adventure, almost. But beneath the adventure is a commentary about freedom and responsibility, about civilization and why we’ve developed it, why government is important and what the limits of government should be. There are choices about what’s important and what can be abandoned, what can be done better the second time through.

Pretentious, or making it a better story? You, the reader of my books, and you, the author of your own writings, have to decide that.

Rich plotting: every character I add brings another thread to the plot. What aims do they have? How will they impact the other characters? And what part of the overlying plot do they advance?

So now I’ve shared my author-ness. I hope you find this small essay enlightening. And hey, if you’re curious enough to buy my books…?

I won’t mind at all.

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