That's my advice for the day. Plus a few more tips that I've had clipped to the back of my upright desk for a while.
When starting out in a new book, you've got to ask and answer two main questions:
IS ENOUGH AT STAKE?
In other words, are the stakes high enough?
There has to be DEATH.
Either physical, professional, psychological or spiritual.
You pick one of the above.
HOW CAN IT GET WORSE?
This one is one that I sometimes have to kick myself on the behind to produce. I hate putting my favorite characters through so much horror/terror. But, you gotta do what you gotta do.
I remember one fan of my Sabrina Strong series asking me why I had killed off Dante in the end of second book, Vampire's Trill.
Why, indeed. Because he made Sabrina happy. But he couldn't be with her, because he was Tremayne's scion. If Dante (a handsome Native American hunk who happened to be both a shape-shifter and shaman in life), had continued his wooing of Sabrina, Tremayne would have had a hissy-fit in vampire terms. He'd of killed him. Which would have fit nicely in the above. But I needed her to loose him in a different way.
Besides, I brought him back to be Sabrina's biggest secret weapon when shit hits the fan in the third book.
With my current WIP I'm working my way into the meat of the story, and am plotting things to go awry, in every damn way I can think of. Dante, who is now an Undead, can't always be with her physically. He has to feed. Since I've invented this sort of unusual vampire, I'll explain that he has to feed either on the soul of the dying, or on sex. Because at this point I've written books 5,6, & 7, a lot has happened. Let me just say I've made things more difficult for these two to be together--either intimately, or him being able to become a physical being. Otherwise, he's a spirit who can reach her only through a mirror. As long as she carries one, or there's one wherever she happens to be.
I'm working up the villains in this story. One worse than the next. And sometimes, it'll be hard to figure out if the one that's supposed to have been the bad guy, is really all that bad. I'm having fun with it.
That's the other unwritten rule. If you aren't having fun writing whatever it is you're writing, then stop. Take a break away from it. If ideas aren't coming to you, you need to rest. Your brain needs to rest. Find something else to occupy your time, but above all, don't let the inability to write get to you. We won't call it "writer's block". To me that's a fancy schmancy word that the "professionals" have invented to make you paranoid about your inability to produce every day.
BREAK THE RULES!
If you pay too much attention to what the "professionals" say about the craft, you'll become constipated on the page. Don't. Listen. To. Crap.
I once attended a critique class a long, long time ago. The word "was" was considered bad, and if you used it in your writing, well, you weren't very good at writing. I busted my buns to try and write without using that word too much. All I got was crap on the page. I got nowhere with that rule. I'm not going to take out every last damned word that other writers - "professionals" - say we mustn't use. I've read all the masters from King to Rowling. What do you know? They don't pay much attention to "the rules". They most definitely break the "rules". So why shouldn't I?
Your main objective is to get the story down, first. Worry about the flow of words later. But the plot is number one. You also have to know who's going to suffer and how and where and who the bad guy's going to do this to your good guy from the beginning. Even if you don't have a name, names and descriptions can come later.
Her objective is to get to a small village named Elvira, and find the man who is supposed to have abducted the Princess Aljehambra (we know her from 3rd book, Vampire Nocturne). If she doesn't find Ali, they will kill her.
To top things off, Sabrina becomes romantically involved with the man, Hawk, who may have abducted her. Plus, in the very beginning of the book a wizard, named Booth, has asked her to find his wife and child, who he claims has been abducted by King Drakulya. (Drakulya/his son, Joha, denies this.) Sabrina declines to work for Booth, as she feels there is conflict of interest, since she has worked for Drakulya in the past, and would rather work for the Drakulyas to find the princess, instead.
So, you see, the stakes not only are high, but they become stacked higher and higher. Ali is Sabrina's friend and an innocent waif of a girl. When Sabrina digs deeper, she is startled to find that something more sinister is afoot in another place all together, and by someone else, who may be the most sinister villain I will write as yet.
|Lorelei is author of Sabrina Strong series, |
Spell of the Black Unicorn,
and short stories