Updated: Jul 13
Who should read?
Those who keep coming back to an idea of writing, but are unable to shape it.
Those who already write but don’t fully understand the structure/steps of creating fiction.
Research: James Patterson, Film Companion
Well, I am no expert in writing fiction. I wrote and self-published a book three years back. The book was close to my personal experiences and was a faster write, faster than my blogs. After I published it, the
next challenge for me was to write something that I have not experienced. I watched a lot of interviews of film writers and directors, read books, and took classes on writing fiction. The key problem I had was how to sound authentic/get details right if it is not my experience. Therefore, in this blog, we will focus on three elements: 1) Raw Idea; 2) Research; and 3) High-level structure/milestones for writing. ‘Idea’ is the crucial element of writing. To capture the right idea, you need to continuously keep recording your sleep/morning ideas in an idea book. Combine any weird experiences or ideas you come across during your research. Example, if you are good at science, you can express in equations versus prose/poetry. This will add depth and uniqueness to your expression and idea. Knowing more or regularly building your knowledge base helps to generate ideas. The second part of building credibility in an idea is not making things up or doing research. Conduct interviews, go around the city and google to know streets and landmarks. You can’t know everything; therefore, it is important to know about the reach of your resources. Before writing a thriller which involves RAW/FBI, you should assess if you have resources which can talk you through basic modus operandi of these organizations. If you don’t have the resources, then your material won’t be convincing. The third part is milestones of writing. The flow is Plot>Conflict>Research>outline>feedback on outline>Characters>Ending. Once you have the idea, then create a plot. A plot requires a deep dive into motives. The best-selling books have seriously built motives where the reader can take the journey on stakes involved for the characters. Example, the story is of two people who fell in love and separated. The story is ordinary. The plot, however, can turn this story into un-ordinary. The plot will tell why. They separated because the girl (who the audience already empathizes with), enacted infidelity as she was an agent milking the boy for information. You can reveal the genuine/hateful motive in the end. But meanwhile, what can keep the audience glued is creating the right conflicts and leaving the right clues. Until you build the climax, you should add twists in the plot. To create conflict, you should build a strong and worthy opponent. In this plot, it could be the terrorist who the agent girl was trapping. Once you have the plot, complement it with research we discussed earlier and reach an outline. At this stage, you should do multiple drafts to see you have all characters, the right flow, and twists. Elaboration of the outline comes at a later stage. James Patterson explained some dos and don’ts in his course beautifully. Some that I noted during my research were: 1) Set up questions which readers can answer, 2) don’t reveal too much too soon, 3) you should leave clues to your ending, 4) you can mislead but not to a point where reader figures it out and then has to change it later. Don’t annoy your reader. Since I am not the most experienced in writing, I will quote his two cents on ending: “Happy Ending only works if it is honest”.