My Preferred Method
Everybody has a book inside them, so the saying goes, and most of these books will be novels. This is because everybody has at least a little imagination, and everybody has had experiences they can use in the story and has met a variety of people they can base their fictitious characters on. Of course, the older you are, the greater your material source will be.
So, how do you go about writing your novel? I shall describe my preferred method in this piece, and in several parts, so as to keep each part easily digestible. It is, what I would call, a modified John Braine method. John Braine was an English novelist who invariably employed a version of this method to write his very successful novels. I have modified the method both to suit myself and because nowadays many novels are published electronically via, for example, Amazon’s Kindle.
The first thing you need to do is have some idea of what type of novel you are going to write. You will probably base your book on the sort of books you like to read, or on some experience you have had, or simply on an idea that has suddenly come to you. Also, of course, you will learn various aspects of writing from the books you read. If I had to recommend one book in which every aspect of good writing is to be found, it would be the thriller: Longshot, by the British writer Dick Francis. Francis set most of his novels in the horse racing community and, since I am not greatly interested in horse racing, I have only read one of his books. I read it just to see what kind of a writer he was, knowing he was very popular, but wanting to discover what kind of technique he had. And I was not disappointed. This is a brilliantly written thriller. In fact I would say that every technique of good writing is to be found in this book, in spades: humor, characterisation, plotting, tension, and background are brilliantly done. And, above all, the book is easy to read.
Give your story a little thought before proceeding: you can make notes, as I have done in the past, or keep the ideas in your head, as I do these days. Then try to think of a central character for the story. Just conjure up a few details such as gender, age, how they look, what they do for a living, where they live (if they have a home), and so forth. Don’t worry too much about any of these details, since, as the story unfolds, many of them will probably need to be changed as the character develops in your head. Next, think of the storyline of your book. But don’t worry too much about this either. This too, will need to change and develop because it is the characters that will drive the plot, and not the storyline that will control the characters.
© Dick Morris 2014
(To be continued.)