A question arose at yesterday’s writer’s conference: Where did the inspiration for my novel originate? A difficult question, but I’ll try to answer it before each of my novels is published. For my Romance-Horror cross genre novel, Generation “Z” Birth of the Zompire due out next month (hopefully), I was watching a zombie movie and wondered “What if” a zombie bit a victim of a vampire soon after this attack. I wondered why the zombies didn’t entirely consume him (especially his brain), how he would differ from both attacking fiends, and what his conversion to the “Zompire” would do to his romantic relationship with his girlfriend. The answers developed into the story.
Once I decide on the topic for a novel, the first thing I think about (this may be different for other authors), are the characters. My novels are character driven. For some authors, the setting is the most important aspect of their novels, and the characters move through the setting, forming their story. I’m more interested in the characters’ reaction to others, their beliefs, and their reaction to the, usually difficult, situations I develop for them. The setting, for me, is background only. In one of my mystery novels, Not Privileged to Know (to be published probably next year), the action starts in NYC, and progresses to Washington, DC, but, although in reading the story the background is easily recognizable, it’s just that: background. I don’t like to read page after page of description of rolling hills, no matter how poetic or beautifully written. I always skip these, and yes, I do miss an important point every now and then. So, I decided in my novels the description would remain as background. I hope readers like this, or at least understand.
I always begin my novels writing the description of my main characters. Face shape, nose, ears, mouth, skin color, tall or short, large or thin, etc. etc. I put these in a file labeled “Characters” so I can refer to or change these as I need or the story demands. I then put the main character(s) into a normal situation, then an action occurs that causes the main conflict of the novel. From there I develop the story, but, first, I decide where/how the novel will end. This gives me a target to shoot for as I write the story. I then write “high” points of the novel, those spots where I will build the tension and then resolve (partially, of course) that tension, and start building tension again toward the next tension point (IE. tension builds then falls, builds then falls etc.) Now, I can’t put them all in because they may develop out of the story or other characters’ interaction with my main characters in the story. Likewise, the personalities of my characters do, and should in my opinion, change as the story develops or ends. This may or may not hold true for secondary characters, but, to make the characters interesting and have the reader like or dislike the character (and both are okay in my novels), they need personalities and unique characteristics, as well as situations that they must overcome or suffer through.
Again, I place these characters in the initial situation/place and this determines the time/place/town/country/planet/ universe etc. and then the story proceeds with description as needed. I know others do it differently, but this seems to work for me. Next, I’d like to discuss something I struggle with every day in my writing: Show, Don’t Tell!
Now that my second novel has been published, I should have time to return to blogging here. I’ll try to post much more frequently. I have joined a writing group to try to improve my writing. We’ll see.
5/22/2014 Anyway, Show, not Tell is always difficult for me. I have always seen myself as a narrator and, as such, simply want to tell a story. The problem: it doesn’t draw the reader into the action. Solution? Show, Don’t Tell. So, I try to be the new reader of the passage, raise myself above the “author” status. This allows me to move into the action myself, see it like a movie, feel the emotions I’m trying to impart to characters. It seems to work for me. More later this week.
It seems that writing my fantasy novel, Generation “Z” Birth of the Zompire, although extremely time consuming, was the easiest part of the process. Getting to (self) publication (IE. formatting, proof reading/editing, cover art uploading etc.) is a lot harder. Marketing (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Video Trailer, You Tube Video Trailers, Author signings, etc. etc.) is a daunting task in itself, and looms in the near future; however, on limited (none, really) budget, can’t afford Marketers/Distributors who demand thousands. Is all the work involved worth it? I think so, or at least it will be once completed. None of this seems impossible, and I love writing, and so want others to read what I have to say. Of course, then the process begins all over again for the next novel, Heaven’s Conflict, The Rise and Fall of Angels, hopefully by Christmas (unlikely); so, maybe by Easter next year. Stay tuned; we’re close to publication on Generation, hopefully by Halloween so the Zompire can take its place alongside the Vampires/Zombies/other “monster” books that might be published then.
It’s been a long time since I visited this blog. I got caught up with publication of Generation, then preparing our cottage in Old Lyme for Superstorm Sandy, digging out the area and all our goods that were stored in our now-non-existant storage shed and the front porch that was destroyed by a tree thrown through it by the wind/waves, fighting both the our insurance company (responsive, but no action to date, and it seems no one assigned to us knows what’s going on, or what to do!!!) and the town (they wouldn’t let us repair the porch because we had done a large dormer project, the cost of which when added to the porch, exceeded one half the total value (town determined) cost of the structure, and if exceeded we had to raise cottage (30-40 Thousand) etc. etc. etc. Now that 2012 is ending, I pledge to post to this blog much more frequently (?daily) as to progress of marketing and writing/editing next novel due out in Spring. Hope you want to take the ride with me. At least early reviews (see Amazon and my site) are good! Happy New Year!
1/1/2013 Starting the year right with a page on Ask David ( http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/vampires-and-zombies/3472 ). Hopefully, the marketing will produce some sales. Going to 2 book signings in February (NH & VA) (more about them later). Shelton (Plumb) and Old Lyme (Noyes) libraries carring my book. I’ve volunteered for a lecture this quarter at Plumb (they schedule by quarters). Bookstore visits/phone calls to see if more will carry my book on consignment. Meanwhile, I’m editing my next novel, then will send to my editors for final editing before submitting for publication (after approving cover art). Read recently 2 seemingly discouraging reports: most self-published novels sell less than 500 copies (I also read 300), and that it usually takes 4 years of marketing/selling to become “successful” as the author (Of course, I believe also that you MUST have a good product (in this case a novel with action, suspense, believable/likeable characters), no plot holes, etc) first. Hopefully I am presenting such a product. On the more positive side, I also read the best way to sell novels is to write/publish more novels so your reader base expands. I should be able to do this since I have 4 novels (written before I started publishing them myself), all completed that only need tight editing and attractive covers to publish. I plan two a year with hopes of attracting more and more by my two genres: fantasy and mysteries.
8/19/2013 It’s been a long time since my last post. Over the winter, we had the task of getting approval and arranging carpenters to repair and improve our home that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. We lost a three season porch, almost all the contents of the place, and decided we might as well change our second story from it’s tiny footage to two full dormers. It proved a much larger task than we expected, but is worth it. But it kept me from this blog and took much time away from writing. I have today finished my editing of Heaven’s Conflict, and have sent it to editors. I plan to release it on October 1, 2013, and then will work on my Political Thriller/Murder Mystery, Not Privileged to Know, as well as a mid-grade fantasy I started in January. I will also try to continue my blogs. Thanks for understanding.
First novel should be ready for purchase by summer’s end. Exact date unsure as it depends a few things beyond my control, but not significant hurdles by any means. Stay tuned.
Lucia commented 9/5/2012: Really looking forward to reading your books! When and how will they be availabe?
I’m reviewing proof copy of Generation Z today. The novel should be available in a few weeks. I’ll post as soon as it’s available for purchase directly from this site, Amazon, Kindle etc. Bill Rockwell
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