GOOOOD MORNIN! Happy FREAKIN Monday! Are you ready to kick today’s ASS? If you aren’t….do it freakin anyways! We gotta kill it on Mondays! Second day of the week (fun fact, Sunday is actually the first day of the week) and first day of the work week! We gotta get after it!
If you don’t know me personally, I am one hundred percent a morning person. Once I wake, and definitely after I get that first cup of coffee in my bloodstream, its on. I’m going. The machine is engaged and there ain’t no stopping it.
For the writers, NaNoWriMo is coming to a close quickly. Six days left with Thanksgiving right in the middle. I did some WORK this weekend and gained some ground and I plan to bust out a ridiculous word count this week. If you’re in it, get after it! We got it!
ALSO, if you have not already joined my email list, and particularly if you have not ready my debut novel, Love Before Law, you can get a free copy of the eBook by signing up! You can do exactly that right HERE.
Alright, here we go, today’s topic: My writing style. I want to give a couple insights into how I write, what my goals are with any work in progress and why I do it the way I do.
Before I get into it, I want to say here that my writing process has been developed based on what I like to see as a reader. There are basically two schools of thought (office quote, if you got it I love you). Some believe you should write for your readers first, some believe that you should write for you first.
I fall into the write for yourself first school of thought. I write the story that I want to read, and the story that I want to know the ending of. I write it in the way that I would want to read it and in the style that would keep me flipping the pages. So keep these things in mind as I go.
Here is a quick summary of the concepts that make up my style:
- Not too long
- An exciting story – action/thrill from the very start to the very end
- A big twist
- An absolute need to read the next page and the next chapter.
These concepts specifically relate to the suspenseful or psychological thriller genre. I have plans to try my hand in some other genres in the future, but for now I am loyal to the thriller brand. I am going to go through each of these in case you are interested in a bit more information!
1. FAST PACED STORY
As a reader, there is nothing worse for me than a story that drags on and on by adding a bunch of fluff and unnecessary detail. Don’t get me wrong, detail is important, but too much can turn me off quickly and i’m guessing some of you are the same way.
I have a short attention span because I have so much going on throughout my day, so if I set aside time to read a physical book, it needs to keep my attention the entire time and this means it needs to move along quickly. I need big events to happen and I need them to happen faster than once every hundred pages.
My books are generally between 200-250 pages and within those pages I pack a whole lot of action. I want it to be a true thriller. I want the reader to be guessing and gasping as they turn the pages, not grinding. Reading a book shouldn’t be a task, it should be fun.
I start the book with a bang, and then I don’t stop even in the end. I keep the reader guessing and put them in a place where they not only want to find out what happens next, they want to keep reading because it is a fun experience and not a chore.
2. NOT TOO LONG
I can’t read thousand-page books. I just can’t do it. I am confident enough in the statement to say that it is not possible to write a thousand-page novel and have it be interesting the entire time. Why am I confident? Because I have tried to read them, and I have yet to get through half of one of those monsters.
Why? Because there is so much fluff and so much detail that isn’t necessary that I get bored very quickly. I can visualize a spooky house or an abandoned building with about two to three pages of description tops, I don’t need twenty and when there is twenty I am bored by about page three.
I write enough detail to give the reader a visual of what is happening and where it is happening and then I move on. I don’t go on for pages upon pages describing every blade of grass in the empty lot.
I also believe that a big, thick, million page book can be a daunting thing to have on your agenda for any given day. It can be so daunting, in fact, that it can deter you from reading the damn thing at all!
For me, as a reader, the perfect length lies somewhere between 200 and 300 pages and that is where my books tend to be so far and that is where I intend to stay. Its not impossible that I may one day come across an idea that warrants a longer book, but so far I haven’t found anything that NEEDED to be longer than that.
3. EXCITING STORY
It has got to be exciting folks, bottom freakin line. For me, the story has to be exciting. It needs to start exciting and it needs to end exciting. The opening sentence or, at the very most, the opening paragraph needs to have me by the you know whats.
This is how I buy a book when I am ready for a new story. I go to Books-a-Million or what ever book store is in the area. I also sometimes use Amazon because most of the time now they offer a preview at the first few pages of a book online.
I find a cover that draws me in and I read the back. If the summary gives me the sense that it is a plot I will enjoy, I will then flip, either physically or electronically, to the first page of the first chapter and I will read the opening paragraph.
If that first paragraph doesn’t have me fully committed and needing to know how the story goes, I don’t buy it and I don’t read it.
I keep this in mind when I am writing my books. I start them out in a way that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. Ever. Not even in the end.
The end of every chapter leaves the reader with a question that needs answered, and therefore, they have to keep reading to find out what happens. The end of the book also leaves them needing to get the next one to find out how the story continues.
I want to put my reader in a position where they have to force themselves to put the book down because they just don’t want to stop reading. That is the goal. Always.
It isn’t just the start and finish either! There needs to be big twists and bigger turns all throughout the story so you aren’t waiting for eighty pages before something interesting happens. Gotta be exciting start through to finish.
4. THE BIGGEST TWIST
As I stated above, there has to be big twists and bigger turns all throughout the story. However, there needs to be little clues sprinkled throughout the story that lead up to the ultimate twist or reveal. In my opinion, if you can surprise you reader to a point where they had absolutely no idea what was coming the entire time, you have won.
You are a champion. It’s the big payoff at the end that was set up by several smaller payoffs. This is where the reader is fully happy with their decision to read the book. The moment that makes it all worth it. You want them to go “ah, he got me, that was good, never saw that coming.”
For me, usually the idea for the big twist comes before anything else. I know exactly how I want the book to end then I built it from the beginning toward that end. It has worked out pretty well for me so far, and as such, I will not question it.
5. AN ABSOLUTE NEED TO KEEP TURNING THE PAGES
This is the holy grail for me as a reader. There has to be a pull from the pages that keeps me turning. If there isn’t, I won’t keep turning, simple as that. I mentioned this above once or twice, but it is so important that I went ahead and gave it its own bullet.
Every chapter should end in a way that gives the reader a question that MUST be answered. I NEVER end a chapter with something like this: John and Jane enjoyed fine wine and food for the rest of the evening.
What? Why? What is my incentive to keep turning? To read more about how awesome the steak tartar was? No! This is how I would do it: John and Jane were having a wonderful evening enjoying a meal and wine. It was a magical evening, until the knock came at the door.
If it were me reading that, I would HAVE to at least read the first page of the next chapter to see who’s at the door!
Maybe this isn’t you, maybe you are good without having constant suspense, but for me, I need something to keep pulling me through, and so that is the way that I write!
I hope this either entertained or inspired or motivated or taught you. I like to think that anyone reading this will get something out of it. If not, leave me a comment and let me know how I can do better! My goal is to help here, and if I am not doing so I need to hear about it.
I am sure I will write to you before Thursday, but if none of my messages make it to you by then, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by friends, family and food. Those are the important things!