I constantly read, both novels and nonfiction books about how to write better. There are many on the craft of writing, and I look for anything that discusses how to tell a better story. Writing a novel takes good writing and good storytelling, which are two separate things. What’s the difference? I’d say at least 75% of the books out there have well constructed sentences, vivid description and correct grammar… you know, the things that make a piece of prose readable. However, a much smaller percentage tell a gripping story. You can write a well written paper about your fun day at the zoo, but that doesn’t mean the general public will pay money and spend time reading it.
Writing a page turner takes heart and passion for your storyline, your characters and your message. Yes, novels have a message! It’s that little thing that makes you stop and think after you finish the book. Often, it’s a simple but powerful message such as, “Yes, love does change us and help us through life.” It’s the human connection in the story. Some of this goes into the initial writing, and I’m finding the ‘message’ comes out more with the fine tuning and revising. More and more, I believe the stronger the message, the more successful the book will be. I don’t mean a preachy message, but just the feeling that the author has captured something about our experience and shared it. I can see it in the novels I love, and I can see how I’m developing that in my own writing. That’s what I’m aiming for now.
Some of the excellent writing books I’ve read challenge authors to look into why they are writing their novel. I used that to guide me in writing my current work in progress: Why am I writing this book? Point Hope looks at what family really means, and what we’ll do for our families, and even what we’ll sacrifice for our kids and family. It can be about honor but you’ll find love there too. Family is the people who love you, the people you take in. This book, for me, goes even beyond that. I thought about, what can this book give people? What if people feel they missed something and are looking for it, like the characters?
Each character desperately needs something from the others – The Sinclairs are a close-knit family and depend on each other, even though things are falling apart. Trey and Rosette are on the brink of divorce, but they have kids depending on them. They’re also raising 16 year old Alex, Trey’s younger brother, before things get even more complicated. (Alex surprised me and became a very interesting character!)
I have more to say on the subject, but I don’t want to give the plot away just yet! I will say, I’ve put so much into this book that I almost worry I won’t anything left for the next book. I’m pouring in my heart and soul. But I have to trust that there are always new stories to tell and new characters to meet, so I can’t hold back while writing this one.
I’ll keep you updated with a firmer release date as we approach March!