Monday, October 19, 2009

Love to Read, Hate to Read

Monday, October 19, 2009
Here is a great idea I stole from Chris Baty's book, "No Plot? No Problem!" to help plan out and guide your novel writing process.

Make two lists on two separate pieces of paper. Make one list "What I Love to Read in a Novel" and the other "What I Hate to Read in a Novel." Do exactly what the lists suggest. Write down everything that you love to read about, all the things that get your heart racing and cause you to not be able to put the book down. Then write all the things that make you gag and want to throw the book out the window, or the things that make you fall asleep while reading. Take some time to really think these lists through.

Keep these two lists near your computer so that they will constantly be on hand as references. You would think it would be common sense not to put the things you hate into your novel, but you would be surprised how easily those things can creep in when you've got no better ideas. Don't let this happen! The list of things you love can act as a to do list, or more like a mission statement. Try your best to put as many of the things you love into your book.

With this exercise you are essentially creating your own guidelines for writing. A list of Do's and Don'ts that you will never be able to argue with.

Here are my lists, though I am sure I will think of more points later. Remember, this is my own list. You need to make your own. You might love something I hate, or hate something I love. This is just an example.

"Things I Love in a Novel"
* Quirky characters
* Physical peril
* Strong female characters
* Secret organizations
* Concise, imaginative description
* Risky stealth operations
* Smart kids (Not Nerds. I mean kids that have a lick of common sense and know to hide under the bed and call 911 when the killer barges into their house)
* Angry mobs
* Out of control super powers
* Witty dialog
* If Odd Thomas would do or say it, I love it.
* Stubborn male characters
* Snappy one-liners
* Mutants
* Social outcasts
* Betrayal
* Death of beloved characters
* Gun fights
* Chase scenes

"Things I Hate in a Novel"
* Wordy sentences
* Over description
* Large time lapses within chapters
* Opening paragraphs that describe scenery
* Over use of onomatopoeia
* Teen romance (crushes are ok, romance is unrealistic)
* Magical swords/weapons that bestow phenomenal powers on it's wielders
* Glitter and Fluff

Hmm, apparently there are more things I love than hate. I'm sure I'll think of more later. I hope this tip will be helpful to you in your novel planing endeavors.

Peace and Joy,

Miranda Joy


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