My Guide To Writing Genre Novels Quickly: Part One
I’ve been promising a series of posts on writing Genre fiction, and I’m between books right now, so hear ya go:
My goals when writing are: to create a book that is entertaining and fun and that makes my readers happy (or at least most of them; you can’t please everyone), and to write quickly. I need to write quickly because there are so many new books being published these days that Amazon pushes books down in visibility after a certain time period, and when that happens, sales die down. I’m also pretty compulsive about writing and publishing; I love writing, and that makes it easier for me to dedicate a lot of time to it every day.
Some people claim that you need to labor over books, that if you don’t spend many months or years writing and rewriting, your books must be awful. I disagree. I know a lot of talented authors who regularly write 100,000 words a month, and who publish very frequently. Every writer has their own process, and what works for other writers doesn’t necessarily work for me, and vice versa. I can only describe what works for me.
The writing advice that I give here is intended to help you write well, and also to write quickly.
The first rule of writing quickly: I write much faster when I have plotted out the book’s most important elements in advance.
Since I’m writing in a specific genre, I already know a lot of what elements are needed. The book still evolves and changes as I write, but knowing certain things helps me avoid writing myself into a corner.
Here’s a basic list of what I need to know before I start writing:
1.) I need the basic rules of my paranormal world. Do humans know that paranormals exist? How did paranormals come to exist? Where do they live? Who’s in charge of each paranormal group – werewolves, witches, etc.? What are the laws for each group? Do they elect leaders, are the leaders hereditary, do they have absolute power, who enforces their edicts and rules, etc. How do the groups get along with each other? I don’t have to know absolutely everything when I start – a lot of it evolves and comes to me as I write.
2.) In a paranormal romance, (or any romance) there’s a hero and a heroine. I need to know:
What is their profession? Who were their parents, and what kind of upbringing did they have? (Loving, abusive, smothering, neglectful, etc.) How did their upbringing effect them? Are their parents or any family members still living, and if so, what kind of relationship do they have with them? Where is the hero or heroine from?
3.) The hero and heroine always have a physical attraction on first meeting, but there is also always a reason, perhaps multiple reasons, why they can’t be together. Otherwise you’d have a pretty dull story. So, I need to know: what is the INTERIOR/psychological barrier to them getting together? Examples: he has a reputation as a player and she’s wary of him because of it, or he was burned when his wife cheated on him so he has a hard time trusting and is looking for her to betray him, she has low self esteem so she is wary of his apparent interest in her…
Then, what are the EXTERNAL reasons they can’t be together? As in: He’s trying to arrest a family member of hers. Or their packs are at war. Or she’s been promised to somebody else. Or he’s a bounty hunter sent to capture her. Or, she’s only in town for a short time, and they decide to have a brief fling but other obligations are calling her away. Or, he’s a prosecutor and she’s a defense attorney on opposite sides of a case (that’s more traditional romance rather than paranormal romance.) Or, he’s a wolf and she’s a bobcat so their packs/prides will be opposed to them getting together.
4.) Who is the villain of the story? In a paranormal romance, there’s generally going to be a bad guy, or an evil pack, or a mad scientist, or someone who is posing some kind of challenge to the hero and heroine that must be overcome. What are the villain’s motivations? What do they want, and why do they want it? They want power, so they want to take over the heroine’s pack, or the villain is in love with the heroine so he wants to claim her for himself and doesn’t care what she wants, the villain wants revenge because his father, a criminal, was killed by the hero’s family…etc.
The villain of the story can also provide some of that external reason why the hero and heroine can’t be together.
5.) How does the villain attempt to accomplish what he or she wants? What is he or she doing to accomplish their goals?
6.) Is there an “enemy within” – someone who is in the hero or heroine’s pack, family, job, school, etc., who should be an ally but turns out to be a villain? What do they want, and why do they want it? Example – female is in love with the hero, so when he finally meets the love of his life, she tries to sabotage them. Having an enemy within helps add dimension and mystery to the story.
7.) What is the “all is lost” moment, or final battle, and how does the hero and heroine win this final fight? To figure this out, look to the villain and how they are trying to accomplish their goal. Example – the villain wants the heroine to marry him so he can have her dowry and her land, so in the all is lost moment, he kidnaps the heroine’s family and threatens to kill them if she won’t marry him. Also at this point, the hero and the heroine have gotten in some kind of fight and she thinks it’s over between them. Remember – ALL is lost here. She thinks no help is coming and she can’t let her family die. So, the heroine agrees to marry the villain to save her family. What could happen next? The hero could somehow find a way to break up the wedding and rescue her family.
7.) What changes internally and externally for the hero and/or heroine by the end of the story? Every story is both an internal and an external journey. Someone needs to grow, to finally have faith in themselves, or to learn to trust again, etc. The hero and heroine have to overcome their inner doubts/fears/obstacles.
So, that list is my starting point for plotting out my books.
Next post will be about writing that first draft.