Develop a Story

I didn’t start out to write a novel. I just had an idea. In this case I had the rather vague thought of a young man who wakes up one day to a world that was utterly silent and in which he was absolutely alone. It was to be a story about isolation and alienation in an utterly hostile world. No, I haven’t given away any of the plot because the story didn’t turn out this way. No matter how I tried to make the story about theme driven, it never worked and, after several fitful starts, I surrendered to the storyline and I became the recorder of events in the story rather than the originator.  The characters grew until they led the action rather than my leading them.

Letting the characters unfold the action can have consequences though. Since the characters are a product of your psyche, especially those corridors of your mind that may often be hidden in shadow. I found myself writing about things that I normally would have steered clear of, yet in the context of the action and dialogue, virtually nothing was off limits. I also found that once the story was launched it wanted to keep going and going, from action point to action point, adventure to adventure. Suddenly 100K words became 200K, and 200K became 300K. Then suddenly it was over. It wasn’t that I ran out of words, the story simply reached its end and the characters stopped speaking to me.

Once the initial writing was completed, editing began. Then more editing, and even more editing.  Editing was followed by doubting. Is it too long? What about consistency? What about style? What about marketability? Oh, yeah, marketability, how do I make money with my creation?  Maybe I should split the novel into several novellas or novelettes. After all, six eBook novellas at .99 cents each would bring in more than one eBook novel at $3.99.  A more compelling argument is that I doubt anyone would pay $3.99 (much less $12.99) for a novel by a previously unpublished author, whereas on a whim someone might spend .99 cents just to see what it’s like.

If you’re turned off by the previous discussion of marketability, not to worry. In the end, the whole marketability thing doesn’t really work for me as I am a terrible self-promoter and a worse capitalist. If I can make a profit at writing, at least enough that I can declare my office as a business expense, I’ll be happy.

© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

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