I HAVE SOME VALUABLE HINTS, THE DO’S AND DON’T’S ON THE ROAD TO THAT ELUSIVE BEST SELLER
If you are a new author or an aspiring author, you probably are beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed, especially if you’ve done some surfing on the Net.
Since I started this journey, I’ve learned a lot, made some expensive mistakes, and discovered quite unexpectedly some help to promote my books. I’ve been putting my findings in the order I think may be helpful, and decided to share them. PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES AS WELL BY LEAVING COMMENTS.
I will use the categories of research, writing, publishing and marketing.
Hint #1: How to Start
If you want to write a story, you must have an idea or two. I am going to take an idea that folks who come to a presentation I do on “So, You Want to Write a Story”. They tell me they have a packet of letters from their grandmother who was corresponding with her sweetheart who was a pilot in the Pacific theater of WWII. They ask, “How can I tell this story.” Oh Boy! I think. “Here is a list of avenues you can research to help you flesh out a story, and give you new insights and ideas,” I tell them.
And now I will tell you how I did it in my fourth book, “The Mystery of the Lost Avenger”.
- Inspiration – What is it you really want to say in your story? What tweaked you interest? Who tweaked your interest?The facts you unearth can give your character multi-dimentionality, and your plot more complexity.
The book I am working on now has my heroine receiving a letter from Naval Intelligence (better known as NCIS) about a WWII plane that crashed in a remote area of the U.S. in 1943. The investigators found a note in the plane they traced to her great grandmother who worked in a defense plant manufacturing fighter planes. I needed to do a lot of research about women’s roles in WWII, the plane grandma worked on, its role in the war, her pilot fiance, creating a secret code, and how to go about taking flying lessons.
I went to a local aviation museum where the curator and the archivist piled file upon file, and several books on a dusty table in a hangar they use as their office and exhibit workshop. The hangar is located near where Charles Lindbergh took off for Paris. The hangar itself was an inspiration. Except for the computer on the curator’s desk, and the copy machine, everything was old, as if someone had locked it up in 1945 and I was just discovering it. I had already done quite a bit of research on the Web, but this experience with yellowed pages, original blueprints and factory reports, and pictures of beautiful eager young faces (now in their 90’s) transported me. I was there feeling the tension of that production line that, at one point, produced a plane an hour. I could imagine those Rosie the Riveter gals kissing the plane off to some brave pilot, and I could feel the incredible energy that saved the world.
Getting back to the writing process, it clarified some plot elements I was having trouble with and gave me some sensory impressions that will energize my characters like hair styles, pilot’s uniforms, and the real “Rosies” in their coveralls and bandannas.
The enormity of what America and her allies did in WWII inspired me to tell my story, not just as a mystery, but as a “little lesson” in history for my young readers. I walked out into the hot summer afternoon with a folder full of photocopied material, humming Glen Miller’s In the Mood.
- Research – This is what gives your story believe-ability, something to hang the story on, and just plain interest.
- Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the history of the setting?
- Did, or does the setting have any mysteries you could weave into your story?
- Where do your characters come from, and what is their history?
- What will you have the characters do, given their setting and roles in life?
- Research the setting, your characters if they are real, and what they were doing when .
The facts you unearth can give your character multi-dimentionality, and your plot more complexity.
That’s all for now. Tune in next time for a list of place to do your research.