Raymond Chandler was one of the first of the detective fiction writers. A collection of four LA PI Philip Marlowe books is still available under the name “Trouble Is My Business”. Isn’t that a great description of a writer’s job! Readers love to see their favourite characters get themselves out of trouble. Finding the right trouble to put your particular character into is the trick.
Getting your protagonist into trouble can be done in many ways. Trouble can come in the form of nature, society, aliens, the supernatural, villians, technology, the rest of mankind.
Trouble can happen when another person wants the same thing, what your protagonist has, wants to do your protagonist harm, or wants to murder him or someone he loves and so on.
Trouble can also be internal, in your protagonist’s mind or heart. He or she may have conflicting goals, values, desires, instincts and on it goes.
The worse the trouble you torture your characters with, the more heroic they need to be to overcome it and the more your readers will love them. So, what are you waiting for? Go get someone into deep trouble.
One criticism often levelled at genre fiction is that it is “predictable”. The contract a romance author has with a reader is that the lovers get either their ‘happy ever after’ or ‘happy for now’. The murder mystery reader expects to find out who the murderer is.
So, what is it about genre fiction that draws readers to it in droves? Of course, it’s just as James Hynes’ says, it’s the journey. So, make it a good one. Make it original, make it fresh. Write a cracking story and your readers will love you.
Plotting is fun. Play with your characters (and your readers), plotting dastardly things to do to them, have them do and say. I love doing a brainstorming session with writer or reader friends. Don’t discount anything at first. The more outrageous the better. Let them percolate for a while and see what the girls in the basement come up with.
Make a list, as long as possible. Cliches and hackneyed ideas are easy to come up with. The more original and freshest ideas come further down on the list.
Take your time over it. Preferably, plot your next book(s) while you are writing, editing or resting an earlier one.
Editing fiction is a labour of love. It is an honour to be trusted with client’s literary babies. I love to dig my fingers in and tease out the story strands, look for ways to help an author smooth them over, improve the reader experience.
I’m proud of my little shelf of books which I had my hands on, my fingers in, for just a little while.
Had you thought of writing, as a noble occupation? I know that when I read I find that escape, those moments of delight and forgetfulness. I appreciate the plotting, planning, writing, rewriting, editing and all the other hours of work that go into publishing a book. So thanks to all the hardworking, underpaid writers and authors out there for your nobility.
How can we as readers show our appreciation for the hard work of our favourite authors?
Purchase books through proper channels rather than from dodgy sites. Ensure your favourite authors are paid for their hard work.
Spread the word when you enjoy a book by any means you can. Talk about it. Word of mouth goes a long way toward increasing sales.
Buy books as gifts for people who might enjoy them.
If nothing else, give your favourite books five stars or write a book review where you purchase them, on Goodreads, your blog…
Share your delight on your favourite social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…
Teach your children the joy of reading and an appreciation for this nobility.