Gaining Fame: Part Three
I think most writers fall into one of two cracks in the floor. They either don’t let themselves have fun when they write, afraid of what others might think of them, or they think too much about their own words. Not by choice, mind you. I have been guilty of inhabiting both musty grooves at one time or another. What pulled me through was reading lots of books, absorbing their styles, seeing how their authors put their words together to make their writing work.
The book which drove this point home to me was, The Elements of Expression by Arthur Plotnik. Here’s why. You ever watch one of those documentary films on Public Television, where they read the letters of those whom lived the history? The Gold Rush of 1849 was great for words. Most of them folks were not what you would call highly educated, but their words live and breath, even to this day. Why? They were not subject to the information overload we have to muck through from day to day. They had to reach to describe their world, and their words are elegant, even if crude by our overly educated standards.
Why should I bother with understanding how a short story is constructed, or a novel? Everybody does their own thing when it comes to writing.
Because I read both novels and short stories most of my adult life, I had a sense of what they should be. I had absorbed enough about novel and short story construction to write a novel and short story. I realized there were many similarities between novel chapters and short stories. What I didn’t realize were their differences. Both need hooks in order to start. A novel needs a big hook, preferably one that will carry the reader through to the end of the book. That big idea behind the story. One that dangles or promises, leading the reader deeper into the novel.
A short story needs a hook, too. One that starts the conflict, or exposes the conflict within. Short stories have an end, hopefully with an ending that leaves you saying “good story!” A resolution to the conflict you started with the beginning hook.
And what are hooks anyway? Reader grabbers. The very first sentence every reader will read. Lookee here at the hooks I wrote.
“I intend to swallow alive and kicking from humanity’s womb the greatest minds and things history has ever produced.”
Leslie Tharp roused tired, as she always did exiting hibernation.
Percible Traynor held charge over most of the Eastern Seaboard whether anyone knew it or not.
Bryan-with-the-bright-green-eyes saw it coming.
Rafe Dehi paused on his way out of the truck stop’s nasty, stinky rest room long enough to wash his bloody hands, then he was back on the bus like nothing ever happened, stuffing the little red bag Tomas (whatever his last name was) had into his duffel.
“I want nothing to do with this.”
Six different hooks. The power of voice.
Here’s one more thing to think about. Novels are between 70,000 to 150,000 words. Those really thick paperbacks you buy and read, they’re about 250,000 words. Short stories are between 100 to 17,000 words. The average for a novel is about 100,000 words. For a short story it’s about 4000 words.
Guess what? A story is only as long as a story should be. A novel should only have as many pages as it has. If it tells the story within 70,000 words, you have a scrawny novel, but a novel nonetheless. If it takes 200,000 words, that’s what it takes. If the story is good, it doesn’t matter how few or how many words it takes. My novels average 90,000 words.
Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.
He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/