Saturday, July 7, 2012

SAS: How to Write A Page Turner, by Lorelei Bell

"Share A Saturday" is a weekly chance for you, yes YOU, to come on my blog and talk about whatever you want, so long as it's related to writing/books. For more information, such as if you'd like to "share a Saturday" with me, please see below!

In her teens and young adult years, Lorelei has always rooted for Dracula to be the dark romantic hero, but was often disappointed. She was considered odd because of her interests in the macabre, horror/vampire novels and movies well before it was 'cool'.

She went on to write novels that she had always wanted to find in bookstores, but couldn't. After 35 years of trying to impress agents/publishers, but failing, finally her first vampire novel, “Vampire Ascending” was taken up by a small publisher. She now has her sequel, “Vampire's Trill” out, and a third in the Sabrina Strong Series going through edits.

Inspiration comes from authors J.K. Rowling, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, and Janet Evanovich, and others. Visit her blog here !

How to Write A Page Turner

You know how you'll hear people talk about a book that they couldn't put it down? Ever wonder how the writer's accomplished it? Well, I'll give you a few tips. I don't mess around, I learn from the masters!

Let's take J.K. Rowling's books because most people have read them. First of all when the Harry Potter books came out, I really wondered what all the big deal was. I didn't buy the books until I saw the first movie. That got me interested. I read the first book, and had to read the next one and the next one, and then could not wait for the fourth one, and after that, I was hooked. Why? Why was it when I was done with these books I felt like I had left my best friends? Why did I want to go live with Harry, in Hogwarts and be magical?

J.K. Rowling understood how to bring her characters alive, make them seem real and did it in such a way we didn't even notice. 

Sympathetic characters:
First of all, consider her main character, Harry. Harry, as you know, is the “boy who lived” after Voltermort killed both his parents and then went after baby Harry. He wore that mark from then on. 

What a way to begin a book, or a series! You've automatically made the reader sympathize with the main character. Then when you find out how horribly he's treated by his aunt, uncle and cousin—more of the same thing. You feel sorry for him.

But wait! Harry is not defenseless, nor is he stupid. He finds out he's a wizard. Plus, he knows better than to befriend people who are nasty. He's brave, and has pluck and daring, all the necessary equipment of a good hero of a story.

Application:
When I began my Sabrina Strong Series, I didn't want to have a kick-ass heroine. I wanted someone who most people could relate to. As the story opens, she's just lost her father, and her mother disappeared one day, and everyone thinks she was abducted, and never found. But Sabrina knows she was turned into a vampire. So, she knows that vampires exist. 

Problem (1): She needs a job, but can't hold one down because she is a touch clairvoyant—she has to wear gloves to keep most of her visions at bay, thus most jobs she's unable to do or hold down. 

Problem (2&3): Then comes along an ad for a clairvoyant. Ta-da! But wait, she realizes that the person who is to interview her is a vampire (she's clairvoyant, remember?). But she really needs the job, and this is something she can do! So, she goes on to the interview, but before she gets inside, she's attacked by a werewolf. Vampire Nicolas saves her. Afterwards, he becomes someone she needs to lean on in order to get through the first few nights of working for vampires under Bjorn Tremayne in Chicago. But Nicolas desires her, and so does Bjorn. Since Bjorn is the master, what he says goes and prevents Nicolas from having anything to do with her.

But hold on! Sabrina is not exactly certain she wants a vampire lover. Plus, the shiftchanger and her are getting really close. And they get even closer.

The job (problem #4): there is a murderer who is killing vampires and draining their blood. And soon, she is on the hit list. She has to find out who it is before anyone else gets killed—especially her!

Problem #5:
Meanwhile her best friend has been abducted by vampires. Sabrina is the only one who can find her. She does locate her, but she's near death and finally she meets the vampire who gave her the hickey on her inner elbow when she was young. Vasyl, a rogue master. He has come to her aide, and little does she know it, but he has been waiting for her to grow into a woman.

When I began thinking up the problems that Sabrina had to face, I knew that this was going to be somewhat action packed. There was also a mystery to solve, because I love stories with mysteries. And there had to be some romance. But it wasn't to be a simplistic romance, it had to be a little more involved, and make her choose the right guy. I didn't want the reader to figure out after the first chapter who she was going to wind up with at the end.

I never like an easy plot, not when I read, and not when I write. I'll become bored quickly. I need adventure, and working in an urban fantasy plot it is pretty easy to come up with all sorts of ideas to throw in there.
Creating an action packed novel, one that keeps the readers wondering what will happen next begins with creating problems for the main character to solve. And having a sympathetic character, someone the reader can root for and enjoy for a whole series. The romance thread doesn't have to be as difficult as I've made it. But I didn't want her to wind up having to be tied to one guy throughout the whole novel, or the whole series.

Make it Real:
Make your characters seem real by having them do some normal thing, like sleep, or eat (or needing to pee). One of my complaints about certain novels is where the characters never seem to eat or sleep. If you don't show them at least contemplating eating, or feeling sleepy, or getting up in the morning, remembering a dream, etc. they won't feel real. And if they don't do any of the above, their dilemmas must cause them to not feel sleepy or hungry, but for the right reasons.

I actually like to have my characters have conversations while eating. I find it a challenge for them to use utensils as props in speaking. Possibly you can think of other ways to make things interesting while they eat, depending upon the conversation. 

Even my vampires need to eat and have human emotions, desires, jealousy, and these are not totally centralized on blood, sometimes it's about power, and sometimes it's about other needs.

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If you'd like to participate in a Share a Saturday, feel free to contact me at my email, hildred @ gmail.com (no spaces) or through any of the other ways to get a hold of me through my Contact page. THE REST OF JULY IS OPEN~

5 comments:

  1. Thank you, Hildred for letting me share my Saturday with you and your readers!

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    1. No problem! Glad to have you! :)

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  2. Great article. Really! I enjoyed how you broke it down into points. That gave me time to go back and take in each thought. And I love how you wanted your MC to be normal and extra-extraordinary. Most people are ordinary, you know? But it's a fine line to write to keep your MC believable and *interesting* at the same time.

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  3. Great advice!
    sensible and interesting. And you sure did break it down to the basics. that's what it's all about.
    Very good. 35 years my God!
    well, you're showin' em now, my friend!

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  4. Thank you, Ink, and I'm glad you took something from it. Happy to read your comments.

    Thanks, Carole. You bet!

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