Monday, January 4, 2010

The Heart of a Bestseller Part II

Welcome back, friend. Continuing with the last post, here are some additional writing secrets culled from Dean Koontz's Your Heart Belongs to Me.

Chapter 2

-The main character reacts and responds both physically, emotionally and mentally to the "episode" in the water (Don't know what I'm talking about? Review the previous post, Heart of a Bestseller Part I).
-The chapter is filled with wonderful sentences like, "The offshore breeze strengthened, blowing liquid smoke off the lips of the waves."
-The two main characters move from the beach to an apartment, where they eat and talk about Sam's (female main character) history with a certain family member. Talk is off death and dying, with a bit of Koontz humor drizzled in for flavor.
-The chapter ends with a short, powerful scene where Ryan (male protagonist) experiences another "episode" with his heart.

Chapter 3

-This four-page chapter details the "episode," detailing both the physical experience and Ryan's response to it.
-More beautiful language.

Chapter 4

-More response to the episodes. Ryan decides to have a doctor check him out.

Chapter 5

-Ryan at the doctor's office.
-The dialogue between doctor (who is a friend) and patient dominates this chapter. The doctor gives information, Ryan responds to it. After dumping the painful prognosis, the doctor and patient talk of common things, things having nothing to do with death and dying or heart problems. They talk about boats.
-The end of the chapter finishes with the twosome returning briefly to the painful prognosis.

What writing secrets can you learn?

*Craft memorable and vivid sentences that fire your reader's brains with delight. Study how bestsellers like Koontz pair words and structure sentences.
*Describe (show!) your protagonist reacting and responding to what happens in the story.
*Go one step further by showing how your characters respond emotionally, physically and mentally to the events of the story. This will add depth and realism to your novel.
*After characters discuss a painful or uncomfortable topic, have them briefly talk about mundane subjects, like mutual passions for boats, for instance. Then, right before the end of the scene or chapter, have the characters return to the painful topic. This will lend the often elusive quality of subtext to your novel or short story.

Stay tuned for the next installment, Heart of a Bestseller Part III.