THE IDEA FOR A GOOD STORY
The end, finished, fine, la fin, break out the champagne!
No matter what your written language or background is, you have just finished your first draft and you feel on top of the world. It’s like this great weight has been lifted from your shoulders and you have achieved something you didn’t think possible when you first set out on your writing journey.
After months of research and plotting, what started out as a simple thought, a tiny seed that was planted in your conscience, has grown and blossomed into a unique story you can truly call your own. Something to be immensely proud of. You are a giant amongst giants, and you are going to sell and make a lot of money with your new-found creativity.
Reality check! But more about that later…
So, you ask yourself, now what?
Beware of the monster you have just tamed, the one that has been sitting inside your head for months, and sometimes, as in my case, years. Because, now the self-doubts will begin to set in. Will it be good enough to show the rest of your family or friends—if what you have just finished is your first manuscript—let alone getting it published for the world to see? Or, if you have already published, will it be as good as your last manuscript?
Best advice I can give you, is let it rest for a while, for however long it takes. Think of it as metaphorical loaf of bread. You’ve kneaded the dough with all its ingredients, wrapped it in a cloth and now it must rest and rise into a workable form.
In the meantime, move onto your next project. I can almost guarantee that while you were researching the subject of your manuscript, ideas for another story would have popped into your head.
Only when you feel the time is right—and you’ll know when—do you pick up that slumbering monster again. You may not even recognise some of that unworked mound of dough you put away, but that’s a good thing. It’s time for your second and even third draft, until such time you are happy with the result. It’s cut down to a manageable size and ready for the mould—editing! It’s time to reveal your monster…
I often get asked how I write a book, so I thought I’d give you some insight as to how I go about it. But remember, every author is different. Our methodology, our train of thought, even our way with words differ. That’s what makes reading a book so special. Every journey is a new one.
So, let’s go back to the point where all stories begin, the idea, that seed that gets planted inside your head. Something I get asked a lot, is where do I get my ideas from for the stories. The answer is simple. They come from anywhere. From something I may see while walking in the street or something I experienced for myself. The idea will simply pop into my head for no apparent reason and at odd times. I let that idea run wild for a while. Get those creative juices flowing. It doesn’t matter where the idea is going, it’s not the story itself, just the spark. The mere fact that it’s buzzing around in your head is a good thing.
I find it helpful to create a scrapbook, either on paper or somewhere on my hard drive where I can access it later when looking for some inspiration. Remember that these ideas can come at any time. More often than not, while you’re writing something else or doing the all-important research, which we’ll get to further on. Don’t let yourself get distracted from your current work.
It’s very rare that an author will come up with a fresh idea. It’s how we stitch those ideas together so as to form a tapestry that will engage our readers. A really good idea is one that you can tell your friends about, and they say, “oh that’s interesting, tell me more.”
Not every idea is a good book. Some ideas may lack sufficient substance or emotion to go any further, while others no matter how trivial, may spark such an emotional response in you, that you say to yourself wow, this idea is packed with so much emotion that my readers will be able to relate to.
To give you an example, my latest novel, Double Death, sprang from an emotional feeling of frustration and loss I personally felt while out shopping with my lovely wife. Yes, she disappeared, just as Angie did in the story, and it was that emotional response I felt that sparked the imagination.
I never know where the idea will take me, or the direction the story will go once I start writing, but that’s just my own personal style of writing.
I’ll be discussing the PLOT with you next time, but for now, keep on writing…
Gavin grew up in Paarl, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, an area renowned for its scenic beauty and viticulture. Whether it was the scenery, drinking his parents’ wine on the sly, or being surrounded by the smell of fresh ink and the hum of his father’s printing presses—or all of the above—Gavin felt strangely inspired to start writing when he was twelve years old.
“My father gave me this old Underwood Standard. I’ll never forget it. It had a sticky ‘s’ key that would periodically instigate a maul of type hammers and shredded ribbon.”
Gavin went on the study Architecture and ran a practice in South Africa before emigrating along with his family, to Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s there that he started taking up writing seriously and began work on his debut novel, Colour of Greed.
In 2008 he moved to the Gold Coast, Australia where he joined the Gold Coast Writers Association, serving as its president.
Colour of Greed went on to receive the Gold award for best fiction in Australia and New Zealand at the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2013.
“Writing can be an arduous and lonely journey. It is important to surround yourself with family and fellow writers who can support you along the way.”
Gavin still lives on the Gold Coast, working on his next thriller. A proud husband, father and grandfather.
You can find out more about Gavin
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