There are no set rules that need to be followed to write a story, a novel, or a poem. Sure, there are plenty of books written on the subject, some of the authors have set themselves up as authorities on the basis that their books have sold many copies, millions, perhaps. They’ve made up their own rules, other authors may copy those rules, change them around, and make them their own. If there are many of these books around, those rules may become the standard on writing a story. They tell you that a story must start with a certain scene, you’ll have to capture the reader’s attention by such and such a page. After that the story has to develop according to an almost rigid pattern.
They will tell you that before you even start writing your story, you must have a layout, your characters must be developed with backgrounds of their lives, and you should know what happens in each chapter. It is even almost mandatory to know the end of the story. Then you start writing and with all this preliminary work your story will almost write itself. There will be no surprises, no straying off the rigid road you have developed with a logical mind. Everything will make sense. I call this formula writing.
Well, that doesn’t work for me, and, I’m sure, for many other writers, seasoned or just budding. Every writer has to find his/her own style and develop a personal method. A good story requires a fertile imagination, a good command of the English language (or whatever language you'll be writing in), and a writing style that captures the attention of the reader.
I find writing Science Fiction and Fantasy more interesting and more enjoyable than any other genre, because I never know where the story goes. I usually don’t have a character sheet or a skeleton draft of what will happen, because I don’t know. I may have an idea of what the story will be about or I may not. I might just have the name of a character, who may end up being the main character. I will write a word, a sentence, a paragraph to get the creative juices flowing. With every new paragraph may come a new idea. The first chapter will begin to take shape, and even then I still may not know where I’m headed. But deep inside me, like shards of memories, ideas will begin to form and develop. The words will begin to flow from my fingertips and I will start to immerse myself into the world I’m creating in my mind. Every sentence may bring new revelations and new adventure, and finally, I’ve written the last sentence. The whole process takes months, in some cases, years. It all depends how much time I have to devote to my writing.
Writing Science Fiction does not require much research. I can create worlds and places, because they don’t have to exist in real life. I can shape them into anything I want. I can create my own version of history. That is not the case when writing a contemporary novel. It is important to have correct dates, correct history, real places. In my trilogy ‘Web of Conspiracy’ I even checked out the weather on the dates and in the cities I mentioned. I also made certain that the dates and names of days corresponded. It did take quite a bit of research to find that out. I also needed to study up on places in the Middle East where part of the story took place, and certain historic dates, like the Gulf war and other events. It is amazing how much you learn doing that kind of research. I downloaded maps of Iraq and other places. I even found quotes from the Koran or Qur’an (I didn’t know it was spelled that way). Everything can be found on the internet.
While writing ‘Bullet of Revenge’ I needed to find information about the FBI. For instance, I had to make certain they had offices in the city I mentioned, and other stuff. I learned a lot of things I didn't know before. It is important to do this research. Readers will quickly find out if a writer hasn’t done his (her) homework.
Every genre does require a different method. When writing a murder mystery it may be important to know the ending. I say ‘may’, because even that can change as the story develops. With the introduction of new characters new ideas also pop up. Of course, that is the case with any story.
More next time.