Charlie Laidlaw is an author and tutor at Creating Writers
Every book has a beginning, middle, and an end. Put simply, a book is a series of events that move the story from A to Z. The journey from A to Z resolves the conflict that is at the heart of the story.
Each event creates or changes the landscape, so that the next event can happen. Write in too many events, and the action will be dizzying. Write in too few, and your book may seem flat and dull.
If your main character realises that he doesn’t love his wife and resolves to tell her, don’t make that scene take place in their front room.
Make it happen in a car, with lots of bad driving thrown in; or in a restaurant where she can storm out. In that sense, conflict can be frightening or funny.
In storming out of the restaurant, she also tips a plate of soup over his head. What does he taste? The soup? Embarrassment? Regret?
Here’s a tongue-in-cheek look at writing a bestseller.
It’s an obvious point, but don’t give too much away too early in the book. Readers want to know what happens next: who the killer is, what the protagonist’s dark secret is.
Even worse: don’t give them all the facts, and then suddenly introduce another completely new mystery. Readers like surprises, but the right kind of surprise! Equally, don’t keep too much back. Your reader will want to learn things bit by bit – but not to be told nothing.
If your book involves lots of obstacles being put in the way of your main character, keep the most dangerous until last. If your book has lots of gun fights, don’t make the first on top of Everest and the last on a suburban street.
Your book should move seamlessly from the original exposition – the starting point – to conflict, to conflict resolution. It should build to a climax then fade to a final denouement.
If you need help getting started, Creating Writers has two creative writing courses, an introductory course and our flagship Diploma course – with a real qualification at the end of it.
They’re intended to give you the confidence and skills to understand what makes great writing.
It could be the start of a whole new journey.
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