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Learning The Writing Business From Book Agents And Editors

2234 words - 9 pages

So, you just wrote your first science fiction novel. Your friend read it and told you that you were the next Ray Bradbury or Gene Roddenberry. Your fertile mind fantasizes your name up there on a Borders’ wall poster right next to images of Isaac Azimov and Jules Verne. Before going off the deep end and equating yourself with Hemingway and Steinbeck, give your ego a stiff reality check.
Few of us mortals are literary Mozarts that can plop down in front of a computer screen and author a perfect manuscript the first time around.. Let’s get one thing straight right now. You wrote a manuscript and not a book. After an author takes the time and care to read, edit and rewrite the manuscript ...view middle of the document...

To facilitate good transitions and chapter’ integrity, don’t begin sentences and/or paragraphs with pronouns (when writing in the third person). Stay away from “lazy sentence patterns” such as starting out with “There are” or “There is.” And above all else, if you plan to be original and creative, stay away from using stereotypical’ cliches and hackneyed idioms.
A good sci-fi’ novel or any other genre’ novel should first be a “love story” at its core’ construction with the genre’ decoration adroitly wrapped around that core. For example, H.G. Wells’ classic breakthrough novel’ The Time Machine is at its core a love story between the Time Traveler and Weena, and secondly, it is an adventure story about the conflicts between the Eloi and the Morlocks. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the success of the novel has as much to do with the struggle in the main character’ Guy Montag’s personal love’ relationship with his dysfunctional drugo’ wife as it does with the tyrannical government controlled by the powerful fire department that Montag works for. Montag is searching for love as much as he is in quest of truth and justice. So, if you think that sci-fi’ is simply about alien invasions, green-headed monsters, laser attacks and wars between planets with lots of action scenes, you are dooming your manuscript to both mediocrity and to commercial failure. Your main character must have love or/and must be searching for it.
The main character cannot be a villain or an evil person. Perhaps he could start out that way, but he must change for the better as the story progresses, and the quicker, the better. He or she must be a protagonist that the reader can sympathize with and care about. The reader has to identify with the main character’s noble conscience and his (or her) empathy for others. Reader’ allegiance is the author’s greatest weapon. Yes, you can have bad guys in your novel, but they have to be the antagonists and not the heroes. And the bad guys should hang around until almost the end, and if they do hang around until then, they ought to relinquish some of their devious traits and be influenced by the good guy’s superior personality’ strengths. The main character must have “character.”
The protagonist (good guy’ main character) ought to be present and active in every chapter, and the antagonist must appear or at least be mentioned in every chapter.
Each character in your novel should have a separate and unique personality. No two characters should seem alike to your readers. In my satirical novel Ron Coyote, Man of La Mangia, Ron Coyote is the idealist, the dreamer out to change the immoral world and his companion Pancho Sanza is practical, naughty, and hedonistic. The two engage in many amusing conversations, and their polarities in interests and values facilitate and support the humorous theme of the adult-oriented novel.
No easy formulas’ are in existence that can guarantee success to an author. One must find his (or her)...

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