Every novel has a message. No matter what it is about, there is always something that the writer wants to say. That is what makes a story even more interesting to read, and as a writer, it makes the story even more interesting to write.
I highly recommend thinking about what you want to say before you grace the page with even a single word. Only because it saves time when editing. With the regular visits of new characters, saved time is a good thing.
The main thing you should ask yourself is: what do I want people to think about once they’ve put down my book? Then it’s just a matter of contemplating what events and characters you want to use to make people think about that. So the coming up with a message is actually the easy part. However, it is a lot easier now that you know what you’re working towards. And it’s also easier for your characters. Considering how we torture them already, it’s only the kind thing to do.
Let’s dive right in and play with words. Today’s words will involve something that goes by way too fast and that we can almost always use more of. Choose your scene and who knows, it might be spun into a novel.
Your character has suffered a great loss and has hit rock bottom. It is at that moment that a mysterious phone call during which someone describes an object that can give you powers to control time. It will be dangerous to retrieve it, but your character might be willing to risk it. Write this scene.
Your main characters suffers lapses in memory. He thinks he’s crazy, and so does everybody else. This changes when he gets attacked by an intruder and freezes time. The plot thickens when the intruder seems to have been sent by someone who knows about what he can do…and wants him dead. Write this scene.
Someone your character thought was dead, shows up. That’s not even the weird part. He claims to have travelled through time in order to give you an important message. Write this scene.
As I’m working on my query letter I can’t help but wonder what genre I am even writing. Does anybody else have that problem? Well, it turns out they do, but it doesn’t make it easier.
I follow the story. The words follow me. The genre, however, is much like my pet dragons when they don’t want a bath. It’s so easy to write something that crosses genres, because books are much like people, they’re many things. Books don’t think in genres, we do.
There really is no solution, except to find an agent that represents both genres that it crosses or think tennis balls, I don’t care. Just pick one and go for it. Sometimes I see books that are labelled as a certain genre that makes me raise my eyebrows AND my socks. And yet they are labelled that way, so it’s more subjective than one might think. Plus, sometimes you just have to take a chance and hope an agent doesn’t laugh at you before he rejects your novel.
Mind you, I only have this problem when I write magical realism. It’s a fine line between fantasy and MR, which makes it more tempting to stick to cosy mysteries. 😉 Then again, murder can creep its way into magical realism too…
Knock, knock. Here’s trouble. We all have them, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we, we’re constantly surrounded by the most dangerous species on this planet…HUMANS. The thing is, it would be boring without them. Our troubles teach us so many things. We learn, we evolve, we become better versions of ourselves.
Doesn’t the same apply to our unsuspecting characters? We would never want to read a story about a character who is fully content and has absolutely no problems or cares in the world. He’s just breezing through the story with a smile plastered on his perfect, symmetrical face. BORING. We want characters with hidden scars and secrets. Even better if we only get to find out a few, as long as we know they’re all there. They don’t call it ‘sweet sorrow’ for nothing. Our characters should face their demons and come out victorious because all their troubles have prepared them for it. That’s what makes the ride worth it, at least, for me.
Sure, trouble isn’t always fun, but the main thing to remember is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Let our characters show us that there is hope and that we are strong, but even stronger than we know.