Posted by on in Magnolia City

How to write “choice fiction”

I am grateful to all the readers who have taken time to give Magnolia City a review on Amazon. I have collected almost 70 already, many of them awarding the novel 4 or 5 stars. One of the recent reviews which I really treasure reads: “Texas oil in the 1920s is the basis for this story. It is about the choices we make in life, whether right or wrong, and where those choices can lead.” When I read this, I thought, “Yes! Someone gets it!” Someone understands the scaffolding that I was trying to build under the elaborate trappings of my book.

One of the dangers that face novelists is to end up with a passive protagonist. The main character becomes a victim of fate, or coincidence, allowing life to happen to him or her without doing anything to bring about the developments in the story. This doesn’t make for a very dramatic narrative —- what I like to call “choice fiction.” The root of the word drama comes a Greek verb meaning “to do, to act.” We want to see our heroes and heroines stepping into action and being thrust into the dilemmas that those actions bring about. Someone who drifts through life isn’t very interesting to read about.

This is why my favorite text is Writing a Novel by Nigel Watts. His description of plot is a classical one, i.e. “a narrative of causality which results in a process of significant change, giving the reader emotional satisfaction.” Author Watts has you propel your protagonists through an “Eight-Point Arc” so that the characters make critical choices that bring on the developments in the story. These choices not only move the action forward but make your leads accountable for their actions. Characters that take these kinds of risks in life — and are forced to face the results of their actions  — are not only more interesting to read about, but are capable of taking on an emotional and moral depth that a passive person simply can’t acquire.

In Magnolia City, my heroine Hetty makes a series of critical choices that ultimately land her under the crushing burden of guilt. To read more about her quest, click on the subscribe button and fill in the information (It won’t be used for any other purpose).

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Guest Wednesday, 28 June 2017