Friday 18 April 2014

Writing the Geek Novel: A Multi Part Series

by Jenn Kelly

There are way too many books written on how to write a novel/story.  I should know ... I own about twenty of them.  But I have created my own cheat-sheet and am willing to share with you, my fellow geek writers. So let's do it, my way. The first thing you need when creating a story is...
You remember this big word from school - the hero.  Who is your main character?  Write out her entire description.  Looks, age, shoe size, height, eye colour, favourite foods/books/hang-outs/gun.  Where does she live? Write everything out about her so that you know exactly what she looks like.  Now write out three strengths that she has. Is she scientifically brilliant a la Jemma Simmons? Is she a butt-kicking ninja a la Melinda May?  Is she a devious hacker a la Skye? I'm choosing characters from 'Agents of Shield' because they are perfectly contrasting characters and they make up all the generalizations of characteristics usually used in novels. Plus it's an awesome show.  While choosing your three strengths, you need to be imaginative as possible.  Maybe your ninja makes a mean spaghetti.  What does cooking have to do with ninja-fighting? Nothing. But it makes your ninja more relatable to the reader, because now the spaghetti-makers believe that they can be ninjas too. Dream big here. And feel free to steal ideas from other characters that you admire. In fact, what are three things do you love about yourself?
Next are your protagonist's three weaknesses. Now for this, I want you to be as mean as possible.  Pretend you don't like the hero and you want them to fail. Yes, you can pick something cute, like they're clumsy, but honestly, it is so overdone and so typical and YOU are going to change the world with your writing, so focus on being different.  An example for your brilliant scientist is that you can make them greedy.  Greedy for selfish reasons, not 'Robin Hood' reasons.  Why are you doing this? Because NO ONE wants to read about a perfect hero. They're annoying and we cannot possible ascertain a lifestyle like theirs.  And we all have big Uglies in the closet that we hide, so why not air out your hero's? Uglies make the reader sympathetic, and THAT will sell your story. (In case you didn't catch that, Uglies mean the awful parts to your personality)
Ah, yes. The Villain.  Write out everything, just like with your hero. Be as descriptive as possible. Now give your villain three strengths and make them so amazing, that your villain will probably win.  And now the weaknesses.  But use your imagination.  Don't worry about plot yet, we'll get to that soon.
Other characters to sketch out: the SIDEKICK (Hero's best friend), WISE MAN (who the Hero gets answers from -this could be a computer), MOM (who loves and cares for the Hero? Are her parents dead?), LOVE INTEREST (self-explanatory) and RULER (who makes the rules - government/police/employment/planet).

Now print it all off and put it up on your wall so you can see it.  Writers are usually visually stimulated, so keep it where you always see it. Change when and where you need to.
I confess to you that my walls are covered in yellow post-it notes of ideas and scribbles.
Happy writing! Next time we will cover, the ENVIRONMENT.

 Jenn Kelly is a published author who is learning the girl geek-dom.  You can visit her webpage that she is supposed to update, but never does. Um...that's all.

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