In everything one does, they must abide by rules. Without rules, there is only disaster and chaos. This applies to writing as well. When I’m writing articles here on my blog, I have a rule of keeping things as short as possible, even though I can always write a lot more. With my books, I have even more rules. This is because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, I don’t want them to get confused, and I want them to remain interested. So, I will share what those rules are.
1. START AS CLOSE TO THE ENDING AS POSSIBLE
As I said only a moment ago, I could always write more. I believe this applies to all writers, actually. A writer can always describe the setting more, describe the environment more, and especially describe characters more. Nobody, no matter how interested they are, wants the stories they read to be 99% filler. If the story could have been finished in just 5,000 words, but the whole book was 300,000 words, people are going to notice and get annoyed. The solution: start as close to the ending as possible. Hell, some stories actually start at the ending.
This rule applies to series as well. No matter how many volumes will be in the series, you must still choose the one that is as close to the ending as you can make it without compromising any important events or explanations.
2. HAVE AS FEW VOLUMES AS POSSIBLE
Whatever you’re writing, whether that’s a single work or several, keep it as brief as possible.
When I originally conceived my Remnant series, it was going to be 10 volumes. I thought that was far too long, so I decided to cut some unnecessary characters and plot threads. The story was also uncomfortably close to sci-fi back then, so a little trimming was necessary anyway.
3. IF IT HAS A NAME, IT’S IMPORTANT
As I already explained in this article, I hated what happened to Snoke in The Last Jedi, in that he wasn’t developed in the slightest, and I used a character of mine as an example of why characters should NEVER be written that way. Snoke wasn’t some extra, shooting lasers in the background. He was central to the plot of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
If you give a character a name, a location a name, or an object a name, then you have to treat it like something you developed. Why? Because simply by naming it, you developed it. If it’s important enough to name, then it’s important enough to give some value to. Like what Mike Wazowski said in Monsters Inc.: “Because once you name it, you start getting attached to it!”
I’m not saying that every location in Middle Earth had to be explored in The Lord of the Rings. I’m not referring to anything that doesn’t directly have a presence in the story. But if it does have a presence, and it is named, it is therefore important. Otherwise, you add to potential confusion to your reader.
4. HAVE AS MANY NARRATIVE PARALLELS AS POSSIBLE
Books are art. Patterns make any artwork greater, and with books, parallels are the best patterns. Stories should flow, and they should rhyme.
Everyone likes to know that every occurance in a story has meaning, and they should. But it always enhances the story to make the events reflect each other in some way. For example: In my novel Remnant, Mercy loses her niece at the beginning of the story, and at the end of the story, she adopts Theia. Lost one girl, gained another. As another example in the same novel: Seth lost the love of his life and his child during an attack, but he survived by being a coward. In the end, he gives his life in an act of bravery to save his enemy and his enemy’s daughter.
I always try to fill my books with as many parallels as possible.
5. ABSOLUTELY NO FILLER
If it happens, then it needs to happen for a reason. Otherwise, omit it. Period. If it’s not developing an important detail or advancing the story, then it should not be there at all.
6. PUT YOUR CHARACTERS THROUGH THE HARDEST STRUGGLES
As a child, I read in a book of advice for writers that authors should make the worst possible things happen to their characters. I don’t quite agree with the ‘worst possible’ part, but this is mostly true. Nothing displays a fictional character’s authenticity than going through hard times. As an author, whatever you think will break a character down past what they can easily handle, is exactly what must happen to them. It’s more interesting, more engaging, and more believable. There’s no point in reading the story if the characters’ lives are a breeze.
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