A warmer "hi" to all my friends and family, even if you don't think you're my friend, you are. The weather here in Utah has been delightful, actually a bit too warm -- record breaking.

Over the past few weeks I've only given you quick and dirty advice about your writing. So, today I thought I'd get back to the basics and give you some of the solid advice I learned from Dean Koontz several years ago in his book, "How to Write Best Selling Fiction" (1972). It's a great book on the art and mechanics of writing best selling fiction. If you can find a copy (maybe in your local library???) get it. It's a bit dated, copyrighted in 1972, and went through a third printing in 1984. He wrote this a long time before the self-publishing craze we're currently going through. Still I think it's got a lot of good advice for writers today, advice that kept me going when I felt like giving up when I was writing Bridgetown High.

In Chapter 2, pages 13 - 14 of his book, he summarizes what makes for "Best Selling" fiction, and I think these bits of advice still apply. He says, "The average reader demands eight things of a novel:
1) a strong plot; 2) a great deal of action; 3) a strong hero, or a heroine, or both; 4) colorful, imaginative, and convincing characterizations; 5) clear, believable character motivations; 6) well-drawn backgrounds; 7) at least some familiarity with the rules of English grammar and syntax - the more familiarity the better, of course; 8) a style which embodies at least a trace of lyrical language and as many striking images as possible, for good writing is always vivid and visual."

Today, I'll only touch on one of these 8 items. I mean, if it took Koontz a whole hardback book to cover them, there's not way I can do more than one in this short blog. I don't pretend to think I can do any one of them true justice in this blog, but I will touch on my thoughts.

1) "a strong plot."

What makes for a strong plot? You can't believe how many of today's novels lack a strong plot. This is especially true of self-published novels, and why they might not interest an agent or traditional publisher. Frankly, I have difficulty reading such novels. They just don't draw me in.

A strong plot incorporates most of the other basics Koontz listed. I always go to my plotting advice where you need to have your main character (MC) in some kind of "terrible trouble," as Koontz calls it, beginning on page 1, paragraph 1, if possible. That way the reader begins to care for the MC from the first page. Then, as the MC tries to get out of trouble, their troubles only get worse. That is the beginning of your plot. I always try to write the ending right after I write paragraph 1. The reason for this is to focus your writing toward solving the MC's terrible troubles. You can certainly have sub-plots, and they help to make the story richer, but they all need to be resolved before you type, "The End."

I'll try to get to the other of Koontz's advice next week. Until then, if you like this blog, or even more, my book, "Bridgetown High" do me a favor and write a 5-STAR review and post it on my Amazon page. It should only take 5 or 10 minutes. You can find my book at www.bridgetownhigh.com.

Also, to see some of the great reviews for Bridgetown High, go to my Amazon site: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1680583093/ref=cm_sw_su_dp, or my Goodreads site at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26873370-bridgetown-high?from_search=true

See ya'll next week.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017

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