lessons learned from books read recently
February 25, 2015
1. Logistics are not a substitute for plot.
2. If your viewpoint character has a deep dark secret, do not keep that secret from the reader for two thirds of the book. (“She had a secret. It really was a terrible secret. Unmentionable, really. No — it’s really terrible! It did not even bear thinking on, so she didn’t. Just that, you know, she had a secret.”) If you do, the reader will be reading to discover the secret, and not to see what happens to the character, and by the time you finally reveal that damned stupid secret, your reader’s reaction will likely be, “That’s it? That’s the big secret? Seriously?” and to throw the book across the room. (Drawback of e-books — unable to throw book across room.) Instead, state the secret up front and show us how it informs the main character’s actions and thoughts. The revelation of the secret to the other characters will be the big climactic moment, not the revelation to the reader.
3. If in the first book of a series you establish that one of the main characters becomes something of a father figure to the other main character, then in the second book you should probably make sure those two characters interact at some point, instead of purposefully keeping them apart because you think that having them actually talk about stuff will derail the plot in which the second character does something stupid that the former character might presumably talk her out of. Don’t jettison an entire prior book’s worth of characterization just to make the plot easier for you to handwave into existence.