April 8th, 2013

Lisa Coffee

Writing Novels: Keep it Simple

Albert Einstein said the following:

"If you can't explain something simply,
you don't understand it well."

He was talking about scientific principles, but this advice translates well to novels.  A story with a singular theme or purpose is sometimes all you need.  If books include too many characters or side plots or detours, the story's power gets diluted.

I've got a huge file of potential story ideas just waiting for me to write them.  Some ideas are just a fragment--a character or a situation that seems interesting.  Others come to me with ready-written log lines like (if I was Stephanie Meyer): "New girl falls hopelessly in love with beautiful boy who is really a vampire."

I have to believe that the fully-formed log lines would probably be easiest to write.  They have a plot built in to them.  Certainly you could pitch such a story to an agent/editor with ease.

I get most frustrated with my writing when I've lost direction.  I'm not sure what emotion a character should be feeling or how a scene should unfold.  During those times, I don't think I can explain simply what my story is all about.

That's when it would help to have that log-line to keep me on track.  Stay focused.

Happy writing, all.