Creating and Writing Imaginative and Believable Fiction
When I set out to write Trankarri – The Boy with a Magical Pen I only had one simple idea; a boy gets a magical pen for Christmas from his great-grandfather and the picture he draws comes alive and he goes inside and has an adventure.
Now I had a lot of inspiration to draw from; ie. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, My Side of the Mountain, and many others, but I really wanted to create something unique to me.
At the Institute of Children’s Literature they taught, “Write what you know.” I didn’t know much, but I did know the boy was about 12 or 13 and he lived in a suburb of Boston. I knew this because that is where I spent my elementary years. I knew I liked to play outside and make forts and go on adventures in the woods so I ended up using some of my childhood experiences to help shape the background of the main character, Nathaniel.
I also knew that I would love to go to the English countryside and visit some of those old manors and farms that were built two or three hundred years ago and that is how that part of the setting came in. Not because I had any knowledge of those places but because I knew I wanted to go there and could draw from illustrations and pictures and history books to help me create something real.
So bit by bit my setting came into place and so did my main characters. I drew upon what I knew from childhood, my desires for the future and of course my imagination. I knew that in order for the Inkworld to be believable and fantastical I would have to cement my characters in this world – in the day to day mundane things that make up our lives.
This is very important when creating stories that hopefully endure the test of time. Setting is the first leg in a three-legged stool. Without setting you don’t have much. I think it is important to slow the pace in the beginning to show setting. I want my readers to know where they are. Too many books are just action and dialogue without setting. This is problematic in that if a reader is not immersed in the world or setting you have created it is pretty easy to walk away from the book. Narnia and Hogwarts in my opinion is just as much a main character in the books as Aslan and Harry.
The next leg is the characters. Who are they and how do they fit into the setting that you created. Don’t rush through your character building or personality traits while constructing characters and remember this word of wisdom. All good people have flaws and all flawed people have good qualities. Not everyone is entirely good or evil. This gives your characters shades of grey that are real in everyone which makes them relatable on some level. They might not represent you but you may know someone like them.
And the third leg is conflict. Something has to happen for you to have a story. And this can be anything; a death, a divorce, moving away, losing something valuable. Once conflict arises in the story that is where the story begins to turn north on its way to the climax. There are a lot of opinions on where to place this in your story. In Trankarri I gave several smaller conflicts along the way until I got to the major problem which then took the story north toward climax. I did this because in establishing the first two legs I didn’t want the reader to be bored for five chapters without some type of conflict and mystery.
The second to the last thing to do is to revise your book by taking out as many past tense “to be” verbs as possible and by taking out as many adverbs as possible. The more of these two “killers” you have the weaker your writing is going to be and the weaker your writing is the harder it is to read and less impact you will make. My personal rule of thumb is only one or two adverbs every couple of chapters, if that. The words, “was or were” are a little more difficult to remove but once you do and replace them with action words your story will move faster and be easier to read.
Example of a past tense to be verb: Jason was so tired he could hardly stay awake. OR Jason’s eyes kept blinking slower and heavier until his head dropped forward into his chest and he jerked suddenly before losing his balance. Which sentence paints a better picture? You all have either seen someone do that or you yourself have done it. Now you can relate, and now there is a better impact and the author just got closer to you.
Example of an adverb: Jason listened despondently while his teacher told him he got an F on the paper. OR While Mr. Cross handed back homework assignments Jason crumbled his paper and mumbled a few curse words when he saw the BIG RED F at the top right corner. (Also used a literary devise assonance – crumbled and mumbled) Which is better? Which is easier? Which has the better reward and satisfaction? And I didn’t actually have to say the curse words. Pretty good I think.
The last thing to do is to add the necessary literary devices to make the story and the writing pop. Two books I have close by are, On Writing by Stephen King and Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers.
That’s it. You have the making of writing the next great novel. Hope that helps and I hope you enjoy Trankarri – The Boy with a Magical Pen.
Christopher Dean has been self-employed for over twenty years in the landscaping business. In 2009, Dean began pursuing his long time love with writing and English Literature and attended the Institute of Children’s Literature where he graduated in 2010.
Since then Dean has dedicated all his spare time to writing his first children’s novel: Trankarri – The Boy with a Magical Pen.
Dean lives in Austin, Texas with his wife of sixteen years and three beautiful children.
An epic adventure is set in motion…
When talented young artist Nathaniel Hancock receives a new drawing pen for Christmas, he promises his great-grandfather that he’ll prepare him a Masterpiece for the following year. But Nathaniel is naive for the Pen is magical-and as he makes his finishing touches, the Masterpiece comes to life before his very eyes. After entering the drawing, he discovers that he’s added new territory to the enchanted land that lies beyond: the Inkworld, a pen-and-ink realm where reality is limited only by the artist’s imagination. After Nathaniel rescues the drawing of an elf from a deadly prison, he realizes the Inkworld is far more complex than he ever imagined. For dark forces lurk beneath the idyllic surface. In saving the elf, Nathaniel accidentally unleashes an ancient evil that threatens to destroy all that’s good in the Inkworld… And it’s up to him to set things right…
***Guest Post and images were provided by the author.***