Saturday, January 12, 2013

It’s All In The Name

There are books, songs, and games relating to the “name.” The names of characters in novels are very important to keeping readers enthralled, turning the pages to find out what will happen next to Mr. X or Ms. Y. A great novel must have a powerful story line, excellent writing, fascinating scenes, but it must also have incredible characters. Characters who readers can relate to, have a passion for, that come alive with the words an author uses to describe them. An important element in developing a passion for a character surprisingly can be the character’s name. As they say, “it’s all in the name.” Well, maybe not all, but it really helps if a character’s name captivates readers. 

If a name resonates with readers, if it becomes embedded in their memory they will be more likely to buy the next Cotton Malone or Alex Cross , or Oliver Stone, or Lucas Davenport novel. Steve Berry, James Patterson, David Baldacci, and John Sanford created these memorable characters. The name game plays a role in keeping fans attached to a series, waiting in excitement for the next opportunity to relate to their favorite character.

A great character doesn’t need a macho name. Cotton, Alex, Oliver, and Lucas don’t create visual images of big macho men like wrestlers Hurricane, Hacksaw, Primo, or Undertaker. But they are names readers can relate to and fit the complex, interesting characters the authors have developed. How many readers can relate to Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s character in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST? A character name must be memorable, captivating, and make an impression on readers.

D. L. Wilson is on the board of the International Thriller Writers and the author of UNHOLY GRAIL, a national bestselling thriller translated into 8 languages. His latest bio-terrorism thriller, SIROCCO, is getting rave reviews. Visit his website at

Image courtesy of Kriss Szkurlatowski.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

The life of an author is a complex world. Getting through the publishing door required a lot more time, commitment, and dedication than I could ever have anticipated. I was fortunate to have spent a number of years learning the basics before giving up my day job. Well, actually I didn’t give up my day job to dedicate myself to the writing life. I waited until I retired from my regular career as a fashion executive and university professor to become a full-time dedicated writer.
During the years of learning about the writing life, I attended many conferences and workshops and joined writing associations, which gave me access to successful authors. When I got to know a few of them to the point where they were comfortable sharing the inside scoop as to how they got to be full-time authors, they provide similar advice. Don’t give up your day job until you have a very successful, established brand in the publishing world. One of the best thriller authors, Steve Berry, shares on his web site that his “road to publishing was long and arduous, spanning 12 years and 85 rejections over 5 separate manuscripts.” He waited until he had published 10 bestselling novels before he gave up his day job as an attorney.
If you want to write, do it because you enjoy writing. A writer must gain satisfaction by engaging hours upon hours in a thought provoking process, living in your own dream world, and having the finished product of the words on the page provide a sense of accomplishment. If you are fortunate to become published, the rewards are having others enjoy reading your book, compliments from readers, and if you are lucky, you might receive some financial gain. But don’t forget that books are works of art and art is in the eye of the beholder. Write because writing is your passion.
Image courtesy of RAWKU5

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Top Five Tips for Writing a Bestselling Novel

All writers dream of creating that bestselling novel. Very few reach that dream since it’s a difficult journey that involves many twists and turns. Producing a novel is a complicated task that requires the author to master both the Art and the Craft of writing. The following is a list of 5 key ingredients for creating a great novel and each one of these requires practice, practice, and more practice.

1. Powerful Storyline. In today’s fast-paced society authors must captivate their readers so they continue turning the pages. The beginning of a novel sets the stage and introduces the characters and basis of the plot. The body of the novel builds the plot up to the climax and resolution of the storyline. All genres of writing require some form of tension or conflict to grab and hold the reader’s attention. Some writers outline their books and some rely on their creative muse to guide them through the writing process. James Patterson creates very intricate scene-by-scene road-maps for his novels. Michael Palmer spends 4 to 5 months developing a detailed outline before he starts the actual writing process of putting the words on the page.

 2.   Fascinating Characters. A good read requires compelling characters. The key to maintaining an intimate relationship between readers and the characters of a novel is to “show, don’t tell.” Show a character’s actions and thoughts rather than tell through the narrator’s description. Let the reader become the character or be in the scene with the character viewing the action. Bring the reader into each scene through powerful, intimate relationships with the key characters. Make your characters three-dimensional. Give them weaknesses and flaws and show them evolve with a sense of realism.

3.   Captivating Scenes. Vivid descriptions of the scenes in a novel are the key to creating the suspension of disbelief. Bestselling authors transform readers into people who are mentally experiencing their story. The readers visualize being present as the story unfolds. Photographs and videos are a godsend to allow writers to describe scenes in realistic detail. Stimulate the reader’s senses with sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile experiences. Bring your readers into the real world.

4.   Thrillride to a Gripping Climax. Keep the pace moving and readers turning the pages eager to see the next twist and turn in your story. Readers want an emotional impact with tension, high stakes, and powerful conflicts. They want to live the thrillwith your characters. End each scene with a hook that will grab your readers by the throat and make them turn the page. Make sure your plot threads grow throughout the story and weave together to end with a powerful realism that readers will appreciate and accept with a sense of awe and satisfaction.

5.   E-promotion and Marketing. In today’s Internet driven society, a new author must dive headlong into promoting the result of months, or years, of mastering the art and craft of writing. The publishing industry is evolving into a new enterprise with the advent of e-books, social networking, and e-promotion. More and more books are being sold through the Internet and directly through e-readers. New authors must promote themselves and their books through this rapidly expanding world of technology.

Image courtesy of Lukáš Patkaň.