Behind The Scenes In Anytown

The author dissects life in a small town, giving the reader a scorchingly honest view of hidden moral corruption and sexual permissiveness. Grace Metalious' Peyton Place was the first major novel of this type. In the first four BigSN plot types, you must also attempt to carry off a roman a clef French for novel with a key , a story in which the characters all seem to be allusions to real people preferably quite famous people and to real events the reader may have read of in newspapers and...

First Person Limited Viewpoint

When you employ the first person narrative voice, in which the hero tells his own story, you strengthen further the advantages of concentrating on a single lead character. If your lead is fresh, untyped, and individual, he can best be presented by letting him color the story events with his own judgments. The serious drawback to first person narration is the awkwardness with which the hero must speak of himself. Writing in third person, you can be objective but if he is telling about himself,...

Chapter One Hammer Nails and Wood

Basically, there are two general kinds of modern fiction category and mainstream. The first includes those stories we can easily apply labels to science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, Gothic, Western, erotica and is called category fiction chiefly for the convenience of publishers, editors, reviewers, and booksellers, who must categorize novels to differentiate areas of interest for potential readers. The second, mainstream fiction, is anything which does not comfortably fit into one of...

Chapter Five Gothic Romance

In my third year as a freelance writer, the science fiction market temporarily dried up, due to editorial overstocking at several of the houses with the largest monthly science fiction lists. Since I was selling far more science fiction than anything else, I was caught in the pinch. I was learning the suspense form, but had not yet had great success with it, and I was several years away from writing the big, serious novels I'm now concentrating on. I needed new markets, fast. The previous year,...

Method Two Playing With The Narrative Hook

This game is similar to the first, though you begin with a narrative hook (a sentence that will grab the reader's attention), not a title You sit at the typewriter and, without a great deal of cerebral exercise, type an intriguing opening sentence or paragraph. It is not necessary to know where the story will go. The idea is to present yourself with interesting and challenging beginnings out of which, when your free associations begin to jell, you will be able to construct a completed work....

Three Clear Believable Motivation

The hero and the villain must have obvious objectives and goals the winning of love or wealth, the preservation of life, etc. Of course, motivation is also essential in mainstream fiction, but it is often deep psychological motivation which the reader only sees through a distorted lens and must fathom for himself. Category fiction must never leave the reader in doubt about a character's motivations. Good characterization is a requirement, but the story is not to be sacrificed for the sake of a...

Scientific Crisis Stories

These tales revolve around an impending disaster which can only be solved by, or is a direct result of, modern scientific methods. The crisis is often generated by mishandled or stolen bacteria cultures which are being developed in the United States germ warfare program, as in Henry Sutton's Vector. Or the crisis may be a biological attack on the U.S., as in James Henderson's fast-moving Copperhead. Or the threat may come from some bizarre source, such as outer space, as in Michael Crichton's...

Chapter Seven Erotica

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of erotic novels the Big Sexy Novel and the Rough Sexy Novel. You can make a fortune on the first and little more than pocket money on the last. Big Sexy Novels are written by Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann, Henry Sutton, Morton Cooper, Rona Jaffe, and many others. Six figure incomes are a starting place in the Big Sexy Novel field, with million dollar rewards if you achieve the position of a Robbins or a Susann. Rough Sexy Novels are written by, among...

Method One Playing With Exotic Titles

A story title is not always dictated by the finished work. Indeed, by spending an hour playing with odd title possibilities, you may gradually generate an entire story idea. Begin by choosing a dramatic or colorful word that will catch a potential reader's interest and which will be the central word of the title you finally arrive at. Man, horse, winter, rain, coat, and similar words would be bad choices, for they are too common and undramatic. Words like death, blood, fear, witch, killer,...

The Revenge Story

There are three common heroes for this type of plot the outlaw unjustly punished by a crooked or overzealous marshal the good law-abiding citizen wronged by ruthless outlaws and the last surviving member of a family murdered by Indians or bandits. In every case, the hero vows revenge and sets out to take it. Nothing will stand in his way, and he must eventually deliver the antagonist to retribution. Don't forget that you must strengthen the hero's motivations whenever possible and not propel...

New Discovery Story

If you don't feel up to the confusion of time travel, perhaps the fourth type of science fiction plot will intrigue you the new discovery story. First, you conjecture a new discovery it may be a device, process, or simply a theory which would revolutionize modern life. You then concern yourself with detailing the effects that discovery has on society and, more immediately, upon your small cast of characters. Harry Harrison's The Daleth Effect deals with the discovery of a simple, relatively...

The Chase Scene

The antagonists will pursue the hero for only one reason he has something which they want. This something may be vital information, or a commodity of more immediate value such as jewels or money, or it may be knowledge which would incriminate them if he were to release it to the proper authorities. If the last is the case, their only reason for giving chase is to catch and kill him. Even though the hero's death is not implicit in the first two circumstances, the threat of death is desirable,...

Chapter Six Westerns

As long as the American public looks upon the history of the Old West as a romantic and nostalgic era, there will be a market for the Western novel, and this means the marketplace should be open for a good many decades to come. Few hardback houses besides Doubleday publish a large yearly list of Westerns, because there simply is not a large high-price audience for the form. On the other hand, Dell, Bantam, Fawcett, Avon, Lancer, Signet, Ballantine, and most other paperback houses release...

Omniscient And Modified Omniscient Viewpoints

An omniscient viewpoint is one from which the author may look in on any of his characters, switching from hero to heroine to villain to any of the minor characters and back to the hero again. Free to view the unfolding events from many vantage points, the writer can develop several plot threads, building suspense by letting the reader see how all the pieces will come together while the characters are kept ignorant of the true situation when the reader knows something the characters don't, this...