Thriller Novel Writer
Robert A Magarian
Linked In
Good Reads

July 2017 - I've Been Thinking

Some readers have asked me, "What do you do once you get an idea? Where do you go from there? What do you do with it? As you can imagine, every writer is different ( excuse the cliche'). I don't know what others do but when I get an idea, something inside me "tells" me 'you're on to something.' And I become aware that the idea has a premise that could lead to a good, hopefully, a great story.

What would happen when a shark swims into a resort area and attacks a vacationer?  This is the premise for the movie, "Jaws." Where did Steven Spielberg go with his premise? Well, he made it into a story -- a series of events carried out by characters -- and finally into his thriller movie.  So, I look for a premise by asking, "What if?" Hopefully, my premise will develop into a story for one of my next novels. How do I proceed from there? What do I do with the premise?

I begin by churning events over in my mind from the premise. Then when the "feeling" urges me on, I sit at the computer and write in the present tense a step-by-step description of events that will make up my story. This becomes my outline, my plotting outline. Plot is defined as the sequence of events (scenes) interrelated through cause and effect; one scene leads to another in a logical fashion. One event has to arise out from the previous event.  A writer cannot plop an event into the middle of a flow of events just to make something happen. The reader would hit a roadblock and would wonder, what in the world just happened? 

Next, I take my plot outline, which usually consists of 10-12 pages, and I treat it. I do what Hollywood calls a "Treatment," which is a very useful tool. What is it? Suffice it to say, it is an expansion of each event from my plot outline into one or two or three paragraphs. The treatment itself varies in the number of pages. In Hollywood, a treatment is around 80-90 or more double-spaced pages, covering around 46-50 chapters. I remember my treatment for 72 Hours was 96  pages. My treatment for the novel I'm working on now, The Tongue Collector, is 46 pages, covering 52 chapters but I know there will be more to come as I continue to expand the chapters. The treatment puts the story into perspective for me so I can "see" and "feel" the events properly flowing in sequence. 

When I finish my treatment, I take from it events (scenes) and turn them into chapters. For example, I start with the first scene in the treatment as Chapter One, and then I write more in the chapter by adding environment, feelings, and motivations for characters as they appear. All the while, I keep my treatment and plot outline by my computer as I write.

I've oversimplified this a little because I didn't mention that before I write my first chapter, I've completed my characterization -- sociology, psychology, and physical description of each major character. I don't do them for minor characters. I've also determined what each character wants -- his/her goals -- and what each will need to do to reach those goals. Also, I give them names so I can develop a relationship with them. It would be difficult for me to begin writing a word until I know what my characters want to accomplish. Characters must oppose each other, to get into conflict. One of the most important essentials in a novel is Conflict, Conflict, and more Conflict.

I've Been Thinking - February 2017

                                        BLOG - February 2017

You may remember that I have written about the questions asked me when I gave talks at my book signing events. Mostly the readers want to know how I get my ideas, or how do I develop my characters, and if I use an outline (plotting). But they never ask me how I feel when I sit down at my computer to begin my novel after I’ve completed all the preparations. “Do you ever fear that you cannot write it?” should be a question.

To answer this question, I’d like to give my answer, summarized out of three quotes below, that are used by authors to inspire them.

                    “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

                                    -Joseph Heller

                    “To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

                                    -Anne Rice

                    “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing

                    crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better

                    at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

                                   -Octavia E. Butler

The three quotes above describe my feelings when I’m beginning a new novel. While I don’t really have that much trouble writing, I do believe at first I try too hard for perfection and that gets me nowhere. In the back of my mind, I hear that “little critter” demeaning me with: “You can’t write. You’ll just make a fool of yourself.” But now I’m able to shut him out. I learned after writing three novels that when I begin a novel I have to concentrate on the story and not the sentence (grammar), and not worry if it is “crap.”  All writers have learned that their best friend is revising the “crap.” So, we live by the rule: “Revise, revise, revise.”  

I have finished all my preparations for my fourth novel, and now I am getting ready to write my first chapter. With three novels published, I have learned a thing or two, the most important being: I’m ready to write the “crap” and then I’ll revise, revise, and revise.


<< Go back to the previous page