Every writer has his or her own personal way to create a story that will interest the reader. Some writers are very methodical in their approach to writing, some are completely random. I believe there is no one correct method to successfully complete the process of writing on what content you want to convey to the reader.
With that said, I would say that my methods of writing have evolved from a combination of some structure and occasional randomness. I usually have some ideas about what the progression of the plot is going to be, so I start by trying to put them down in a general outline. I then figure out the beginning of the story that will hook the reader’s attention. Next, I jump forward to creating an ending that will be surprising and not at all expected. As the process of the flow of the story is formulated, I will add thoughts and different situations to the plot to grab the reader’s interest as the story’s suspense builds. There are times as I progress with the story that I will switch around the order of events to make the story more climactic.
For my first novel, I used all my experiences with the crazy individuals and hard-to-believe situations I experienced or heard about as a surgeon during my career of over thirty years. I knew from the beginning that this initial story was going to expand into a series of books about my protagonist in the future. For each successive novel, I again make a rough outline of the plot and where I want to go with story in relation to my main protagonist in order to keep the reader interested.
I strongly think that the development of characters in the story is key to keeping the reader turning the pages with interest. I try to make the characters seem believable but still somewhat unique in their own way. For my Dr. Kyle Chandler Thriller Series, I like to use fast-paced, snappy dialogue between characters to create a kind of tension, especially when there is a potential love interest. The trick for me with each new novel is expanding the personalities of the principal characters forward with each story while introducing new characters at the same time to make the story full.
With that in mind, I have to admit that it’s not an easy process. Face it, there are times for any writer when it is difficult to produce anything of value on your computer screen looming before you. Like anyone else, I have periods when I don’t feel inspired to write at all. I have come to accept that those periods are part of the process. I have learned to just walk away from the keyboard if ideas are not flowing in my brain. I’ll go focus on something else leaving whatever I was stuck on totally behind. Then for whatever reason, I’ll come back to my keyboard later to look at things with a fresh point of view. This usually works to get new ideas going in my brain. I really can’t explain it, but the same thing happens to me when I work crossword puzzles. Just a new sense of confidence, I guess.
With a fresh start, these new ideas lead to the evolution of the plot. At those times, I feel compelled to get my ideas down on my computer as soon as I can almost in a frantic sense of desperation. It’s during those times that new ideas with plot progression just seem to flow out of my brain to my fingertips on the keyboard.
I’ve been asked before if there a central message or theme in my current novel series that I want readers to grasp. I guess you could say that as my protagonist progresses in each novel, he is like David facing overwhelming odds against a Goliath opponent. In each situation, it leads to the theme of “never give up.”
If I was asked for one of the best pieces of writing advice that I have ever received, it would be to write about what you know. Despite what some people might think, you’re not going to know about everything. So, if there’s something you don’t know, become an expert on the subject with exhaustive research. Put the effort in to make your story interesting enough to grab the attention of the reader.
I’ve listed a few ideas about how I try to get an interesting suspense/thriller story written that may or may not help other writers go through the process more easily. Everyone has their own process to conquer. If you can figure out that the key is to enjoy the process as much as the result, then the writing itself will fulfill you that much more.