Tag Archive - Conundrum

Writing about Difficult Emotional Experiences

Writing novels can take us on a heavy emotional journey, depending on what we’re writing about and why. Certainly memoirs do too. While no one holds a gun to our heads (one hopes!) to force us into writing about painful things, sometimes our souls subtly prompt us in order for healing to take place.

These are some of my thoughts that I had when writing my novel Conundrum, which forced me to delve deeply into personal trauma. I hadn’t wanted to write this novel, but I had a dream. Two actually.

You may pooh-pooh such “spiritual” or divine events, but if you’ve ever had one, you’ll agree it’s hard to discount them. These “visions” seem ultra-real. And these dreams were not just vivid—they gave me the title, themes, characters, storyline, and first chapter of my novel. I felt a strong compulsion and need to write the novel, even though I didn’t want to.

As I stared down the imposing novel I was attempting to write, Conundrum, I wielded my vorpal sword in hand. Snicker-snack it went, one two!…oh wait, that’s used to fight the Jabberwock, my son … “Jabberwocky” and many other poems found their home in my new novel, an unravelling mystery based upon the bizarre tailings of my father’s death in 1961. Usually I have no problem plowing through my index cards of scenes, progressing steadily to the finish. But this work was an unruly child, full of deceit and intent on pain. Continue Reading…

The Inevitable Ending You Know Is Coming

As contradictory as this might sound, endings in novels need to seem inevitable without being predictable. When your reader finishes the book , she should feel that this was the only  way it could have ended. Everything has led up to this finale, and it just plays out perfectly. This isn’t predictability. You don’t want readers thinking they knew exactly what was going to happen and are bored as they hurriedly flip through the last pages of the book.

Recently I read a couple of award-winning sci-fi novels that were really pretty good until about the last fifty pages. I found myself starting to skim through the inevitable spaceship battles and the endings—to the point that I didn’t really read the last chapters. Such a difference from Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece Ender’s Game, considered one of the all-time greatest sci-fi books written (and I agree!). The surprise twist at the climax and the completely unexpected ending blew me away. Yet, I could say it was the best (and truly only) ending for the book, and entirely unpredictable. Continue Reading…

What’s Your Motif?

Motifs? Most writers don’t really know what they are, but they can make the difference between an okay book and a terrific one. Since we’ve just discussed the topic theme in recent posts (by looking at some of my favorite movies), now would be a good time to look at motifs. Not many writers consciously plan out motifs to use in their novel, but sometimes they come naturally into the story. Motifs are symbolic elements packed with inference, but they don’t have to appear in your story as an actual item. Motifs can be a word or phrase, a concept, an image—just about anything that can be repeated with significance and symbolism. The weather can be a motif, for example, if each time something terrible is about to happen, “lightning” strikes. Continue Reading…