“Lissa Manelli wakes up to a mother’s worst nightmare, waking up in the hospital to find out her baby has been kidnapped. To make matters worse, she has amnesia. At her bedside, two men – both claiming to be the father and the love of her life – are nothing but strangers to her. The one man she does recognize, her doting father, thinks that neither of the men are worthy of her. He tries his best to steer her another direction, but Lissa doesn’t know which way to turn.”
The intriguing opening to iUniverse author Cathy Niska’s debut novel, The Apple of His Eye. Today Niska kindly shares with the iUniverse Blog 20 writing principles she has learned from writing her first book and
offers advice to aspiring authors planning to write their own stories.
iUniverse Author Cathy Niska’s 20 Writing Principles that Will Leave Readers Wanting More
By Cathy Niska
1. The key to any writing is to grab the reader’s attention from the first page.
2. Characters are usually good or bad, but some are both. The more real you make your characters, the more interesting your book will be to readers.
One reader who read my prologue for my new book thought, “wow a fairy tale, supernatural, Harry Potter.” Well not exactly but you have the right idea.
3. Plot development is important, keep putting things on your hero/heroine’s plate until it looks like there is no way out for them.
4. Make sure that your characters strengths outweigh their weaknesses so they can fight.
5. Shift back and forth so your characters may have some hope if they get out of their predicament alive, if that’s your goal for them.
6. Most characters write their own stories.
7. You want to make it more and more exciting until it reaches a peak or the story climax.
8. A lot of serial killers the crimes get worse and worse until they are stopped, if they are stopped.
9. Cliffhangers are a big one. I left The Apple of His Eye in one to keep the readers in suspense and guessing and wanting more. It’s good to leave chapter endings in a cliffhanger as well, to keep the readers wanting to continue reading and not put the book down.
10. Allow the readers to see actions of killers and crimes taking place. Just like on TV and in the movies. I generate a lot of ideas from what I see on TV and movies, doing my best not to copycat.
11. Show and tell. Remember show and tell in grade school?
12. Outlines are worthwhile, I myself have a hard time writing these until I am well into the story and then I can write down what I want to happen up until the grand finale and then I can add in the meat and potatoes once I get there.
13. Every author has their own system that works for them. There are no rights or wrongs at this point.
14. Roadmaps, at least you know where you’re headed. I have a mental idea of what is going to happen and any ideas that I think are good, I write down in my notebook and refer to them later. Roadmaps help to avoid writer’s block, but I find even with them, I get writer’s block regardless.
I generally know the ending before anything else so at least I know where I’m headed.
15. It’s also good to remember the small details that must come together at the end of the story.
16. Some writers, the lucky ones, can sit down and write and keep on going until the put in the last period. I for one, start and delete and start again many times which is probably why it takes me so long to get anything accomplished. The Apple of His Eye took me about ten years from start to finish.
17. At present time I mentally trying to figure out all the scenes and events in my current book and if I can logically work in certain characters. There may be a third book yet.
18. Order is also vital, make sure all the events and scenes are in the right order.
19. It’s great to keep your readers in suspense and keep them guessing. One reader of mine couldn’t figure out who the father was in The Apple of His Eye. That was awesome and positive feedback.
20. Have patience and let the flow come naturally, it will come.
Cathy Niska’s iUniverse Bibliography: