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The Evolution of a Novel

11 Jul

the-evolution-of-the-book

Hello! Welcome to my blog. My name is Vashti Quiroz-Vega, for those of you visiting for the first time. I am a writer of Fantasy, Suspense and Thrillers. I do, however, have a tendency to mix a little Romance, horror or humor (among other genres) into my stories.

I love art, creativity and beauty, and I know these come in many forms. In my quest to build my author platform, I have met and befriended a group of incredibly talented individuals. Writers, poets, artists and even singers who are masterful at what they do. I feel blessed to have found them, and I would be selfish if I kept the beauty, artistry and creativeness of their craft all to myself.
So for the next few weeks I will be featuring their art, writings and music along with my own work on this blog. I guarantee you will enjoy every bit of it.
In today’s post I will feature the witty, creative and talented writer Chris Andrews.

Chris-with-book

The evolution of a novel

Hi Vashti! Thanks for having me over.
I’d like to share my novel’s story with you today… not the story within the novel, but the story of how it came to be.
So… A long time ago on a continent far, far away (from other continents at least), I saw a movie called Star Wars and dreamed of growing up to be Luke Skywalker.

Although the force wasn’t with me, I did retain a love of epic heroes.

Episode_4_Luke_Skywalker_3

Fast forward a few years and I began writing a horrible, clichéd thing derivative of every heroic story I’d ever seen and read.
Recognising it for what it was, I went to university, got qualifications, and began rewriting it, but no matter what I tried the story just wouldn’t come together in a satisfying way.
It got reworked, broken up, changed, added to and rewritten again, but nothing seemed to work. Readers didn’t react the way they should have (you know, with enthusiasm!).
I thought I knew a lot about writing, but writing and storytelling aren’t the same thing, and for a long time I didn’t understand that.
So what changed?
I found that readers have certain expectations, and if you don’t meet them you’re likely to fail.
Screenwriters figured that out long time ago, and screenwriting knowledge translates well to novels.
For example, an earlier draft began with: Princess Caroline rode along in bored silence, shivering against the cold… and continued on like that for several more chapters as I slowly built the situation.
I thought I was setting the story up. What I was really doing was boring people.
Now it begins with: Princess Caroline duFandelyon stared in numb horror at the luminous outlines on the insides of her wrists. She lay on her hard bed, bare arms above her, appalled. She’d come to the abbey to birth an illegitimate child under the pretext of piety, and now the Goddess of Healing had marked her for her temerity.
While some of it breaks one of the first rules of storytelling (show, don’t tell), I did it for a reason.
In three sentences I’ve:
• Set the scene.
• Introduced internal conflict.
• Defined the genre.
• Introduced the main character in very real and personal terms.
In an earlier attempt to fix things I mistakenly cut the story in half.writers-block
It was long (over 220,000 words), and so I attempted to shorten it into something more vibrant and manageable.
Halving it introduced a whole new range of problems; what began as a stopover on a quest to retrieve a sword had to finalise a story.
It needed a new purpose, and so it evolved into the story of a girl being hunted by assassins.
It also had to lay the groundwork for the sequels.
And there’s another problem – when do you say ‘it’s done’?
I figured it would only be done when someone read it and asked, “Can I read the next one?”
That happened a few months ago, and I’ve had more positive feedback since.
Do I regret spending so many years figuring out how to tell stories? Not at all. The entire story will be far stronger for it, and so is my writing and my knowledge of storytelling.
With a bit of luck, more than just my beta readers will love it too. In the end, getting someone to love it as much as you do is what it’s all about.
Thinking back, that’s why I wanted to grow up to be Luke Skywalker, after all.

I began my writing career when I boldly and ignorantly announced I could write a better novel than the one I’d just read. While I’m no longer ignorant about the challenges of writing novels, the dream remains.

ChrisAndrews

You can connect with Chris on twitter: http://twitter.com/ChrisAndrewsAU or visit his website: http://fandelyon.com

21 Responses to “The Evolution of a Novel”

  1. Sunni Morris July 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Vashti,

    Nice story and interview.

    Sunni

    Like

  2. Caleb July 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    This is great. The advice really makes sense and reminds us that we can’t expect perfection right off. It also reminds that with work, dedication, and passion, we can eventually get to where we want. So, whether it’s writing novels, programming, acting, or whatever; understanding what your doing is integral to success.

    Great highlight Vashti and great post Chris.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega July 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Hi Caleb! Very well said. That’s exactly what I thought when I first read it. Chris’ words are very encouraging. Thank you Caleb for putting it so eloquently.

      Like

    • Chris Andrews July 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Thanks Caleb! That is so true. 🙂

      Like

  3. Dyane July 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Great insights, Chris. It’s nice to see the evolution of your book from start to satisfying finish. Nice job with the interview Vashti!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega July 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Thank you Dyane!It’s more like a spotlight than an interview, and Chris is such a fascinating person. Thanks for stopping by, and for your lovely comment. 😀

      Like

      • Dyane July 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

        Yes I liked that format. 🙂

        Like

      • Chris Andrews July 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

        Fascinating? I think I’ve just found my new PR person Vashti!

        Like

    • Chris Andrews July 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      It would have been a much shorter post if I’d been smarter when I was younger – or at least if someone had given me some better advice. 😉

      Like

  4. Sunni Morris July 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Vashti,

    I’m now following Chris’s blog. I think he makes some good points for all writers. There is a lot of info on his site.

    Sunni

    Like

  5. Judy Haughton-James July 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    It is great that you write books Vashti! My best wishes to you. The story on Chris Andrews is very interesting. I am now following your blog in several ways. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega July 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      Thank you very much Judy. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog and Chris’ post. It’s great to hear from you. 😀

      Like

  6. Fashion and love by Mihaela July 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi, thank you for your beautiful comment and follow, I am following you back with bloglovin, fb and twitter, best wishes and a lot of success!!! Mihaela

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega July 13, 2013 at 2:13 am #

      Hello Mihaela! Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it, and look forward to visiting you again. 😀

      Like

  7. now at home mom July 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I am not a writer but I enjoy reading very much and I love that he explained how he explained the difference between writing and story telling 🙂 thanks for sharing it with us Vashti
    wish you a great weekend! 🙂

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega July 14, 2013 at 12:47 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Ingrid. I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. All the best, my friend. xx

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Guest blogs and the Leibster Award | Chris Andrews - August 29, 2013

    […] Vashti Quiroz-Vega hosted a post from me about the evolution of my epic fantasy novel. […]

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