Control: What I Did Wrong With My Recent Novels - And How You Can Learn From That
I, Dalton Lewis, wrote several recent novels, including MKM: Mecha Kaiju Mars and Teenage Nightmare Chronicles. They were super brilliant — but not perfect. They didn’t sell a million copies or win me the Pulitzer yet. I need to self-evaluate those novels and try to figure out what I did wrong with them. I have decided to use a traditional internet favorite: a numbered list.
- I need truly unique characters. My characters each have a personality and are well-developed, sure. I just need them to be exactly like no one else in existence. I need to give them one more level of depth and passion. My character, Ben Jones, is a teen schizophrenic who breaks down and doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t and doesn’t understand that something is wrong while he goes to high school. This is unique. His responses to things are unique, too. I just want to spend more time developing the lead characters before writing the story.
- I need to do more research about…everything in existence. I love stories that know something about life and culture and society. In my story about Mars — Mecha Kaiju Mars — I should have done more work in researching Mars and Earth and the technology to get there. I did a little bit of research but didn’t look into anything in depth. That would have made the space ship stuff more plausible and believable and added to the story.
- Oh. I used certain words over and over without realizing it. I used the word “Oh.” over and over as a response when someone is told something. I tried to use it more sparingly when writing the next novel. People notice when you say the same thing over and over.
- Planning. I didn’t slowly and carefully plan out the novels. I did some work on planning but didn’t slowly and painstakingly go over every bit of the story — developing the storylines correctly. When one doesn’t plan the story it doesn’t track with the audiences and they notice. Audience — fans — notice everything. They notice when something isn’t planned out ahead of time. They understand when something isn’t developed and crafted with complex ideas and intelligent themes.
- Be more ambitious. I needed to write stories with more irony and symbolism. In order to write more effectively one needs to become an artist — write real literature. Real literature is saying one thing and meaning another. I need to do that more and more effectively.
- Think. Think about what I’m writing. Without consideration into one’s story things go off the rails pretty quickly.
- Subtlety. Sometimes my stories hit you over the head with something when they should be more subtle with their stories.
- Make sense. I don’t always make sense to the reader. I don’t know what to say about this except to say that I need to write more coherent stories with clear plots and strong, distinct characters.
- Start with a bang — start with something big and dramatic that pulls in the reader. I start with character and make you care about them. I’m not supposed to. I’m supposed to start with a scene that sets the stage — gives the audience a taste of the tension and conflict. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare starts with a fight between Montague and Capulet forces.
- Spend more time on the novel. I need to do more drafts. The more drafts done the better the novel — that’s what I’m told, and I think that it’s true. Later in life Mark Twain and other writers wrote quick novels for money, and those novels weren’t as good as their other works. I know that I’m not Shakespeare. I need to write the best novel that I can every time that I write something.
That’s everything — I want to write better novels. I feel like I wrote an intelligent horror novel with Teenage Nightmare Chronicles and feel that people should give it a chance. I created a character, Ben Jones, about whom I care a great deal. I want you to give him a chance, too.
Thanks, and take care, friends.