My YA novel The Gardener was released this week. It’s hard to celebrate when I’m still in my I can’t-believe-Lost-is-over-forever mode. And then I realized something. Everything I need to know about writing a novel I learned from Lost.
1. You need a hero. Or two. Or four. Make them likeable. But give them flaws, because your reader will care about them more if they aren’t perfect. Include quirky and outlandish back stories if you can.
2. Make your heroes thirsty. And hungry. They will bond faster. A token pregnant woman is a guaranteed instant win-win. Everyone loves an impending birth.
3. Have a villain. Or two. Or four. Make them real meanies. This will also progress the bonding of the heroes. Good and evil ambiguity is always a plus because it makes your reader feel smarter for figuring out who the bad guy really is.
4. Make the setting and surrounding area plausible. (Don’t put polar bears in a tropical jungle. That would just be silly.)
5. Give your heroes a goal. What the hell, give your villains a goal too. To really stir things up, give your heroes and villains the same goal. Preferably one that seems impossible.
6. Don’t introduce new characters and pretend they were there all along. Nobody will buy that.
7. Make things clear for your reader. Try to avoid convoluted plotlines and extended cliffhangers. (No one sticks around for those.)
8. Don’t ever kill off any of your heroes.
9. If circumstances dictate that you must kill off one or more of your heroes, choose a slow, preferably sacrificial and/or noble death that allows for extended goodbye speeches to their fellow heroes so the reader will cry a lot. (Bonus points for cute dogs inserted in death scenes.)
10. Make the reader not want to reach the end. Because the end means the story is over. And, if you’ve told a good story, the reader will be very reluctant to turn off the television. Er I mean shut the book.
S.A. Bodeen writes books for, and raises, teenagers. Her second YA novel The Gardener was released this week on 5/25/10. She’s been obsessed with sci-fi since discovering Star Trek at age five. Currently, she’s suffering from Lost withdrawal but finding solace in the new Doctor. Visit her at www.rockforadoll.com and latteya.livejournal.com.