Contemporary fiction, with a romantic tinge, and a bilingual slant.
A successful indie DJ falls unconscious during one of his sets, after being dumped by his girlfriend and withdrawing from amphetamines. The rest of the book is the summer in which he tries to quit drugs and write the song of the summer, in order to win her back. Of course, by the end, he learns it wasn’t meant to be, dallies in an affair with an older woman, and makes sense of some of the other things wrong in his life that caused him pain from the beginning.
I wish I could say lightning struck me while I was walking down the street, and that a book sprung of the ashes. But actually, it was a long and strenuous first step forward: a lot of loose ideas, loose interests, which swirled together in my mind for a long time, while I wrote the draft, presented it to readers, then went back to rewriting. To say something concrete, the earliest draft was part of my thesis for grad school.
Who doesn’t like to feel the pace of his heart? Thrillers heighten our senses. They make us feel alive.
Quick to read, although little chronological time passes, and the main narrative zigzags from journal entries to recurring nightmares, to footnotes from a future reader.
The reader has to see him or herself in the character, in order to feel like they can learn something or enjoy something from the story. There are many ways to create this. You could base the character in real life, from someone relatable. Or you could amalgamate various people you know, in order to assure something someone likes is in the character. Modelling other characters from other books is a great tactic, especially if you are unsure of what makes characters real, or want a certain effect. But, if all these fail, I believe a compelling character does compelling things. So action. (PS to this question, a confession: the protagonist in TLTW does not act a lot, nor is a relatable character: that’s because I wanted to channel regrettable human traits into him . . . does it work for compelling? Let’s see what people say)
Maybe I should. If I were going to write a movie script, it would definitely be a mystery, with some family drama, a dashing detective and a dark damsel suspect.
Stick to one project, and do anything, everything possible to create something satisfying. Outlines, free association, copy/paste, retellings, rewritings, workshops, beta readers, friendly readers, breaks, bribes, anything, honestly as long as it works to reach a great “the end.”
My wife does my marketing! She’s a Ph.D. in it. So she knows magically things about communication that I could hardly even imagine.
A few years ago, when I revamped my blog, it became a sort of public drawer, where I posted writing exercises for anyone to peruse. Half of my hope was for me to improve, getting more and more comfortable sharing my work. But the other half was to leave a sort of foot trail for curious readers to see how much I improved from day one. It’s motivational in a sense.
I have learned to really trust my inner gut. So if something excites me, speaks to me, then I listen. I don’t know where my inner ideas come from (does anyone?), but I have learned that it usually has a great sense of the past, present, and future . . . and usually brings great ideas to the table.
The feeling I get after writing a nice passage that makes me say, “heck, yes!” It’s really that feeling, maybe of accomplishment, or of surprise. There is a click inside of me, and I really like that, like telling a good joke among friends or giving a great presentation at work. It’s a high five moment.
That the future is so unclear. When you set out to make a cake, for example, at least you have photos of other cakes, you have grandma’s recipe which you can follow or twist. But with a novel, all you have are other favorite novels you do not want to copy or other writer’s advice, which only vaguely hints at what you need to hear. So yes, the uncertainty. It is a deep-sea diving. A whole lot of nothing, and then a big scary monster every once in a while – those are the best days.
I’ve learned to trust myself. To always put everything I’ve got like there’s no tomorrow.Tweet
And to sincerely believe that every page I write is better than the last because that’s technically true, but it should also feel true too. The longer you work on something, the better it gets. That’s true for books, but also for the process. The more you work on the process of writing books, the better you get.
Iván Brave lives in Bucharest, Romania, where he writes poetry, reviews and novels, as well as promotes language learning in multinational corporations.
He graduated from The New School in NYC with an MFA in Creative Writing, after earning a Bachelor in Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin. Language, multiculturalism, and love, or anything that connects, are the themes dearest to his heart. In addition to winning prizes, such as the Writing Award from The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, his writings have appeared in literary publications like The American Scholar and The Acentos Review. Iván’s second novel, They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach, is out June 16th, 2020.