What I Want to Write in My Books

Years ago I decided I was going to write a novel. I did it for National Novel Writing Month. That means for the month of November (30 days) I was going to write a 50,000 word novel. It was an adrenaline rush where a lot of coffee or tea was consumed and every morning, except Sunday, I wrote my 2,000 words. It was the best times, it was the worst of times, but I did it!

In order to ready myself for the event, in October I read No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, and in reading that I ran across an exercise where I made two lists. In the first list I had to write about what I liked in a novel and in the other list I wrote what I definitely did not like in a novel. When it came to the kind of books I chose to write (I participated in NaNoWriMo five times and finished each time) I decided to write according to these lists. Over the next few blogs I will go over what matters to me in writing. Specifically, these are the kinds of things you can expect from me when I write.

In case you want to get to the lists right away, here they are:

I like these in a novel

  • Fast moving action
  • Short chapters, short paragraphs, relatively short and uncomplex sentences
  • Humor-especially the main character
  • Wild sci-fi ideas
  • Other worlds or dimensions
  • The unexpected
  • Strong characters I can identify with
  • Writing from various perspectives (i.e., George, the ant on the log, etc.)
  • Mystery (trying to get to the bottom of what is going on)
  • Gleanings of wisdom or insight or even knowledge
  • Happy endings
  • Epic tales
  • Funny superheroes
  • Lonely people finding a mate
  • Sometimes archaic speech. Like O. Henry
  • A perspective that there is a God in the world
  • Symbolism, repetition of an idea
  • Male protagonist

I don’t like these in a novel

  • Very little action
  • Long chapters, long paragraphs, long sentences
  • A lot of description
  • Bedroom scenes
  • People having tea and making small talk
  • Weak characters (you can’t really figure out who they are)
  • A lot of eating or drinking
  • Only one locale
  • Depressed characters (unless they are still funny)
  • Unhappy endings
  • Bad things happening to good people (unless there is redemption later in the story-like Job)
  • Westerns
  • Horror
  • Sermonizing
  • Everyday boring settings
  • Married people cheating on each other
  • Long drawn out fight scenes
  • Children being treated badly
  • Women being treated badly

I hope to go into more detail about many of the items in these lists, partially as an exercise for me to think about what I value in a book, and partially for my readers to get to know me a little more.

‘Till next time,


About Aaron K. Redshaw

Aaron's goal for writing is to create believable characters in fantasy or science fiction worlds that do not leave out the element of faith in a personal and loving God. He is an English teacher at a large public high school, the senior co-pastor of New Hope Church in Scotts Valley, CA (newhopesv.org), and a father and husband in a wonderful family which he hopes to someday patent.
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