There are Game of Throne spoilers from the first book. However, as one site stated, the book is 13 years old. That’s like saying Luke’s father is a spoiler.
I received some great advice about writing from a magazine somewhere. It was an article about writing a novel as you would write a screenplay. Start your scenes late and end them early.
This stuck in my head as I was reading a novel which was recently turned into a movie and I wanted to know what it was about. If it is selling like hotcakes, there’s a reason, and I was basically doing research as to what intrepid readers like reading. Each and every scene is too explained. It’s not even just starting in the middle of the action and ending just before we’re given any real closure. If you read Game of Thrones, one moment Bran is pushed out a window and the next people are visiting his unconscious body praying for him. We didn’t see who took him to the bed, how the Maester cared for him, the original grieving of Catelyn. We were thrust straight from action to mourning with the same speed Jaime was thrusting Cersei. It was horrifying; it was marvelous.
Back to the novel I was speaking of. I will not name it. I believe it bad luck to name a novel for the bad qualities. I will say this: everything is painfully explained. Dialogue is drawn out and exceedingly cheesy. One of the protagonists figured out someone was a vampire. When they reached a stalemate in their fight, the vampire asked how the protagonist knew. In Sherlock Holmes style, the guy went through every detail of how the blood sucker gave itself away. The character in most cases was short tempered, quick to act, and not very talkative, even though he was honest when talkative. In this case, however, stake the vamp and move on.
In your own novels, keep dialogue short. Read through the lines. Ask yourself, “Do people speak like that,” and more importantly, “Does this character speak like that?” If Sherlock Holmes had been the main character in that scene, then yes. By all means, have a step by step narrative of how Holmes figured out the boy in front of him was indeed a nefarious vampire. Other hints about dialogue: leave out nouns. We rarely speak with nouns. We point, look at the subject, or infer in some other means. We rarely actually use nouns unless you are incredibly proper in your use of language (which admittedly more than a few writers are guilty of). The use of nouns should be more characterization than common occurrence.
My last tip: lie. I was taught this through role playing. While you are the storyteller only tell the truth. So if your narrative is omniscient, tell the truth during that time. Only the truth. Garner the reader’s trust or you’re just a really cruel entity. However, when giving us the thoughts of characters, when having them speak, when watching through their eyes, lie. Lie through your teeth like we’re your prom date who just wasn’t as pretty as the prom queen who asked you to go home with her. “Of course I love you, baby, but my stomach hurts. Oh, Jenny’s taking me home because I can’t see straight and driving wouldn’t be safe. Why don’t you take me home? I couldn’t do that to you. And your parents were really strict on your curfew.”
I have a role playing group. They were following the bad guys down a street but were caught. Sure you could confront the characters the moment they’re spotted, but what fun is that? Instead I wove a tale about some eye that would give godlike powers, and the players bit. Even though all the evidence they gathered before hand contradicted this, and there were minor contradictions from the bad guys, they dove right in. We’re naive. People don’t lie in books. But truth be told? We lie all the time. Go through your day and rack up all the lies, big and small. If you’re a hermit, it might fit on one or two hands.
Your readers should feel this betrayal, too. Just make sure it’s genuine. Make sure there are hints and your reader can only think, “How was I so foolish?” Maybe they even say, “How could the protagonist be so foolish?” Throughout literature, authors who lie to us in a stunning manner are the authors we remember. They are the books read hundreds of years later. Because, as sad as it is, we can relate to lying, being lied to, and the immense pain caused by it.
So take a scene you already have. Cut off a paragraph or two from the beginning and end. Then make someone lie. Make it contradict other facts, but make your main character believe it. A lie requires someone to say it and someone to believe it. Then make your readers believe it and stab them in the back. On that note, have a beautiful Tuesday!