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Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post: Creating a Novel by Bill Wetterman

Thanks for having me on Kelsey’s Book Corner. Room1515 represents the culmination of seven years of serious writing—critique groups, workshops and conference, and award winning contests entries. Having learned the craft, I set out to challenge conventional thinking with plots and themes that are controversial and sometimes dark. Selecting my genre was easy, I’m a thriller fanatic, particularly international-psychological thrillers with political storylines and aspects of romance and betrayal. Stories of anti-heroines pitted against the flawed love interests in their lives fascinate me. My novels deal with greed, betrayal, lust, and murder, all the things that make life interesting.

Three writers influence my writing. Tom Clancy’s novels, particularly Debt of Honor, are examples of well-researched political thrillers. He set the standard for me for attention to detail. I labor long to produce accurate scenes, detailed descriptions, and recognizable sites. Locals living in the cities I write about will relate the surroundings.

Thomas Harris’s Silenceof the Lambs stands out as the psychological thriller. I strive to produce the emotional reaction he produces. I can only hope to achieve his level one day. How can you not love Hannibal Lecter?

Finally, Stieg Larrson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo features the perfect anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Her character is a model for me to play off. Peacock, from Room 1515, fits the template. Emotionally wounded, unable to attach, yet possessing the ability to act the seductress, Peacock becomes my ideal anti-heroine.   

My teaser for Room 1515 reads as follows. Pour one seductive female CIA agent. Mix in the most powerful financier in the world. Drop in ice cubes of betrayal and romance, and you have Room 1515. Readers love good hooks.

The one paragraph description in bookseller sites like Amazon reads. Ever feel unsure of the financial future and the future of the USA? Greed drives decisions, and greed-driven decisions are always short-term. Say a shrewd group of power players is manipulating the world economy to accumulate long-term wealth. They could rule the world. Don't fear the 1% against whom crowds protest. Fear the .0001%. You never hear their names. However, they exist. One man will emerge to lead them.

Creating a novel begins for me by researching the world into which I will drop my characters. In Room 1515, the settings are Washington D.C. and Great Britain, primarily London. The action takes place a few years in the future. I have the liberty to alter the surroundings a bit. I can put a new hotel in a location where there isn’t one today, and that’s all right. I’ve been to Washington and London. This helps. Even if I hadn’t, the Internet provides views of buildings and layouts of the inside and outside of each. I research every building, park, etc. for accuracy before I write about it. I research where domestic and foreign politicians hold meetings, so I don’t have an event in my book going on in a place where it shouldn’t. I’m sorry, but I love Wikipedia.

Once I’ve fleshed out the physical world and the mood of that world, I’m ready to create the tension. Yes. I have an idea about my characters. However, I need to have a world that is tension packed to drop my characters into that world. In Room 1515, I take the conflict in today’s world and make it worse. The world economy is collapsing. A group of rich financiers is causing that collapse for its own purposes. American sends a seductress to woo the leader of this group and steal his secrets. 

Now, I ask myself a million questions. What would each side’s motivation be? How could they achieve what they desire? Who could best accomplish each major task? Again, there is a lot of research. I have to study how the economy in one part of the world affects another. Having done the research, I give each main character motives and plans. Tension must increase as the story moves along or readers go to sleep.  

Ever read novels were the bad guys have no redeeming character and the good guys are Dudley Do-Rights? The real world is not this way. The more conflicted people and events are the better my novel will be. I mentioned the anti-heroine earlier. To put a true protagonist, loyal, honest, loves dogs, into Room 1515, would be sinful. I want an anti-heroine, a flawed woman pursuing the enemies of her country, until she questions the tactics of her own government. I don’t want an evil antagonist either. Instead of a Doctor No, I want to create a unique, sympathetic character with a noble purpose, likeable while being ruthless. Emotionally complex characters hold readers interests. 

Having established the conflicts my characters will face, I ask myself more questions. What is each character’s worldview? What events shape their past? What strengths and weaknesses cause them to succeed or fail? I research where the main characters were born, and if it’s important, the history of the area.
Once the character is solid in my mind, I talk to them. I show them the outline of the book. I set the rules. “I’ll give you some freedom in each scene. Surprise me by showing me something unique. However, do not Sin. I am God. I determine the outcome I want. Don’t change my novel. Enjoy yourself within your scenes. Sin, in the world of my novel, is a character attempting to change the outcome I’ve slaved so hard to build. 

Once I flesh out my characters, I’m ready to write. A novel takes me two months of planning, two months of writing, and two months of editing to complete. Room 1515 is the first novel of an intended trilogy. The novel stands alone, but works best with sequels. Between those sequels, I’m planning to release an unrelated thriller. By the end of 2012, I’ll have three novels in print. By the end of 2013, the number will be between five and six.

To buy Room 1515, go to and click the buy button for your favorite online bookseller. Or type in Room 1515 on your bookseller’s website directly.

Kelsey thanks again for having me as a guest.
After over twenty-five years in the executive search business with Wolters Search Group, I retired in 2008 to write full-time. Since then, I've had some moderate success. Four of my short stories have been selected for publication by Chicken Soul. I have my first novel, Room 1515, available in eBook and paperback form. 
 Website  /  Facebook
International Thriller. A female agent named Peacock is sent on a mission to woo and win the heart of the world’s most powerful powerbroker. Her job is to learn his secrets and foil his plans. Instead, she falls in love. A story of the balance of world financial power, betrayal, and romance.



Stormi said...

That was a great guest post, thanks for posting today! ~Stormi, Lightning Book Promotions

Unknown said...

I love the look of your site. I'll put the word out to my colleagues to check here. Great layout and colors.

John Biggs said...

You are a prolific writer, Bill. If they are all
as good as Room 1515, I can hardly wait.

Carol said...

Super post, Bill! Going now to check out Room 1515. Sounds exciting.