Maugham was tongue in cheek but sometimes a writer needs to wonder what they might be. For my money, here are the ones I believe them to be.
I keep these rules in mind when writing a novel. And these rules don’t just apply to books. They apply to any story whether it be a movie, TV show, novel or short story. For example, a natural disaster like an earthquake of hurricane can easily act as an antagonist. We’ve seen a lot of these in movies and novels.
No matter what kind of plot you have, the characters in the story drive it. And the characters are driven by motivation. Events just don’t happen in a story. Events happen to motivate characters based on who and what they are.
I always start with a plot idea. Usually with answering the question “What if….”
My first novel, Cyberkill, asked what if an artificial intelligence decided to take revenge on the programmer that created it? The why, where, and how started me plotting the story.
The first book in the Chronicles of Jeremy Nash series asked what if Jesus didn’t dies on the cross and was buried somewhere on earth? What kind of events would that spark?
My latest novel now in production at my publisher, MURRAN, asked what if a young gang member in New York went to a Massai village in Africa and learned what a real warrior was?
These ‘What if’ questions were the genesis of those stories.
Now, the latest novel I am writing, GAIGIN, answers the question what if an American teen comes of age in Japan against the backdrop of WWII?
For any of you writers out there, I hope this helps in starting to write your story.