Ghostwriting Techniques

Today I want to briefly go over what I think is one of the most useful tools for writing fast-paced novels. For lack of a better term, I’ll call it “Circular Storytelling.” Genre novels are common work in the ghostwriting world, and whether they’re horror, adventure, or mystery, they’ve got to be fast-paced. Linear writing lends itself to this purpose, but it quickly becomes boring. Take this example:

Mark walked into the bank. Mark pulled out his gun. He shot the teller, and made his way towards the vaults. He took the money from the vaults. He put them into his bag. People yelled.

As writing and reading are linear processes, it is difficult to convey things happening simultaneously, but Circular Storytelling certainly helps.Daniel Silva, the spy novelist behind the Gabriel Allon series is particularly adept at this. One of the problems with linear writing is that it tends to get repetitive. (Think of Mark the bankrobber) and for a series of 14 (soon to be 15) books, Silva does an extraordinary job of making each one seem fresh. He makes great use of the circular method so that the reader doesn’t have to sit through a grocery list rundown of another shootout or art heist. To explain the details of this concept, I’ll return to Mark of bank robbing fame.

Chapter 1: Mark walks into the bank, gun in hand, nostrils flaring. (Lame sentence, but suspense is set.)

Chapter 2: Mark and Julio sip on their drinks. Mark wipes his forehead. “Well,” Julio says. “What happened?” *Cue more interesting recap of the scene.

Do you like my terrible graph?
It is always more interesting to hear about a scene from a character’s perspective, even when a novel is primarily told from the third person. I am not saying that there is no place for a linearly written scene, because that is certainly not the case. But, if you are hired to write genre novels, your employer will likely tell you to “make sure something is always happening” or “if you get stuck just kill someone” (not making these up) and you as the writer, and certainly the reader will get very bored if you stick to “Mark walked into the bank” strategy again and again for your contractually obligated plot events.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below or ask me on Twitter @shutupcabbage. Happy writing, folks.


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