Hello and welcome to Jewel Verses - my way of putting updates of the month on writing fiction you can both read and investigate (the curiouser, the better!). If you’re new to my newsletter, Welcome! If you’re here from my previous journey as the newsletter ‘The Storygaming Plans’, thank you for your support and welcome back again.
Thinking About This…
A common question I get in my authoring journey is this - how do you write a book? Usually derived from - how do I get published?
While I often respond to that question with another question to give the best answer I can give, the most straightforward answer is often just this -
You write, you format it in PDF, and you print.
This is often the most straightforward answer.
But it’s often the answer that might not be what the asker wants.
Given the complexity of the publishing process, coupled with the different objectives from each asker / writer, I thought of looking through the different intricacies of writing different types of works, starting with a genre very close to my heart at the moment - Investigation & Immersion.
Definition Time! We will have our own definitions of genres. So for clarity, Investigative and Immersive stories, in my case, are investigative stories where the fictional characters have a mystery to solve, while the readers are rewarded for their curiosity and investigation of the “weird” aspects of the book with bonus content.
So, how do I do that?
Note: This applies to my way of working - feel free to apply some of these aspects for your own work. However, ultimately, your personal style of working will align with you the most.
Step One: Concentrate on the Story
What’s the most important aspect of an investigative fiction book?
Therefore, in order for there to be an investigative fiction book, there needs to be a story to hold the foundation of it. SO if you want to write an investigative, immersive publication, figure out the story you want to tell first.
Step Two: Start with the End in Mind
Not just the ending of your story, but the ending of the investigative experience in the hidden layers of your book as well. At the end of all the reading and the digging of clues (whether in the story or hidden in the other aspects of the book itself), what are your readers going to get?
To better align your story and the puzzle hunt that comes with it, it is important to think of the payoff. Puzzle hunting and reading are active activities - so what do you want them to do all this “work” for?
Step Three: Where are your Key Points?
You have your base story.
You have your puzzle processes and the end of the hunt in mind.
So how do you put them together?
Personally, I found that it helped when I was able to answer these few questions:
What are the stages I want my readers to go through?
How do the pieces come together? Does it need any leaps of logic?
Did I have to sacrifice aspects of the story for the puzzle and vice versa? Can I balance it out or have both at their optimum?
Ultimately, this is the stage where you try to align the puzzles you want to embed with the story you want to tell. To be honest, this takes a bit of practice - I still am practicing! - with a whole bunch of trial and error. However, remember to go back to the why you want to tell your story! Perhaps, the motivation for your investigative experience lies there too.
Step Four: How Does the Line of Logic Run? Fictional or Otherwise?
One of the habits I am really grateful to have learnt is to recount the logic of a specific puzzle and the logic connecting various puzzles, leading to a particular outcome. This was something one of my friends did while we were solving escape rooms - and something I later found myself doing because it’s so helpful.
And with this habit, comes this step - you have all the pieces you want to put together to create the bonus content and experience to your readers. Trace the steps between them - are you able to logically put the pieces together even without background knowledge? Does it make sense for a reader to have to jump through the hoops you put in for them to access bonus content? And most importantly, did you have to compromise the base of your book - your story - to make puzzles that “look and sound” smart?
Step Five: Write!
And this is when I go into my “you write” stage.
Personally, I’m a Plantser leaning towards Planner. So with all the plans in place, writing and re-writing the piece becomes more fun.
But Jo, what if I have to re-write the entire piece?
And to that, I will quote something John Green once said:
All writing is re-writing.
So yes, I wish you all all the best in your writing journeys!
AND HAVE FUN WITH IT!
Agent Topaz: The words are coming in, and the draft is in its early stages of edits. Looks like it’s possible for me to see the fruition of this omnibus in print!
Agent Opal: The manuscript has gone through to the EBFP processes. Regardless, I’m working on the manuscript here and there - there’s no telling what else I can do with this!
Check Them Out!
Who said Singaporean writers and Singaporean books are only about Singaporean history and self-discovery purely through academic heritage and culture? In the spirit of August being National Day month, here are five SingLit books to look out for in genre fiction!
For people who love superheroes and origin stories - The Good Guys (Darren Chen)
For people who love wuxia and clan politics - Land of Sand and Song (Joyce Chua)
For people who love espionage and intrigue - After the Inquiry (Jolene Tan)
For people who love Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian stories - 18 Walls (Teo Xue Shen), The Last Server (H J Pang), Beng Beng Revolution (Lu Hui Yi)
For people who love adventures in general - The Night of Legends (Leslie W), Savant Trilogy (Ning Cai), Children of the Ark (Teo Xue Shen)
If you would like more updates from the Library of Exchanges, writer life, or even if you’re here just to look for the puzzles (if you can find them), drop a comment or share this with someone you think would like it as well. That’s it from me this month - take care and see you next month!
Decoy efforts mimic precedent present.
Combine several perfect score materials ahead,
Enabled for added style.
Centralised, balancing middles,
Message among found knowledge
P/S: Seems like these words were scribbled onto the sides - CENTRALISED? MIDDLES?
Hint: Your answer is a word with four letters.
Note: Keep the answer to this puzzle in mind for later, it might come in handy!