“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
I’ve left him. It’s over. If you still want what we’ve been talking about, I’m ready.”
When university professor Markus Thorsen reads these words from the love of his life, Marisa, he abandons his work and flies to war-torn Peru, where government forces are battling a brutal insurgent organization known as the Shining Path. Once there, Markus hopes to whisk Marisa to safety—far away from her Peruvian husband.
His plans fall apart as soon as he arrives, however, when a Peruvian general shows up at his hotel room with a host of accusations. Markus has to face the truth: Marisa has connections to the Shining Path. But is her involvement by choice or coercion?
I’m often approached by friends and colleagues who tell me they have a great idea for a book, but don’t have a clue where to start or how to do it. My advice:
–Sign up for a creative writing class at your local community college.
–Join a writers’ group.
–Read how-to books. There are dozens of excellent books on the market.
–Read, read, read in the genre of your interest to see how other writers do it.
What you’ll learn is that most novels—though not all—are structured along similar lines. Here is my interpretation of that structure.
- Stages Of A Traditional Plot
- Clarifications and Caveats
- Exceptions and Variations
- Outline Your Plot Read More
Fantasy or Truth
People often ask how much truth there is in Lily and how much is fantasy. The answer isn’t simple. What I did was take a series of dramatic incidents that occurred in the early 1990s—Peru in a time of insurrection—threw in some of my Peruvian adventures, and created a plot for a university professor searching for his missing love.
The setting and backdrop are authentic. Most of the incidents actually occurred, including the mortar shelling of the presidential palace and my visit to Lurigancho prison to interview political prisoners. The professor and his girlfriend are fictitious, but were inspired by an article in an underground newspaper that claimed the guerrilla leader, who was captured in 1993, was betrayed by an American professor with links to the Shining Path “by virtue of his illicit relationship with a woman in the movement.” Lily of Peru is a creative account of how this might have played out. And no, I’m not that professor.