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Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Four Pillars of Story

By Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer
Story comes out of experience, intellectual interest and emotional passion.  Looking back over my career of 25 years and over 60 books, I can see patterns.  I didn’t focus on one genre or one series (which would have been a smart career move).  I wrote whatever I wanted when I wanted.  And now, I’m beginning to merge some of my series, moving characters from diverse stories into the same overall storyline.  So I what were my four pillars of story?

Write what you know:  My military background, from West Point, through the Infantry, and particularly into Special Operations is a large part of my books and was a large part of my life.  In fact, pretty much every protagonist I have is military or ex-military.  I’m one of the few thriller writers with actual military experience, especially in Special Operations, so that has affected not only my writing but the way I view the world. 

Write what you want to know:  My fascination with myths and legends permeates a lot of my writing and research, especially two of my bestselling series.  Atlantis is one of the oldest recorded myths and Area 51 is a modern myth.  In the Area 51 series I rewrote the entire history of mankind and surprisingly or not, depending on which way you look at it, 95% of what’s in the books are facts.

Write what interests you:  I love history.  Not just for the information, but more the people.  Also, because I am a big believer in the maxim those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.  Experience is the best teacher and history is experience.  From a novel that is purely historical, Duty, Honor, Country, to the 50% of the last five Atlantis books where I use a past timeline to support the current story, a large portion of my writing has to do with history.  What I find fascinating is what we think we know is often wrong; and we know a lot less than we think we know. 

Write what is your passion:  Last, and most importantly, I go back to the mind.  When I went into West
Point I was sure I was going to major in engineering.  But once I started in psychology, I realized this was where I wanted to concentrate.  I find the human mind utterly fascinating.  I had to laugh when reading Esquire and they ask a celebrity what book they have on their nightstand (no one ever says Conan the Barbarian) and Sean Penn replied:  The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.  Okay, maybe I believe him.  I remember pulling the hardcover of that book out of a Jeep I totaled about ten years ago.  It’s still sitting on our bookshelf here at Write on the River. 

What are your pillars of story?

Learn more about Bob at http://www.coolgus.com/bobmayer.html

4 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Bob, Thanks for celebrating our 3rd Blog-O-Versary with us! I write what I know. I've been a member of women's circles for over 30 years so there are many of my personal experiences in The Sacred Women's Circle series. An ancillary to that is whatever I research adds to my own spiritual experience so it isn't an intellectual exercise but becomes internalized. And I write what I'm passionate about - people learning new ways to overcome problems so they can have the life they want. My characters must try something different or something they are afraid to do if they are to achieve their happily-ever-after.

No saving the world from evil-doers, etc. just finding a path through life's challenges so each day they experience joy and happiness.

Diana McCollum said...

Since most of my stories are paranormal I guess my writing is based on legend, reading other paranormal writers and research. I also write historical/paranormal and so I get the opportunity to research historical facts for accuracy. Enjoyed your blog! And enjoyed your lectures at the Rose City Romance Writers Portland, OR conference.

Sarah Raplee said...

Great advice as always, Bob. You've given me food for thought. Thank you for returning to RTG!

Vonnie Alto said...

Inspiring advice and yet so obvious and simple. Writing is all about knowledge, interests, and passion. Thank you for reminding me why I love to write!