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What’s the big(ger) idea?

How do you write a “bigger book”? Yes, I've blogged about this before, but a recent series by one of my new favorite writing resources–yes, Larry Brooks over at–helped the concept of “writing big” finally click in my brain.

He seems to be helping things click a lot lately. Not sure if it's Mr. Brooks' style, that my brain is finally ready, or a bit of both. Maybe it's that old line: “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. Hmm.

Anyway, here's my take on the idea of writing a bigger book.

The author takes ordinary people and shows them in extraordinary roles. We can relate to the emotional core of a character, and be thrilled by the chance to participate in a job or situation that many of us have no experience with. (And probably wouldn't want to in real life.)

They say and do the things most of us only wish we had the guts to say or do. When faced with a terrifying challenge, they rise to the occasion (eventually), the way we'd like to think we would.

Those larger-than-life characters are operating in an environment that is both foreign and fascinating to the average reader, so we're drawn into the experience for the vicarious ride through their world. Think special ops forces, spies behind enemy lines, hostage situations, medieval times, the Regency period, a school for wizards, NYC with vampires.

The same way a roller coaster simulates the thrill of a death-defying ride, big books let us experience scary and exciting worlds and situations through the adventures of the characters that we've grown attached to. We feel the fear, the joy, the heartache, and the bravery as if it were our own. We can have the emotions without the risk.

Bigger books usually also often have larger stakes. The threat isn't just to the heroine's daughter, but to the entire school, or the whole city. The villain isn't just a terrorist, he's the head terrorist. The stakes are personal, but also universal.

So now that I “get it”–I hope–my goals are to work it into Slow Burn, which I'm getting ready to put through its first major plot revision, and to apply the concept to Blind Fury which is in the throes of nascency.

How about you? Any thoughts on what makes a “bigger book”?

Tell your friends!


  1. Dunx


    I think of bigness as a thematic or subtextual thing: if the theme of the story is the MC’s rebirth after a period of degeneracy then that’s all well and good, but if there is a larger theme of societal breakdown then that feels like a “bigger” book. Or in my own current project where one of the MCs is coming of age, but there is also a larger theme of the dangers of excessive authority granted to one of the arms of government.

    Interesting subject, though. Thank you for posting about it.

    • Reply

      Good points, Dunx. I’m still feeling my way through this whole idea, so I’m always glad to get input from others in the biz. I tend to think in terms of my genre, which is romantic suspense, and I’m not always the best at “theme”. I liked your examples.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Christine


    And there is the flip side: too much is sometimes too much. The key to the “bigger book” might be in the core story line being told very artfully. Not “muddying” the waters. Where does one find the balance?

  3. Reply

    Gwen, I’m really looking forward to coming back and working through all this next week when I have some time off.

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