I write by the seat of my pants. Not literally, but really—I don’t plot before I sit down, but I do think a lot.
Writing is definitely a job that is solitary. It’s just me and my made up world all day long. And just like in a regular job, whether it be a desk job, teacher, or stay at home mom, I have to make the commitment every single day to show up at my job—bring my fictitious world out of my head and on the page.
Since I write murder, it’s a little different than a novel in a different genre. I have to know the ending and the whodunit and the why before I even type a word on the page. This is when I scour crime scene interviews, reasons people are murdered, motives, news stories and zany ways to kill people.
Checkered Crime is the first novel in my latest mystery series, A Laurel London Mystery, and I knew there had to be a hook besides a mob guy kills because things didn’t go his way. So the “what-if” game starts.
I tape a big sheet of white paper on the wall in my office and I make bullet points of the what if’s with the answers. I’m leaving the answers out here because I don’t want to give away any of the fun details of the novel. You are going to have to buy and read the book for all the fun!
*What if the mob guy was missing a finger? Why is he missing a finger? How can I use that in the murder or the crime?
*What is unique about my heroine? What is her quirk? What if she lost her job and needed an old beater car? What if the car is yellow? What if the mob guy thought it was a taxi? What if he hired her to be his driver? OMG! What if the FBI is watching him? The FBI guy jumps in her car and forces her to work for the FBI…then she’d be working for both sides?
*What is in it for the heroine?
*What is the crime? Why is the crime so important that it needs to be solved?
This game goes on and on. I talk to myself and put the quirkiest answers next to the question. It may or may not make it into the book, but my ideas start to flow and the plot begins to take place.
This is when I sit down and begin to write the first draft or the “bones” of the novel. It takes me about one month, sitting butt in chair, and eight hour days to get it finished. After this draft is complete, I go back through the draft and add in all the little quirky or funny parts since I inject humor into the story. This is how I put the “meat on the bones.” The story deepens. My characters deepen and come to life. The dialogue tags take shape and the story begins to form into a solid novel.
This process takes me two – three weeks. After that, I will print out the novel and read it out loud, taking me another week. Here I begin to change around scenes or add more storyline or details.
This is the last before I send it off to my editor for the first round of edits. This is a back and forth process until it’s ready for my beta readers. With the feedback, I complete the novel for one last round of edits before it’s sent out into the world for readers.
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