1.Start mid-scene and keep the story moving!
2.Sketch characters quickly and concisely and unpack their motives and complexities by action throughout the story.
3.Maintain suspense, do not reveal early. If there is sexual tension/possibility, defer, defer and defer the consummation.
4.Action drives the plot and reveals character.
5.No pontificating and explaining until the end when motive, means and opportunity are revealed.
6.No backgrounding and scene setting at the start.
7.Dialogue must be to the point, revealing either character or plot [or both].
8.We must want to keep reading and discover ‘what happens next’ = a good old page turner.
9.The ending is foreshadowed at the beginning and the story is a satisfying whole where it ‘all makes sense’.
10.We want to find out what happens, yet do not want the story to end.
Okay, on the one hand this adds nothing new to what I have been taught in the few creative writing workshops I have done in the last year. On the other hand, becoming aware of what was happening in me when reading a quality detective story and then making this list did give me a fresh insight and a template against which I can keep checking the progress of the fourth draft [total rewrite] of my mystery/romance set on the Camino.
On the other hand, as a former academic there is always an ‘on the other hand’ and always a caveat, how different would these insights have been in the mid-nineteenth century when there was not the same emphasis/obsession with ‘showing, not telling’ and when there was room to stretch out and take our time telling a story without an editor telling us to get on with it because readers get bored after sixty seconds [or is it less?] and won’t tolerate slabs of narrative or description.
More on this question in my next rant – oops, I mean my next post.
yes, l am writing the sequel to my second draft completed and much more work to do novel manuscript. Bizarre, no? Not really.
1. I need distance and time away from my manuscript of 78000 words while I decide whether to do a third draft or to send it to an assessor for independent professional assessment. Writing a novel in a month, the infamous NaNoWriMo exercise, gives me time to reflect.
2. Maybe as important I have had the sequel in mind since early this year; sitting at my computer, sometimes the words flowing and feeling right and other times squeezing out words like dead flies accumulating against a window pane on a hot summer day in Australia. Inspiration struck on how I could continue their story and make my key characters suffer and suffer. Like every writing workshop tells us, right? Make them suffer! Oh trust me, they suffer for their love.
3. So, Tom and Anika are back! Spoiler alert: now you know they survive what is thrown at them on the Camino as they struggle in the maelstrom of murders. Ah, but you do not yet know how they survive and I agree that I have been slack or, more accurately, deliberately withholding, on that score.
3. Writing a sequel is also fun! My characters are so familiar, I know them like friends; what clothes they wear what they eat, how they talk and argue, how they walk, their little quirks and likes and dislikes and how they have aged and changed six years later as ‘the author’ puts them through their paces once again.
4. Writing 50,000 words in a month is quite exhilarating simply to rattle words on the screen without lots of prior planning and without a study full of index cards on boards or Scrivener corkboards! Totally different to my normal approach.
4 days down and 8,200 words in the bag = so far, so good.