Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog Number Nineteen

There's an eight hundred pound gorilla in the room.  Every body knows he's there, but nobody wants to talk about him...except me.  I'll talk.
I've written a lot of love scenes.  But I ask you to stop and think.  How many nice, pretty words are out there in our American vocabulary to describe an act as old as time?  Darn few.  And I figure I've used all of them more than once.  Remember, I said nice, pretty words.  Finally, I grew jaded, tired of my fruitless search for those illusive words.
Then it dawned on me...Cozy Mysteries.  They kill people and they do it without sex.  Oh wow!  I could be the next Agatha Christie.  After all these years, I've found my new niche.
So, I headed to Amazon (virtually speaking) and purchased a stack of cozy mysteries by many different authors.  Several notable things kept popping up: a continuing character (female amateur sleuth), plus a super intelligent dog or cat helping the amateur human to solve mysteries.
Hey, I'm a big animal lover.  I can do this.  I used to raise and show Dandie Dinmont Terriers--a rare breed from Scotland.  I was an instructor at the local Obedience Club (B.A. that's before arthritis).  As I grew older, I decided on a smaller breed and switched to Norwich Terriers.   After he died and I got even older (bone years are the same as dog years), we decided to switch to cats--they don't need to be walked or taken to obedience classes.
My monumental decision was made.  I would start writing Cozy Mysteries.
I was giddy with excitement as I turned on my computer and stared at the blank screen.  Hmm, I was going to have to think about this one for awhile.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blog Number Eighteen

"Where do you get your ideas from?" is another question I'm often asked.  It's a hard one to answer.  I can get an idea from a newspaper article I've read or heard on the evening news.  It might be a car passing me on the freeway driven by a hooded character, or a bum at the exit with a sign "will work for food."  Even a TV show, documentary or movie can get my juices flowing.
Zap!  This is where creativity gets launched.  I start thinking..."what if?"
My best advice to you is to have pencil and paper handy, or if you're on the road a great deal, how about a hand-held recorder.  Can the smart phones do that?  Later, I type them up and put them in a file.  When I'm in between novels, I can get out the file and thumb through my old ideas--some I had completely forgotten.  One might tickle my fancy and launch my next journey.
Which of my ten novels is my favorite?  That's like asking a mother which is her favorite child.  Of course, I can answer that one with ease since I only had one son.  Definitely, he is my favorite.
Historicals (and I would imagine that space and futuristic plots might fall in this category) are the most difficult to write.  Your facts must be accurate.  You can't kill someone with a firearm that had yet to be invented; or have mail delivered to your castle before the era of Benjamin Franklin; or mow the grass before the invention of the rotary lawn mower.  You think....well, it's fiction, I can do whatever I want.  Yes, you can, but the whole idea of writing a story is to make it believable.  You want to take your reader on a journey and glaring errors snap them out of the mood that you've been trying to create.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Number Seventeen

         So, how do you write an entire novel when you only have small "snippets" of time?  If you posed this same question to a dozen different writers (both published and unpublished) and you would hear about a dozen different systems.  One system that seems popular is to use sticky notes with scenes written out and stuck on a bulletin board.  This never worked for me.
          One book that might give you some good ideas is "The Weekend Novelist", by Robert Ray.  Whereas his system wouldn't work for me, I still enjoyed the book and especially liked the way he attacked the subject.
          Next you should analyze your life.  Figure out EXACTLY when and how much time you are able to devote to your writing.  My personal experience is that you need at least one undisturbed hour.  Some folks start at the beginning and just plow all the way through beginning to end and then go back and edit.  No single method is better than another.  I can only tell you what works for me and what works for some of my writer friends.  You must find (through trial and error) what works for you.
            So here's my system--first, I get the plot idea.  Second, I write a narrative or synopsis of my story.  Third, I create my cast of characters.  Fourth, I create a few chapter headings and write a sentence or two as a guide to some of the pivotal scenes.  Last, but certainly not least, I begin to write.  Of course, nothing is set in stone.  An old saying that is sometimes true... "there's many a slip twix the cup and the lip."  Yes, sometimes I do wander from my original plot.  As the characters develop their personalities, I might change my mind as to the identity of the murderer.  The character originally chosen to be the bad guy, might turn out to be good.  You just never know what will happen as the word count grows.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Blog Number Sixteen


If time is both the enemy and the best friend of the writer, then procrastination is lethal.  If you're a woman, first, you tell yourself that when your toddlers start school, THEN you'll have time to write, but you get busy and keep putting it off.  Then you tell yourself when the kids go off to college, you'll have time to write.  But you have to take a second job to afford their tuition.
If that's the abbreviated story for a female writer, the male of the species have another set of obstacles. Writing wouldn't be "cool" if you tried to find time as a teenager.  Besides, anyone who tries to write at a young age, doesn't have "life experiences" to draw on.  In college there's pressure to keep your grades up, then a guy gets married, has kids, car payments and a hefty mortgage.  Their career consumes them and they simply don't have time to write.
Get the picture?
It's all about time.
Just as you budget your money, you must learn to budget your time.  Of course, this article is being written by a female born under the sign of Capricorn.  It's written in the stars for me to be well-organized and it comes easy to me.
My mantra is "do what I have to do so I can do what I want to do."
My advice is to go look in the mirror and be totally honest with yourself.  How great, how deep, how urgent is your drive to write and create.  If your answer is all three (great, deep and urgent), then FIND the time to write.
Don't do what I did...I looked in the mirror when I was sixty years old and realized that I had wasted many, many productive years.