Friday, February 6, 2015
When Writing, Come Ready--Not Ready-or-Not
The deadline to start writing my next Boss MacTavin mystery has been set now: March 1. I've been brooding and taking preliminary notes since 12/16...feeling readier and readier. But the pieces did not really fall into place till this week, when my research took me in a new direction.
I'd already committed to tackling a crime-line that no one else had done. But I feared the crime might seem too small--and that attempts to make more of it would come across as far-fetched. I had one angle that might work but my confidence still remained shaky. That is, it remained shaky till I rolled up my sleeves and began to really dig. The specific research had unexpected benefits. For one thing, it led me to an additional character, a former cop with expertise in this growing crime. And the more I learned about the crime, the more easily I could plot out ways for Boss MacTavin to find Mr. Big.
Well, be 'evil' enough--in your writing, at least, to learn how to out-think your villains.
If I did not believe in readiness...if I were driven to crank out as many books as can every year...I suppose I could start now and finish the book in three months, as some do. But I'll improve my readiness this month in the following ways:
1) Step up research and note-taking
2) Draw up a working outline
3) Make a set of character cards for my recurring cast: the basics, things one can easily forget over the course of the years.
4) Continue tinkering with opening lines
5) Buy a different style of Moleskine notebook, one that feels right for this book
6) Work out and get plenty of rest
7) Go to San Francisco at month's end for a short vacation and the chance to take notes for the opening scene in S.F.
So readiness, for me, is a winning combination of training, research, preparation, strategy, energy maintenance and confidence. The first two drafts of any book are brutally rough on most writers. But in our way we are athletes. And as I prepare for the big brawl ahead, I try to keep these words in mind: