STARTING A NEW BOOK
This week I started the third book in my Trisha Carson mystery series. I promised myself I would start in January and I have. Each time I start a book it feels different. For book one, Dead in the Water, I turbo-wrote an action scene that was the essence of the book or, so I thought.
I was sure it would be a startling opener. But on the third draft, I moved it to the middle of the book where it was a better fit.
For book two, Drop Dead Red, I decided to finally organize my thoughts, not start in the middle and work both ways which is my normal pattern. I did an outline. I used little sticky notes for each character, with their name, occupation, description and emotional garbage they carried around with them. I scouted out locations, took photos, talked to experts. I was ready.
I started to write and by the end of the first chapter, the outline was in shreds. I never followed it. Since my office gets direct afternoon sunshine, my little yellow sticky notes faded and fell off the wall. The experts I talked to were fascinating, but they were the wrong experts because I really didn’t know where the story was going.
Book 3 which only has a working title is different still. I spent weeks thinking about it. I knew the general theme and I knew where I would start. So far, I am 50% on target. The theme has stayed the same, but I started in a totally different location.
For me, I need to begin at the beginning (or what feels like the beginning), knowing it will change and write. I was nervous for the first 1,000 words. What was I going to say? Did it sound too much like book two? But I hit cruise control on the next 1,000 words and things began to happen. New characters showed up bringing their own set of problems. New characters mean new occupations, new things for me to learn. And they brought their friends. This is the time when I often say to myself. "Who is that?" or “I didn’t know he did that.” It’s when the characters take over and direct the book. I didn’t have to say anything. I am only the medium for getting their story out.
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