Breaking Down the Novel

I’m busy working on Book Five these days. One would think (not me, but others might), that after writing four books in the same genre, in the same series, featuring the same main characters, the story should flow smoothly. But in fact, sometimes, it doesn’t flow at all. A plunger would be helpful (not the toilet unplugging kind, but the elusive type that could work to unstop the writing mind).

During my first stab at it, nearly five thousand words later, I didn’t like the locale I’d selected for heroine Corrie’s latest adventure. She was investigating criminal activity at a nursing facility. In real life, I am blessed with older relatives who are experiencing some challenging issues. This location and the events struck too close to home. Back to the drawing…or more accurately, the writing…board.

I painted another adventure with words and, this time, the opening sequence hobbled. Not just because Michael (Corrie’s love interest) and Corrie were on horseback. But because Michael had planned a special date which, naturally, was upended by a crime. That’s a typical day in the life of Corrie. But the crime was a little too dark for my liking. The beauty of writing (one of the many) is the flexibility. If a scene or a character doesn’t work, they can disappear, forever, or until some future scene beckons them back. Meanwhile, I get to flex my writing skills and fan my creative fires.

I find writing alternately scary and marvelous. Kind of like Halloween.

Scary because of the ghosts, goblins and witches, but marvelous, too, because of the ghosts (the Casper types), carved pumpkins and candy.

Back to writing. It can be scary because the sheer amount of words that need to coagulate in a cohesive, engaging and enjoyable manner can be daunting. 77,000 words, give or take.

I break the draft down, starting with the title. In my first two tries, I mulled over the title while I wrote. Not a good sign. In my previous books, the title came first. After the arrival of the title, I challenge myself to write 1000 words. I can do that. After I write the 1000, I ask, can you write more? I can do that…usually. And so on, until sooner, hopefully, rather than later, I reach The End!

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