If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Construction Work

Writing a novel can be overwhelming, especially if you've studied creative writing or learned anything about doing it well. There's so much to keep in mind--plot points, narrative arcs, character development, setting and atmosphere, dialogue, action, sensory details, emotional truth, motivation, suspense, surprises, secrets, transitions, ad infinitum. All of these factors and so many more go into making up a satisfying novel. How do we keep them all in our head and get them all down on the page?

As a reader, it just seems magical when a novelist brings all these elements and more into play to create a good novel. When important ones are missing, the reader may not know why the book isn't satisfactory, but she knows it just doesn't make the grade.

My own solution has been to work in layers, much like building a house. Once I've developed strong characters and a dramatic situation to involve them (laying the foundation), I write straight through a scene or several scenes, getting down what the characters do and say. This is the basic storytelling structure like the skeletal wooden framework of the house-to-be that rises from the foundations.

Next, I go back through and let the reader see and in other ways sense the surroundings of the scene as experienced by the viewpoint character--and I include emotions at this stage. After that, transition work take place. Each scene must be made to follow smoothly and inveitably from the one before it. Of course, by this time I may have moved the scene around to different places in the story timeline to create more suspense or generate surprise, to further a narrative arc or optimize a plot point.

Then comes the line editing. Can I say this more clearly? Or make this more truly felt? Or give this more emotional power of statement? Or compress this paragraph or scene to add tension and vigor or energy?

This is, of course, a simplified description of this whole process. It often goes in fits and starts on sections at a time instead of the entire manuscript. Frequently, while in one later process, I realize that I made an error or omission in an earlier process, and I have to tear down that section and rebuild. But in the end, I should have a snug brick cottage or grand pillared plantation house or fashionable urban apartment complex.

After that, the problem is how to sell it? How to convince the person in search of living space that mine is the perfect one for him? And that's another whole job!

How do you see the process of writing a novel? What areas do you find most often skimped? Which areas make you toss the book at the wall if missing or ill-written? And if you're a writer, which layer gives you the most trouble, the most joy?

9 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

In a blog I wrote, I called that process "layering." I'm nearly finished my first draft of my current WIP. Since I've worked with a critique group, my WIP has progressed slowly with more layers. But, I will go back to make sure I'm consistent in my layering chapter by chapter.

In a previous WIP that didn't sell, I think I need to go back adding layers and revising. Maybe on revision it will have a better chance. It was a fun romantic mystery comedy, and I was disappointed when I was asked for partials but no takers. Dang!

Pauline Alldred said...

While I write the first draft, often layering pieces and revisions seem to strike me out of nowhere when I'm driving or doing housework. I stop and scribble down the idea on a piece of paper. Organizing those pieces of paper and putting them in the right place taxes my imagination.

As a reader, I hate to become too aware of all the hooks the writer is putting into the story to keep me reading. I think the hooks should be more subtle. Perhaps I'm just reading too much like a writer. Also, if the plot dominates and there are too many scientific or technical explanations, I lose interest. I used to be a fan of SciFi but now I find books in the genre too plot-driven. It's hard to create a fictional world and easier for writers who make use of the one we have.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, I've often found that, when someone's asked for a partial but hasn't taken the book, it's the layering I've not done adequately. Here's hoping you romantic comedy/mystery will sell once you've gone back adn done that.

And I guess you saw the mess I made of the blog today. I hadn't realized that the test blog would post here, too. I'd take it off, but that's where the comments have started so I guess I'll leave both up for the day. I will get the hang of WWK eventually, I promise.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Pauline, once you learn to read like a writer, it does make it harder to read books as just a reader. When I've been caught up completely in a book and forgotten all that, I know that book is really well-written. It's rare anymore.

I know what you mean about the notes you make about the current WIP. If I'm at the computer, I've got a document called NOTES & CHANGES that I put them in. Away, I write them down and make an effort to get them into that doc. Then, when I'm revising, that document's the first place I turn to.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I have to leave for errands and a writing group this morning. Will check back here around noon.

Warren Bull said...

For me every writing project is different. When some aspect of a story pops up in my mind I have to dig to find the rest. It's easiest if the ending comes up first and I can just bask track to the beginning, A character with strong "voice"is also good. She will comment on my work as I do it and she won't tolerate my mistakes.
The only books I throw at the wall are the ones where I think they are worth reading but then the author introduces an impossible event or a ending. I get angry because it could have been a good book if the author had taken the time to do it well. Books that are under-written or under-edited I just stop reading.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I hear you on those books that could have been so good until the author does some dumb thing, Warren. Sooo frustrating!

Alyx Morgan said...

I'm still learning the process of all the layering. The hardest part for me is when you find something's missing, & you need to reconstruct an entire scene, which (for me) means going back through the book & making sure the new construction fits with the rest of the story.

Nice post, Linda.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Alyx. I know what you mean about having to write new scenes and make them fit. It usually requires making little and big changes throughout the book to prepare and complete the new writing. Something I'm doing right now, unfortunately, in final revisions.