Today is cold and clear. The sheep, in their winter sweaters, love this weather. Most of the horses do as well.
Sometime in October, my creativity, dormant over the summer, wakes. I do my best writing in the autumn. Thanksgiving is the high point and then there is a sudden down turn in mood and creativity until mid January. I find the cold invigorating, both mentally and physically. I grew up in New England and I find these Delaware winters a bit on the wimpy side. I don’t get to wear my heavy wool sweaters often. There aren’t long stretches of freezing between thaws.
So having come out of my post autumn slump, which was particularly bad this year, I am once more off and running. I have one short story I am editing for a publisher, another almost done and I need to start a third which is due in April.
For years now people have been urging me to write another novel, and I have been resisting. I am a short story writer, not a novelist.
Bending to the pressure, I started novel number seven, using characters from my short stories. Maybe I have learned enough about writing to make a go of this one. Maybe I will live long enough to finish it. Maybe I will have fun doing it.
I have been trying to figure out who the murder victim is and why he is in the town at all. I have actually written the first scene, which may find its way into the trash. For now, I am satisfied.
I read the Pennsylvania Gazette from 1752 to find out what was going on at the time. I found one murder, several robberies. Most horses stolen were black, most escapees were Irish indentured servants, not slaves. Delaware newspapers will be a bit harder. Oh, boy, a fun day in the library in downtown Wilmington.
I will balance research with writing for the next few weeks. The research will taper off and the writing takes over. Once the first draft is done, I will go back to research to fill in the gaps and flesh out the story.
Very little of this early work has anything to do with plot. It is all location and character. I had a jump start on both with the two short stories on which this novel is based. I have to have more complete characters, a better grasp of the location. I need to change some things from the stories.
For me plotting is the hardest part of the job. Odd, since mysteries depend heavily on plot. The plot forms as I write with many twists and turns and false starts.If I try to outline a plot at the beginning, I never finish because once I figure it out I am done.
I had lunch with a writer friend yesterday and he told me he knows everything about the story before he starts to write. I admire that, but I just can’t do it.
Me? I am six characters and an author in search of a story.
Around the time of my next post-Thanksgiving slump, I hope to have the first draft of Death on the Delaware done and ready for the really hard work of revising.