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


Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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 has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.

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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?

2 comments:

Gloria Alden said...

I love the imagery of constucting a house and comparing it to the creative and hard work of writing a novel. So true, and of course, as in building a house, if there's not the painstaking attention to detail, you'll have a shoddy house or a shoddy novel.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Absolutely, Gloria. Both kinds of work are creative and labor-intensive. And shortcuts tend to turn into disasters eventually. But it's all worth it if you do it right. there's no greater feeling than the satisfaction of a book well-written--or, I suppose, a house well-built. (I'm just guessing on that last one since I've never built a house.)