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

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

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.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Blank Page

Not much intimidates me. I face a blank page every week when I write this blog. When I wrote eight short stories last year, I faced the blank page without qualms. If I were starting the tenth chapter hesitation wouldn’t occur. But I’m starting my fourth new WIP. I know my story. I know the objectives of my first chapter. I’ve taken pictures of the setting. But writing the first page, when you have to grab the reader’s attention, captivate them, set the tone and push the story forward—hopefully in the first paragraph—that I find intimidating.

The first thing I ask is: Am I starting in the right place? Is the scene necessary? Could it be incorporated later in the story as a retrospective? What should my MC think? Should I just start with action, like a movie director yelling “Action?” I know writing any backstory at this point is verboten, but what about my MC’s mindset and feelings? Nope, none of that, it’s backstory. She’s in a place discovering. I need to show that action and her reaction—but then her reaction brings in backstory, her predisposition. I’m going in circles. Lashing out at her significant other when he enters the scene midway could be the way around presenting backstory, but then the reader might assume she's just a bitch. A dilemma. She’s not insensitive. How to make the MC likeable while presenting her in the last situation she wants to be in without bringing in a backstory explanation?

I’ve decided to write this manuscript in first person. It will be my first novel written in that POV. I’ve written shorts in first person and third person, but my previous novels were written in third person because I switched POVs in different chapters. In those novels, I needed to present the action outside of my main character’s POV. This time I don’t, which means that I can present my main character intimately and narrowly. The reader will only have my MC’s perspective, they’ll come to know her well, and that’s what I want. I’m looking forward to utilizing this first person perspective. I’ll have to avoid writing too many of my MC’s thoughts, a pratfall of this POV. No one wants a neurotic or compulsive MC, unless his name is Monk. I remember editing a script once for another writer and in every other sentence I redlined the words, “I thought,” as in “I thought about….” If she’s thinking she doesn’t have to think about thinking.   

This isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s my fourth WIP, and in the previous three, I repeatedly rewrote the first chapter after I’d finished the entire manuscript. However I decide to start, it’s a given that I will rewrite it about twenty times, and even then I won’t be sure that I got it right. I’m reading opening paragraphs and analyzing them.

How do you approach that first paragraph? Is there a way to determine how to get it right? What is your measure?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

My approach is much different than yours. For the first draft I want to get the story on paper. I don’t worry if I am starting too early—the second draft can chop unneeded backstory and fill in needed details later in the story.

Since I’m a pantser I also don’t worry too much about my character’s personality. By the end of the first draft it will have fully presented itself and I have editing to eliminate inconsistencies.

As you can tell, my approach is to get the story down in draft one and work on the craft in later drafts. With more experience under my belt, my first drafts now need less major work than earlier books require, but they are still UGLY.

Good luck with this one, EB

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks, Jim. I'm on chapter three now. I find it unavoidable to edit as I go, not that I don't miss a lot. But I like perfecting. I'm working on style these days--something I am just starting to understand.

I'm on Chapter 3 now and like where the story is going. On the blank page, I always need a lead-in concept to introduce the dilemma, the main character, setting and clues that will set off the action. I finally found a concept that I liked--color--one I haven't used before.

My daughter read the first three chapters and liked it, although the first line scared her. She isn't really a mystery fan though.

Unfortunately, our renovation project has closed our kitchen--which we had no choice but to move into our office. My progression will be slowed in the next two weeks until I can get the refrigerator out of the office and the microwave and coffee maker off my desk!

Claire said...

Like Jim, I'm a pantser when I write. I just start anywhere in the story that speaks to me. My first novel started with a scene that appears near the end of the novel. It told me where the story was going and I went back to create a beginning and middle.

I do edit as I write - too many years of doing so to change now! But it still needs a lot of work after it's 'done' to ensure consistency, tension, closing the loop on sub plots, and more.


E. B. Davis said...

I always started at the end too, Claire. My problem was that I didn't know it at the time! Now I do plot from beginning middle and end, with an ending occurring to me before I get to far so I know where I'm going. I know the final scene now--at least I thought I did, but now I think it maybe next to the last.

Polly Iyer said...

I'm with Jim and Claire. I'm also a pantser In my opinion, one of the worst things you can do at the beginning of a book is overthink. Get the story down first, then go back. At that point, you know where you've gone and can see things more clearly. If you get into the head of your character, in other words, become her, you'll write what your character would do, say what she says, have her tics or eccentricities or mannerisms. I do think that first chapter sets the tone, though. I go over that one many times AFTER I've written it.

Polly Iyer said...

Editing: period after pantser. :-)

randall031 said...

When I'm seriously stuck, I take advice from Snoopy. I'll begin with

"It was a dark and stormy night"

It's an old practice from my journalism days and helps me get moving.

E. B. Davis said...

I used to be a pantser, but I was unsatisfied with the result. Too many details need to be built into the story that I missed.

On my last manuscript, I planned out scenes, but I didn't plan the entire book. When I got to the end, I knew there would have to be a lot of revisions to make it right, which felt to me like I would be performing an autopsy on a dead script.

I may go back someday and revise, but it overwhelmed me. So, I started another manuscript. This time planned out, not in every detail such as backstory, but for the mystery--chapter by chapter to the very end.