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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Some Thoughts On Writing a Novel

I spent the first six months of 2019 writing the fourth book of my Haunted Library mystery series. Then, to my surprise, it was finished—the murderer revealed, loose ends tied up at 80,000 plus words—just like the previous three books. Surprised because I'd simply sat down each day for a few hours in the late afternoon and wrote a few pages at a time.

I approached this book as both a plotter and a pantser—starting out as a plotter with a clear idea of the book's framework: two groups of characters with a murder in each camp linked to a murder that took place twenty years earlier in Clover Ridge, the setting of my series. Once I worked out how the murders were connected, I began writing as a pantser. Scene after scene came to mind and my story unfolded. I'm not saying I never got stuck, but it was never over anything major and never for long. I have line-edited two-thirds of the manuscript so far, and the only edits I've made involve changing words or phrases for clarity and smoother reading.

I began to wonder how this relative ease—and I say relative because I feel a pang of anxiety every time I sit down to write—came about. Writing a mystery, regardless of the subgenre, requires attention to one's characters' development and interactions, careful plotting, and good pacing to maintain the reader's attention without telescoping the identity of the murderer. A mystery writer must deal with many elements simultaneously, similar to the way a puppeteer has to control a marionette's many strings when performing.

I believe that becoming a good fiction writer is an ongoing process. We learn as we take courses, study technique, critique one another, and continue to write. Soon we no longer have to stop to consciously think: does this scene further the plot? Do I need to bring in the murderer more frequently? Am I remembering to show character development? Not revealing too much too soon? These are important issues that must be addressed. Eventually, they are dealt with on a subconscious level. As we continue to work on our novels and short stories we acquire the ability to know how and what to write.

Years ago, I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: the Story of Success. Using Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the Beatles as examples of masters in their fields, he surmises that learning, practicing and/or performing roughly ten thousand hours in their areas of expertise led to their high achievement in their chosen fields. I've no way of knowing if ten thousand hours of writing and learning about writing will make a good fiction writer, but I do know that becoming one requires hard work. Until what we've taken in becomes ingrained in our minds and our souls, to be made use of intuitively—like a seasoned tennis player knows subliminally where to send the next volley so his or her opponent can't return it. It's all part of a process that requires dedication and discipline—and constant writing.


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

A thoughtful post. I remember learning about "muscle memory" when I took tennis lessons. I suspect writers have a similar learning curve for "writers memory": all the basics of a compelling narrative combined with our own voice.

KM Rockwood said...

What a delightful development. Sometimes the writing comes easily; sometimes it just won't come; sometimes it takes off on its own and I feel like I am transcribing rather than creating. That's the best.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Margaret and Kathleen,
So much goes into the development of a novel.
Margaret, writer's memory is an apt phrase for what happens internally as we type out the words and scenes of our novels.
Kathleen, I love that transacribing feel! Don't you find yourself smiling when you're done?

Shari Randall said...

Loved this post, Marilyn. When the writing flows like that it's a great feeling. Just as KM called it "transcribing" or Margaret's "writing memory" - when we're in the zone it feels effortless. Problem is getting in the zone!

Warren Bull said...

Enjoy the ease while it lasts. It comes and goes.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Thanks, Shari. That zone is elusive, as Warren says.

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

Great post, Marilyn! I guess the old saying is true: Practice makes perfect. At least I hope so. :)

Marja said...

Excellent post, and you made me think about recent events. I started a book and just couldn't get into it. I tried, but no matter how I wrote, rewrote and thought about different ideas, I couldn't write anymore. There were no epiphanies -- nothing. So I finally set it aside and started something new, and I'm so much happier and having a ball writing it. Like I said, excellent post, and great food for thought.