Thursday, November 18, 2021

Some Thoughts Upon Starting a Novel by Marilyn Levinson

Here I am again, about to start a new novel in my Haunted Library mystery series. Death on the Shelf celebrated its book birthday this past week, and I'm in the midst of a virtual book tour and other methods of promotion as I continue to write guest blogs and interviews. My editor has gone over Dewey Decimated, the sixth book in the series, and I'm currently addressing her notes and edits. For a while now I've been thinking about book number seven.

My mysteries often have two plot lines that eventually converge, and the plot lines on which this book is based came to me immediately. That's all I know so far and it's not for lack of thinking. The criminal element in this book revolves around art. But in what capacity? I've considered storylines that involve art theft, art forgery and fake and illegal antiquities. All possibilities. Then I have to decide who's crooked, who ends up murdered, and how my sleuth will put two and two together and find the killer and the thieves.

Will I ever fashion an entire novel incorporating all these elements? How did I manage to write novels until now? A good friend and fellow author reminds me that I go through this with every book I write. It's somewhat comforting to know that many of my fellow authors go through the same morass of doubt and  concern.

The solution, I've discovered, is to turn to what I already know. Book number seven is part of a series, which means many of my characters, the tone, and the setting are well established.  One of my two plot lines comes directly from the previous book in the series. This always happens without any conscious effort on my part. It's as though my characters are pushing the story forward. While every book in the series stands alone, there are links to the continuous saga of my characters' private lives--their loves and friendships, experiences and adventures. These will help me figure out the mystery part of the story. And as soon as I've finished writing my final interview and have given away my last giveaway, I'll settle down and let the ideas I need come to me. And I'll start to write my next novel.


  1. Readers are always more confident in our abilities than we authors are. We know you'll do fine (which doesn't mean you won't suffer).

  2. Marilyn, I know you've got this. It is a mysterious process - we just have to trust it.
    And let me say that Dewey Decimated is one of my all time favorite titles!

  3. When I start a new project, at first I'm enthralled with the limitless possibilities, but it soon becomes a sense of being overwhelmed, and after a bit of contemplation, I get on a more even keel and can see where I'm going.

    You've done so well with your other projects; I'm sure this one will be equally good.

  4. Ugh, I'm right there with you, Marilyn. How on earth does writing happen? If it's perseverance and talent, then try to set your worries aside, because you have them. If it's magic, then same advice, because you've got that, too.

  5. You've nailed the conflict a writer feels every a work is in progress.... and the good feeling when it comes together.

  6. Jim, Shari,Kathleen, Molly and Debra,
    I know you've all been through what I'm experiencing now. Somehow we manage to get past the angst and write another book, another story. I think at one point we've trained our minds to put things in motion. Right now I find myself considering plotline possibilities for my next book—my cooperating mind is working!