Monday, September 17, 2012

Book is About Half Written

A half-written book is not a half-completed book.  So I'm not at any magical halfway point.  Still, it's a sense of accomplishment to feel that what I've written is about half of what seems to have become standard for books these days.  And I do feel as if I need to start wrapping some things up and moving closer to the finish of this murder mystery.

Some might ask why I'm writing a murder mystery.  There are thousands of them out there.   The simple answer is that I enjoy reading them.  The more complex answer is that is gives my brain some exercise in creating a puzzle to solve.

It's fun to create a puzzle and sprinkle some clues around.  It's fun to create some false clues too. The obvious answer isn't always the correct one.   And that resembles life.  So often we think we just know something.  She did that to him.  Or he did that to her.  Then we discover the truth and it isn't what we thought.  Add a little danger and more mystery, and you give your brain something to focus on throughout the night.  Come morning, you wake up with a whole new twist on your story.

On my lunch break I usually go upstairs and help answer the phones as we have no receptionist right now.  I've used that time to draw a map of the area involved in this murder mystery.  That has helped tremendously.  I'm very visual, so drawing it to have as a reference when I add scenes maintains consistency and accuracy.  I know I haven't reversed the direction of some actions; being dyslexic, it's very important for me to know I've written my lefts and rights and norths and souths correctly.  

Much of what I've read about writing tells writers not to edit while they write.  They caution new writers against mixing the two tasks as they do involve separate lenses from which to view the story.  I can't do that.  I have been writing for more than 30 years.  Much of it has been for business and industry, with deadlines and specific criteria that writing has to match.  Whether it's been a new course for sales reps, a technical manual for software, specifications for a piece of hardware, or grants to foundations, the writing must be done to meet a specific purpose and within a given time frame.  So I learned to write quickly and edit frequently. 

These works often have page, word, or character limits.  That's how I got started writing short stories.  I wanted to improve my telling of a story in fewer words (something I'm not doing right now).  The practice improved my writing greatly and carries over into my work continuously.  I can effectively write posters, flyers, brochures, and other short media with my eyes closed (figuratively).

The first four or five chapters of my book have been written for weeks.  Over these past few weeks, I added more chapters.  But more than anything else, I edited.  I moved some scenes around.  I tightened up some dialogue.  I added dialogue.  I added elements I'd ignored in the first writing, going back and imagining, then adding, the sights and smells of the scenes. 

The Internet has been a blessing in the editing process.  It has so many good resources and authors giving advice that have helped me make people and places become real.  Their advice has guided me in asking questions about the characters and whether they come across as real.  Where is the tension in the story?  Is it all within the mystery itself, or does it exist between characters who are friends and/or work together?  It has been like having an invisible editor available to give me another way to look at and tell the story. 

And that leads to another reason why the book is not halfway done even if the story is. After the writing comes the editing and enhancement.  Someone has to read my book with a critical eye - a very critical eye.  Does the story make sense?  Are the villains too obvious (if you have them in your work)?  Are there typos and misspellings?  In my book, there are many intentional misspellings in the dialogue because I want the reader to hear it in their head as they read.  So I don't want to use any automatic spell-checker (person or electronic) that doesn't give me the chance to say no to an edit or doesn't let me add a word to the dictionary.  Will there be any artwork beyond the cover?  What will the cover be?  Who will draw it?  What will the text look like?  Choices and decisions that all take review, review, review. 

So, I'll stay happy where I am right now doing the easy part - the writing! 

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