Thursday, November 15, 2012

Writing a Novel In a Different Way

Hobble Creek Canyon, Springville, UT - October 2012
The picture of the split-rail fence has nothing to do with today's post. I just love that picture and thought I would share it. It's been the background on my computer since I took the picture last month. We missed the reds by a week, but there were still plenty of oranges and yellows in Hobble Creek Canyon.

When I wrote CANALS I was under the delusion I would be the next Stephen King, so I wrote it in the manner King calls "a found thing." Other writers call this writing by the seat of your pants. I started with a premise, there's a monster living in the miles of canals that pass through and around Modesto, and like a good monster, he's killing and eating people. Any plotting was done by writer's inspiration, or via the muse. It was an exhilarating experience, one I will always cherish, even if I unpublish the book.

THE MIGHTY T and DEATH OF A MATADOR were written with a bit more plotting. I began  writing knowing how the books began and how I wanted them to end, then set about making it happen.

One of my favorite thriller authors, John Sandford, recently posted on Facebook (believe it or not) that he had a looming deadline and needed to write 30K words in thirty days: an average of 1,000 words a day for a month. Those of you trying to write an entire novel this month may scoff at this, but it's still not easy.

Anyway, Sandford said he can write 5,000 words a day when he's finishing a book, because he's just wrapping things up. He says writing the beginning of a book is easy, too, because he's already thought up his characters and a loose plot line. He has trouble with the stuff between the beginning and ending. Not enough stuff and you haven't got a book, you've got a novella. Too much stuff and your publisher gets upset.

Writing novels isn't as easy for me as it is for Sandford because I haven't done it thirty times. I struggle with the beginning, middle, and end. To a degree.

My Grant Starr novels were fun to write, but weren't as much of a thrill as writing CANALS was.

With my next novel, THE YOUNG BULL WRESTLERS, I'm first working on the main characters: the team of forcados. I want to know, as best as possible, who they are before I write the book. And I'm going to plot this book more than I plotted my first three books.

It's a new experience for me. Writers, and everyone for that matter, need to keep stretching their limits and developing their skills.