Friday, September 19, 2008

Pick up the phone, dummy

Author Deanna Raybourn has a great post on her blog today about how she plans a book. I was particularly fascinated because my own planning process was so slipshod that it's taken me three years to get my first draft written (or at least, nearly written). She seems super organized and dedicated to her craft. Check out her process here. I'm totally taking notes.

Something's been bugging me today, and I have a feeling it bugs lots of amateur mystery writers whose protagonists are not cops. In the story, lots of creepy and possibly illegal stuff is happening, right? People are in danger, right? So why doesn't the protagonist just CALL THE COPS?

Coming up with plausible reasons why my college-student sleuth shouldn't just pick up the phone is difficult. I know this problem should be solved by good writing and a well-plotted mystery. And hopefully it will be. Just...maybe not right now. I'm so near the end that I'm banging away, trying to get the blasted thing written so I can begin what will undoubtedly be my favorite part of the process: the editing!

I'm never so happy as when I have a piece of ho-hum writing and a red pen (or a swift keystroke). I swoop in, wielding AP style and a healthy dose of common sense, and change the ho-hum writing into something solid and brilliant! Ok, maybe not always brilliant. And in the case of the news stories I edit (solar-powered heat pumps save you money in energy costs!), I mostly just aim for a story that's readable and error-free.

P.S. Can't wait for the weekend. It'll be an SEC Tiger smackdown as the No. 10-ranked Auburn Tigers take on the No. 6-ranked LSU Tigers. Hopefully, Auburn will be the one doing all the smacking.

1 comment:

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

Deanna's blog is one I always read, too. Very good stuff.

The 'why didn't you just call the cops' issue is one that always hovers over mysteries - but you have to find an answer. Readers don't like it if there isn't a reason. In my current novel, I have a similar issue with a woman being abused by her husband. My answer was that she figured she could punish him much worse in the courts in public, but didn't realize until it was too late just how far he was willing to go to stop her. Be inventive, but make sure you answer it.