Across the books and in person.

Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?

Derbyshire VIllage

Derbyshire VIllage

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Long, Hard Struggle

I have surfaced for air.  And food.  And sleep.  I finished the first draft of the ninth Taylor & Graham book, False Step.  This was by far the toughest book I've written.  Not because I had trouble with research or couldn't find time to write.  Au contraire.  The last two weeks I literally woke up around 4:00 each morning, was at the computer minutes after feeding all the critters and making my morning cuppa, and sat there for ten to twelve hours each day, writing.  I went to bed tired, I woke up tired.  My lower back ached in the mornings, and I went through phases of restlessness each night in bed.  The sleep I got was punctuated with recent bouts of wakefulness, and I'd jot down notes on paper and pen.

I attribute this unusual behavior on the book's plot.  Well, not the problem of catching the bad guy or laying the clues or writing about the sword dance: on the number of characters involved in the story.  Since the plot centers around the rapper dance, and since I'm using the Maltby Phoenix Sword Dancers as the source of my info, I thought it would be fun for them to appear in the story -- under aliases, of course.  Each group member picked a name for his/her character.  I then had the job of creating all the usual character qualities.  And this is why the initial writing was such a long, hard struggle.  Twelve main characters required that I give each character his/her time in the story's spotlight, that I give each character an important clue to impart to the CID Team, that I make the character interesting.  My worst fear is that one of the real dancers will read the book and be disappointed in his/her character.  If the tables were turned and I was anxiously waiting to read a book in which "I" appeared, and "I" was a flat, uninteresting character with really nothing to add to the story, I'd be incredibly disappointed.  Especially after waiting a year or so to get a copy of the book.

So that's why I sweated profusely over this story.  But the tough part is over; I've got the story down on 292 pages and can now take a few days "off" to rest, catch up on house work, run errands, etc.  Now comes the best part of all -- plopping Paul's chapters into the manuscript, adding a few scenes that I thought of, and polishing my writing.  This is also the time I add description of scenes, people's appearances, weather, etc.  Now that I've got the 292-page skeleton to hang the new stuff on, it will be smooth roads ahead.

Don't get me wrong -- I love to write new books.  It's fun creating a new story and characters and working out whodunit.  But I've never had to juggle twelve main characters before.  I think it was a test for my poor brain.  I know I came close to frying it -- I just hope False Step will prove to be a good book and well liked when it comes out.  Let me know your opinion if you read it!  I'll be the person in the third straight-jacket on the left in the home....

1 comment:

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