Who said writing was magical anyway?
October 22, 2018
There is no mystique to writing a book. You pull up a chair in front of your word machine and spill words onto a blank screen.
FOR SOME REASONS writers of a past generation wanted to create some sort of a mystique about the art of writing a novel.
It’s as though they considered themselves to be Wizards of Oz.
Hide behind the curtain.
Don’t let anybody see you.
Write a few hours a day.
Write a few pages a day.
Make up a fascinating premise.
Populate it with fascinating characters.
For Secrets of the Dead, I introduced myself to Ambrose Lincoln when I wrote:
His memory had been torn into strips. He remembered both sides of the gap, but the gap was a black abyss without a bridge, and time kept rearranging itself on the back landscape of his brain. He remembered the young man in a black raincoat lying dead at his feet but had no idea who had killed him or why he had died. Lincoln had shot someone that night, and his head was filled with ragged photographs of the dead, and none of the faces were familiar to him. Not even his own.
But when was that night?
A year ago?
A lifetime ago?
Or was it merely one of the nightmares that crept up on him when he could no longer hold back the darkness of sleep.
Now it was time to start pulling the strings.
Characters became puppets on a string.
Can they dance?
Can they cry?
Will they fall in love?
Who dies next?
And will that make the reader cry?
It was all about the characters.
The writer puts words in their mouths.
Threw obstacles in front of them.
Have the good guy win a little, lose a little, but win at the end.
Don’t you wish you knew how I did it?
Writing is magical, they.
I write books, they say.
I don’t think you can do it, they say.
It’s a long and deadly process, they say.
May take me years to write a book.
Everything has to be perfect.
The stars must align in just the right way.
I’m one in a million.
Don’t you wish you could do what I do?
Yes, I say.
I do want to do what you do.
But I sure don’t like the way you did it.
I recently read an article written by a mystery writer.
His name doesn’t matter.
Neither does the name of his hero.
He said, “I finally decided it was time to sit down and write. The story had been running around in my head for a year and a half. I had the plot all worked out in my mind. I knew who would be murdered. I knew who did it and why he did it. I was ready to put it all on paper.”
I read his words again.
I thought I must have read them wrong.
My immediate thought was this: Who wants to sit around and think about a story for a year and a half?
By then, I would be too bored with the story to write it.
There is no mystique to writing a book.
You pull up a chair in front of your word machine and spill words onto a blank screen.
Write the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page, and you’re off and running.
You write one word at a time.
Some words you like.
Some you don’t.
You delete the words you don’t like, and you write again.
It’s not unlike digging a ditch.
One shovel full of dirt at a time.
One word at a time.
But here’s the difference.
Shovels filled with dirt may kill you all right.
But they don’t talk back.
They don’t fall in and out of love.
They don’t travel to other planets.
And a Vampire has never nuzzled their necks.
They have no necks.
They’re shovels full of dirt, for God’s sakes.
Writing is not mystical.
It’s hard work.
It’s demanding work.
We work for ourselves, and we have mean bosses.
We don’t sit around, trading witticisms with our muses, and think about a book for a year and a half.
We can have three or four novels, maybe more, written in a year and a half.
We simply start with words.
We end with words.
We collect words.
We scatter words as we go along.
Connect enough of them together, and you have a book.
Writers can be defined only one way.
We play word games.
And we don’t have a minute to waste.
Please click HERE to find Secrets of the Dead on Amazon.