Tag: writing process

writing process

Developing a Writing Plan That Works For You

First a confession: I was never a model student. My early report cards always included comments like “She could do so much better if she tried” and “Getting assignments in on time would help.” Even in college I struggled with a lack of discipline. I cut way too many classes, neglected to study, and left papers until the very last minute.

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I spent last weekend as a workshop leader at the NY Pitch conference, listening to various editors and agents talk about the importance of the logline. Loglines, also called elevator pitches, are one-or-two sentence descriptions of a novel that are meant to hook the reader. Here’s the logline for my story that was just in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: Beleaguered middle-aged woman teams up with the ghost of Anne Boleyn to solve a murder. Her own. Almost every writer I’ve ever met has hated loglines, mainly because they force us to boil our 90,000 carefully written mystery novels into something you could spit out in an elevator. Where’s the nuance? However, they do sell books. So my question for my fellow Miss Demeanors was: Do you have a logline? Would you like to share it here? Or do you hate them and never want to hear about them again? Tracee de Hahn  That’s the perfect logline for your story (everyone rush out and read it now in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine)! I want to see more of Anne and her new friend, let’s hope there are more murders in their future. On to your question . . .  I had a […]

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I Knew That: The Mystery of the Mind

I learned two things this week. Two things I knew but seem to have forgotten. Both are important to my work as a writer. I may have to get a tattoo as a permanent reminder. First: It’s the Characters, Stupid. Duh, of course I know this. I’m a reader and a writer so why was I surprised when that thought occurred to me after I finished reading the latest two books in a historical mystery series of around fifteen books that I’ve loved for years.  Thinking about the series, I suddenly clearly saw the skeleton of the books, the bones on which the author has hung the flesh of every story in the series. And, for the first time, I found the books repetitive and boring. I noticed the research dumps, such as detailed descriptions of historical places incidental to the story and the lists of every item of clothing every man or woman was wearing. I also noted the similar verbiage used from book to book to describe recurring characters. Was I seeing it because I read the books back-to-back? Or had the author gotten careless, and it was more obvious? I don’t know. Now I know how hard […]

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I raised four kids, spent years taking care of my mother, have survived illness and grief and various other disasters, so when I say that I consider myself not easily distracted, I mean it. Come hell or high water or Super Storm Sandy, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and work on my novel. But this past week a momentous event happened in my life, and for the first time I can remember, I simply could not get my mind to focus. This event was my little granddaughter’s baptism. Over the past week my daughter, son-in-law and little granddaughter arrived. My son and his girlfriend flew in from London. My other son arrived, but his wife got sick, and so I was worried about her. My sister-in-law flew in from Colorado and 40 plus other friends and relatives converged. Meanwhile my husband and I raced to make our house as clean as possible. We assembled food, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes. And I sat on the floor and played with my granddaughter. My mind went right out the window. I figured that I would move my wake-up time to 5:00 a.m., and that way I’d be able to get […]

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What is your superpower?

Do you have superpowers? How about the characters in your mystery novels? I was reading mystery author and fabulous agent Paula Munier’s recent blog post on Career Authors, titled GO FOR BROKE: 6 Ways to Make Your Story Stand Out. One of her suggestions was that the best protagonists have superpowers, “that is, something that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill characters. They don’t have to fly faster than a speeding bullet, but they should have some quality, ability, or talent that makes them smarter, braver, wiser, something more than the rest of us.”  That got me thinking about my protagonist, Maggie Dove, and what her superpowers might be. She’s a person of faith, and I think that’s a huge superpower. I hope that gives her courage, and hope. She’s also a good listener and because of that, she’s able to get people to talk. (I do sort of wish she could fly though.) When I asked my fellow mystery-writing Miss Demeanors, I discovered their characters had a wealth of superpowers!   Emilya Naymark Self delusion! Ha! Seriously, though, my protagonist, Laney Bird, is excellent at being an undercover because she can act. She can transform her looks and behavior […]

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Visiting A Christmas Carol

I’ve lived in New York all my life, but up until about a week ago, I had no idea that the original version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was in New York City, in the Morgan Library, which is a brief walk from Grand Central.

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I did it!

This past November I’ve been on a journey to write 50,000 words in one month, and on Sunday, I hit my goal. Got a certificate and this cute little badge. I was very proud of myself because I had some monumental distractions to overcome. First of all, I have a new little granddaughter who is absorbing my brain. Then, we went on a family vacation to Cape Cod. Then there were various hair-raising visits to the doctor, all of which went well, but occupied a certain amount of mental space. Then there was Crime Bake and Thanksgiving. Oh, and on Nov. 7, my third Maggie Dove mystery, Maggie Dove and the Lost Brides, was published. So the fact that I wrote any words is remarkable. Not all 50,000 of the words I wrote are fabulous. I suspect that by the time I’m done, I’ll wind up using about 10,000 of them. But even the words I cut will have helped me to get to where I needed to go. I know what the book is about now! I know who the main characters are and what’s worrying them. I’ve got a pretty good idea of how they talk. Best of […]

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