On Writing

On Writing – The Marinade

Wherein I discuss the value of friends' feedback while a new novel idea marinades mentally, and getting to that ready stage for more serious outlining and planning.

I mentioned in my last post that I was holding off on moving any further in work on the next novel (which has since been given the title, Bold as Jackals) until I sort out the logistics of the murder mystery vis a vis who, what, where, when, how. That half of the story is developing, and I’m coming along with the structure of the investigation, the suspects and such, but while I’m taking time to compile notes on the primary murder mystery, I’m also finding the hold useful to developing the secondary “personal plot” to my main character.

I’ve been something of a bore to my friends the past week. I’ve been running the evolving plot by anyone I trust to listen and offer valid insight and it’s been paying dividends. As I articulate the plot in formation and answer questions that occur to listeners (and potential readers) it helps me develop and expose themes and tactics to take with the story telling.

For example, last night I had a long conversation with one of my favorite people (thanks Nathalie), and she helped me come up with certain structural strokes to take: i.e. glimpses into my investigator’s interview notes before and after interviews with potential witnesses and suspects, his relationship with the hometown he’s returned to, etc.

Most fortuitously though, she had an incredible insight and detail for me to change on the personal plot, and it opens up the story to being a two sided mystery. On the major side, it’ll involve the murder mystery, but on the other it’ll involve the more personal mystery of why my main character is back in his hometown, communicating with his estranged wife in somewhat terse phone conversations, and there being an evident emotional chasm between them that he’s hoping to try to span over the course of his investigation.

Generally, with editing I ascribe to the philosophy that your readers will always be spot on with telling you what’s wrong with your story, but you have to remain aloof of them telling you how to fix those issues. However, with regards to developing an idea, that’s where the myriad perspectives of different people from different walks is invaluable. Especially from friends, I love their thoughts on where my characters should go, or what their backgrounds should be.

The idea has been marinading approximately a week now, and I pointed out last week that my next step will likely be character mapping and some light outlining. Look out for a post later this week or next with my approach to character mapping as a means of fleshing out my cast. As always, whatever your grind is, be about your grind. We move forward.

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