Saturday, June 26, 2010


I’ve probably blogged about this before, but it’s been a while. I’m in the beginning stages of a new book in a new mystery series, and once again I’m reminded how much I envy writers who say they love starting new books. The first few chapters fly onto the page because they’re so excited about the new ideas, the new characters, and the new situation. There are times when I wish that would be true for me, but in my world, it’s just the opposite.

In the early stages of any new book, the words are hard to find and painful to excavate. No matter how much pre-writing work I do, I don’t know the characters yet so putting them in new situations and getting them to the other side is a long, agonizing process. Every thought, action, and reaction requires a lot of thought on my part as I try to feel my way into the character’s heart, soul, and mind.

Add to that the pressure to make the book’s opening interesting and filled with action. And the fact that I wrote the first three chapters months ago and have slept since then, which means that I’ve lost my connection with the characters and have to find it again.

I don’t really start feeling comfortable with the book until I’ve written at least 100 pages, and usually more. By page 125-150, I’m usually hitting my stride and feeling comfortable enough with the character to write whole scenes in one sitting. Before then, I’m lucky to write 2 or 3 pages in a day.

Getting back into a book for which I’ve written a proposal and submitted two or three chapters is equally painful. All that work to find the characters and then they sit on the shelf in my head while my editor is deciding whether or not to make an offer on the book. The good news is that I’ve done this 30 or so times over the course of my career, so I know that I’ll eventually find the connection again. But that still doesn’t make the process easy. 

All this to say that when I tallied my pages yesterday and realized that I’d somehow, inadvertently, unintentionally, and without noticing what I was doing, written 8 pages, I was ecstatic! Crossing fingers that I can repeat that when I get back to the book on Monday.

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