Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jumping From One Novel To Another

I was 10 or 12 chapters into SLEEPER and felt I was doing well. I was using third person limited point of view, but changing the person from chapter to chapter, while at the same time intermixing chapters of the events of 1938 which seemed innocent but ended horrifically, and chapters of the events in 2009 which started innocently and became increasingly horrifying until the people who actually lived through both--the ghosts--create destruction. At about that time I began reading the P. J. Tracy books with enormous delight, and realized that these ladies and John Sandford and Robert B. Parker were my all-time favorite reads. Why was I writing horror, I asked myself, when I should be writing what I loved to read? Suddenly a police procedural concept popped into my mind.

I have to explain the way my mind works. We've all seen an infinite number of movies and TV series where the cop sees or hears a little thing, and s/he stands frozen, usually with mouth open, while the people and sounds around fade into silence. After a bit of drop-jawed thinking, the cop snaps back to full focus and says "I know who did it!" That's exactly the way my mind works. Every now and then, seemingly from not much, a concept will occur to me, and if I stand still and let it come, it grows and grows, rapidly piling up detail and event, until I have close to a full-blown story. I rush to record the idea. I know this sounds a bit pretentious, but remember, I'm not claiming the ideas are any good, just that they come suddenly in a rush.

So... I wrote a lengthy outline of the police procedural concept, put aside SLEEPER, and started a new pp novel with a working title of DEATHBLOW. My writers group was not totally sure I was doing the right thing, but I assured them that the outline for SLEEPER was so extensive and detailed that I would have no trouble picking it up again in the future if I wanted to. Thanks for reading. Joan Sween

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