Since retiring April 1st, I’ve written a little over 10,000 words in my novel, Resuscitation, the sequel to They Never Die Quietly. This may or may not impress you, but when you consider that I visited my family in New York from April 6th to the 20th and didn’t write a single word during this period, I think I’m doing pretty damn good. But it’s way too soon to pat myself on the back. I’ve got plenty more to write; more plot twists to develop; more scenes to flesh out.
Whether or not I meet my contractual obligation to deliver a completed manuscript to my publisher by November 30th is the true measure of my performance. I’m estimating that I still have another 80 to 90 thousand words to write. And that’s just the first step. Once the first draft is completed, then the real work begins: the editing. To quote a famous writer (don’t remember his name), “There is no such thing as good writing; only good rewriting.” And trust me, having written four novels, I can totally relate to this statement.
The first draft, of course, poses many challenges. A novelist must craft some semblance of a story and create a cast of characters. He or she must also find ways to build suspense and surprise the reader. The first draft must also include some twists and turns and a few dead ends.
I would suspect that most novelists write a comprehensive outline and detailed synopsis before they write a single word of a novel. But I don’t follow this template. For me, I start with a fundamental idea, begin writing the first scene, and as I write, one scene fosters another; one plot twist cultivates a fresh idea. I do have periods of writer’s block when I sit in front of my computer screen with a blank stare, not able to write a complete sentence. But thank God that these moments are few and far between.
The one aspect of writing that I totally dislike is research—something I consider a necessary evil. A writer must make sure that his or her facts are straight or else the novel will lack credibility. Even though novels are fiction, they must be an imitation of reality. Now Sci-Fi and Fantasy leave lots of room for creativity. But still, any premise must make sense. I write thrillers, cat and mouse stories where hero and villain try to outwit each other. Consequently, I must carefully follow police procedure, particularly when it comes to forensic medicine and autopsies.
The Internet makes the research part of writing much less complicated. No matter how obscure the bits of information an author requires, the resources are unlimited. I am thankful for the Internet. It makes my job much easier. In spite of this, I still must admit that I hate research. I guess I’m just a spoiled little brat.