A little over a week ago I sent my agent Novel #3, written, edited, and ready for the critical eye of a publisher. Amazon—the publisher of my first two novels—gets the first look. I feel relatively confident that they will like this book and agree to publish it (assuming of course that the terms of the contract are acceptable to my agent and me). But, you never know. Now I wait and bite my fingernails, and think about Novel #4.
A week ago, I had no idea where I was going with my next book—didn’t even have the slightest clue regarding plot or character. You can’t imagine how desperate an author feels when he or she finishes a book and doesn’t know what’s next. One of the most important factors that promotes an author’s success is consistency. Unless you’re a big-name author whose loyal readers will wait 10 years for your next book, up and coming novelists need to produce a book a year if they ever hope to make it as a writer. An author needs to hook his or her audience and keep them hooked.
Frustrated that my creative mind didn’t have the slightest clue where Book #4 would go, I started going through my file drawer and pawed through every folder that had anything at all to do with writing. Among the ruins, I found an outline I’d written years ago. I read it and reread it. Nothing struck me. After the third read, it hit me. Like a 500 hundred piece puzzle taking shape in my mind, it all started coming together. The concept is a bit over the top, but so were my first three novels. So why tread lightly?
My mind exploded with ideas about plot, subplots, characters, relationships, twists and turns. I started making notes like a mad man, terrified that a brilliant idea would escape my memory. I don’t know about other authors, but when an idea unfolds in my mind, it’s like a runaway train without brakes! One idea fosters another that fosters two more. At any moment during the day or night, an idea could flash through my mind and I immediately have to make a note before it vanishes.
So, for the last week, my brain has been racing at warp speed. I’ve got the entire story loosely outlined and I know the sequence of scenes in the beginning and the end. But the middle is still foggy. I know it’ll come to me, yet I feel a pang of fear in the back of my head that maybe, just maybe, the middle of the story will never play out in my brain. Then what? I hear that the local 7-Eleven is hiring for their graveyard shift. How hard can it be to make Slurpees for a living? Hey, wait a minute. Suppose the clerk at 7-Eleven spiked the Slurpees, cleaned out the cash register, beat up his colleague, stole his truck . . .