The Fruits of Research

I wasn’t able to get quite as much writing done last week as I wanted to, but I was able to get in some much-needed research. Specifically, I was researching the early 20th century labor movement, focusing on the tactics of the early unions and the steps that were taken by corporations and politicians to curb their power and end labor strikes. What I found is that this was a very chaotic time in our country’s history.

Many people feared that unionization was a big step in turning our country over to the Marxists in Russian, and this was a connection often pushed by those who opposed unions, and many unions often resorted to armed opposition against local police and private security agents [like the Pinkertons]. Several major clashes occurred between these two sides between 1919 and 1921, resulting in no small number of deaths. Needless to say, it was incredibly compelling to read about all this and in doing so I was able to pick up some ideas for the third Allison Newberry mystery and to break through a few blocks that had developed with regards to the progression of the story.

So, that does give a little taste as to what the third story is going to be about, although the labor movement is not the central plot of the story. For the rest of this week, I’ll continue writing the story and hopefully be able to go more in-depth on what it’s all about very soon.

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Weekly Goals for 4/16

These days, it seems like something crops up every day that keeps me busy. That’s not all bad, of course, but it does mean my writing progress is often slow and haphazard. Even so, I’m still pushing ahead with the third Allison Newberry mystery. My goal last week was to get up to 10k words. I didn’t get that far, but I’m currently really close to that goal. So, it’s still coming along. Things are a little bit different with this story, thanks in part to new characters and a new setting, but it’s also different in that it does not start with a murder already having been committed  Well, actually it does, bu…you’ll see for yourself when the story’s finished.

Anyway, the story is moving along and I’m getting very close to the day when I’ll be able to provide some solid details on the story [and the name of the book]. With this story, I’m continuing in the trends set by the first two: to provide an interesting mystery tinged with danger and deception, in a location that itself is a major part of the story. With what I’ve done so far, I know I can deliver on that again.

Basically, what I’m writing right now is the foundation. The first few chapters will establish characters and their relationships to one another, rather than dive straight into an investigation. As with the second book, the third will feature a broad cast of very different characters, each with their own motives and goals. I also want to try to dive deeper into the mind of Allison Newberry, find out what makes her work and how her experiences in the first two cases of her career have changed her. The trick, of course, is in how I can make that every bit as interesting as everything else in the story. So, it is a struggle in some regards, finding the balance between people talking and thing happening, but this is something that I really want to focus on, even more so than in the previous two books.

That’s all for now, I’ll be sure to keep all of you posted on that book’s status.

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Weekly Goals for 4/08

The goal this week is to get back into the swing of things. For various reasons, I haven’t been to get much writing done lately, but I’m hoping to have the time this week to change that. As I mentioned earlier, I’m starting work on the third Allison Newberry mystery. So far, I’ve got a good idea to work from, an interesting new location, and a brand new case that’s gotta be solved. The current word count is roughly 7,200 and I’m hoping to write at least 1,000 words per day, at least while I’m still trying to work out some of the plot elements. See, although I’m already writing it, there are a few things that I’m still not sure about. Basically, the logic of the situation I’m setting up still needs to be worked out, because certain parts of it don’t necessarily make the most sense. Now, sometimes you have to do things that don’t make sense, but they still need to feel like they’re something that’s possible within this world and by these characters.

But give it a little time and I’ll get there!

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The Third Allison Newberry Mystery

This week has been spent mostly on working on what I want to write next. I’ve got lots of ideas, some of which are more developed than others, but what I have ultimately decided to work on next is the third Allison Newberry mystery. I feel like I have a very good basis to work from and a story that will be worthy of  being the next step in the series. At present, I’m not ready to actually get into the details  just yet. Suffice it to say that it will continue to live up to the legacy created by the previous two books, by providing an interesting location, lots of different characters, and a few dangers along the road to solving Allison’s third major case. I’ll be sure provide more information in the coming weeks and months.

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It’s Been a While

How long has it been since I last posted an update? Too long! Well, a lot of things have been going on and I just haven’t had the time to really do any writing [or edit work], so I haven’t had anything to post about. That’s just how it’s going to be moving forward, I’m afraid. Less time for writing, more time on other matters. I certainly wish that wasn’t the cast, but that’s life.

Anyway, so what am I doing? Right now, I’m thinking about what I want to do next. I’ve got a fantasy story that’s all been completely written, and which I’m working through to fix all the mistakes and punch up the quality of the writing, but I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do next. I’ve also got an idea for a new Allison Newberry mystery, which I’m very interested in getting started on soon. And I’ve got a few other random ideas swirling around. Basically, I’m trying to figure out which one I want to land on. Either one means a commitment of time and effort, though the book I’ve already written would likely require the least. Unfortunately, I’m not too excited about that one right now [it’s a very dark story and I just don’t feel in the mood to work on something like that at the moment], so it looks like I’ll have to pick one of the others.

It’s not all bad, though. I’ve got some good ideas and that I am excited about, they just need to be worked out a bit before I can actually start writing on them in earnest.

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Characters: Part 1 – Complex Individuals

It’s been much too long since my last update. Well, I got busy this week and just didn’t have the time for much of anything else, unfortunately. So, starting today, I’m going to post a continuing series on characters, how I write them and why I write them the way I do.

Part 1 – Complex Individuals

I’ve written a lot of different characters. Young characters, old characters, male and female. With every single one of them I’ve always tried to make them feel as much like real people as possible. Give them backstories, give them lives, give them goals, and give them struggles. That’s what makes a character interesting. However, there’s a tendency, especially among less experienced writers, to simply write characters who are really “cool” and strong and who dispatch every problem with ease. I had that same problem for a while, but I learned quickly that characters of that nature are simply boring.

A character who can do anything and never has any problems isn’t interesting. More than a story filled with dragons and magic, stories like that are fantasy. Readers want to see a character struggle, to wonder how they going to make it through this terrible trial, and cheer as they push their way through to the goal. Would you be interested in watching a sports movie about a quarterback who never missed a pass, never got sacked, and won ten Superbowls in a row because that’s just how great he was? Of course not, because there’s simply nothing there. But a story about a young quarterback who must overcome personal and on-the-field struggles to finally win the Superbowl for a team that’s been in the dump for years, that’s something people would be interested in. It’s interesting because the outcome isn’t guaranteed.

Another problem that can arise is when you are simply introducing characters to move the plot forward. They don’t have their own lives or personalities, they just exist to do something or say something that the main characters must respond to. Through this, the plot is moved forward. Now, it’s not always a bad idea to use the introduction of a new character to move the plot forward, but does this character exist beyond that brief appearance? The character needs to make sense within the context of the situation, the reader needs to get the feeling that this characters exists within this world and something in their life and their personality has brought them to this point where they interact with the main character. Throwing out something random just won’t do.

Think about the character and what has brought them to this point. Just because they haven’t appeared before and may only appear sparingly from then on, they are still every bit a real person as the main character, we [the reader] simply aren’t allowed a peak into the inner workings of their life. Why did they do that? Why did they sat that? Ask those questions when a character appears. Even though they may not seem important, minor characters aren’t just props that can be thrown out there as needed. Give them some life, let them breathe, and your world will be that much richer and interesting for it.

 

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Weekly Goals for 3/04

This week is much the same as last week. I’m still working my way through Beyond Sand and Sky, which is coming along very well. Unfortunately, this phase of writing is fairly slow, because I’m actually doing a lot of rewrites along the way. Just about every sentence in the story is being reworked for quality, coherence, and length. A lot of the sentences were just too long and too convoluted, owing to me going through a phase of wanting more complex and interesting sentence. It sort of worked, and sort of didn’t. I did eventually manage to move away from curt, clinical sentences and develop better writing skills, but the more immediate results included a novel with lots of bloated and confusion sentences. So, I’m taking my current skill level and working to bring the writing quality in this slightly older story up to where it should be at this stage in my development as a writer.

I’m also looking into ways to get more promotion for Eyes of Diamond, Hair of Gold. I gave away 50 digital copies of the book to interested readers at Library Thing, which I hope will result in a bevy of reviews and some much-needed attention. Another thing I’m doing is contacting websites that review indie books and seeing if any of them are interested in reading it.

Well, those are my two main goals right now: get more people interested in my last book and finish up work on my next book.

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