Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cracking Up

Seeing as how I’ve already given myself a headache with blogging—working on a guest blog that will be posted on the AML blog next month, a post I got really neurotic about and kept tweaking and tweaking and JUST TURN THE SILLY THING IN AND STOP MESSING WITH IT—I’ve already blogged my way into insanity. I will now proceed to be crabby and incoherent, partly to make up for the fact that Rob didn’t blog yesterday, which brings up the question: is Rob still around the frog swamp? If you insult Rob and he doesn’t hear it, do you still get snark points? Discuss.

And you used to think I was a nice person, though there was that lady in my ward who said I must have a “dark side” after she read one of my books. I'm not admitting to any dark side, but just in case, DON’T MAKE ME MAD. Ahahahahaha! I’ve really cracked up. I warned you, didn’t I?

Okay. I’m calm now. Which reminds me, though it has no relevance to anything I’ve said, on Christmas night, my six-year-old daughter had come into our room to sleep in a “nest” on the floor—she has trouble staying in her own room at night. She was overtired and wound up and having trouble getting to sleep. At one point, she said, “My nose hurts, so I might thrash around and hiss,” which gave me the giggles—you know how sometimes you’re laughing so hard you have trouble explaining to your spouse what’s so funny?

And this morning, when I went into the kitchen before the early morning seminary run, there was milk spilled on the table. It had been partially wiped up, but how good of a clean-up job can you expect from a tired teenager at 6:00 AM? As we walked to the car, my daughter remarked, “Sorry about the spilled milk, but I didn’t think it was worth crying over.” That’s the kind of line that makes it worth being out of bed that early.

Anyway, what I really need is some Tylenol and a nap. Let’s see . . . I’ll try to make sense for a minute. Good news is, I’ve got some plot basics hammered out for my next suspense novel and I hope to be ready to start drafting by next week. It will be good to jump into a new project, and I’m excited about the story. And yes, I know who the villain is. I know some mystery writers get well into the story before they know whodunit, but I want to know right at the first. So much of my villain’s motives come from backstory—what happened before page one.

One thing I find tricky is trying to avoid repeating myself in storylines. This new project is my fifth contemporary suspense novel, so in brainstorming, I’ll create what-have-I-done-before lists: I’ve already used this motive or that one, and so on. Which is not to say that I can’t have two villains motivated by greed—there are only so many reasons that people kill, and it’s not bad to reuse motives, but you want a fresh twist each time. So in this new novel, I've decided that the villain is just plain NUTS. He's a neurotic writer who finally cracked up completely. Write what you know, right?


At 2/16/2011 2:59 PM, Blogger Jordan McCollum said...


I'm with you in the I have to know whodunnit camp. I can see the merit of so-called "organic" villains (easy to put in red herrings when you don't know who the bad guy is), but so far, in my experience, the best villains and the best mystery endings come when you plan. It's easy to throw in a twist and lead up to it—much less work than having to rewrite in all the clues!

I love the first phase of drafting: that heady, I'm-so-in-love-with-this-idea feeling. I'm missing it right now, in the middle of the ugh-is-this-book-above-my-strengths? phase. There is a whole series of scenes I'm looking forward to, though. I just have like a quarter of the novel to get there.

I'm reading Afterimage by Kathleen George and her detectives say there are only three reasons people kill: love, greed and revenge (or some combination of all three). Of course, that discounts psychosis ;) .

At 2/16/2011 7:27 PM, Blogger Michael Knudsen said...

Sometimes insanity is the best, most unpredictable motivation. But you'll have to establish WHAT drove him nuts. Keep up the great writing, and don't stress (sounds like you have a family who can provide plenty of comic relief!)

At 2/16/2011 8:56 PM, Blogger Valerie Ipson said...

When I read your posts I often think how much fun it would be to be your next door neighbor. Seriously. If you run out of suspense plots you could always write humor.

At 2/17/2011 9:50 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Michael, establishing what drove him nuts is easy: blogging :)

Thanks, Valerie! I'd love to live next to you.

Jordan, good luck with your book! (and congrats on submitting your manuscript!).


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