How I Write (aka Where my books hang out before they come to me)
People always ask me how I got the idea for my book. I’m always interested in understanding how other authors get their ideas. Some authors seem to swim in an endless pool of plots and characters, effortlessly plucking out one plot twist or character arc after another until they’ve burned through their keyboard. Those are the lucky authors.
So how does it work for me?
Research. That’s a fancy term for my process. I start by collecting funny anecdotes, interesting people or snatches of overheard conversations. As I go about daily life, I add notes to my phone about what I see. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I pay much more attention to my surroundings than I ever did. I also have become more willing to approach strangers and ask them questions. Who’d have expected that the solitary life of a writer would make me more social?
Plot. At some point, I start adding plot ideas. My extensive research into writing clearly highlighted the importance of having a plot. All those other successful authors must be on to something. I try to come up with ideas for problems to throw at Marty (my protagonist), especially ideas hit me on how he’s going to solve the case through his powers of self-delusion, attention to detail, and the inability to leave a coherent voicemail message.
Characters. Once I developed the concept for a few of my regular characters, I find myself wondering how one of them would react to a specific situation or whether I can make life more difficult for them during the course of the book. Having Uncle and Ants take place over the course of just one week was a deliberate approach to force myself to increase the pace and make the characters act and react more often.
Jokes, Dad Jokes, Puns, and Lyrics as Humor. These make me laugh as I’m writing the book. All my humor is spontaneous. Sometimes that spontaneity happened months ago and I wrote it down and sometimes it comes to me as I’m writing. Typically, the use, or misuse, of parts of music lyrics as dialogue hits me on the spot. Same for most of the puns. Fortunately for the readers, my editor is awesome and she removes the humor attempts that don’t make it across the finish line.
Outline. Some writers are ‘pantsers’. This means they fly by the seat of their pants, writing without a detailed plan. Not that they wear pants. Some authors probably do wear pants when they write. That’s kind of a personal question best unasked during an author’s tour.
I outline. I admit to it. If I didn’t, I’d still be trying to figure out how Uncle and Ants would end, or who gets killed. Creating an outline with each scene on one line of a spreadsheet helps me to look at holes, try to spread out when different side characters show up, and make sure the action keeps moving forward at a good clip. Then I go through all my notes and put most of the notes into the relevant scene so I can include all the right amount of humor as well as balance tense vs wacky situations. Once that’s done, there are no more excuses. It’s time for the next stage.
Write and Edit. This part sounds simple — write, edit, repeat. Eventually magic strikes and it’s finished.
My book, Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery, is a humorous murder mystery. Silicon Valley is not your typical cozy mystery locale and Marty Golden doesn’t fit the normal profile of a mystery protagonist. Despite finding himself thrust into challenging situations, Marty isn’t exactly hero material. He has a wonderful combination of wit, irreverent humor and sarcasm mixed in with nerdy insecurities, absent-mindedness, and fumbling but effective amateur sleuthing skills. With an active inner voice and not a lot of advanced planning, he throws himself into solving problems.
Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery (Book 1) will only remain $0.99 for a short while so be sure to pick it up today at Amazon. For more about the book or author, please visit www.marcjedel.com.