In the past few weeks, we’ve had great articles on Murder By 4, such as this week’s feature by Chester Campbell on subplots and Aaron Lazar’s “The End.” I’ve read posts about inspiration, writers as poets, and S. W. Vaughn gave us permission to just write crap! I was pretty certain each post was written specifically for me. And then I read the recent interview with Stephen King published in Writer’s Digest Magazine. When asked how his writing evolved over time. His response was:
“I think it’s important to keep on pushing the envelope ... I haven’t evolved as a writer by consciously trying to evolve; I just keep writing and hoping to find good new stories.”
Writer’s block, stress, distractions—call it what you like, it hit me hard and all of these pieces forced me to stop and think about where I’m at in my writing. I’m well past “the block” now but to be honest, it was never a case of not knowing what to write, what this next book in my Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series is about, or how it will end. But rather, the mechanics and the best way to go about producing this new story.
For me, the journey has been nothing short of amazing. Words used to fly from my thoughts to my fingertips to the keyboard then onto the monitor without any thought to what I wrote, much less how it would affect future writings. A few years ago, I didn’t know where I was going with it and so I wrote [crap] until I hit upon something that finally worked for me, my Harper series.
Today my writing is more deliberate. It has to be. Readers have expectations of what they’ll find between the pages of my books. One of the things I enjoy most about this series is developing complex plots and seeing how long I can go without “giving the story away.” I think of the subplots as short stories that get braided into the main plot. In real life what we do and say has a cause and effect. In fiction, multiple plots do the same, they give stories substance and depth. Often, subplots also involve multiple characters and some interesting bits of dialogue.
After the release of THE DEVIL CAN WAIT I received countless e-mails from readers making me acutely aware (and touched) that some of them had favorite characters and definite opinions about what those characters should or shouldn’t do. Further, the characters in my books have been the focus of lively discussions at several of my talks. Unfortunately, not all of the characters will make it into each book. The questions is, which should I include or exclude? Do I write for this reader and not the other? Several have mentioned that they like the relationship between Sam Harper and his father, Walt. Will there be a role for Walt in book three? What about Harper’s partner Dave Mann or his budding romance with Jennie? These and other character will make an appearance if their involvement advances the plot.
There’s still much work to be done, but in the end, I think it’ll be a good read and hope it will meet with my readers' expectations. Until then ...