Saturday, May 31, 2014

First person, Third Person?

I can't sustain an "I" narrative for any length of time.  Not in me.  Soon, the writing is boring and I lose readers.

Character sketches are a strength, so I wrote In Gallup, Greed, almost as a series of character sketches, each one moving the reader closer to the resolution of the crime.

The first chapter is from the point-of-view of Mirage, who wakes up from a blackout to find her brother, Lonnie, stabbed to death.

Second chapter is first person, with Cinnamon, the main detective getting a call.  Then Mirage again, then another character, etc.  I like this, but it was hard to manage the details.  There's not synchronicity, either.  The point-of-view come along as the story develops.

What I wonder is this:  Would it be better to order the point-of-view. For instance, should every other chapter be first person?  Or two and two?

I'm not sure.  I'll experiment on my next book, Gone of Sunday.  I've already got the first few pages in first person.  Now it's time to plan the rest.

#6 in the New Mexico mystery thriller series.

Friday, May 30, 2014

In Gallup, Greed -- the cover is out

My cover is ready for the latest -- novel length -- Cinnamon/Burro New Mexico mystery thriller.  Follow Santa Fe detective Cinnamon, and her pal, Burro as they wind through art works that seem alive to search out greed and corruption in Gallup.  Plus, Cinnamon talks to Momma.
I Sense Confusion
            A coyote drifted by the front window, cautious, gray-gold, sniffing the dirt.  The college campus surrounding Burro’s apartment lay quiet in the late morning. A gray cloud drifted by in the distance, foreshadowing the monsoon.   Burro watched, and the cautious animal raised his eyes towards the cloud, and then turned towards Burro, as if to communicate the coming torrent.  A coyote vision, Burro thought, based on intuition, evidence, and the inner workings of coyote genes.

A sneak peak from #6 in the New Mexico mystery thriller series early on....planned release date:  July 1, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

How to Plot a Mystery Novel: My Story

"Nice characters, interesting setting, great tone, no plot."

That's the story of my novels for years.  So I wrote 5 short stories, and they each contained a tightly written plot.  One of my reviewers said, "How do you pack so much into so little space?  Talent."

Okay, I'll take that.  But how do I pack so much into more space?  It's now or never, I thought.  The book must have a plot.

Here are the steps I took:
  1. Write the beginning and the end first.  This advice came from an experienced writer friend who now tells me he doesn't do that anymore.  Ah, well.  It worked for me.  But then there's the middle. 
  2. Create a list of characters and how they look.  I did this, but everything changed, including the characters names.  But it got me started.  Next time, I hope to get the characters names and appearance right at least some of the time.
  3. Create a chapter map.  I could not do this until I wrote the whole story once, which is a bit of a problem, and not a process I want to repeat with my next book.  But, for this one, it worked.  After this first run through, I renamed the chapter and created a minimalist map that contained chapter title, number, point-of-view, day of the week, time of day and a 1-2 sentence summary.
  4. Use the chapter map to find holes in the plot, clues and character actions.  Because I am not experienced at plotting yet, I needed to add details, change character actions, and change or add clues that were missing.  The chapter map saved my sanity.  When I found missing details, I knew what chapter they were or were not in, or I was able to choose a place to put the missing details or even missing chapters.
My novel is with my two editors now, so we'll see how it all went.  I know it's the best I've done in a novel, so I feel good about my process.

Next time, the steps I might take:
  1. Try writing software.   I will at least take a serious look at software like Scrivener.  
  2. Try a spreadsheet.  The writing software sounds too organized for a dis-organized person like me.  A spreadsheet might be simpler.  Might be.
  3. Get over myself.  I spent years thinking I was to0 creative to organize my books or my stories and the the story (a mystery story, no less, with clues, red herrings, suspects, pu-leeze). 
  4. Have fun.  The more organized I am before I start, the more phone.
  5. Realize writers lie in interviews.  I saw Elmore Leonard in an interview with Charlie Rose in which he gave the following advice:  "Never use 'I said.'"  Except Leonard uses that all the time.  Moral:  Don't believe writers who say the story simply flows out of them.  They are creating an image of themselves to increase sales.  More power to them on that point!
The book is entitle In Gallup, Greed, is #6 in the New Mexico mystery thriller series, and is full of quirky characters, New Mexico charm, and chilling, murderous greed.

Until next time...keep writing...

Tower Lowe