Tag: plot

Writing Life

Oh how I wish the Hollywood image of a writer was real — no, not the writer in books like Misery. I’m talking about the image of Jessica Fletcher and Richard Castle, among others. You know, writers who have little trouble with characters who refuse to cooperate and where the money comes in hand over fist. Heck, I’d be happy with only one of the two happening. But that’s not the truth when it comes to having a writing life.

My latest adventures in this writing life of mine happened this weekend. I’ve been working, seriously working, on Light Magic for a couple of weeks. I know the story. I had a very, very rough draft. But this was the “real” writing. The character development and weaving in of sub-plots, etc.

And it was like pulling teeth. Oh, words were coming but there was something wrong with them. I couldn’t figure out what. I just knew it was there.

There are times when we, as writers, have to step back and think long and hard about what we are doing. It might be a current project, a project on the drawing board, or one in edits. But it is hard. We get so wrapped up in the writing life, in making sure we keep to our schedules, that we sometimes ignore the internal warning signals. I’ve been guilty of that and, each time, it’s risen up to bite me on the ass.

So, this weekend, I let my mind wander. Okay, I’ll admit it. Most of that was during a gathering I really didn’t want to be at. Giving myself permission to step back from writing Light Magic and just wander mentally helped. In fact, I figured out why I was fighting the project as much as I was.

I realized I had two separate problems to deal with. One was that I was trying to hook my main character up with the wrong person in the story. My subconscious had recognized something I hadn’t — or, more accurately, remembered something from previous titles in the series that I had forgotten. That’s the easy-ish part to solve. I even know who the love interest should be. I just have to figure out how introduce him into the story and get that part of the plot going.

Oh, wait, I’ve managed to do that as well. So far, so good. Right?

Yep.

But now comes the more difficult part. The main problem I had with the book was my main character. Somewhere along the line she had gone from the character I’d envisioned to one who let herself be swept along by events and other people. In other words, she was too passive.

Now, passive main characters have never been something I’ve suffered from. Yes, I have had one or two who, in retrospect, were probably too dumb to live. But I’ve never had one who hasn’t been a fighter in her (or his) own way. That bothered me and I spent most of the last 24 hours — including getting very little sleep because my brain kept returning to the issue — trying to figure out how to fix the issue.

The solution is there. I can see it. But it means I’m going to be head down, fingers on the keyboard even longer each day if I’m to keep to my schedule. It also means I’ll be releasing a short story in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe to introduce the new male lead. Now, this story has been on the schedule but now it has been moved up.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough, I got hit with a short story set in the Nocturnal Lives universe that may — if I find time to write it — come out for New Years.

Yes, the writing life is anything but peaceful. There are times I wonder why I subject myself to the torture of Myrtle the Evil Muse. But I also wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Now, since I need to buy kibble for the animals, a bit of promo as well. Because I’m working on Light Magic, why not check out some of the titles in the universe?

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks, Book 1)

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

Slay Bells Ring (takes place in the same “universe” but not a direct entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series)

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

OMG, do your research

And the corollary to that is to use a little common sense.

What brought this on was something I saw while channel surfing last night. I don’t watch that much TV. I certainly don’t watch much network TV, mainly because the plots of most shows drive me up a wall. I know too much about the legal process to be able to watch shows about lawyer without wanting to scream at the TV. Most cop shows have me wanting to go out and find the writers and take them by the scruff of the neck to the nearest inner city police station and make them do ride alongs for a month. Forensic results don’t come in instantly, especially not DNA evidence that usually goes to a lab outside of the PD for testing and where there can be backlogs of months.

So, what happened last night, you ask. I happened to land on the opening few minutes of CSI. At first, there was nothing out of the ordinary — at least not out of the ordinary for a TV cop shop. Cops and civilians mingling together inside the station and well away from the public areas. Prisoners and suspects being escorted to and fro. Then, just to make sure you know something BAD is about to happen, the camera panned to a young man, a teen, who has entered the scene. He moves further inside the station and then he pulls a gun and fires point blank at a cop.

More shots are fired before he grabs a woman to use as a human shield. More shots and he empties the clip in his gun. But he’s prepared. He has another gun in his waistband at the small of his back. He pulls it and continues firing. More cops go down. Finally, at least one cop returns fire, hitting not the shooter but a civilian. Shooter finally locks himself in a small room with the injured civilian and — dum dum dum — the head of the crime lab.

Now, I have a number of issues with the scene as it played out. The first is that the kid managed to get at least two guns deep within the police department without being challenged. Since 9/11, most government buildings in major cities have metal detectors you have to go through in order to make entry. I would assume LVPD does as well.

The second issue I had is that this kid was being allowed to walk around without an escort in the depths of the police department. No and no and no again. As a defense attorney, I’d have had a field day with something like this. How can you insure chain of custody of anything if just anyone can walk in all the street and wander through the station without anyone keeping eyes on them. Who knows what they may have touched, added or removed to any file on a desk or evidence bag that might be waiting to be booked in.

But the biggest issue was that none of the cops were wearing their protective vests. Not a one. Not those who had just brought in a suspect off the streets and not the ones manning the booking desk. That might have been how the writer wanted it so there would be more carnage in the opening scene but it isn’t how things happen. It is also where I did yell at the TV and when I changed the channel to the news.

Add to the lack of vests on the cops the obvious fact that these TV cops were much worse shots than the teen shooter. They were also pretty slow on the uptake. No one, not even those coming at the shooter from the side, thought to try to get behind him and take the shot. Sure, he had the woman in front of him but he was exposed from the sides and rear. Even a head shot from the front could have been considered. Instead, innocent bystander(s) was shot.

Sure, I know, if they’d killed the teen right there, the story would have had to be changed. Sometimes, that is a good thing. It certainly was with this particular plot. When you lose all connection with reality — and you aren’t writing fantasy of some sort — then you are not doing your job.

So, lesson of the day: do your research and use common sense in writing. Otherwise, you will have folks yelling at you and throwing your book against the wall.

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