Even though my book is far from the NYT Bestsellers list, I still have people say to me, “I just don’t know how you did it, wrote a whole book.”
I mean, what do you say to that? “Well, I opened Word one day and started typing…”
And don’t even get me started on the fact this was during my first pregnancy and after Monkey was born. You’d think it was next to impossible.
It wasn’t, obviously. And now that I can look back at Second Death and say it’s not half bad, albeit five years later, I find myself wondering the same thing. I have a couple of ideas I’ve been excited about for some time, but how the hell did I get from there to a novel I’m not embarrassed to pitch?
(On a side note, it has been brought to my attention I can’t take compliments. I’m not asking for one. Saying I’m not embarrassed of SD is as close as I’ll ever get to saying I’m proud of it. But I digress.)
Looking back and not knowing how I got here is the thing (in my opinion,) that has taken me so long to get SD ready to go and figure out what’s going on in the sequel. It’s like going to sleep in Texas and waking up in London. Am I happy to be there? Hells yeah. But damned if I could tell you whether I flew, took a cruise, or was abducted by aliens. And how the hell am I going to get home?
So I’ve been reading some writing craft books. I never finish them. I subscribe to a number of writing blogs. I read them occasionally. All they tell me is that I probably flew, either commercially or in a spaceship to London, because if I’d sailed I’d still be somewhere in the Atlantic after one night.
My beloved editor tells me I’m a pantser, as in I write by the seat of my pants and see where the story goes. But even she says I have to outline some, just so I know where I’m going. My big issue with that is that by the time I fill in all the blanks, I don’t like it anymore, thus leaving me in the Bermuda Triangle of plot revision.
Trust me, it’s not near as cool as it sounds.
And then today happened.
After self imposed exile to my bedroom due to the overwhelming feels of pregnancy, (it’s been a rough week,) I started reading my latest writing craft book. Or I tried. At the bottom of my home screen, dear, sweet, Amazon suggested a few other craft books. And that’s where I found it. Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell.
It’s $2.99. It’s 72 pages. It was as if I walked into a psychiatrist’s office for the first visit and the doctor outlined all my hangups, the cause of them, and then sent me on my way to fix them.
The guy knows me. Better than I know my writer-self.
As soon as I started reading it, I was like, “Holy crap! That’s exactly what I did! How did he know when even I didn’t know?”
In a nutshell, Bell tells you there’s this one moment, a “mirror moment,” where your character evaluates themselves and makes a decision in regards to what they find. Once you have that, it keeps you grounded enough to fill in all the other blanks, however you want. Pants or outline, or some hybrid outpants type thing.
And I didn’t even know I did that. But it’s there.
One of the first really solid, knockout, “yeah, this is it,” scenes I wrote in SD is the warehouse scene. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, it was brought on by a road rage incident.
No, I didn’t start it.
But I did go straight hyena mom on that stupid m-fer’s ass. (See, it still pisses me off.)
Alas, because for a rare occasion the Hubs was the one who kept his temper, I was not able to rip that dude’s eyes from his sockets and squish them to jelly between my little angry fingers.
So instead, after the shaking had worn off and I had a good cry, I wrote him into my book. Then I killed him three times, until I felt better.
If you’ve read SD, you’ll know what scene I mean. It’s the scene where my heroine decides she is fed up with being a helpless girl/victim. You mess with her people and she will end you.
And for her, finally, it’s not just talk.
This is her mirror moment.
It’s also the part that my mother didn’t like, (“I just couldn’t believe my baby girl wrote that.”) And the part that made my husband a little afraid of me, (“Jesus. You’re kind of scary, you know that?”) Which probably explains why it’s my favorite scene too.
Because, no, I’m not always the sweet baby girl you knew, or wanted me to be. And yes, you’re damn right I’m a little bit scary. So don’t forget it. ; >
Now, while you’re shaking in your boots, might I suggest you read this little gold nugget of plot development? You and I both know you have an inner badass who’s been dying to get out. If you want to write (and actually finish) a book, maybe it’s time you let them.