Oh, that’s right…this is a process.

The process of creating a story can take many forms depending on the proclivities of its creator. Some writers have the discipline of writing down to a science in their consistency. They have a space and time that remains constant and there they barricade themselves in to be alone with their alternate universes. How blissfully convenient that must be.

I don’t create that way because, simply put, I am a consistently inconsistent person. I have a space but it is not just for writing. It is also covered in bills, paycheck stubs, junk mail that should be relegated to somewhere else, exercise ideas and plans that will probably never see fruition, extra clothing should said space become too cold, various doohickies,  half read books, and at least one cat. My schedule changes day to day, some days I work 12 hours at a different job, some days only 7 hours, and I have a couple of days off. So far, the discipline that I see in other authors that I admire simply eludes me.

So my writing inevitably occurs in fits and starts. My characters do not wait patiently in the wings for their scheduled entrance. They pop into my head any damn time they please, and I try, sometimes in vain, to remember what ever nugget they left behind and write it down. The pulling over in the car and writing it down on pieces of leftover receipts from my purse rarely works. For some reason, as useless receipts, they are always easy to find, but as valuable tidbits of writing, they somehow get lost. Go figure.

With every new writing assignment, every writer, no matter how seasoned, copes with the deep seeded insecurity that they won’t finish. That they will finally be found out as a fraud, and they just don’t have it in them to create one more sentence. All they have is the faith in the almighty process.

That is also where my faith lies. The reminder that I have done this before, and that I will do it again, hopefully better than the last because part of the process is learning what works, what doesn’t, learning to let go, believing in the depth of your characters and the resonances of their stories with readers. I will doggedly write on, word by word, line by line, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. You get the point. Now if I could just learn to leave a pocket in my purse exclusively for those darn receipts.

Perfecting the Build-up

When writing suspense, build-ups are very important.  They need to contain key elements and well timed revelations to maintain the audience’s interest without being overly obvious. And they need to be laid out correctly, or they simply fall apart into a pile of pointless plot lines.

There’s lots of decision making when creating the scenes that build to a climax. Often story lines get pruned because they slow down the pace or interrupt a particular sequence. And that’s okay. Just because a  funny sentence or flowery description occurs to you doesn’t mean it’s not expendable. Save it for something else.

Usually there are several smaller climaxes that become build-ups on their own and create the structure for the big Kahuna climax that will usually end the book. Since it’s the beginning of gardening season up here in Wisconsin, I will make a gardening metaphor.

Think of a book as a terraced garden that works its way up a hillside. The smaller climaxes are points of interest that lead the eye up to a big focal point at the top of the pile, maybe a fancy smancy sculpture or water feature. The build-ups are the walls and dirt that support the points of interest and make up the bulk of the entire structure. They need to be formed correctly and be aesthetically pleasing without diverting attention away from the climaxes they are supporting.

Build ups also need to support each other in terms of validity and relevance to the overall story, just like climaxes need to hold their own without outdoing the next climax or the really big one that sets off the whole thing. If everything is held in proper balance, you should be left with a product that you can feel confident to share with others.

I’m at the point in Book 6, Woman in the Wind, where I’m building up to my first big climax. Securities will be shattered, panic and suspicion will set in, and fast paced action will ensue. Just all in its own, correct time.

The English Language is Not a Sacred Cow

Yeah, I said it. I’ll stand behind it too. All the people out there who compare the witnessing of misused punctuation, grammar, diction, homophones (that’s my biggest failure), and all the other so-called abuses of the English language to having a nose hair ripped out, you have my sympathies, but not necessarily my support. Before you hunt me down with pitch forks and red sharpie markers, allow me to defend my statement.

First off, historically speaking, the English language that we use now resembles little of the English language that was spoken and or written even one hundred years ago. Don’t believe me, get a hold of any piece of published material from the turn of the twentieth century and observe the formality of the language. Go back another 100 years, around the time Jane Austin was writing, and you would swear she had no education, when comparing her sentence structures to what we consider acceptable today. Shakespeare? I don’t think I even need to elaborate on that.

Second off, the English language is a bastardized language to begin with. Much like the little group of islands from which it originates, the language evolved from the series of invasions by Germanic (and in my opinion, Scandinavian) tribes that assimilated themselves with the inhabitants. To quote Wikipedia: “English frequently makes use of loanwords originating from other languages.”

My point is, language, like all forms of communication, is an evolving entity that will adapt to the ever changing needs of its culture. Rules are made to be broken when they no longer serve their purpose. And claiming that the only voices that matter are the ones that use your rules for correct English is not only elitist, it’s a little backwards.