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Posts Tagged ‘the scent of death’

When I was writing The Scent of Death, second in the Nemesis series, I posted irregular reports on “the Experiment,” i.e., whether I could write a book in three months. (I could.) You can find some of them here and here. I even did a “Son of the Experiment” as I started out the next book, The Killing Scar. These posts, however, were mainly concerned with charting progress through word counts, not so much about the nature of that progress. This time I propose to do something a little different.

I am currently working my way up to starting Marauders from the Moon, the fourth book in the series. And when I say “working my up to starting,” I mean that I haven’t written Word One. It seems, then, that this would be a good place to start with regular Progress Reports–not only to document where I am, but how I got there and where I think I’m going. (As you will see, where I think I’m going is an important caveat.)

Convention-goers are familiar with Progress Reports, and know that PR 0 (zero) is the very first, before the committee really has a lot to say. And that’s where I am, so I’m going to talk about the process so far.

I’ve been trying, with some success, to outline before I write. Many writers outline, and no two of them do it the same way. My approach has four steps:

  1. Write a blurb. Like for the back of the book. A book blurb contains your entire story in a few words. Once you write that, you know what the book is about.
  2. List every thought, concept, setting, character, and plot device you can possibly think of, in no particular order. Just throw a bunch of stuff at the screen that you think might be fun or useful to include.
  3. Begin what resembles an outline. Lay down a few plot lines, pencil in some character interactions. Try to work up a paragraph for each chapter, more or less. Get as far into the book as you can before you start writing so you can get a running start.
  4. Start writing the book, ignoring half of step 2 and most of step 3.

I like to write the book from the inside out, which is to say, I’m a pantser who uses an outline as a crutch. There’s only so far I can outline before I lose track of where I am and how many words I have covered. At that point, I have to start writing the book itself so I can see where it’s going. If I’ve jotted down 12 plot points and cover them all in the first 15,000 words, then I’m going to need a lot more plot points–but I can’t know that until I start writing. And yes, this is a messy process; you should have seen it before I got organized.

The plan is to write about 5000 words a week and be done by April 30. I will also try to post at the end of each week how I’m doing, and why it’s going well or poorly.

That’s it for PR 0. See you in a week. At least, that’s how I’ve outlined it…

#SFWApro

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I’ve mentioned more than once that characters have a way of telling the author what they want to do in a story. I can’t count the number of times that characters have intervened in scenes they weren’t supposed to be in, or decided that they want to take up romantically with another character without telling me first. But those things are not so tough to deal with; they can be handled. In the extreme, the author can veto the whole idea. What’s more difficult (and difficult to understand) is when a character thinks he’d better serve the story by being dead.

For such willful souls, characters can be very selfless. In a recent book, I had a character walk into a room and unexpectedly find another character’s lifeless body. And when I say “unexpectedly,” I mean that neither he nor I saw this coming. It was like the one characters said, “Ooh, what if you walked in and found me dead. Wouldn’t that be cool?” Well, yeah, except that all he has to do is play dead; I’m the one who has to explain how he got that way, and more importantly, why.

In this instance (not to give anything away), I had set the character up to be aligned in the reader’s mind with the bad guys–so why was he dead? Why would his supposed allies do him in? This raises possibilities: Maybe he wasn’t who you thought he was. Was he merely an innocent bystander? Was he actually playing for the good guys? I mean, thank you for the chance to mess with the readers’ perceptions and expectations, but come on, I wasn’t planning to do all that extra work! And I thought you were going to be around for the climax!

Oh, well, he’s dead (Jim). Deal with it and move on. But I wish he had warned me. I was going to put him in a sequel. Yeah…you didn’t see that coming, did you? You could’ve been a star… Well, let that be a lesson to the rest of you. Writers write, characters act.

And preferably, not on their own.

#SFWApro

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So I’ve finished The Killing Scar… That’s the third in my renamed “Nemesis” series. I have one more planned, Marauders from the Moon, then I will stop and assess and see where I want to go from there. I’d like to continue the series; it’s fun to write, and I’m really starting to get a feel for the characters (some of whom demonstrate an alarming degree of independence).

After the lightning round that was drafting The Scent of Death (57 days), I had hoped to make equivalent speed with this one and finish by the end of November. But that didn’t happen, and then with the holidays, things dragged. I blame myself, but I won’t schedule another book to end in the fourth quarter, I think.

I have the cover for Scar on order, and the plan is to publish at the end of February. But it needs editing, and proofreading, and I need to start outlining Marauders if I’m to publish that this summer… That would make three books in one year. Life was a lot simpler when it took a year to write one book.

But who ever said simple was fun?

#SFWApro

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The Scent of Death, the second in the Adventures of Captain Swashbuckle, is live today here and here. Fresh from their deadly trip to the Amazon, the crew find themselves trapped in a web of intrigue and murder that stretches from the halls of Washington, D.C. to the steppes of Mongolia! Hot on the trail of a missing diplomat, hounded by spies from the Japanese Imperial Army, and dodging assassins on two continents, they must solve not only the mystery of the kidnapped ambassador, but of an ancient weapon that kills without a trace–and may claim them as its next victims!

Plus, the first book in the series, The Choking Rain, is on sale in September at the bargain price of $1.99. When an invisible killer terrorizes the streets of Los Angeles, an ex-fighter pilot tries to get to the bottom of the plot, only to end up its latest victim! Can four ordinary people, following in his murdered footsteps, stop an international conspiracy to bring the United States to its knees as a prelude to war?

 

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To go along with the The Scent of Death (available for pre-order now at Amazon and Smashwords, hint, hint), I ordered a new cover for book no. 1 in the series, The Choking Rain (on sale through September). Although the cover has been uploaded, those sites have not yet posted it, so here, for the first time ever, in a Graffiti on the Walls of Time exclusive, is the new cover for The Choking Rain.

cover

 

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In honor of the upcoming release of The Scent of Death (Amazon, Smashwords), the first book in the series, The Choking Rain (Amazon, Smashwords) will be on sale for $1.99 the entire month of September!

Return to the days between the wars, in the depths of the Great Depression, when adventure waited in every port, and the world hadn’t quite been explored…

In February 1932, Los Angeles, soon to be the site of the Summer Olympics, is plagued with torrential rains–and murder. Men are dying in the streets in broad daylight, to all appearances victims of an invisible hangman.

Eric Reinhold, an ace pilot dubbed “Captain Swashbuckle” for his aerial feats in the skies over Germany, is drawn into the plot, but while investigating, he is gunned down by vicious criminals, leaving behind a small band of dedicated friends to carry on. Can four ordinary people overcome a terror aimed at toppling the entire United States–when they may be harboring the mastermind of the plot in their very midst?

 

 

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The Scent of Death, second of The Adventures of Captain Swashbuckle, will premiere on September 15.

The year is 1932. An ambassador disappears in the Far East, and a government bureaucrat dies suddenly in Washington, D.C. Are they related? What do they have to do with the recent Japanese invasion of China? And do they pose any threat to the United States?

One man thinks he has the answer to these questions. One man who may be the only person who can prevent a catastrophe that could change the course of history.

One man–who won’t let being dead stand in his way.

covernew2

The Choking Rain, first in the series, is on sale now at Amazon and Smashwords.

 

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