Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

I’ve made no attempt to disguise the agonies I am currently enduring writing this new mystery series. The embarrassing thing is that I actually teach a workshop on mystery writing for The Writers Program at UCLA but somehow the enthusiastic suggestions I share so confidently with my students don’t seem to apply!

Having finally recovered from the 40 pages I deleted two weeks ago, I now have eight different opening scenes, each in a different tone that ranges from farcical to serious.  Yes, I know the necessary ingredients for a strong beginning – get them on page 1! Reel them in! And to that end I have everything lined up.
  • Setting
  • Murder weapon (s)
  • Villain, victim, sidekick
  • A cast of fully developed secondary characters
  • A plethora of red herrings
  • … and a solid outline with a great twist at the end (if I say so myself)

So what is the problem? My protagonist is the problem. She is eluding me.

Sure, I know a lot about Ms X – her horoscope, upbringing, hobbies, biggest fears, what she has in her trash bin etc. – but I am stuck on details that will dictate the tone and direction of the entire story.

Is my protagonist married? Single? Newly divorced? Is she going to be hilarious? Serious? Clever? Scatterbrained? Decisions, decisions, decisions! And each decision will make a substantial difference to how I present the entire story.

As an incentive, anyone who has a brilliant comment to help me over the hump will have their name entered into my Random Number generator. The prize … a fabulous CD of British Morris Dancing recorded by the Dartington Morris Men from Devon and a copy of my latest book featuring morris dancing ... THIEVES!

I await all suggestions with bated breath. 


John R Corrigan said...

I've been there, and I'm pulling for you!

Hyago Souza said...

Just go, let her tell you. Why do you have to know everything about her? As author, keep some surprises to yourself... =)

Vicki Delany said...

Just write it. The character will come. My two cents anyway.

hannah Dennison said...

Thanks so much John and Vicki .... I have to get over myself and yes, WRITE IT. Fingers crossed.

Donis Casey said...

I agree with Vicki. Sometimes if you just start typing she'll magically appear. Let her have a conversation with someone.