Thursday, May 12, 2016

Honest Writing

I read Aline's, Frankie's, and Donis's recent posts with great interest and recalled Ernest Hemingway's famous line from A Moveable Feast: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." My three Type M colleagues touched on what, to me, amounts to honest writing – telling the story inside you, the one you have to tell. This is something I've been considering a lot recently.

The opportunity to explore a new character has piqued my interest. I've published nine novels (No. 9, Destiny's Pawn, comes out in June). Eight of those required tremendous research (five were set on the PGA Tour; and the last three featuring a US Border Patrol agent). Research can be fun. I like talking to people, learning new things, and reading or watching just about anything to do with the criminal justice system. But research is also time consuming and nerve racking (you must, after all, get it right).

I've had a character in my head and an idea for a book (and series) for several years. I started a version of the book a few years ago, then sold my Peyton Cote series, and wrote that instead for the past four years. All the while, this idea for an amateur sleuth novel set in a locale I know very well, has stayed with me. Then something happened about three weeks ago that stalled the book I was working on, and this novel's opening line appeared. I wrote it. And kept going. Now, I'm thirty pages in, and the book is writing itself.

One reason for the ease with which this project is proceeding is because I've set the book at a New England boarding school. For me, having received financial aid to attended a boarding school and now living and working at one, I am surely following the adage of "write what you know." Additionally, these are places where privilege, wealth, and power can collide -- always a potent concoction for plots. Most importantly, those same elements that combine to create interesting plots also offer potential for great empathy, which every story needs if it is to have a heart.

So where does this book go? Who knows? But I'm eager to see where it leads. More importantly, I'm motivated to finish it.

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