I have gone out and invested in a new spiral to keep notes for my next Daisy mystery–Pot Shots. As you may know, I try to title my books with a symbol of the first victim and how they were killed. Not sure if you knew that I tend to come up with a general topic to think about and the title of the book, even before I create my first new characters.
Right now, Colorado is enjoying the limelight that comes with being one of the first states in the union to legalize recreational pot. It makes for a natural overarching topic to explore. And the legalization brings up all sorts of interesting challenges for citizens and law enforcement alike. I’m watching from the sidelines.
Getting teased about the kind of research I need to do for this next story is a lot of fun too. I mean after all, without proper research, how can I truly describe a Rocky Mountain High? Could I write about someone who literally goes up in smoke? And playing with a cash-based business (banks are closely tied with federal government and can’t risk losing the FDIC connection) is just too much opportunity for trouble.
I don’t want to give away where exactly I’m going with the story, but for those who have read Faith on the Rocks, I’ll just let you know that I’m going to give Chip McPherson a mom who comes from California and has the most seductive brownie recipe you could imagine. Or is this too trite a thought? Hmm.
As for writing a novel, each author has his or her own style and process. I’m trying to share mine with you in hopes that if you’re just starting your own novel-writing adventure, you might be able to take away some ideas for your work process.
Currently, I’m in the brainstorming phase. This is the hardest, but most fun part of writing. I have no plot yet, not even an opening scene. I know very little about the topic of legalized marijuana, but am well aware of my personal biases on the topic. So, here’s the plan …
- February and March – research. Jot down trivia about marijuana and the debate occurring across the country right now. Visit a dispensary. Talk to people who I know use this drug. Get a feel for the topic and the type of characters I’ll want to experience the story.
- March and April – put together a list of characters and a few murderous scenarios. Unlike some other authors I’ve met, I need to know who killed whom and why before I even start a story. Others like to write their tale, then go back and plant clues. I like to plant clues along the way. It’s kind of like a game of hide-and-seek to me. Both writing styles work.
- By May I want to have an outline complete. Thanks to Scrivener, a large writing project toolkit, this should be easier than my 3×5 card system I’ve used in the past. We’ll see.
- June and for the next weeks and months beyond I’ll write the story out. It would be great to have a quicker first draft than in my other two efforts. It took from 2007 to 2012 to get Faith written, rewritten, and published. I worked from 2012 through the end of 2013 to write Sliced Vegetarian, and I don’t know yet if it will be accepted for publication. My goal for Pot Shots is to be done by the end of 2014. Did you know that Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was researched in seven weeks and published the following year in a newspaper series? If you have suggestions on how to be more productive in writing, I’d love to hear from you.
- That’s it. Simple–like chess.
If you have strong feelings about the marijuana debate, please do contact me. Right now, my mind is a blank slate waiting for thoughts and feelings to form my opinion–and next story.