Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To Outline or Not To Outline

In my writing I have always done some amount of outlining. I’ve never been a seat-of-the-pants writer where I can just sit down and start writing. On some manuscripts I’ve done extensive outlining and for others I’ve developed only a basic outline. What I’ve evolved and what I’m using on my current manuscript is a scene outline where I briefly describe each scene. This gives me a framework for my novel but allows me to fill in a lot of detail and take diversions as the manuscript evolves.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting Writing Ideas

Getting Writing Ideas from NewspapersI find all kinds of interesting writing ideas in newspapers. Over the weekend we were in Los Angeles having a reunion with good friends from our UCLA days, and I happened to read an article in the Los Angeles Times about synesthesia. I had never seen this term before but now have done a little further reading about it. Synesthesia is a condition that affects one to four percent of the population where there is a cross link between different senses. In one common form called color synesthesia, numbers or letters are perceived as specific colors. Minds of synesthetes work differently than most people. It isn’t a bad condition and is reported to be neutral or pleasant to those who have it. All I know is after reading about it, I have to have a character with synesthesia in a future novel.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trying New Stuff

One of the aspects of writing I enjoy is trying new things. Right now I’m at writing a historical mystery, which I’ve never done before. There’s a whole new dimension to writing about a time in history. Mine takes place in 1919. I’ve been reading old newspapers and learning about what was occurring in the world, in the US and in Boulder, Colorado (where my novel is set), at that time. Much like watching Super Bowl ads, I’ve become a junky of reading ads from 1919. Then there’s the whole thing of word choice and idioms. I have to keep checking to see if a phrase I want to use is appropriate for that point in time. I’m doing a lot more research than I have for the contemporary mysteries I’ve written, but I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a kick.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bird Watching

I went on my second bird watching event yesterday, Gullapalooza in Boulder. My interest in bird watching has been inspired by fellow Colorado mystery author, Christine Goff, and her bird watching mystery series. The venue for Gullapalooza was the power plant and ponds which are ice free during the winter and therefore a home for water fowl. At dusk a large number of gulls returned after raiding food sources to the east. The attached picture is a swarm of gulls arriving.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pet Words

When I write a manuscript for one of my mystery novels, I often, inadvertently, use a particular word over and over. My wife, my first reader, refers to this as a pet word. For some reason I get enamored with a particular word while writing, and it keeps popping up. While writing one novel, I kept using the word extract. Things were being extracted from a wallet, people were extracting themselves from a car . . . you get the picture. Rather than using a normal word, I got carried away. So, writers, review your manuscripts and extract any words that are artificial and have become pet words.