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Monday, November 23, 2015

Back in the saddle

The time has come and it's time to dive back into my Dex world. Book 2, Knight and Dex, (available now!) was quite a challenge, but the story was so worth the sleepless nights. Lots of lessons learned in writing my second book and I'm carrying those with me into book 3, Dex Machina. That should please my editor. I'd previously written most of book 3 when Knight and Dex took over, I've gone through the book and scrapped most of it. Don't worry, it needed to be scrapped. I needed to exercise some demons and now they are put to rest.

Book 3 is shaping up to be one of those theme park rides that drops the reader from two hundred feet with barely a safety harness. New London is in for a very bad day. Rick O'Shea is working hard for his pay. New villain, new threat and as always new levels of complication. It's going to make the first two books feel like a warm up.

I've been working for a few days with the odd break to catch a movie, eat, sleep...the things that are luxuries when I'm in my writing process. Everyone's process is different. Mine is to cut off from the world as much as I'm able. Write all hours. When I get stuck I take a walk and talk things out. It's very important to wear a headset while in public, or else be prepared for strange looks and a possible psych hold. That completely depends if I'm trying to work out a love scene, or a battle. The battles are easier to work out.

What made book 2 so hard? The story itself was easy, I'm still working on my writer muscles and I've read books on writing, taken some classes and had an online writer group and all of those things while technically right, didn't account for a first person past tense narrative. While I'm learning all these great things taking out the word was in past tense novel should not be attempted. It's an important word. Also keep an eye out for adverbs. Adverbs (Word that mostly end in ly) are evil and should only be used in the most dire of circumstance. Don't avoid them in the first drafts, but keep note, what adverbs are flags to add an action.

For instance: "Whatever." She said coarsely.

Could be: "Whatever." She sneered.

The second sentence is much more powerful and I did it with one less word. Sneering evokes a particular action. I know what it's like to be sneered at, but I have only a general idea what someone being course is like. It could crude, rude, angry, her voice might be horse.

By no means stop writing, the adverb is an opportunity to go back in a future draft and to make the story a powerful.

Another weak spot of mine is the use of a passive voice.

For instance: Jane was punched in the nose by Sara.

Could be: Sara punched Jane in the nose.

In this case the subject Sara acts upon the object Jane. When writing it's always more powerful to act upon and object rather than an object be acted upon. This is crucial in writing any kind of action.

Use of the first person. While first person has gained a lot of popularity over the years, some still consider it a poor way to tell a story. I've been told from a potential reader that she wouldn't read my story because it was written first person. I'm good with that. It's a very specific writing style that can be really difficult. It's really easy to get first person wrong. I've needed reminders that my main character needs to do A before he can do B. He can use and object he didn't pick up. I had once sequence in my book where Rick threw out a glowstick. Certainly not an unusual item for a cop to have, but I needed to have him pick one up at some point and throw it in his pocket. If a sword is needed in the third act, make sure it's stilling somewhere in the first.

I'm drawn to first person, because I want to be in the head of my character. It a trade-off as I don't get the luxury of jumping around and let the reader in on the whole story. I tell my story from one angle and i's both a blessing and a curse when dealing with a mystery. I think it gives me a decided advantage. While I don't get in the mind of my killer, or victim. The story advances when my character finds a clue. As a writer I need to be more visceral as Rick only know what he discovers, his conclusions may often be wrong until he puzzles it out. Otherwise, there are leaps in logic and while he can suspect something, until he knows something, he's unable to act within character.

In order to get enough information, he has to rely on the world around him and the people he comes in contact with throughout the story. Rick can't be everywhere, but those around him can be. It can be someone in passing, or someone intimately involved with the events. Then Rick has to take what he's learned roll it around with his own experiences and knowledge, which can be unreliable and spits out a conclusion. Then then fun part, acting on it.

In Knight and Dex, I was able to write these very large, crazy action sequences. I have two particular fights in there that are my favorite things I've ever written. I think if I had to chose one, it would be the first one. When I wrote it, I creeped myself out. With the feedback I've gotten, it comes across the page. Hearing that was the happiest moment of my writing career. Is it bad I take perverse pleasure in giving someone nightmare fuel? It most certainly is and I love it.

What I like most about first person is that I can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell the world. I get to do this through someone I get to know on the most intimate of levels. I know a pizza tastes to him, what he feels when he drives his car, what it's like to be in love with his partner, and I know what annoys the shit out of him. The greatest gift it to experience his pain and his joys. To not just experience, but to actually live Rick's adventure. It's truly a treasure to me.

I've written two and it's time to move onto three. New challenges await and it's time for Rick to be on his toes once again. This time, I'm going to see what makes the metal at the core of his being. Is it steel, or tin. My guess is a chunk of rusty, pitted iron.

With these final words, I move once again into my world of daring deeds and foul villainy, of a city in peril and a savior that is all too human even if those around him are not. I move into my world. I hope you'll join me once again on the other side.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

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