Reprinted with permission from Me because it first ran at my blog:
I spent many years in manufacturing, so when I hear the term writing process, I envision a Dr. Suess-esque machine with a Zuzz turning a crank at one end and books plopping out at the other. But it’s a finer, more subtle effort to write a novel. And it takes a lot more work. Ask my friend Shawn Hopkins. We met when he compiled a thriller sampler called MYSTERY THRILLS & SPILLS. He hosted the previous stop on this tour and writes detail-rich stories of supernatural suspense, ancient conspiracy, espionage, and mystery. Check out Shawn’s work here.
What am I working on?
This past year held several surprises for me. Most good, some really crappy. My first novel, 3 LIES, hit #1 on Amazon’s Technothriller list, and I’m writing its sequel. I’d planned to have it and at least one other novel completed by now, but I realized long ago, my sanity is of some value. Use it or lose it. Ever the optimist, I’ve decided to make the rest of this year stellar.
I’ve written two unrelated novels since I wrote 3 LIES, and it’s wasn’t a simple process to reacquaint myself with the details of my original story. In part, because I write multi-threaded, multi-POV novels. The main character of each thread needs to be heard and remembering what each of them said—exactly—is not one of my superpowers. So I needed to research my own book.
But now I understand why authors write series—beyond the lure of repeated sales. I’d forgotten how much I like the people I’ve created, even the dastards. Each has a set of qualities that welled from my experience, from the people I’ve encountered in my walk. Some of them, I missed. Now that we’re sharing pages again, I want to stay close.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m a student of theater. When I write, I want the reader to know what the character is thinking. He sat in a chair, but why that chair? Was it closer to the lone window in the room? Did it over a superior vantage point? Was it comfortable enough to soothe an aching back?
Motivation. I make those same choices every time I select a chair. So should the actors in my novel.
Another distinction of my work is my use of technology. I write thrillers about tech-savvy people who use tools unheard of in years past. But none of the main characters are of the Uber-doober variety. Smart, but they make mistakes, and they all have a sense of humor. Another reason we get along so well.
Why do I write what I do?
Intrigue and mystery are the twin lakes of any good bit of fiction. These are my swimming holes. It doesn’t matter what genre categorizes a novel, without these waters running through the story, it’s lifeless. Since I’m a purist, I go straight to the source: the thriller. Thrillers are the aquifer of creative writing.
How does my writing process work?
Think shampoo instructions. Write, edit, repeat.
Writing is a recursive process, culling the working words from the ones that make me think: meh. Even my own opinion of them changes, so I need to let them breathe awhile before deciding their fate. Then, I need to hear them aloud. I spared the world the iniquity of—Chester gestured—after it assaulted my ear.
As for the day-to-day, I need enough of a road map to find my next few stops. When I initially outline too heavily, I tend to back track when I think of some thread that I prefer. But I want to improve my word count. To that end, I plan to spend more upfront time contemplating the storyline, so I can blast toward the finish. So far, this is purely theory, but I’ve often been called tenacious. Or was it bullheaded?
Allow me to introduce you to Susan Clayton-Goldner whose stories and poetry have graced the pages of numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her family dramas typically revolve around a mystery, and her poetry “…exposes emotion before it reaches the intellect.” Plus, she swims with dolphins. Talent and game. A winning combination.
Currently, she’s writing a sequel to 3 LIES. You can find her thrillers in the usual places. And you can find her at HelenHanson.com coddling a goblet of red.