By Lynn McPherson
It’s been a big year in my writing life. I got an agent and, very recently, signed a three-book deal with Level Best Books. I’m absolutely delighted. And relieved. Now I’m gearing up to go back to what I love to do—writing!
For me, there’s nothing more exciting than starting a new book. I even treated myself to a brand new notebook and a supersize pack of multi-color sticky notes. Woot woot!
To get things started, I went to my happy place—the library, of course. Butt in chair, pen in hand, and then… nothing. My mind went blank. It’s been so long since I’ve started a new book, I couldn’t remember what to do. Has this happened to anyone else? Yikes. Not a good feeling.
Luckily, resources were available nearby.
I borrowed How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook From Mystery Writers of America, edited by Lee Child. I’ve also begun to read Story Genius, by Lisa Cron.
After some quiet reading, I began to jot some notes. Nothing concrete, just some thoughts about the who, what, why, and how. Ideas started flow at last.
The truth is, I’d forgotten how intimidating it can be to think of writing an entire book. Then I remembered one key point: a book is not written in one long stream-of-consciousness (at least a book written by me). It’s a process. And to get it started, there’s only one thing that must be done. Sit down and write.
So now, I’m back to being excited. I’ve been thinking about the plot, a new list of characters to develop, scenes to plan, and dialogue to conjure up. I’d forgotten how much I love writing character arcs, coming up with a list of plausible suspects, and all the other fun steps of writing a mystery.
With my first three books, I had a very loose outline and was more of a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). This time, I’m determined to try something more structured. There are so many different ways to outline, it’ll be a fun exercise to experiment with various methods and see what works and what doesn’t.
What are your favorite parts of writing? Do you have a favorite method for outlining or are you a true pantser?
Lynn McPherson has had a myriad of jobs, from running a small business to teaching English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo, where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. Lynn served on the Board of Directors for Crime Writers from 2019-2021. She is the author of The Izzy Walsh Mystery Series and can be found at http://lynnmcpherson.net/.