Normally, I never get writer's block.  I just open my MacBook to my current project and write one sentence.  Then another, then another.  Pretty soon another chapter or short story is on the way.  The process I use is meant to prevent writer's block.

I think my process is a little unusual.

First, I write what I call the bare bones of the chapter, usually the main action line, about a fourth of the eventual word count. Then I rewrite by addition: making sure the logic of the action and consistency are there. I look for unusual ways to take the plot.  Then another rewrite to fill in the bits an pieces that round out the action, adding flourishes to sentences and paragraphs.  I make sure there is a hook to the next chapter or sequence of action.  Dump in a red herring or a bit of foreshadowing for later in the story.  Then I a put a layer of polish on it all that is intended to make the story sparkle and to grab the reader.  Then off to my editor to eliminate grammar problems and suggest changes.  I tell people that I'm a terrible writer but a pretty good rewriter.

But, I just went two weeks without writing a meaningful sentence.  I blamed the holidays and the family trip to Portland, Oregon.  I blamed all sorts of things, none of which were the real reason.  Then three days ago, I realized I was writing the wrong book.  I'd lost interest in the one I'd begun.  I knew I had to put it away for later.

The last good piece I'd worked on was a short story called "Unnumbered Crimes".  It's about 5500 words.  I'd written and polished it in two days.  The main characters still fascinated me even after the story was complete.  The main-main character is a driven assistant prosecutor in Chicago and the other is a mysterious private investigator who doesn't seem to have a background.  We aren't even sure what his name is.

Then I read this quote:  Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.  Mark Twain.

The entire plot of a novel (to follow the short story) rolled out for me.  Since Saturday I outlined the entire novel, did my primary character sketches, researched Chicago locations on the Internet, and wrote chapter one.  In early Spring I'll go to Chicago to get a reality check on locations in person (I'd go earlier, but Chicago in the winter is really cold and I'm a weather wimp).

The book is called Anger is an Acid featuring Guenevere Pope and the man currently known as Peter Crawford.

I also have an idea for a sequel called Himself a Liar.  Another Mark Twain quote: A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.

So, if you are experiencing writer's block, you might be writing the wrong book.

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I forgot.  I also designed the cover.  See in photo section

Honestly, those of you who are able to handle your own cover design "genuine wow" from me.  I wanted to believe it would be easy enough to do, but it turned out that it wasn't.  I can't even really do that.  Just thinking about how many times i tried and fumbled is almost enough to make me feel like either cracking a joke or crying - it was actually that challenging to me....and I still couldn't really do it.  I am proud that there is something acceptable as a cover at the Kindle advert at but I had...not exactly anything like a nervous breakdown, but certainly something very...intense and emotional of an experience.  In reality, even though there are "things" I am capable of, some of which I am truly proud of,...I am very often impressed by the accomplishments of others.  Also, my tendency is more to like people than to dislike people, which makes me friendlier.

Not at all easy, Miriam.  It drove me wild also.  Still does.  I did finally manage to work with Photo Studio, but then got PhotoShop and had to give up, even with a "PhotoShop for Dummies" beside me. But it's also very interesting work, and another thing I'm glad I have in my control.

I have to say doing e-covers I found pretty easy using just PowerPoint.

But to do my print covers...that was a nightmare. I bought a program called Corel that after many many hours of trial and error and nearly giving up...a lot of times, I managed to get something I could be proud of, only to have to do and re-do the covers another half dozen times because they didn't line up well with the cover folds, etc. in the printing process. But, I learned a lot and am glad I did it.

It is a lot of work though, and I enjoy the control it gives me, but I could easily understand writers farming this work out. I recommend you do as much as you like to do, and are comfortable (while stretching yourself) but let others do what you can not or do not want to do.

For me, that's the edit-copy edit stuff. I failed every high school-college English class I ever took, so I'm happy to pay a pro to do that for me.

To each his own,

Good luck,

David DeLee

Fatal Destiny - a Grace deHaviland novel


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