NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Actions Speak Much, Much Louder Than Words

I picked up a new craft book (aren’t all authors addicted to improving their craft?) that has me excited about writing again. Part of my funk over the winter had been that writing seemed yet another job - with a long list of Must Do tasks - and like most of you, I had too many balls in the air already.

I wanted to buckle down and just write the damn book. I actually had people contact me and ask when the next in the Holly Price/ So About series would release—which should make me feel happy rather than pressured. Right?

Anyway, I stumbled over two books titled The 90-Day Novel

Okay then! 90-days! Score! (Is this where I admit it takes me a year to write a novel?)

The first craft book was a disappointment. It contained a very summarized rehash of things we’ve all heard a million times. Set your turning points, make the index cards, park your butt and go.

Yawn. 

The other one, by Alan Watt, hit the note I needed to hear. Step back and consider the possibilities, he recommended. What if…? 

What are you afraid of? Your heroine probably has the same fears. Can you work with that? Lots (and lots) of 5 minute writing drills occurred during the first week, but none of it needed to appear directly in the book. I was encouraged to scribble images, scenes, scene-lets, ideas, whatever. No pressure, because nobody was going to read or critique it. It was playing with words, which I hadn’t done in ages. It was diving into what I was passionate about—and how that drives my story. 

And through the process, the dilemma, which is the root perception cause of the problem (which is what your protag thinks she’s trying to solve) evolves. I realized “trust” is the emotion I needed to tap into and now, everything else is falling into place. The conflicts between all my characters really come down to that one, very basic emotion. Trust is crucial for a relationship. All relationships. Relationships between friends, family, lovers.

Trust is what happens when actions speak much, much louder than words. You can’t make someone trust you. From Holly’s perspective, when others’ actions are undermining her trust in them, going with what she believes is the right thing to do will show others she’s trustworthy—and hopefully won’t get her killed. 

I started this craft book adventure in connection with my own 100x100 challenge (a friend who’s 300 days in inspired me). The 100x100 challenge is to write at least 100 words every day for 100 days. Three weeks into in, I’ve filled half a spiral notebook. And the scenes, plot, and subplots are coming into focus. 

How’s your writing going this summer? 



Cathy Perkins is currently working on Book Two in the Holly Price/So About series. So About the Money was blessed by readers and booksellers with the Award of Excellence – Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. 

A spin-off in that series, Malbec Mayhem features one of the secondary characters and is available now. 

9 comments:

Rita said...

Having a total blast doing what I call off road writing. Short stories. Different genres, different POV’s. Along with my reading, I’ve also been studying craft. Three times a week I pick something out to refresh and renew craft. Right now it’s writing emotional not mechanical sex scenes.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Cathy, I love this post. I just took the summer off because I'd lost the joy in writing and couldn't, for the life of me, think of a plot I wanted to work on. It's been nearly three months now since I've written anything substantial (other than a day or two here or there), and I'm just now starting to get that spark back. Still haven't written a whole lot, but a plot started to come to me over the past week. I think I'm going to try that 100x100 challenge to get me back into a writing habit. :)

Cathy Perkins said...

Rita -
It sounds like you're also "playing with words" again, finding new areas to re-energize. And Yes! to emotional not mechanical sex scenes.

Cathy Perkins said...

Anne Marie -
We all overextend ourselves with the rest of our lives. Layer the business/marketing part of writing into the mix and yeah, the creative energy can disappear. (Read, tired/burnt out/whatever you want to call it!) Good that you recognized it and stepped back to regroup. Nurture that new plot idea!
The 100x100 is good because it doesn't seem as overwhelming as thinking, Oh, I have to write this whole scene and it has to be fabulous instead of part of a lousy first draft. Confession - I got sidetracked with edits on a different story I needed to turn in, but I'm gearing up with a fresh start.

Sandy Parks said...

So much in blog hit a chord with me. I have to get the theme, plot and character arc down, and then the writing flows so much easier. Without that, I spin wheels.

Elise Warner said...

Enjoyed the post, Cathy. New writing seems to be going all right for me this summer but I'm having trouble with Office 10 and Microsoft 16 when trying to convert doc to docx on older pieces and an almost complete novel. Takes so long. The first hundred years are the hardest?

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, Cathy. I'm glad you got your mojo back. I'm just finishing the edits on my latest novel and getting ready to pick up the next in my Mendenhall Mystery series -- I started writing it ages ago and then put it aside.

Marissa Garner said...

Kudos for finding the right craft book that works for you. Glad you're sticking with the 100x100. Can't wait for book 2--but no pressure! :)

Cathy Perkins said...

@Sandy - getting that insight makes so much difference, doesn't it?

@Elise - Glad to hear the writing is going well! I feel your pain! Office 16(?) came out for Mac. I bought it and am almost afraid to install it for fear of what it will mess up in other areas.

@Marcelle - finish that book, ya hear? I've wondered when the next one would come out ;) No pressure or anything. Isn't it funny how often we start something and then either get sidetracked or put the story aside for one reason or another.

@Marissa - aaarrrggghhhhhh

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