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 . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, June 1, 2012


Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ... FREE ASSOCIATION

Photo by Paolo De Santis
     A friend called me and asked for the correct spelling of Sergeant—he couldn’t find the word in his dictionary and his daughter needed it. I spelled it, told him to wait a moment while I double-checked the word in my American Heritage Dictionary, told him the spelling was correct and went back to reading the New York Times. After I went to bed, my mind began to roam, free association kicked in. Why did his daughter need the correct spelling? Her marriage had just dissolved and her future would be different. Did she plan on joining the police force? The Salvation Army? The Army, Air Force or Marine Corp. or would she go back to college and study psychoanalysis? Had she met someone on a dating site? Free association had me in its grip.
    Sigmund Freud developed free association as a tool used in psychoanalysis. Patients are asked to say anything that comes into their minds. Writers use it—sometimes unknowingly—as they are introduced to their characters, work out their plotlines and add motive and suspense to the story. Just as a patient will speak for himself, the character will take action, pictures will float into the mind and ideas will turn into words, sentences, chapters and finally a novel. During the first draft, anything that comes into your head can be written on the blank screen—without hesitation or editing. We can forget grammar, structure and correct spelling. Our inner critic is banished while we write the first draft. The delete button is saved for a future session when we will eliminate the clumsy, embarrassing, extraneous or inappropriate. Often—in between the boring or awkward sentences we find during a revision of the draft—a nugget is found. The perfect dialogue for our character, the right description for place, and an insight into the villain we weren’t aware of before. Perhaps, the solution to the cliff-hanger ending of a chapter we hadn’t quite been able to grasp.
     Free association shares some features with stream of consciousness and the interior monologue when a passage of writing flows and presents a character’s inner thoughts and emotions. It was used by writers such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Marcel Proust and T.S. Eliot. Just as patient speaks for him or herself instead of parroting the analyst—the characters in a novel will often reject the author’s words and choose their own. Freud spoke of a letter from Schiller that said that, “Where there is a creative mind, reason—so it seems to me—relaxes its watch upon the gates and the ideas rush in pell-mell.” Writers explore the minds of their characters and apply the emotional, disturbing and dysfunctional as well as their positive qualities to round out their creations.
     Transference—transferring feelings about one person applied to another—is also used by writers as well as practiced in psychoanalysis. We take bits of personality, and the quirks and tics found in old friends, relatives, and strangers and apply them to our characters. As we write and rewrite the characters may change them and finally make them their own.
FUTURE POSTS will cover:
Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.
We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!


Wynter Daniels said...

Good post. I never thought of the process as related to free association but you've hit the nail on the head!

Cathy Perkins said...

I've never thought of it as free association, but the A-ha moment does occur more often when I relax.

The Of course realization is right up there with What if? for shaping my stories. I suspect most of us feel the same way. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, Elise. That's exactly the way it works for me, but only when I manage to get my rational (read: critical) mind out of the way and allow my inner two-year-old free rein.

Clare London said...

What a great post, and how interesting to find out what's going on in our heads in that A-ha! moment. It's why I sometimes have to move away from the screen and let my mind free to inhabit the character, and see where he'd go next -and not necessarily where I thought I was taking him!

Elise Warner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elise Warner said...

Removed the above because I mispelled and couldn't correct it for some strange reason. I find leting my mind roam before I go to sleep often brings on that moment. Perhaps the expression, "Sleep on it," stems from that.

Maureen A. Miller said...

This was an excellent post, Elise. I know my mind travels a long way before it gets back to the matter at hand. :)

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