I know, the phrase is cuttingtothe chase. But that’s not what’s happening.
Poor Jake Calcutta has been in and out of my top drawer a hundred times the past 6 months. I’ve printed bits and read them, highlighting and underlining. I’ve binder-clipped and folded and organized and shuffled. I’ve enlisted pre-alpha readers.
I’ve ignored it mercilessly for weeks at a time.
A third of the way through, Jake left me. Hid out somewhere in the wilderness of Whatcomesnext and no matter how I coaxed, he wouldn’t talk to me.
As his quarry stumbled noisily along the path he moved silently on a parallel path through the trees. Occasionally he fell behind; unlike the supermen on film, it took time to move truly silently.
But his quarry was in no hurry, and so with spurts of speed through clear spaces, he kept up.
He carried no weapon; needed none but the one inside his head. He valued life, considered it sacred, and wouldn’t take a life unless it were the last desperate option — and even then, he knew he’d give his own before taking another without good cause.
This quarry was no threat, simply a source of information. He’d noticed the so-called tourist’s familiarity with customs in the market and realized they were the underling he’d been waiting for. Whatever function they performed for their employers, their function to him was simple.
To take him to those employers so he could destroy them.
I’ve finished 3 mysteries, with a solid first draft of a fourth and half a draft of another. The first, Through the Fog, was a solo project, a lark, a few years ago. This year, I got more serious with A Long, Hard Look and dug a little deeper for Into the Fog, the second of my foggy Irish mysteries.
The first editing note Tom Bentley sent regarding Into the Fog mentioned that its protagonist sounded a lot like the chap in A Long, Hard Look.
All I could think was, wait ’til he reads anodyne.
All three protagonists (wait; there’s a fourth, a woman) speak with my voice. There are subtle differences, but I’ve made the mistake of allowing my writer’s voice to overwhelm these characters’ individuality.
They’re all too much me. I guess I have so many faces I want to use them all. But that’s confusing for readers.
O woe is me. How to fix?
Tom’s first suggestion sounded familiar. That’s because I’ve been recommending it to my business coaching clients since before I wrote The Commonsense Entrepreneur in 2008.
This is why we hire others: so they can help us see, over here, what we’ve been doing for 6 long years over here.
Most folks dislike being interrupted. Finding your place in that column of figures you were adding. Wondering whether you were just about to add the salt, or just added the salt. Might as well start the joke over from the beginning because you aren’t sure where you left off.
With a non-fiction book, momentum is a good idea. With fiction, it’s vital. One reason to write every day, even a few sentences, is to keep the story rolling in your mind. The thread of story, the creative process, is tenuous at times. We’ve all experienced the brilliant thought we were sure we’d remember but which evaporated, leaving only a stain.