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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writing in Circles

I like circular references the same way I love palindromes. There’s a certain lyrical beauty in symmetry. It isn’t so much about repetition but the possibilities of funky reiterations.

Not surprisingly, I decided that all my crime novels will have some variation of the concept of justice in the title.

The first one, Justified, revolved around the guilty party and while I worked on it for a long time, I ended up scrapping most of it and wrote the bulk of it in one month during NaNoWriMo 2010.

The second one, now in progress, will be titled Poetic Justice, revolves around the crime fighter and one of the suspects.

I don’t recommend writing this way because it is entirely intuitive and I have not written any of it in chronological order. The first scene I wrote was the book’s climax. The second scene was the crime that precipitates the investigation. I also wrote a scene that precedes the story by 25 years that sets the political climate for the story. Another scene introduces the main character in a theme that I know will be repeated throughout, but which I can't yet place in the context of what I have written.

There’s a chapter that is not quite complete that may not quite make it to the final version, and another that will make it but is likely to undergo a few changes.

For the past few days, after months of inactivity, I started writing again. The difference is that these four chapters are relatively chronological, or at least I am fairly sure they will follow each other when the book is finished.

The latest writing includes putting the task force together and starting the surveillance and intelligence towards the conclusion (which is already written).

My method, apparently, is deconstructing a forgone conclusion, but with the joy of not knowing all the details that got us there, and the delicious restriction of knowing the story must serve the master than is that final scene.

Obviously, I aim for a book that is fun to read, but I also want to write a challenge for myself. Will it work? Who knows?! This is but one of the many experiments I am willing to expose myself to in the effort to build a portfolio and get better at the craft.

It’s a highly schizophrenic way to write a book. Yet, some of it is so clear in my head that once I take one of its parts and run with it, the writing just flows. Because that is what it has been so far, a series of concepts building on each other to elicit an epic thriller.

There’s a character that is pretty much an archetype, but he has a very distinct voice – which is more a predatory feeling than a voice as such. Another character made it into the book because, in service of symmetry, an authority figure will always be loosely based on an old friend. He’s like a lucky charm/writer’s crutch. He’s there because I like to channel him and his introduction chapter is certainly a lot of fun.

Only two characters were clearly delineated in my head as I started writing and it is them that grace the cover. I have no need for a cover when the novel is not yet finished, but somehow it helps me to picture it as a poster that tells me the story in subtle details. It may not mean the same to the readers later, this is for me.

I had been playing with cover ideas since last summer and none quite worked. I was enamored with conveying a concept and it finally occurred to me that while the concept was intriguing, this is a story about two people. They should be on the cover. The concepts, whatever form they may take within the plot, are secondary to the characters. Concepts drive their actions but don't become them.

In brief, this is a story about black and white and lots of gray areas, where some things are more obvious than others but never just quite what they seem.

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