Saturday, January 15, 2011

There Is NO Reason to Keep Secrets From Yourself!

I'm sorry this post is late -- it should have been posted after midnight last night.

I mentioned that the current book, Old Paint: Dead or Alive, is something I have a lot of notes and scenes already written for. I assumed this would allow me to get off to a fast start. Alas, it is not so. These notes are a mess. I have four different versions of the same opening (and who knows how many of the other scenes). And lots of nice notes and ideas and such. I've got to read through it all.

But just now I must confess: I did something that no mystery writer should ever do. I was cagey about what the clues meant in my notes. Bad, BAD mystery writer. No biscuit! (Well, okay I had three biscuits, but no more!)

I have this one scene where a character does something subtly odd, and Mick notices it and puzzles about it. And he discusses it with Casey and they have all sorts of theories about it. But in my notes it just says "...and then they realize what it really means." Gaaaahhhhh! I don't remember what it really means!

So, to all you mystery writers out there: when you take notes, don't worry about spoiling the ending for yourself. You KNOW who did it. You know WHY they did it. You KNOW what all the red herrings are really up to. If someone ever combs through your private notes, it's their own dang fault if they spoil the ending of your novel for themselves.

A few years from now, you will probably remember the big stuff, like who did it and why. But trust me, you won't remember all the details of that great triple-twist of a subplot. You may remember the first and second twists, but you won't remember that last one, the kicker. The one that makes it all wonderfully twisty and worth it.

You never know what might force you to set a book aside. You never know how long you'll remember that bit about the splotch on the lawyer's sleeve.

In the meantime, I don't expect to be racking up the word count until I get this all in order. I hope to start on Monday, but that could be just a Dream. (That was a joke. It's MLK Day on Monday. Live your dreams.)

In the meantime, I'll be posting the first few pages of Harsh Climate for Sample Sunday in a few hours.

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