As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve written a proper blog post. It’s just the time of year that’s got me preoccupied, with Christmas shopping and family issues and trying to get the next book moving forward.
At the moment, I’m having my usual “where do I start this story?” dilemma. It’s the next Jane and Maura novel, and I know where it’s going, and how my characters are drawn into the crisis, but I have to choose exactly where to open the tale. Should the first scene be a prologue? What does it add to the story? Is it simply an artificial way to inject action early into a novel, or does it offer some important clue that enlightens what happens later?
And then there are the characters, several of them never before introduced. Should they immediately be in conflict with each other? If done badly, that instant conflict can seem over-the-top and melodramatic. Or should these conflicts build slowly and more subtly, like a steadily worsening itch? Would that make the pace start off a little slower than readers may like?
Writing a book is a series of choices. Which word do I choose for a particular sentence — climbed, scrambled, or ascended? Is this new character Arlo fat and balding, or just balding? Does he wear glasses, and does it matter? Whose point of view should this scene be told from? Confronted by too many choices, I sometimes feel paralyzed and end up staring at a blank page for hours. And that paralysis is so unnecessary, because I’ll probably change it all anyway when I do my rewrites.
This time around, I’ve written a very detailed working synopsis for myself, so I know the structure in advance. But it doesn’t seem to be speeding up the writing process one whit.