Realizations at a reading

Joe’s Post #88

My best realizations often occur when I least expect them. Sort of a zen thing – let the universe unfold and stop trying to kick it in the nuts to do stuff for you.

thriller writersSo, let me share my recollection of the realizations I had while listening to other writers at Incite: The Dark Side: An Evening with Mystery and Thriller Writers. With Sean Slater, (“Sean Slater is a police officer in Vancouver, BC, winner of The Province’s Sunday Serial Thriller contest and the author of the Jacob Striker thriller series”), Deryn Collier, Craig Davidson (aka Nick Cutter), and Andrew Pyper.

The opening pages are super important. The other writers read from the mid parts of their books and the writing was fine, even outstanding, but I wouldn’t have bought any of their books. Why? They didn’t make me want to read more.

IMG_3342Sean did.

Plus he told a joke. “They introduced me as a massage therapist who became a cop. What if I was a cop who become a massage therapist and wrote a book called, “Rubbed the Wrong Way”?

So, yeah, humor plus a reason to make someone NEED to keep reading  = super important.

I must revisit all my opening chapters and make sure they ROCK! And make sure there’s humor.

PX4All the authors said that you shouldn’t let research get in the way of you telling a story. Make it up. It’s ok.

It has to sound authentic, but unless you’re writing a procedural or a manual, don’t sweat the details. Write, “she screwed on the silencer,” not, “she took the mark E3MB Gungan Magnamatic silencer and rotated it 11 times onto the favoured weapon of SOCOM, the PX4 Storm Special Duty Beretta with revolving barrel, snag proof design, accessory rail, automatic firing pin block, external hammer design, 3 dot sight system and reversible magazine release (though, to be fair, it’s a pretty awesome gun!)

This I have to keep remembering. It’s ok to make shit up. if you say SOCOM uses a glock, it’s only gonna make the gun guys (and SOCOM guys) go nuts. Your average reader won’t know the difference. But if you wrote, say, SOCOM uses a musket, well, you might want to do a bit more research.

But as Sean added, he wanted to get the ‘culture’ right. And that was the revelation for me. Make sure to take the reader into another world, be it the world of detectives, the world of unicorns, or the world of teenagers who realize they must kill each other to survive.

All of the authors also agreed that you don’t need any training. Forget degrees, classes, workshops, gurus or psychics. Just read great fiction. Read it deliberately. Then write.

For me it’s kinda like over-researching. I love learning and I can over-learn things sometimes. I need to just write.

IMG_3359Lastly, I realized how important it is to be part of a community. A writing community. It’s like poking yourself in the eye. If you do it alone, you begin to think you’re a bit of an idiot. If you do it with others, then you’re a community – of idiots – but a community nevertheless.

So, if you get a chance, go to a reading sometime. Go because it’s great people watching. Go because it’s enlightening. Go as a fellow writer to see people who’ve made it. They’re all like you and me.

And that’s something I need to realize every so often.


Blogs Done This Week: 2 (another hockey blog)

Movies Seen in Theaters: 0. Who has time?

Best Shows on TV: Walking Dead (cried), The Blacklist (took notes), True Detective (wanted to make Matthew McConaughey eat something.)

Days to Vacation with my new family: 2

Queries out this week: 0

Rejections for the last week: 0 (good news or bad news?)

Queries Still Out there: 5

Hope Meter: 40/100 Up a lot from last week. Got my laptop back. Saw the Sean speak as the Writers Fest. Saw my mystery writing group. Worked my ass off on an outline. Feeling like the story is coming together.