Friday, October 1, 2010

Doing It Right

How much of writing is instinct versus knowledge? How much is a pool of knowledge in our subconscious that is just waiting for our brain cells to synapse in the right direction and pull forth from the pool of hidden knowledge within our brains?

No, haven't been drinking . . .yet! It is Friday, and margaritas are in my future this evening.

As any reader of this blog knows, I recently wrote a cozy mystery. I pretty much did it on instinct, that is . . . after writing the manuscript, I went back and researched cozies and found that - somehow - I had used most of the elements for cozies in the current project. Woo-hoo!

Now, my question: how much was instinctive, and/or pulled form that pool of knowledge slumbering in my subconscious?

I don't have a clue. Yeah, I read Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Goodman. I devour Mary Higgins Clark's books. Her books, for the most part, are cozies. I also absolutely love the Midsomer Murder series (television, only read a few of the books) that used to air on the Biography Channel and were always followed by the Peroit Mysteries. So, knowledge of cozies, while not in the forefront of my brain, was in my brain.

Somehow, without trying, without thinking, I was able to write a cozy, incorporate the necessary elements, and - very freaky - end up in the mid-range of the genre word count. That, dear readers, freaked me out.

So, in writing the manuscript, I would veer off the case and insert bits and pieces of life for the main characters. They might be thinking about the case, but life itself still existed beyond the case. I wasn't totally positive whether this was the right thing to do.

Well, yesterday, at Borders, I bought a cozy mystery and immersed myself in the pages of the book. You know what? My little forays into the lives of the main characters is pretty standard.

You know what? I was doing it right.

So, this long, rambling post is really about doing it right . . . even if we don't know we're doing it right. Every chapter, every sentence, every word doesn't have to involve the forward arcing plot. Yes, plot is important, the story must move forward, but we - or rather, me, I, whatever - must also realize that our characters have lives outside of the plot, or the mystery in this case. Just because Character A is investigating a murder doesn't mean that he doesn't have a tension filled dinner with his mother or can't realize he's attracted to another character or . . . whatever.

So, this long rambling post, beyond being about doing it right, is about going with your instinct.

On that note . . . have a great weekend. Back to reading.


1 comment:

Jan Rider Newman said...

Good post, and good points. I also believe in instinct and think it goes hand in hand with creativity.