Friday, April 27, 2012

Title First - or Story?

A few weeks ago, I cam up with a great title for a mystery: Every Other Wednesday is Murder.

Here's the problem. I don't have a story to go with it.

It's kind of a "chicken and egg" scenario. Usually I come up with the story first and struggle with the title. This time, the literary shoe is on the other foot. (Is that enough mixed metaphors for you?)

I'm working through an idea. But it happens in Pittsburgh. And my main character is a state trooper based out of the Washington, PA barracks. He has no reason to be in Pittsburgh.

Do you see my problem here?

Ugh. I suppose this is like buying a house. Don't fall in love with it. You have to be prepared to walk away. But I don't want to!

So I'm going to have to get creative. In the meantime, if anybody knows of a legitimate reason for a state trooper to be in Pittsburgh, let me know.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life is Fiction

So, a lot of authors these days are encouraged to set up "author blogs." This is my attempt at it.

I recently saw a link to an article, via Twitter, that said blog writing is hard for fiction authors. Well, maybe. One of the things the article mentioned to help was to identify your reader, just like you identify a reader for a story. Well, for the purposes of this blog, I hope my readers are like me.They like a good story. Yeah, I write mystery, but I don't just read mystery. Wasn't it Faulkner who said that to be a good writer you must read, read, and then read some more? Or something like that.

When I was in grade school, fiction was defined as "a story that isn't true." But that's a pretty simplistic definition. Because the best fiction is absolutely true. Not the names of the characters, places, or even necessarily the details of the plot. Those are just wrappers. To have a good story, you have to touch something in your reader. The emotions, the conflicts, the triumphs - they must ring true. That's the case whether you're writing a traditional mystery, a thriller, science-fiction, fantasy or dystopian. Your reader must connect with your characters and their struggles. And you can't do that if what you're writing isn't true on some level.

This goes along with something I tweeted today: The battle between heart and head does not just happen in fiction. It happens every day. Heck, it's happening with me right now.

And it's providing a slush pile of story ideas.

Think about your favorite stories. What makes you connect with them? What draws you in? What makes them true?

So welcome. I hope you're like me. I hope you like a good story. Through this blog I hope to share my stories with you - and maybe even help you discover a story of your own.