Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window. ~Burton Rascoe
Last night I blew off my early bed time, and I’m so glad I did! Besides, I haven’t started the Making the Cut program yet, which demands eight hours of sleep a night, so I don’t have to worry about Jillian Michaels kicking my ass.
As my faithful blog readers know, I’ve been having a little trouble getting re-inspired by my current novel. In desperation, I decided to order a book from the Howdunit series: Missing Persons: A Writer’s Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted and the Escaped. The book is written by Faye Faron, a real-life private eye, and it’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Unfortunately, most of it doesn’t apply to the situation in my novel. In my work-in-progress, Jo Carter returns to her hometown to discover what happened to her friend Sam, who vanished fifteen years ago. Faron’s book is mostly about finding people who wanted to disappear, and includes very little about victims of foul play. However, there was one really creepy story that got me thinking.
A young woman is madly in love with this guy. She thinks everything is going great. They have this wonderful evening together, and he suddenly tells her that he won’t be seeing her again. No explanation. She is stunned, devastated. A couple of years later, she is told by a mutual friend that the guy was killed in a car accident. Sad, but nothing too odd about that, right? It happens all the time. Except that twenty years later, she’s at a ski resort and looks up to see him smiling at her! She freaks out, calls the guy’s parents to verify his death, and they waffle about the details. She finds it strange…this was their only child–wouldn’t the year of his death be pretty much engraved in their memories? So she hires Faron to find out what really happened: is this guy dead, or what?
Faron discovers that the woman’s long-lost love actually did bite the bullet back when her friend told her, only there was no car accident involved. The man died of “natural causes”…however natural having a blood-alcohol level of .45 could possibly be (a level of .35 is usually fatal). The parents, no doubt embarrassed by how their son perished, invented the story of the car accident to save face, and that explains why they were flustered when the woman called to verify their son’s death. The one thing Faron couldn’t explain was how the woman saw her ex-lover at the ski resort twenty years after his death. That was just plain eerie, and it got me thinking about my own story, which also has a lot of uncertainty about whether Sam is dead or alive.
Since I don’t usually outline my novels, I’m used to letting things unfold naturally. I love going along for the ride and surprising myself. But since I’ve taken so much time away from this one, it’s been bothering me that I’m at page 200 and still don’t know what happened to Sam. For some reason, after reading that story in Missing Persons, my brain clicked into gear. The entire plot of my novel started unveiling itself so quickly that I didn’t even bother going to my computer–I kicked it old-school, writing it by hand on a notepad.
Now I still have a few questions to answer, but they’re small ones. And, even though I now know what happened to Sam, I’m not sure how Jo is going to figure it out. I still have to determine the steps she’ll take along the way. But I’m thrilled with the direction this novel is taking, and how it’s going to end. It’s going to be a real shocker! Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s writing session. I figure exercise will have to wait.
Happy weekend, everyone! I will try to post if I can, but if not, see you Monday. Thanks for coming along on my journey.
To bed: You don’t wanna know
Awake: 8 am
Novel pages written (TBD)
Exercise planned: Will walk part-way home from work, and exercise my fingers by typing…a lot.
Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Kim

    When stuff like that happens it is absolutely beautiful.

  2. Story Teller

    Definitely, Kim! Not to mention a huge relief! 🙂

  3. Ev Bishop

    I love it when that happens! And the books (the one you read and the one you’re writing) sound great.

    Just found your blog . . . will be back.

    🙂 Ev

  4. Story Teller

    Hi Ev,

    Wow, I was just thinking about you yesterday and how we’ve fallen so far out of touch! Thanks for visiting and commenting. Please stop by often…you are always welcome. I update daily Mon-Fri.

    Miss you! I’m thinking of returning to SIWC…that will be an upcoming post.

  5. Kungfusinger

    I’m really glad you found your inspiration again

  6. Story Teller

    Thanks, Kungfusinger! It sucks to lose it, but at least you know it always comes back, eventually.

  7. Ev Bishop

    Thanks, Holli! It’s a bit extra weird that I visited here after you thought about me, because as I go through your posts, we seem to be at similar places in life yet again. I’ve been reading everything Dean Wesley Smith has to say for a few months now.

    🙂 I will be visiting you regularly!

  8. Story Teller

    Well, that’s why we built such a strong friendship in the first place…we had so much in common, so much that we could share.

    I know you’re very busy, but I’d love to hear more about what’s going on in your life. Send me an email if you can, or if not, it’s lovely to “see” you here.



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