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


Hello, friends.

Seems like yesterday may have been beginner’s luck. The writing didn’t go as easy for me this morning, although I did wake up at an ungodly hour and plunk myself at my desk. I’m comforted by the thought that that was half the battle – just getting into a good routine again

The problem is, I finished the chapter. The chapter I’d first started writing over two years ago and continued writing yesterday. Now I’m not sure where to go with the story.

My novel-in-progress is a paranormal mystery, which basically means it’s a mystery with some supernatural (or is it supernatural? Figuring that out is part of the fun!) stuff happening to the protagonist.

I’ve always been an organic writer. An idea comes to me, a character pops in my head and starts telling the story, and the rest is very much like taking dictation. It seems like the characters are the only ones who know how the story will unfold. As the writer, I’m always surprised, but everything comes full circle and all the seemingly meaningless things end up having meaning, etc. Even when I’m semi-panicking because I have no idea how the characters will ever find their way out of the mess, I have faith in the process because it always works. I never outline, except to jot down ideas I’m afraid I may forget.

BUT…(cue ominous music here) while this style of writing works well when I’m in “the zone” and writing everyday, I’m finding it doesn’t work so well when I’ve taken two years off. In order to insure tomorrow’s writing time is productive, I need to figure out exactly what happens in this novel! Currently, all I’ve got are a bunch of maybes: ‘maybe that person did it, or maybe that person did’. That’s not going to work, unless I want to waste a lot of valuable time writing material that will end up on the cutting room floor. And I don’t. I’m behind the gun as it is. So I’m heading into foreign territory today and taking an hour to craft an outline so I know where I’m going. This is no time to be traveling without a map.

I’d love some more feedback on this blog. So far, the only mild criticism I’ve had was that there’s not enough kickboxing content. Writing about kickboxing is a little tough right now, because I’m not back at the dojo until the next session, which will start in May or June. I broke my right wrist, and it still needs time to heal. But I promise tomorrow’s entry will be a kickboxing story!

I’m proud to report that I did run last night, even though I really didn’t feel like it. I did an interval run, of increasing speed and elevation, at level seven out of ten on the treadmill. I felt close to puking when my twenty minutes were up, and I was drenched with sweat, so I figure Jillian’s on to something. I have an inkling that I could push myself even more, though. I’ll see how that works tonight.

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  1. Saunderella

    What I do is keep a notepad close at hand at all times, so that when inspiration strikes, I can jot down my ideas. I also have a dictaphone that records mp3s, which is a lot easier when you’d rather just blurt the idea out.
    Anyway, it works for me for songwriting. When it’s time to sit down at the computer, I have ideas in hand – instead of trying to force something.

    A quote from Dead Poets Society:
    John Keating: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary. “

  2. Polly

    I’m an outliner myself. Find it so much easier to pull up a list of scenes and start writing the next one, than to have to struggle daily to figure out what to write. Also easier to work on structure and arcs when the story is in outline form.

    And congrats on the running as well!

  3. Story Teller

    Those are both great ideas, and a fantastic quote, Saunderella! Thanks for posting. I’m not sure how outlining will work for me, but I’m going to give it a shot.


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