I was able to finish chapter 34 last Monday morning.
During the weekend I tried not to think about how I would end the chapter that brings Padre Thomas back into Murphy’s life. I think it was Hemingway who said (something like this anyway) “I quit writing in the late morning and try not to think about it until I begin the next day, leaving my subconscious to work on it.” Well, if not an exact quote, you get the idea.
It seems my subconscious likes to come to the surface when I try to sleep. So, at night I thought about how to continue chapter 34 and couldn’t come up with an idea I liked.
Monday, as I made my cafe con leche to take to the laptop I was really stumped. As I wrote in the last post (a week ago?) more often than not the characters takeover writing the story. I gave in and figured I’d sit down, reread what I’d written and see what happens.
However, when the pages appeared on the screen, I thought to myself, “What are you doing here?” Here being Murphy’s house (Tita’s house he still considers it) and my question was directed to Padre Thomas (tho on the page Murphy asks it).
So, I wrote the question and then Padre Thomas started talking, between lighting cigarettes and sipping on a bottle of Bud!
I think when a writer is stumped with where the story line goes he/she should write, “What are you doing here?” It is a good sentence to put on the page and to think about. It can be meant for a character, like in my case, but more importantly, it can be meant to question the writer. It might be you have to dump that chapter because you’re not meant to be there. On the other hand, your characters might explain what they’re doing there.
I finished chapter 34 and the characters were happy to keep talking and I got most of chapter 35 done! Believe me, I don’t get many perfect writing days were I can write more than 2,000 words. Wish I did.
After rereading the chapters Monday night, doing a little tweaking, I liked them.
Tuesday morning, still on the writing high, I began chapter 36. It was going pretty well too. Had lunch, read the newspapers, watched about an hour of Morning Joe as I ate.
The writing was coming so easy, I knew I’d finish chapter 36.
Back at the laptop, I reread the pages from the morning and was about to continue when I got an email news alert from NBC, CNN and the Boston Globe. Curious, I opened one and the president had just fired the head of the FBI.
There went not only the rest of Tuesday but my whole week! I turned on MSNBC and suddenly all the scheduled programing was about Breaking News!
Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t about politics. This crisis (if it is) in Washington is a TV drama that could be written by my friend and political thriller writer Gayle Lynds. I recommend her books if you like political thrillers and she writes with first-hand knowledge of Washington.
Well, for the rest of Tuesday thru Friday I was glued to MSNBC and each morning drank my cafe con leches with Joe & Mika. Everything else in my life took a back seat to the drama unfolding on the TV.
No matter your political view (or even if you don’t have one) what’s happening on our TVs is exciting and scary. Like any good thriller, we don’t know how it will end, but there are certainly a few directions it could go. Like a good thriller, the reader keeps reading to find out what happens.
Hopefully, after this weekend, I will get back to my routine and work on chapter 36.
If you want to write a thriller, you should be taking notes because, as the old cliché goes, truth is stranger than fiction.
I look forward to reading your comments.