December 12, 2012

You Can Be A Speed Demon Author

 By Laura Childs

Whenever I do a talk at a bookstore or library, or get invited to do a radio interview, one of the inevitable questions I’m asked is, “How on earth do you manage to write three books a year?”

My answer is fairly simple and straight-forward:  I’m a very fast writer.  You see, I come from a 25-year background in advertising.  I started as a writer/producer, advanced to creative director, and then headed my own firm for almost 15 years.  And all the while deadlines continued to fly at me like moths around a light bulb.  There were clients with last minute requests, clients who dragged their feet, and clients who didn’t really know what they wanted.  And all the while there remained publication closings and broadcast dates that needed to be met.  Drop dead dates we called these.

Thankfully, this constant pressure didn’t lead to ulcers, but it certainly honed my basic gut instinct to GET IT DONE FAST!  So now, when I sit down at my computer to work on one of my mysteries, I feel that same sense of urgency (and a little tingle of fear) pulsing through me.  So I take a deep breath and try to write fast. Real fast.  Often 10 to 20 pages a day.

This isn’t to say the work I produce is good.  Oh no, not at all.  Many times my speediness results in gaping plot holes, hideous grammar, and characters that exit stage left never to be heard from again.

But here’s the really good thing – the saving grace.  Once I have a bunch of pages written, I find it easy to go back over them and punch up my writing.  In fact, I always tell people I’m a fair-to-middling writer, but I’m a really good editor.  Because, for me, that’s where the real story begins to take shape and come alive.  Once I’ve written a good 20 or 30 pages, I definitely have the characters, action, and scene locked inside my head. Then it becomes something fun to tinker with.  So I go back and ratchet up the action, add a few more dollops of human drama, try to make it a little shivery, and judiciously sprinkle in a few comedic elements. And when I have those chapters looking good, I do it all over again with the next couple of chapters!

The cool thing is, when you keep chipping away, pounding out a scene here, a chapter there, pretty soon, before you even know it, you have yourself a full length novel!

Laura Childs is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries set in Charleston, SC, the Scrapbook Mysteries set in New Orleans, LA, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries Her books have been named to the USA Today andNew York Times Bestseller Lists, and have been featured selections in the Literary Guild’s Mystery Book Club.  She is a former Cleo Award-winning advertising writer and CEO of Mission Critical Marketing. She is currently co-executive producer of two reality television shows.

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