July 9, 2018

The Life of a Writer

By Patricia Bradley, Author of Justice Betrayed

A month ago, my alarm went off at 6:03. Once I silenced it, I lay in bed and planned my day: Quiet time. Work on marketing for the third book in the Memphis Cold Case Novels, Justice Betrayed. Send in the edits on the fourth book, Justice Delivered.Time to start the next book in the series.

An hour later, I opened Scrivener, clicked on Pat’s Fiction template and named the new project. Then I stared for the next hour at the blinking cursor… How did I do this the last time?

It happens every time, and I know I’m not the only one who goes through this. And it’s not that I think I can’t do it again. Or is that a fairy tale that I’m telling myself? No. God has given me the story, and I’m confident I can write this next book. I just have to remember how to do it. So I think back over how I wrote Justice Betrayed.

I started with a premise—the series is set in Memphis, so I knew going in that I had to have at least one book revolving around Elvis and this was it…(Picture fist pump) Yeah! I knew someone was murdering Elvis impersonators. Now to get it on paper.

When I first started writing, I made elaborate character charts, plot boards, outlined…the whole nine yards. How’s that for a cliché? But that’s another post.

I don’t outline now. Or make plot boards. And the character charts I make are more about conflicting values, motivation, and goals than what kind of car a character drives. I still log the basics—age, height, and eye and hair color, etc.—because I’m apt to forget. But instead of plot boards and outlines, now I use James Scott Bell’s signposts from his book Super Structure.

However, it was too early for plotting. I couldn’t know the story until I knew why my characters did what they did. The only way I could know that was to discover what made them tick.

With the antagonist in Justice Betrayed, I had to research sociopathic behavior. Did you know that while not all people who are diagnosed narcissistic are sociopaths, all sociopaths are narcissistic? That gave me her core personality—everything revolved around her and what was convenient or important to her. As she talked to me, she became a real person.

Next, I discovered my hero and heroine’s core values and the motivation for their goals. That way I could sabotage those goals. Hehehe. Then I figured out why they should be together, but weren’t. Learning who my characters are is almost as much fun as putting them through the torture rack!

Once I kind-of-sort-a know my characters—and I say that because I really don’t totally know them until I start writing—I let all my research and noodling percolate. As scenes came to me, I jotted them down. I played the what if game. What if this happened? By knowing my characters, I now knew how they would react. It wasn’t long before I was ready to start the first scene, and then the next scene…

That’s where I am with my current work-in-progress, which will be set in Natchez, Mississippi. And tomorrow when I open Scrivener I will begin… Luke Fereday’s nerves thrummed like finely tuned wires.

I really need to write my steps down while I’m working on this new book. 
Winner of the 2016 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty, Suzy. Her books include the romantic suspense Logan Point Series and sweet romances with Harlequin Heartwarming. Coming in January is her newest release, Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel. I love connecting with readers on my blog every Tuesday where I have a Mystery Question for them to solve: Twitter: @ptbradley1 FaceBook: Pinterest:

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