I recently faced a dilemma. What was I going to work on next? I had climbed over a roadblock in Pegasus Rising, a Nixon French novel, had concluded the novel, and had completed my part of the editing. I was happy with what I had produced, and had sent the novel to my publishing company.
I looked through my unfinished catalogue, and discovered I have eight books in process, although two may never be completed.
Many months ago, after I submitted one of my novels to a fellow author, I discovered I just did not know how to write. However, I had four books in print and eight or nine with more than 6,000 words written. I made a choice at that point to discover how I could be a better writer. Those discoveries have been reported in blogs I have posted.
As I evaluated the potentials of the books I have not yet finished, I recognized the deficiencies in two of them. First, I was not showing, I was telling, and second, I write action novels, and neither of the books had any action. Does the word BLAND come to mind? Granted, they might be good ideas but I do not want to put the reader to sleep. I am confident I can turn them into acceptable novels, but they will be future projects.
I have started five novels in the Ryce Dalton series, and have completed one, which has been published. I have started one novel in the Nixon French series, and that was completed. At this moment, I have four completed Pendergast novels, and two in the works. (All the Pendergast books need to be re-written.)
However, that is not the end of my hero list. In addition to Ryce Dalton and the Pendergast brothers, I have Dan Livingstone (Second Cousins), Brian Tolleson (The Identity Project), James Brinkerford (The Brinkerford Incidents), Denton Newton (the title is yet to be assigned), and Klete Wilkins (A Question for Kelly).
I have chosen to work on The Brinkerford Incidents and The Dakota Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel, simultaneously. Both have exceeded 6,000 words, and I have a clear idea of where each novel is going.
The Dakota Connection was started before my research into how to write. When I opened the file for the first time in months, I cringed. And, then I smiled as I began to make changes.
The first chapter I had written did not show anything. It was, simply, a report on what the hero had for breakfast.
My research told me to show, don’t tell. One of the ways suggested for showing was to use conversation, to have the characters talk to each other.
The first paragraph of the first chapter was as follows:
Ryce Dalton could hear the alarm, but he was not sure he even wanted to move and silence it. Perhaps if he ignored the clamor, it would quit on its own. After less than two seconds, an elbow poked him in the back, and a voice told him to kill the alarm clock, or the voice would have him killed. He pressed the off button, and turned to his wife.
That’s not a bad paragraph. However, there is a way to make it into a better paragraph.
Ryce Dalton could hear the alarm, but he was not sure he even wanted to move and silence it. Perhaps if he ignored the clamor, it would quit on its own. After less than two seconds, an elbow poked him in the back.
“Kill the alarm. I have a loaded Glock in the nightstand. I will not be prosecuted for killing you in my present condition.”
Ryce pressed the off button, and turned to his wife.
I have many more changes to make in The Dakota Connection, a Ryce Dalton novel. It will be interesting, as I make the changes, to see what I have learned.