Gerrie Ferris Finger is my special guest today on Shelf Full of Books. She is the author of Running with Wild Blood, a mystery novel published this past January. Gerrie is here today with her guest post. Welcome Gerrie. It’s good to have you.
by Gerrie Ferris Finger
It’s axiomatic to say writing fictitious scenes is about making choices. I often get a question about writer’s block. It happens, even to me, someone who is an admitted scene builder rather than an outliner. Free-wheeling is another way to put it. The way I see it, you start with the essence or the basic idea, and then choose a point of view. Which will it be? First person, second person (ugh) or omniscient third?
If this is your first novel in a series or a stand-alone work, there’s choosing a protagonist and accompanying characters, delineating their personalities, their weaknesses and strengths, their thought processes and their ability to express themselves in dialogue. Whew. I must admit, I’ve never fully developed my characters in the first half of a book. In my mystery series my protagonists are built in, so to speak, but still, I leave them and new characters room to grow.
Now the plot where scenes come to the fore. What happens first, then next, and next? Choices will inevitably narrow your opportunities in future scenes. After the first chapters, you find that free wheeling has ground to a halt. You’ve channeled yourself by your choice of scenes. The stepping stones in the stream of your novel have narrowed to a straight line not a hop-scotching zig-zag. You might experience your first episode of the dreaded writer’s block. I’ve often quoted an unknown mystery writer who said, (paraphrasing), “In the event you back yourself into a corner, kill someone.”
Sometimes it works. You’ll have to go back and lay ground work scenes, which I do a lot, which results in hair-on-fire of the dog-scaring kind.
Seriously, you can employ structure in your undertaking that’s going to contain at least 70,000 words, and up to 100,000 for a medium-paged novel.
Think this way: Your story is a series of scenes strung together like links in a chain and each scene should have a beginning, middle and an end-left-dangling. Scenes should pick up in the middle of character conflict, action or continue where the foregoing scene was left unresolved. (Like the hoary villain tying the heroine to the railroad tracks predicament.) Such thrilling anticipation is where the reader’s attention is supposed to segue. Usually this is marked as a chapter break or by asterisks. But each new scene must be predicated on the essence or plot that begins the work. Scene segues evolve and foretell the conflict—sometimes slowly, sometimes abruptly.
The next thing you do is ask yourself what are your characters going to do, or go, now, and what needs to be revealed in the scene you’re about to write?
You’re back to choices, aren’t you? Sometimes scenes fight with each other. You have this lovely dialogue between two characters, only to have said in an earlier scene that they hated each other. So you experimented. You can go back and take out the hating each other part, or you can cut the lovely dialogue. It’s not hair-on-fire exactly. Just a few minor screams and groans at the time consuming disruption, but you’ll be back on track in no time. Think of all those choices you’ve yet to make. Now I’m going to take my own advice and get to work on some scenes from the eighth in my series.
RUNNING WITH WILD BLOOD (A Moriah Dru / Richard Lakeland Mystery)
By Gerrie Ferris Finger
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Published: Jan. 21, 2015
Richard Lake of the Atlanta Police Department gets a cold case when a witness suddenly gets his memory back. Lake recruits Moriah Dru to look into the murder of Juliet Trapp, sixteen when she died, and a student at Winters Farm Academy. Juliet Trapp had told her mother she was going to Bike Week with Wild Blood, an outlaw motorcycle gang, over the Christmas break. The police were unable to solve Juliet's murder after interviews with the bikers. The case roars into high gear when Juliet's father, Sherman Trapp, is murdered in Chattanooga where Wild Blood is the predominant motorcycle club. Dru discovers that Trapp was trying to find the killer of his daughter, but got too close.
About the Author:
Gerrie Ferris Finger is a retired journalist and author of several novels, six published in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series: The End Game, The Last Temptation, The Devil Laughed, Murmurs of Insanity, Running with Wild Blood and American Nights to be released May 18, 2016. Ms. Finger lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband, Alan, and their standard poodle, Bogey.