Guest Post: Writing my Fingers to the Bones
Today we have a guest post from mystery writer J.D. Frost. Regular readers of this blog will recognize J.D. as a loyal reader and commenter. J.D. is currently working on at least two, and despite my constant entreatries, he does not at the moment have a website or blog I can point you to read. I was thrilled when I read his guest post submission because he shares a lot of wisdom in it. So here you go:
by J.D. Frost
Television is more addictive than potato chips ever
pretended to be. For a while we didn’t watch ours. I put it in the spare
bedroom, nailed the door shut and taped black plastic film over the opening.
You know how it creeps around the edges of the door, like that incessant fog in
those late-night monster flicks. You can’t be too careful.
But somehow my wife saw an episode of Bones and,
to my horror, she liked it! When Christmas 2012 came around, instead of an
electric hand vac, I bought her DVDs of the first season. Now every night at
ten—more regular than most things in my life—we watch an episode on her
computer. We are now on season five.
At first, determined not to let those Hollywood tricksters
take the edge off my piercing intellect (clearing throat), I only cast a
sideways glance at the screen. I might as well have been staring at a swinging
watch, for the show soon had me under its spell. That left me wondering how to elicit that same wide-eyed
concentration from my readers. I flipped on my analytical switch and came up
with a list.
♦Make your characters strong. Temperance Brennan, aka
Bones, longs for a world ruled purely by science. Underneath, she is very
fragile, but that is a side she steadfastly guards. Booth, her FBI sidekick, is
a rock of reliability. He has a sense of humor, but is also quick with a gun
and a business attitude when needed. Angela is socially wise; Hodgins is quick
to anger, a bit insecure because of his small stature. As episodes progress, nuances
emerge but the gist of each character is carved in stone.
♦Write in scenes. Charlotte has suggested this many
times. When I think of scene in Bones, I think of locale: the
crime scene, the lab, the Royal Diner.…
♦Write scenes within the scenes. After the remains
are found, the arrival of Temperance and Booth is a scene within the scene. As
they approach the body, they banter about something totally unrelated to the
deceased. Keep in mind that though the location may be exotic and very busy,
what we are really interested in is what they say.
♦Conflict—doesn’t every writer’s cousin talk about
the importance of this? A famous writer, whose name I can’t recall, once said:
Everybody wants something. A doorman wishes to leave early. A cook hopes his
diners enjoy their food. The desires of each character influence how they
interact with the major players. To generate sizzle put two major characters on
a colision course.
Don’t feel too guilty about digging your TV out of the spare
bedroom. If your partner screams at you, demanding to know why you aren’t writing,
trying to earn that 7¢ ebook royalty, tell them it’s research.
J.D. Frost is a mystery writer from near the Rocket City.
Image by angelrravelor from everystockphoto.