Writing the villain…

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

….was a tricky endeavour.

I won’t spoil anything but writing the villain in Pierced Peony gave me nightmares. Mostly because as always, I worried about making the villain a caricature. I prefer even the not so good characters to feel like real people.

For better or worse, I want my characters to feel like people you could meet in real life.

The scariest villains, in my opinion, are ones who seem like real people. Someone who could live next door to you—but hopefully doesn’t because, you know. My neighbour the murderer wouldn’t be the best surprise, would it?

I mean, in a book in might, not necessarily in my day to day life.

As with any good mystery, Motts’s journey to finding the villain in Pierced Peony isn’t straightforward. There were surprises for her (and for myself.) Overall though, I’m pleased with the result.

My Favourite Scene in Pierced Peony

Photo by Laker on Pexels.com

The ‘redacted for spoilers’ scene in the fishery warehouse is probably one of my all-time favourite moments to write for Motts so far.

It was also my least favourite scene to write, mostly because of how difficult it was to get right.

Motts is a unique character.  It’s not always easy to get her voice perfect in the first draft. And as an autistic character, I work extra hard to ensure she’s authentically herself.

As an autistic author, I definitely put all of my heart and soul into my autistic characters.

The ‘redacted’ scene had to show danger, fear, and panic. It was critical to write from the perspective of an autistic. Our experiences can often be quite different from neurotypicals from what I’ve seen.

By the final draft of Pierced Peony, I felt as if I’d done the fishery scene justice. I’d shown Motts’s experience as well as I could on paper. It felt visceral to me and I hope to everyone else who reads it.

Writing is Hard

Every novel has moments within that were incredibly difficult to get perfect. Maybe it’s the scene itself. Or, perhaps the words aren’t flowing well. I wanted to share three from Pierced Peony that I found especially hard.

The first is the doll scene. I won’t give too many details to avoid spoilers. But, you’ll know the doll scene when you get to it.

This one was hard because I wanted the reader to have an almost visceral reaction to it. The difficult part was make sure I didn’t go overboard. There was a delicate line between creepy and caricature.

I wanted the reader to turn the page and be able to almost feel like they’d been in the room with Motts.

Second? The freezer scene. Again…spoilers. This one was difficult because writing dangerous moments don’t always come naturally to me. Banter is something I find easy.

Danger? Not so much. The freezer scene was written…deleted…written…deleted a number of times. I did finally get the vibe I wanted, though.

The final scene that I struggled with? The ending. I won’t give anything away. But I knew how I wanted Pierced Peony to conclude and it was incredibly important to do it justice.

And hopefully, I got it just right.

Why I Love The First Line….

…of Pierced Peony.

A cat, a turtle, and a stranger face off in the garden. The stranger blinks first. Right. The joke still needs some work.

That’s the first line. And I love it.

So why do I love it? Here’s five reasons why.

  1. It makes me laugh. Seriously. At the very least, whenever I see it, the line makes me smile.
  2. It’s just so Motts. I can see her thinking this line really frequently or some variation of it.
  3. The line sets the stage for the cozy series in that you know I’m not going to take myself to seriously.
  4. I believe cozy mysteries require a healthy sense of humor.
  5. It’s sort of a running joke for me with the series.

And then I forgot the grandparents.

Or, things you won’t necessarily see on the page in Pierced Peony.

First? I completely forgot Motts had grandparents who live next door to her uncle and auntie in Looe.

I forgot.

Completely and totally forgot two human beings exited in my novel.

And then, I had to rewrite parts to add them in, which ended up being a good thing. Her granddad made such a lovely addition. Her granny appears more in book three.

Second? Detective Inspector Dempsey Byrne surprised me. He had way more personality than I initially intended.  He’s showing up quite a bit in book three so that’s fun.

Third? I kept mixing up two of the suspects’ names all the way through the book. No reason why. I knew their names but I still did it repeatedly.

Fourth? A Detective Inspector who knits cat sweaters is still my favourite thing ever.

Why I now use an outline: redux

still-life-851328_1920

In the interest of full disclosure (does anyone else love using that phrase?), I’ve written a few posts about outlines over the years. I think I even had one in January. The things is that my opinions have evolved since I began writing.

And I thought I’d revisit the subject.

The short answer to why I now use an outline is: I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.

And that was the ‘short’ answer.

The long answer? I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.

Just kidding.

Looking back, my fear of outlines comes directly from learning about them in school. I hated the rigidness of them. And also, they never made sense to me. At all.

It randomly struck me last year that an outline could be whatever worked for me.

I began with a cobbled together version of a tree branch mind map. That morphed to include a bastardized version of  the beat sheet. And finally, I began doing a chapter by chapter one sentence breakdown that I updated as I write.

The latter is the most recent addition.

I’ve found it really helpful was I’m writing to jot down a sentence or a thought for what’s going to come in the future chapters. With a mystery, I don’t want to be stumbling for clues as the writer. And I’ve done that a few times in the past.

It’s been a revelation toward making my writing life easier.

How about you? How do you outline your novels?