A book grows
For reasons unrelated to much of anything, I needed to send what I have of TOUCHSTONE to my editor this week. I don’t normally give her–or anyone–a look until a ms is finished, but this one is feeling so strong to me I figured it couldn’t hurt the process any. So I did and she wrote back “You were correct. My life is irrevocably altered. Now what shall I read? Nothing else will please me.”
(You see why I love my editor?)
So that’s all good. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m not in my usual fog of confusion, and doesn’t mean that I have anything but the faintest idea of what’s coming next. It does mean I feel solid about the book and have an anchor point at the end of it, and I know myself well enough to see that it will probably be enough to get me there.
TOUCHSTONE is coming up to 100 pages now, roughly a third of a first draft. Three central characters are now down pat, in the sense that I know how they speak, what they look like, how they will react in a given situation–with surprises, of course, it wouldn’t be writing if there weren’t surprises. A fourth character has just appeared, with the last two waiting in the wings.
And I’ve been reading a ton of boy-books, to immerse myself in the pace and feel of what are usually called thrillers–Lee Child, Bob Crais, Jeff Parker, Tom Perry, almost all of them books I’ve read before. Because TOUCHSTONE is that kind of story, harder and faster than the Russells, heavily populated by males (of the six main characters, four are men.)
And for the past week or so, the book has laid hands on me. It’s there during my every waking hour and some of my sleeping, its texture and the choices: What is the first thing Bennett Grey’s sister does when she appears? Would the American lawman have a gun with him in this English country house? How to show the relationship between Grey and the main woman character?
Small touches with major impact: If a young woman steps demurely out of the car and puts out her hand to her brother, or if she bounces out and flings herself at him, says the world about her, and him, and them.
Many of these small and vital episodes come to me when I’m doing something else, which is why it’s good not to try to write too many hours a day. I find swimming such a great means of generating plot twists and settling plot problems that I really ought to be able to deduct my mini-pool as a writing expense.
So at 1500 words a day, TOUCHSTONE grows. I’ve managed that stint for the past week, and have another few days before life interrupts during the mornings when I write–I’m taping some chat with the local PBS station for their Friday night mystery pledge break, which means half the population of Bay Area PBS viewers will hate me for that damned interruption of some great program. Sorry about that.