I spent most of this past winter working on the sequel to my book, Heed the Predictor, which is a thriller about a woman who can predict the exact date, time and way in which a person will die. And once she makes a prediction, it will happen…no matter what.
A few nights ago, I finally finished the sequel, Conceal the Predictor. Believe me, completing those 85,000 words was a real struggle, mainly because I have some pretty weird writing habits.
For one thing, when I think about working on a new book, the first ideas I usually come up with are the beginning and the ending. Then I’m stuck trying to figure out the other 70,000 words to write in the middle. So what I end up doing is sitting down and writing anything that pops into my head. No outline, no notes, no summary. I just write. And I don’t reread any of it until I’m finished with the entire book.
Then I spend about a gazillion hours editing, rewriting, and trying to make sense of what I wrote, especially the “creative” parts I came up with while I was dozing off. It’s a wonder I have any scalp left, I’ve scratched my head so many times while reading my manuscript and muttering, “What the heck?”
When I was writing my current book, the major problem I had was I kept thinking the plot sounded a little too far-fetched to be taken seriously, which meant readers might end up laughing at it...when it’s not supposed to be funny. So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make an unbelievable plot – something that couldn’t ever possibly happen in real life – sound believable.
I’ve read several books that have had the same problem, which I’m desperately trying to avoid. I mean, I can remember one of them sounding something like this:
“Darling, I love you,” Deborah cried, wiping the tears from her eyes. “You can’t leave me! I swear I’ll just die if you do!”
“I’m sorry, Deborah, but I must!” Lance said, his voice suddenly hoarse. He hesitated before adding, “You see, I haven’t been entirely honest with you. My real name actually is Zeeloid, from the planet Zebulon. And my people need me!”
“I don’t care who or what you are! I still love you, Zeeloid! Take me with you to Zebulon!”
So what was supposed to be an emotional love story sounded more like a bad comedy. I definitely didn’t want the characters in my book to bear any resemblance whatsoever to Deborah and Zeeloid.
Last week, I finally became so sick of staring at my manuscript, I decided my overworked brain needed a break. So I made a spur-of- the-moment decision to go see a matinee of the new Jurassic World movie.
I enjoyed the state-of-the-art special effects. I also enjoyed seeing the realistic-looking dinosaurs, which were nothing like the dinosaurs in the movies back when I was a kid. Those usually consisted of enlarged shots of iguanas or other pet lizards with rubber spikes and scales stuck onto their backs to make them look like dinosaurs. They were about as scary as the Geico gecko.
But the dinosaurs in this movie were genuinely scary. Unfortunately, I couldn’t concentrate on them. Why not? Because there was one part of the movie I just couldn’t get past, and it drove me crazy. The film takes place in the course of only one day, so the lead actress wore the same outfit, a crisp white business-suit featuring a skirt and white high-heels, throughout the entire movie.
Well, all I can say is I want to know where the woman bought her high-heels, because they virtually were indestructible. She never once removed them in the movie, yet she ran through the woods, across fields, through the mud, forded a stream and even outran a Tyrannosaurus Rex in those 3-inch heels. I was waiting for her to leap a tall building in a single bound.
I, on the other hand, can break a heel while stepping off a curbstone.
The next night, still taking a break from my manuscript, I watched a movie from Netflix called, “Jupiter Ascending,” which, according to its description, I thought sounded like an intriguing science-fiction film. It said it was about a woman who struggled to make ends meet by cleaning other people’s toilets, only to find out she actually was royalty from another planet, and she had inherited a nice little piece of real estate… the planet Earth.
But once again, there was something in the movie that distracted me. The female star’s love interest was a guy who was a cross between a werewolf and some angel-winged being, and had pointed ears likeStar Trek’s Mr. Spock. He also zoomed around from place to place in his jet-propelled footwear, which enabled him to leap over (and right through) plenty of tall buildings in a single bound.
I found myself thinking he should swap shoes with the Jurassic World lady.
After seeing those two movies, I finished writing my book pretty quickly… because suddenly it really didn’t seem that far-fetched after all.
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