Cupcakes with mystery theme (question marks, footsteps, crime scene tape and magnifying glasses) <div><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=
Whodunit? by LittleMissCupcakeParis
CC BY 2.0

So, almost finished with my first “how to” library book. This particular book, How to Write a Mystery by Larry Beinhart, reads like writing 101. Yes, he discusses mystery, but he spent more time dealing with character, narrative drive, etc.

I didn’t expect Beinhart to hand me a plot on a silver platter (well, not realistically expect) and am not closer to finding out whodunit thru reading a howdoit.

I figured out some plot twists and who was a traitor, but that was more thanks to me staring out the train window during my commute and willing the plot to solidify. And that’s the exact reason I won’t find the magic answer in a book. There is no magic answer (much like there’s no silver bullet for getting published). I know this, yet I keep rediscovering it every time I hit a bump on the literary road to happiness.

So, I didn’t find my magic answer. What did I find? Three things.

1) NaNo is awesome.

Finishing is more important than perfection, polish, and rewriting, More important, especially, than a great first line, paragraph, page, or chapter. Get it done. Fix it later. People have spent their lives perfecting a first page; many a writing life has died there.

See, NaNo in a nutshell. This gives me faith that if I just get thru November, I will be able to manipulate this bad-boy into something readable and, perhaps, sellable.

2) Writer’s block is like sex.

Beinhart actually says that writer’s block is “one of the great mythologies,” something akin to a frigid woman.

…there are no more frigid women, just pre-orgasmic women. It used to be that women were expected to climax through genital intercourse. Then women started examining themselves with a new frankness and honesty and Masters and Johnson attached wires and electrodes to various organs and it was discovered that the problems were not Freudian, they were mechanical. It wasn’t that a woman was dysfunctional, it was how she was being handled. Handled right, we can all make it. So with writer’s block.


3) It’s all about the due date.

Getting over writer’s blog by Jeff Abbott via above book: set a target date on your calendar to have your manuscript completed. Honor this date as if it were a formal business obligation.

Obviously, this is also very WriMo. I’ve seen it work in writer’s group (people ask to be put on the slate for the following meeting so there is a deadline looming overhead) and when I was in college (serious, who started their paper until a few days before it was due?).

I wonder if I should use this for post-NaNo editing and  for Julia. I don’t think I’m prepared for EdMo in March, but I might start thinking about pondering the use of an arbitrary due date for draft two.


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