My second novel THE DEAD ROOM had just been published, and Left Coast Crime was meeting in Pasadena, California that year. I lived in Los Angeles at the time, and one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais, had signed on to chair the event. To be honest, I'm always a bit on edge at these kinds of things. I love meeting and speaking with fans at book signings, and I get an even bigger kick out of meeting with book clubs because everybody has read the book and we can talk about the ending without spoiling the read. But at a big conference, I'm always a bit uneasy.
|T. Jefferson Parker|
I was standing in the hallway after doing my first panel discussion, and T. Jefferson Parker (another favorite) had just stepped out of the second conference room. I must have looked anxious because he walked right over and shook my hand. T. Jefferson Parker is one of those kind of people who you know at first glance is just a great guy. We started talking, and one thing led to another until he said, "I like to keep things easy. It's one page at a time."
I smiled and nodded, his words triggering several thoughts and memories at the same time. The basic rules of writing a scene according to one of the best film directors who ever lived, John Ford. Keeping things simple. One idea, one thought, one scene or chapter. Never two things. Always, always, one. And if that one idea isn't essential to the plot or character, get rid of it. One chapter, one idea, pushing the story forward until they all add up. That's keeping things easy. That's one page at a time.