Friday, September 8, 2017

Robert Ellis: CITY OF ECHOES, Writing Your First Novel

READER: OMG! I just read CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS back to back for the third time. I took notes and have started writing my first novel, but can't seem to get anything done. Running errands that don't need to be run, cleaning closets that don't need to be cleaned ... You're working on your eighth novel, the next Detective Matt Jones thriller, so I'm sure you know where I'm going with all this. I've spent two weeks doing everything except writing. Is this writer's block? And if so, how do I get rid of it so I can start and finish my first novel?

ROBERT:  T. Jefferson Parker once told me that the way to keep cool while writing is to realize that it's only possible to write one page at a time. So my advice is to take a deep breath and think about what Parker is saying. One page at a time. Once you come to(!), you need to trust the research you've done, and your story's outline. But even more, keep in mind that a chapter is only one small block, usually just a single idea, in the building of your finished work.

CITY OF ECHOES is an epic thriller. The last third of the novel is laced with twists and turns. My readers expect this when they sit down with any of my novels, so I'm always looking for ways to make sure the reading experience is as intense as possible. This means that for any single novel, I'm actually writing three. In CITY OF ECHOES there is the world as it appears to Matt, the world that it could possibly be, and then with the resolution, the world as it really is. Lifting the veil between the way the opponent wants Matt to see the crime, and Matt's discovery of what actually happened -- making all that work is always the big challenge, but also, the most rewarding part of writing.

If you trust your research and your outline, I think you'll find that your writer's block is nothing more than a distant memory.


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