In Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel, the author of the Inspector Lynsey series reveals the process she uses to write her crime novels. How will her process help budding writers?
“By developing and utilizing a process, we eradicate our fears of the blank page and eliminate the chaos of the thoughts that are produced by our mental committee.”
The author notes that while this process may not be optimal for everyone, it works for her. In fact, she has reduced her editorial notes from nine pages to zero on at least one past novel.
So what are some of the author’s suggestions? Start with researching the setting extensively. Create the characters next by becoming their “psychologist, historian, medical doctor, guardian angel, omnipresent observer, parent, sibling, confidant, best friend, worst enemy, etc.” Essentially, be their god “creating them from nothing.” Unstated is the selection, or rejection, of a particular genre before beginning your research.
The book digs deeply into the details of the author’s process for writing Careless in Red. She includes how particular photographs led to specific scenes, which are included in the text. In a later chapter, she explains the purpose of a dialogue scene from her book. Another chapter explains her THAD, or Talking Heads Avoidance Device. Another addresses point-of-view. And so on through the entire writing process of plotting, scene writing, and revising. In addition, each chapter contains two optional exercises for the reader to use to hone each new skill.
I appreciate the usefulness of having a written recipe to move from idea to finished book. This book would be especially helpful for beginning writers. Even pantsers can learn a thing or two about using research to eliminate a long editorial process after their book is finished.
However, as solely a reader myself, Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel is a peek behind the curtain at how a familiar, and best-selling, author’s decisions impact what I read on the printed page. I read Careless in Red when it came out twelve years ago. I have a new appreciation of how much work it took to write it. Or, really, how much work is unseen when reading any book. 4 stars!
Thanks to Viking Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.