Putting It All Together


Putting It All Together


 I’ve just begun the third Adam Barrow novel, and once again, Adam finds himself immersed in the quest for another lost masterpiece, this time in Spain.

As usual, the first and last chapters arrived rather quickly i.e., I knew immediately how it all begins and where it all ends. It’s all the stuff in the middle that presents the challenge! I know not every writer “sees” the story in this order, but for me, it how my twisted brain works. And oh, yeah, can I make the characters and locations come alive for the reader during the process? Can they see them? So, how does the average writer (that’s me) go about all this? Tapping into imagination cannot be replaced, but many times, it takes you only so far.

For me there’s no cannot-vary-from-it schematic regarding how it all gets on paper. I fall somewhere between what James Scott Bell calls the ‘No Outline People’ and the ‘Outline People.’ I start with a bare-bones idea/outline (most writers do), but wander in new directions as I discover more interesting avenues or fresh ways to add to the conflict. A lot of facts are researched in the beginning and many times take the plot in a new direction. The old saw that characters can rewrite part of the story is sometimes true—at least for me. Or (sob!), I might find my original premise is flawed or weak, and I must seek new twists and surprises.

As I flesh out storyline and timeframes, I find myself constantly delving into books and googling the net, checking artwork, real life people, historical facts, cities and locales, foreign terminology, attitudes of the time period, etc. The list can be endless and frustrating, occasionally slowing the creative flow as I stop writing and research something. But for me, I have to be certain of facts before I rush ahead and possibly forget or overlook them later. Few things are worse after publication than finding you misrepresented something.

At another level, a different kind of research relates to characters and their motivations, including details about antagonists, those closest to Adam, and the minor characters who add color and realism to the story. Layered over all this is the backstory and development of Adam’s innate character, strengths and weaknesses. In other words, what drives him to be the person we see and like?

A lot of time is spent on research. Writers either embrace it or hate it. Personally, I enjoy it. It increases my overall general knowledge and curiosity, and, hopefully, adds depth to the places and people for the reader.