As a writer I'm constantly trying to improve. I want my writing to be interesting, concise, and well-done. Which brings me to the third mystery book I'm working on. I do a lot of writing in my head, so when I sit down, I'm ready to tackle my next scene, having worked out how I want it to go. I write carefully, and tend to edit as I go. I always re-read a few previous pages to make sure my story flows properly. By the time I've finished the manuscript, I read it over and edit once again. Usually, there is not that much to do. Lately, however, I've been hearing about another style of writing, through books I've found, or speakers I've heard, at my monthly writers' club meeting. That is, write the first draft with abandon, write rapidly, write whatever comes to mind, and keep going. Use this process through your whole manuscript. When finished, then go back and do your edits and re-writes. Move chapters around, do whatever the book needs to make it polished. I can understand the suggestion to write this way as it probably removes writer's block and lets you put down whatever you feel like. But this would never work for me. Somehow it seems sloppy and a waste of time. I can imagine several hundred pages put together this way, and then having to wade through them to clean up all the inconsistencies, grammatical mistakes, and general plot confusion. Maybe I'm in the minority in this. I'd love to hear your thoughts as to how you write and if this "full speed ahead" style is yours, or might work for you.
"Z is for Zero", as in there won't be another book. Sue Grafton has died. How sad for her family and for those of us who couldn't wait to read her books. I've read them all, including "Kinsey and Me", which compares Kinsey to Sue's life. There were many parallels. As you can see from my recent review of "Y is for Yesterday", I considered it one of her better books. How brave of her to tackle another book while fighting cancer, and it appears nobody knew. I'll miss her writing. Kinsey is now retired and Sue Grafton is resting in peace.
A short book which follows 11 year-olds as they cope with the arrival at their school of a new boy, Osei Kotate, a diplomat's son. Osei has been to several schools, in different cities, in his short life due to his father's occupation. He is used to the adjustment period, especially when he is the only black boy in the school. The story, a modern retelling of Othello, takes place in one day, from the morning playground, through class time, lunch, recess, and the end of the day. In this brief time, friendships are formed, jealousies are developed, and lies that result, change and damage everyone involved. Very well written and thought-provoking.
I've read all of Grafton's books and think this is one of her best. Kinsey is hired by a wealthy family to find out who is blackmailing their son, just released after ten years in the California Youth Authority, for his part in the death of a girl. The blackmail has to do with a tape that was made ten years earlier of a sexual assault on one of the girls in their circle. She supposedly had the tape and was going to use it against one of the boys, a bully who controlled his friends by threats and intimidation. Instead, she is murdered, and the tape never surfaces until now, when one of the players is back home. Who had the tape and why did they wait so long? Kinsey asks herself these questions and many more as she interviews everyone in the group, now adults with different lives. As she deals with this, she is also stalked by Ned Lowe, a psychopath we learn about in "X", who is still out for revenge. Kinsey has to solve the blackmailing issue while trying to stay alive. The story goes back and forth in time, so the reader learns the motivation of all the teenagers involved. Very clever plotting that will hold your interest until the end, which will be surprising.