Day two of the conference has some great panels, but my favorite had to be Jeffery Deaver’s presentation on how he writes thrillers. What I thought was really great was how much he stressed that this is only his method of writing a thriller. Others have their ways and the writing process is very subjective. His process is as follows:
1) Always remember that writing commercial fiction is a business. P&G employees do not wake up and say that they aren’t inspired so create a product. You are under contract and legally obligated to create a book , so meet your deadlines.
2) Have a business plan–what kind of book are you creating? You have to create a product that people want to read otherwise it won’t have buyers.
3) Need an idea of what the product will look like. People read books to get to the end. Deaver likes to write novels over a short timeframe–2-3 days with a recurring series of deadlines making the reader ask what next.
4) Start fleshing out the idea–e.g., since there are 206 bones in the human body, write a book with 206 chapters each after the name of the bone. Keep chapters very short. 206 murders will occur in a hospital and a bone will be hidden in the room where the murder occurred. Note: Don’t write the book yet. If you don’t have an idea of how it ends and how everything fits together, it’s not a good idea to start writing. Deaver outlines his books, making a diagram for the novel. While outlining, he also conducts in depth research and choreographs the ending. As he works on the outline, the book keeps evolving. But as he gets further along realizes there is no surprise ending. Uh-oh. He realizes he’s working on a book that shouldn’t be written. The outline showed him that it was a bad story.
So he scraps it and starts over. Luckily he’s got enough time to come up with a new product, draft a new outline, and write the book.
When he finishes the book, he rewrites a lot (40-50 times) before other people can the draft. Then he will turn it over to focus group for feedback. Then he has freelancers edit it—using 2-3 copy editors to go through for continuity, phrasing mistakes, etc. Then it will be handed into his editor. Then he’ll do a book tour. Then the process starts all over again.
I’m heading off on vacation for 2 weeks. I’ll try to blog more about the conference when I get back in September because day 3 had some truly awesome panels. In the meantime, I’ll post pics from my adventures. 🙂