The proverbial bucket list! Did you realize the term ‘bucket list’ has only been trendy for a decade? The phrase was certainly popularized by the 2007 film with the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman; however, it was first used in this intended context in Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, by Patrick M. Carlisle. Yes, in a book. But I digress.
Upon reading many mystery thrillers, I found myself often wondering how in the world did the author eloquently crochet together a varying amalgamation of characters, ideas, plots, time lines, facts, fiction and the rest to create enjoyment. Upon reaching a tender age when a bucket list is borderline mandatory, I wittingly etched ‘writing a book’ near the top of the list.
Okay, how and where do I start? The when is obviously dictated by the creation of the list. With no experience or mentor to lean on, I started with a simple chart of sorts. Across the top I listed current geopolitical events and down the side were relatively simple plots, i.e., stolen military secrets, good guy and good girl save the world, a psycho goes on killing rampage, etc. Once I settled upon a theme, I created a very simple chapter outline. I then sat down to write.
After writing the first five pages, which by the way took twenty hours, I realized the outline was not going to work. I had no idea where the book was going to take me. Yes, take me. I have no idea how the experienced, successful authors of this genre do it, but my method turned out to be seemingly basic. I simply sat at my computer and put myself in the story and let my imagination take over. Before I knew it, I had penned 15,000 words and my characters were alive and behaving accordingly. Writing was fun, well most of it.
The not so simple or fun parts were the research and ensuring that the plot and sub plots were congruent, plausible and chronologically accurate. Let’s save marketing the book for another day as that turned out to be the most difficult element. I purposely wove many current (2011) geopolitical events into the book to lend credibility and punch to the story. For example, in the first chapter we learn that Osama bin Laden was not killed, but rather captured; there was sufficient, or rather, insufficient detail related to the death to create this plausible alternative. What fun!
I wrote the book because I thought it would be a rewarding challenge and force me to do something I knew deep down I had the ability to accomplish. I have two recommendations with regard to writing a book. First, sit down to write when you have as little as twenty minutes to spend writing. Force yourself to do it. Second, tell everyone you are writing a book; you will hold yourself accountable to finish.
I have started the second book in the series and find myself doing my best to employ my recommendations.