Wednesday, August 01, 2018

IWSG: Oh, the Suspense!

Write what you know, the pundits suggest. This will add a sense of reality to your stories.

Even as an older than average writer, I love a challenge, and there's so much that I don't know. I rather dislike conflict, and for most of my writing, those torrid love scenes stay behind a closed door.

When I finished my three-novel series set in the 1840's in Scotland, Australia, and Canada, each book taking roughly three years to write, I wanted to try something new.

How about romantic suspense?

I began work this February, researching, planning, plotting, and drafting. The Seventh Tapestry is set in the 21st Century with roots in the 1500's. My heroine, an art curator with an interest in database management and criminal justice, accepts a job at the (fictitious) Museum of Medieval Art in Edinburgh. At first, she's charged with updating the Museum's inventory system. She's sent to visit a potential donor at roughly the same time she discovers artifacts are missing from the museum. And the plot thickens, as the Art Crimes Unit is brought in.

I still have to figure out who the 'bad guys' are in my story, though art theft from museums and collectors runs several billion dollars each year. My 'bad guys' might be greedy, but they won't be the 'smash and grab' kind of criminal.

My writing challenge remains how to add suspense AND romance. Luckily, I enjoy reading romantic suspense, and other writers generously offer their tips and encouragement. And the story keeps unfolding with new twists -- already at over 20K.

IWSG's question for August is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I've probably muddled through enough pitfalls to warn other writers about, but I'd rather give advice: Stay current with changes in the publishing industry! And that means both traditional publishing and self-publishing platforms.

Do your diligence. If you've finished your wonderful story, celebrate. Then, work hard to identify the best 'next step' for you, considering what really fits what kind of a writer you are, where you are in your writing career, and your long-term goals. You know what you really want, don't you?

We probably don't expect shortcuts anymore. Use those research and writing skills to connect with other writers, share your experiences, and avoid those looming pitfalls. And, for heaven's sake, don't spend thousands of dollars on any writing-related 'services' without double-checking the details. I have too many writing friends who have gotten stung, recognizing their vulnerability to a smooth sales talk AFTER they signed that check.

So that's my advice: Read those professional writing magazines like Writer's Digest or The Writer. Sign up to follow newsletters or podcasts from credible writers, like Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn.

And keep writing with joy!

Thank you, Alex Cavannagh and co-hosts Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery for IWSG's August 1 post. Click on over to the Insecure Writer's Support Group to read what others have written.