Insomnia and The Fine Art of Writing Murder Mysteries.

Did you ever wonder what it takes to write a successful murder mystery? Or a series of murder mysteries or suspense thrillers featuring the likes of  Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli or Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski?  One answer is not sleeping. Ms. Paretsky once noted the secret to her success as a writer (or at least one secret) was the inability to sleep.  And the longer I ply this particular trade, the more I think she’s right.

Every time I come to a point in one of my books where I can’t figure out what’s going to happen next, I find the best way to come up with an answer is by lying awake in the dark and obsessing about it.  I do this a lot. And it always seems to lead to something that works better than anything I thought of during my normal waking or working hours. I know full well that if I just lie there and eventually fall sleep, I’ll forget what I thought of. So I get out of bed,  be it two AM or three AM or four AM, and trundle into my writing room where I wake up my sleeping laptop and write out the idea in some detail. I hate it but it works.

Right now. I’m trying to work out the basics of the plot for my third McCabe thriller (as yet untitled).  In this book, McCabe’s daughter, Casey, has grown into a drop-dead gorgeous sixteen-year-old boasting her mother’s good looks, her father’s stubborness and her own brand new driver’s license.

In the book, Casey falls for a really hot nineteen-year-old who’s definitely the wrong kind of guy.  And it gets her into trouble (No, not that kind of trouble) and, for the past week or so, I’ve been unable to figure out how to get her out of it.

At three-eighteen in the morning an idea came to me.  Thankful for the gift, I got up and went to work, beating most of the local farmers, fishermen and lobstermen to the punch by a good forty minutes or so.

One Response to “Insomnia and The Fine Art of Writing Murder Mysteries.”

  1. Obit Says:

    My first novel, The Poacher’s Son, was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Fiction last year with Lily King’s Father of the Rain (which won) and Brock Clarke’s An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. I was honeord to be in that company, but I have to admit to feeling that, as writers, our intentions were so different from one another that any comparison of our books would be nearly impossible.

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