Sweating over the keyboard – Lisa Scottoline

Most Wanted title

Lisa Scottoline, author of MOST WANTED and ONE PERFECT LIE, talks about novel writing - is there a right way and a wrong way to sweat over the keyboard!

Posted on April 19, 2017 in Guest Author
Tags: Author Content, Lisa Scottoline, Most Wanted, Writing a novel

There are no rules to writing a novel, and everybody does it a different way.  In my view, that’s terrific news, especially for people who wish to become writers, because there is no right way to do it, and that means there’s no wrong way to do it.  Anything that works for you works for you, which is not redundant at all, even though it may sound that way.

For my part, I have written twenty-some novels, and I have done this the same way every time, which is that I have absolutely no outline.  I start only with an idea and then I sit down and start writing, and along the way, try to figure out what the character would do next.  This is the kamikaze school of writing, but it’s the only thing that suits my personality, because I simply cannot imagine sitting down and writing the whole outline of a novel first.  For me, that would mean that actually writing the novel was filling in the blanks.  But whichever way works for you is the best thing, and for me, it’s kamikaze.

The only downside is to not knowing where you’re going is that you don’t know where you’re going, which again sounds redundant but isn’t.  The practical effect is that you will have a great deal of anxiety during your first draft is you won’t know what the character will do next.  This was nowhere more in evidence that in the book I just finished, entitled MOST WANTED.  One day, I got the idea for the novel because I was thinking about how much I love my daughter, and I’m a single mother and she’s my only child, so it’s just the two of us going through the world.  And I thought to myself what if I hadn’t had her?  What if I had in fact been infertile?  I naturally thought next I would’ve probably used a sperm donor and that led me to thinking what if the sperm donor had been a serial killer?

I know that sounds strange, but that’s the what-if that gave rise to the book.

So that I started writing and I had no outline, so I had to think about what this character would do next, and the answer would probably be to investigate the man who was arrested for serial killing and try to determine if he was in fact the biological father of her unborn child.  I will tell you the twists and turns that the novel takes, but all of them were hammered out in real time by me, sweating over a keyboard, which was what writers do.

So you if you want to be a writer, take heart.  You will find yourself sweating over the keyboard, pretending you’re a pregnant woman carrying the child of serial killer.  You will be trying to figure out what you would logically do next at the same time you will be crafting sentences that will tell a story to your reader – and to yourself  – in the most effective and dramatic way possible.  Don’t think it’s any easier for us veterans, because it isn’t.  We all of us face a blank page and tell a story to ourselves.  So take heart, and if you want to see how my story turned out, please do pick up a copy of my novel MOST WANTED.

I sweated over that surprise ending, and you will too.


Lisa Scottoline’s MOST WANTED is out now in paperback

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