How I Write (a not-very-serious version)
By Marc Jedel
People always ask me about my writing process for my humorous murder mystery series. They’re interested in how I get the ideas and how these turn into a novel. “Magic,” I tell them, but that rarely suffices. Some authors seem to swim in an endless pool of plots and characters, effortlessly plucking out one plot twist or character arc after another until they’ve burned through their keyboard.
So how does it work for me?
Research. That’s a fancy term for my process. I start by collecting funny anecdotes, interesting people or snatches of overheard conversations. Back in the days when I used to leave my house, I would add notes to my phone about what I saw in daily life. (Don’t worry if you see me hanging around now, I’ll be wearing a mask.) I also change the names and exaggerate—or combine—the incidents to protect the guilty.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I pay much more attention to my surroundings than I ever did. I also have become more willing to approach strangers and ask them questions. Who’d have expected that the solitary life of a writer would make me more social?
Plot. As plot ideas smack me in the face, I jot them down before I forget. That’s how HIT AND MIST started. My extensive study of bestselling books clearly highlighted the importance of having a plot. All those other successful authors must be on to something. I try to come up with ideas for challenges to throw at Marty (my protagonist) and then think about how he might solve the case despite those problems through his powers of self-delusion, attention to detail, and the inability to leave a coherent voicemail message.
Characters. Once I developed the concepts for a few of my regular characters, I find myself wondering how to make life more difficult for them during the course of the book and how they’d react to unexpected situations. Having my novels take place over the course of about a week has been a deliberate approach to force myself to increase the pace and make the characters act and react more often.
Dad Jokes, Puns, Shakespeare Lines and Lyrics as Humor. These make me laugh as I’m writing my stories. Writing can be a long and lonely process, and editing even more boring. My dog is great company but not the best conversationalist so I have to entertain myself as I go. Sometimes that spontaneity happened months ago and I wrote it down and sometimes it comes to me as I’m writing. Typically, the use, or misuse, of parts of music lyrics as dialogue hits me on the spot. Same for most of the puns. Fortunately for readers, my editor is awesome and she removes the attempts at humor that aren’t quite funny enough.
Outline. Some writers are ‘pantsers’. This means they fly by the seat of their pants, writing without a detailed plan. Not that they wear pants. Some authors probably do wear pants when they write. That’s kind of a personal question best unasked of an author, especially in these days of shelter-in-place.
I outline. I admit to it. If I didn’t, I’d still be trying to figure out how the book would end, or who gets killed. Creating an outline with each scene on one line of a spreadsheet helps me to look at holes, try to spread out when different side characters show up, and make sure the action keeps moving forward at a good clip. Then I go through all my notes and put most of the notes into the relevant scene so I can include all the right amount of humor as well as balance tense vs wacky situations. Once that’s done, there are no more excuses. It’s time for the next stage.
Write and Edit. This part sounds simple — write, edit, repeat. Eventually magic makes it good.
My books in the Silicon Valley Mystery series are humorous murder mysteries. The first three are available as audiobooks from Tantor Audio almost everywhere that audiobooks are sold. The books can be read standalone but I think you’d enjoy reading all 4 of them—and probably enjoy it even more if you buy copies for everyone you know. I know I would.
Silicon Valley is not your typical cozy mystery locale and Marty Golden doesn’t fit the normal profile of a mystery protagonist. Despite finding himself thrust into challenging situations, Marty isn’t exactly hero material. He brings a combination of wit, irreverent humor and sarcasm mixed in with nerdy insecurities, absent-mindedness, and fumbling but effective amateur sleuthing skills. With an active inner voice and not a lot of advanced planning, he throws himself into solving problems. Sometimes, he even succeeds.
HIT AND MIST, book 4, was just released on May 8 and can also be read standalone. The books are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Buy them on Amazon at: amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
About Hit and Mist
Cozy Mystery 4th In Series
Publisher: BGM Press Paperback: 213 pages
He’s determined to prove his friend innocent of homicide. He may make things worse….
When Marty’s surfer-dude pal is arrested for murder, he must squeeze his amateur sleuthing into his packed schedule. With his high-tech job busier than ever and his nieces’ antics sidetracking him, Marty’s ready for a Thanksgiving holiday. All he has to do is solve two murders. But if he can’t even convince his sister to bake his favorite chocolate pie, how can he hope to save his friend?
With the help of his girlfriend, some wacky coworkers and Buddy the rambunctious Labrador, Marty sets out to disprove the ironclad evidence. But as the suspect list blossoms out of control, his bumbling efforts might lead him into problems faster than a failing hard drive.
Can he clear his friend’s name before he’s blown to bits?
Hit and Mist is the fourth book in the riotous Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like your murder cases twisty, your suspect lists long, and your detectives clueless, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s humorous murder adventure.
Buy Hit and Mist to stumble onto the truth today!
About Marc Jedel
For most of my life, I’ve been inventing stories. Some, especially when I was young, involved my sister as the villain. As my sister’s brother for her entire life, I’m highly qualified to tell the tale of this evolving, quirky sibling relationship. My writing skills were honed in years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley. While my high tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, we called these marketing collateral, emails and ads. The publication of my first novel, Uncle and Ants, gave me permission to claim “author” as my job. And achieving Amazon Best Seller status gave me even better adjectives to use in front of “author.” This has led to way more interesting discussions than answering “marketing.” My family would tell you that Marty’s character isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for me, but I’m comfortable with that situation. Like Marty, I live in Silicon Valley and can’t believe that otherwise normal people would willingly jump out of an airplane and call it fun. Unlike Marty, I have a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who is often the first to weigh in on the humor in my writing.
Purchase Link – Amazon - http://getbook.at/HitMist