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11/02/2009

What's it take to write a mystery novel?

Writing a novel is a long process. It can take weeks, months or years to complete a project. If you want to complete a novel length work, you must be passionate about your characters and the world you've created. If you don't love the people that are going to be living in your head for the foreseeable future, you're not going to keep them around long enough to get a novel out of them.

When you feel that passion, you’ll know it. The people that have taken up residence in your head will not leave you alone. You’ll dream about them. You’ll race to your computer to get their actions on paper before they move on to the next scene. Your family will think you’re cracked because you blurt bits of dialogue during dinner, or mumble about scene changes or car chases as you do the laundry or drive to soccer practice. You’ll speak about your characters as if they are real people. Friends that aren’t acquainted with your characters will wonder silently who these strangers are and how you got mixed up in a murder investigation. Strangers will move away from you on busses and trains as you mumble and jot notes on the back of a grocery store reciept because you’re crazy.

When you reach that point, you’re going to get a novel. You might get a series. So get inside your head and find those characters, wake them up. Make them tell you where they live and who they love and why they kill. Then start writing.

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