By Mark W. Danielson
For the past eight years, I’ve had the honor of being part of the Men of Mystery event in Irvine, California. Here, some fifty authors dine with five hundred guests to discuss their mysteries and the writing business. Last November, Michael Connelly was the keynote speakers. Having served as the inaugural speaker, he graciously returned for its tenth anniversary. During his speech, he offered some interesting comments on writing that are worth sharing.
Connelly’s opening statement was that the authors in attendance were actually “Men of Misery”. Not in the sense of Stephen King’s thriller, Misery, but rather in the dedication it takes to craft suspenseful mysteries. He admitted to writing several manuscripts where he was well into them and then shelved them because he “wasn’t feeling it”. He also spoke about spending hours on a single paragraph or two. In this sense, the misery he was referring to isn’t about the writing process, but rather its painstaking re-writes.
Another item he stressed was daily writing. One of his mentors said you need to write at least fifteen minutes each day to mentally keep you in the loop. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it can be devastating if you’re stuck on a single paragraph or thought.
A most interesting remark during Connelly’s presentation is in spite of his success, he still faces the same writing demons as the rest of us, and while he writes numerous sequels, he is not a formula writer, so every book requires the same scrutiny as his first. That's one you can take to the bank.
Readers may breeze through Connelly's pages not realizing that all of his words have been carefully chosen, every setting has been visualized, and every breath from his characters has a purpose. There are no mistakes in a well-written novel. He emphasized that in writing, it is never acceptable to say, “It’ll do”.
A wonderful cast of authors makes up Irvine’s Men of Mystery and Women of Mystery events. Some authors are also screen writers and producers. Some names are more familiar than others. But every author is equally dedicated to weaving quality webs. If you wish to check out their work, try browsing their names at the Men of Mystery link: http://184.108.40.206/mom/ If you find someone interesting, then check out their personal web sites. Most have chapter previews. Their mysteries await you.