Monthly Archives: May 2012
This winter, I wrote the first draft of a scene for the next book. The scene takes place in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, pictured here. Earlier this month, Katy King and I got to travel to Milan to “block” the scene.
That meant I walked the scenes as the characters do. I entered where they did, followed the choreography of a two-pronged firefight. I took in the sights from the point of view of both my protagonist and the antagonists.
Katy took photos, while I jotted notes. We observed the Milanese residents, the tourists, the local and state police, the rhythm of the passers-by.
Now back home, I’m feeding these new facts into the next draft of the novel.
This stuff is invaluable. There is absolutely no book you can read, no website you can visit, that matches the feel of walking the site.
Many novelists hate the re-write process. I’ve rarely had so much fun.
Just finished Peter Spiegelman’s THICK AS THIEVES, a 2011 caper novel. Really well done.
Spiegelman (author of BLACK MAPS and DEATHS LITTLE HELPERS, among others) uses an interesting schtick that I wouldn’t recommend to first-time novelists: He shifts from present-tense writing for most of the narrative, to past-tense for flashback sequences. And he often switches in the midst of chapters.
I sometimes get that question in the classes I teach. I often tell people they’re better off sticking to the common past-tense style throughout. It can be jarring for readers, which can jolt them out of the narrative. In short, it’s a good way for the readers to stop paying attention to your story, and start paying attention to your writing style.
It’s a high-wire act. But for the most part, Spiegelman makes it work in THICK AS THIEVES.