By Mark W. Danielson
Recently, I attended the Men of Mystery event in Irvine, California. It has been my privilege to attend the last seven, and is my favorite author event. Over fifty authors gather to discuss mysteries and the writing business over lunch with five hundred guests. This year, Michael Connelly and Tim Dorsey were the key speakers. Michael was the Men of Mystery’s very first speaker, and graciously returned for its tenth anniversary. He offered some interesting comments on writing that are worth sharing.
He began with the description 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 that it takes to create suspenseful mysteries. He spoke of writing several manuscripts where he was well into them and then shelved them because he “wasn’t feeling it”. He also spoke about his spending hours on a paragraph or two. In this regard, the misery he was referring to isn’t in the writing process, but rather in its re-writes.
Another item Michael stressed was daily writing. One of his mentors said you should write at least fifteen minutes a day to mentally keep you in the loop. Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I agree with the principle. When I sit down at the computer, I hope to be there for at least an hour or two.
What I found most interesting about Michael’s presentation is in spite of his success and years of perfecting the craft, he still deals with the same writing issues as the rest of us. Although he writes numerous sequels, he is not a formula writer, so every book requires the same scrutiny as the first in his series. And while his readers may skim through the pages, every word has been carefully chosen, every setting has been visualized, and every breath from his characters has purpose. In writing, it is never acceptable to say, “It’ll do”. There may not be a prescription for successful writing, but Michael’s is as close as it gets.
There are plenty of successful authors among those attending the Men of Mystery or Women of Mystery events. Some are also screen writers and producers. Some names are more familiar than others, but every author there is equally dedicated to writing quality material. If you wish to check out some new material, try browsing the names of these other authors by visiting the Men of Mystery link: http://188.8.131.52/mom/ Most have their own web sites with chapter previews. Their mysteries are waiting.