The 7 Emotional Stages of Writing a Crime Novel

Many, if not all fiction writers, ride the emotional roller coaster of emotions when crafting their novel.  For me, each stage of writing a novel brings with it a range of different emotions. These range from excitement to frustration, relief, doubt, fear, anxiety plus a whole lot in between.

So here then is the gauntlet of emotions that I run while writing one of my crime novels.

1. Excitement
Starting a new novel gives me a real buzz.  The idea, the victim, the location or theme is there.  I work up the beginning, create some new character sketches, conduct some research. The ideas begin to flow. At this stage I'm not sure where the novel is going or how it will end, I plot as I write.  I can't wait to get going on the creative writing and do as soon as I possibly can, usually within two weeks of coming up with the idea.  I'm off!

2.Frustration
I thoroughly enjoy the buzz generated by the flow of the creative juices but often wish I could wave a magic wand and that first draft would be dumped directly from my brain on tot he computer without all the effort of having to key it in. I, like many writers, try to write the first draft as quickly as possible, with minimal editing, because that slows down the process. While writing the first draft I'll also be conducting more research.

Frustration also when I come to a point where I don't know where the story is going next, when I need to stop and do more research, think through my characters motivations, do some more plotting.  

3. Relief
Once that first draft is written, usually after three or four months, comes a sense of relief. I've got anything between 80,000 and 100,000 words on my computer screen. The story is there, along with all its faults and flaws, but I have something to work on, to shape and mould to what I hope will be perfection.   It's revision time and I go through the novel and flesh it out, check the structure, the clues, red herrings, motivations and personalities of the characters. Make sure the story holds together and the plot is as best as I can make it with plenty of twists and turns along the way.  This may take several revisions and often further research until finally I check that everything hangs together, all the unanswered questions have been answered and that the words and phrases used are the correct ones.

4. Doubt
Ah, now come the doubts. Could I change this chapter, this scene, this phrase or word? Could I improve the entire novel, perhaps I should re-write the wretched thing. Help! By now I am so close to it that it is difficult to be objective.

5. Fear
Having gone through several revisions I'm now at the stage where I feel I can no longer change anything. It is as good as it's going to get and I desperately need a fresh eye over it.  With a rapidly beating heart, hesitating for several minutes, my finger poised over the send message button, I take a deep breath and off it goes into the ether and to my publisher.

6. Hope and Anxiety
OK so I've cheated here and mentioned two emotions.  Hope and anxiety go hand in hand.
Hope that my publisher will like the novel and that DI Andy Horton or Art Marvik will live to see another day, while at the same time I experience  anxiety that this might be the novel they say thank you but no thanks to!

7. Depression
Finally, I thought I should mention here what several writers experience after completing a novel.  Some indeed do become depressed others' experience a sense of anti climax, having lived with their novel for so long it has become so much a part of them and now is the time they have to let go.   My antidote to this is to have two projects on the go, sometimes three, so that when I have finished one novel I can pick up the other one and begin work right away.

So, having finished writing both DI Andy Horton 14 and Art Marvik 4, it's on with the next novel, DI Andy Horton 15 while working up ideas for a new series and waiting with a certain amount of anxiety and hope to see if my publisher likes my latest offering enough to publish it. Fingers crossed they will.

 



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