Thursday, January 8, 2015

How is Mystery Novel Writing like doing a Startup? (Part 1)
Thursday, January 08, 2015

How is Mystery Novel Writing like doing a Startup? (Part 1)

You may ask, what does a mystery novel writing have anything to do with a Startup? Perfectly good question, but once you think about it, the two take the same amount of creativity, focus, adaptability and trust for the novel writing or startup to succeed.

For the better part of a couple of years now, my co-author, Al McDermid, and I have been working on our Frank Keegan pulp noir mystery series. As many may know, Al and I met as graduate students and years after graduating, we decided to give novel writing a try. Soon, life got in the way, and we went our separate ways. Many years later, we finally reconnect some 2 years ago and soldiered on. The result is our first Frank Keegan pulp noir mystery published via Amazon Services in March 2014. This first novel is entitled A Halo for Red Betsy

Nearly 10 months later, we're proofing the second mystery novel entitled The Cheongsam Bombshell, with projected publication in March 2015.

Doing a startup, requires a lot of creativity. Not only for creating the vision of something new, something disruptive, but even for something that would be a value add to an existing solution. The work as many knows requires story telling, projecting that vision, describing a world without and then with your wonderful new solution. 

Whether you're giving a expresso version of the 30 second pitch or providing a full on demonstration packed with powerpoint slides, you've got to come up with a compelling tale. Nancy Duarte gives a terrific Ted Talks on the secret of giving great talks. The points that Ms. Duarte makes resonant in the task at hand for an author to keep the audience's attention, providing highs and lows and getting his/her audience to care about the characters.

It goes without saying that writing is an extremely creative endeavor (although some would say, there are days when the blank page/screen calls forth no creativity at all!). Like storytelling in startup world, there's a constant flow of characters, events, highs and lows, and finally weaving it into a coherent story. Let's not forget, mystery story telling, where you'd have to figure out whodunit and try to play fair, by providing the reader enough clues to potentially solve it. At the very least, make it so that the ending fits with all of the clues and red herrings you've left behind.

Al and I both got into this process thinking that we had to have a very clear chronology, especially since it would be two of us writing, we figured we needed to work off of the same set of "design blueprints" so to speak. We even thought to write the ending first, so that we'd know where we were going. Throughout our drafts the murderer changed at least once, and probably more than once. (Thus, I think we were able to surprise most readers, as we had intended for a different murderer!)

Not sure about how everyone else does it, but it seemed that we could only plan to a certain extent. Thus, before coming up with the final ending, we were off and running, each writing sections, and then Al going through the draft editing for grammar, word choice and finally smoothing out the voice.

Like a startup that tells a story with a projected North Star and exit strategy, we set out on our adventure, uncertain as to the final result, but ultimately knowing we were on the journey together. Let the story unfold.

Next time, part 2. Stay tuned!