By Thonie Hevron
I’ve formally passed the one-third point in this novel. After several false starts, do-overs and life events, I’ve finally gotten back on the roll that becomes my stories. In the fall of 2014, I’d gotten rolling, cranking out pages that satisfied me and my critique group.
Then, I found Mike Brown. A Sonoma County Sheriff’s Lieutenant, (now retired) Mike spent several years as a Violent Crimes Investigations (VCI) Sergeant. One of my lead characters in WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT is a newly promoted VCI sergeant. When Mike said, “Yes, I’ll help,” to my plea for technical assistance, I was thrilled. His level of expertise and how he articulated it got me really excited.
Until he read my outline. Thank God I asked him to look at it.
His comments could be summed up with a “that couldn’t happen.”
Sheesh. Back to the drawing board.
At some point in fiction, the author has to feasibly “suspend disbelief” in the reader’s mind. Think about it—you’re reading along in a really good book and a character does something you KNOW is inconsistent or not part of the real world. But, the words are strung together in such a way that you think, it could happen.
It could happen. The suspension of disbelief.
This is very different from procedural inconsistencies. A wrong move could compromise an investigation and or prosecution. An investigator is paid for his/her knowledge to ensure a thorough and proper investigation (leading to a successful prosecution, hopefully). There are enough law enforcement and judicial officers in the reading public that an author who doesn’t pay attention to details can irretrievably lose credibility. Those who know what is feasible and what is not see errors. An author, no matter how good a wordsmith, cannot stretch “not right”. As a reader, when I encounter this, the book is tossed, literally and figuratively because the author’s trustworthiness has been destroyed.
Thus, I tossed most of what I’d written and started over. I must admit, following Mike’s suggestions have made this story much better.
What this post is really about, though, is to admit that I won’t make my self-assigned deadline. May 8 this the last day to enter the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) Writing Contest. I’ve placed in two previous contests 2012, 2014) with PSWA and wanted my third Nick and Meredith Mystery to join the other two. Not gonna happen. With only five days left, I have just under half the story written.
While I’m dismayed about this, I won’t lose any sleep. I’ll just reassign a deadline, work to achieve it and find another contest.