|Image via Wikipedia|
|OBSERVE THAT SHAKESPEARE'S CUFFS - NORMALLY|
COVERED IN NOTES, ARE NOT SHOWN.
THE MAN WOULD WRITE ANYWHERE - A CUFF HERE, A BOSOM THERE
Department of Missing Ideas & Half-Formed Thoughts
Words are fine and beautiful things, but they are of limited value to an author unless they add up to a fully formed thought or idea; and they are rarely so obliging. Instead ideas have an irritating habit of arriving in fragments, in an untimely manner, and sometimes litter one’s mind for years. Worse, they have a disconcerting habit of retreating into one’s darkest recesses to the point where even the most brilliant thought can be forgotten. That is a tragedy of Hamlet-like proportions for a writer. That raises the question of where one should park an idea until needed; in such a form that it can be found. The latter is the really important bit and the hardest.
I don’t think there is any one solution. Rumor has it that Shakespeare plotted everything on his cuffs (driving Anne Hathaway nuts), but the traditional way was to carry around a notebook and keep a journal. It remains a thoroughly sound approach, but so much is going on these days that I’m of the view that one needs some kind of free-text database as well. Ideally, it should copy a web page (in whole or part) with a click of a mouse, be always on hand in one’s browser, handle multi-media, and keep the data itself on both one’s computer and the Cloud – and work on PCs, and Macs and the full range of electronic gizmos. Such a product is Evernote which is available in both Free and Premium Editions. As I mentioned yesterday – while forgetting to explain Evernote (it was one of those days) - the definite guide to Evernote is Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials. Not only will it tell upu a lot but, above all, it will tell you how to find.
Department of Research Without Ending Up Dead
Some writers don’t need to do any research - and such people have my respect and admiration – but where thriller writing is concerned, I’m a believer in a three pronged approach: (1) Read every book you reasonably can on the subject. (2) Research the Internet. (3) Talk to those who know, and get as close to the reality as possible – short of getting yourself killed.
The reading-oneself-in part should come first. People will respect you more if you have done your homework, and they’ll talk more freely if they respect you – and you are more likely to know what questions to ask.
When I was researching the character of Etan for GAMES OF THE HANGMAN I spent several days hanging around the set of an excellent current affairs program called TODAY TONIGHT. The impressive presenter, Olivia O’Leary (I think I was smitten for a while), memorably remarked over dinner that her boyfriend, the famous journalist Robert Fisk, had advised her that the only way to assess the truth of a situation was “to be there and put your hands in their wounds.”