Tuesday, December 15, 2020

What We're Writing. Hank's in the fun part! Editing.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:   So this is the fun part. The interesting part. The part where the book becomes the book. 

Last week, hooray, I sent in the second draft of my first draft of the new novel. My 13th, which is completely crazy. Now I'm working on the last draft, pre-copy-editing. YAY!

 But remember several months ago, or whenever it was, I showed you one of the chapters of the book? It was about a college girl, Cassie, and I was wondering whether she seemed too petulant, too self-centered, too unlikable. 

Here, we all thought she was a very typical college girl. And I loved that chapter, too. 

 However. 

 That whole chapter is now gone. Boom. Deleted. Cassie is now lovely, and you will adore her, I hope, from moment one. And then you will worry about her. I hope.

 Of course when you change someone from a bit of an unlikable but understandable person to a totally sympathetic person, everything has to change. Not only what she does, but how people think about her.

 So for instance, in the first version of the book this is main character Lily Atwood thinking about an incident that happened when she was growing up with her older sister Cassie. 

 She’d worked on a jigsaw puzzle, just that once, with Cassie. Her mother had ordered the sisterly game, and Cassie had not been happy about being parked at the living room coffee table with a thousand pieces of Van Gogh Sunflowers. At one point, with the puzzle half done, Cassie had purposely jabbed the board with one elbow, sending the tiny interlocked puzzle pieces flying, and ruining the slowly materializing picture. 

Lily, maybe age 6, had burst into disappointed tears. She’d wanted to see the finished flowers, longed to see the final painting. 

 But Cassie had laughed. “Earthquake!” she’d exclaimed. “Too bad.” 

Lily felt like that now. The puzzle of Greer had been forming, Lily’s mind putting the intricately connecting pieces together. But if they were all Banning’s pieces, what did that mean about the real picture

But now, with good Cassie that doesn’t make sense! 
So here is the revised version. 


 She’d worked on a jigsaw puzzle once, with Cassie. Her mother had suggested it, and Cassie agreed to be parked at the living room coffee table with her little sister and a thousand pieces of Van Gogh Sunflowers. At one point, with the puzzle half done, Cassie had unintentionally knocked the board with one elbow, sending the tiny interlocked puzzle pieces tumbling to the floor, ruining the slowly materializing picture. 

Lily, age maybe 6, had burst into disappointed tears. She’d wanted to see the finished flowers, longed to see the final painting. 

 “Oh, Lillow!” Cassie had exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. But don’t worry! We can try again.” 

 Lily felt like that now. The puzzle of Greer had been forming, Lily’s mind putting the pieces together. But if they were Banning's pieces, what did that mean about the real picture? 

 Isn’t it interesting how the same situation, with just a few tweaks, can become a completely different situation? This is why I call it the fun part. I adore doing this, and mining the book to see where I can tweak and polish and emphasize and…manipulate. 

 The other hilarious thing about a draft is that, every time I write a book, I realize how critical having the correct name for a person is

There was a guy in this book and I have to say he wasn’t – – how do I put this – – getting on the page. Yes, it’s partly my fault, because as a person who works without an outline, I was not sure if he was a good person or a bad person. It could’ve gone either way. 

I named him Bennett Rand from the beginning but then someone else had the last name Banning so he couldn’t be Bennett. So I made him Carson Rand. And then, that didn’t even sound like someone’s real name, so I made him Carson Bennett. And Bennett Carson. And that just wasn’t working. 

 And some days he acted a certain way, and some days he behaved like a completely different person. And no wonder, right? I didn’t even know his name. 

 Now he is Samuel Prescott, and boom. It all works, it all falls into place, all meant to be. Why is that? 

 In other editing news, the first first draft clocked in at 118,000 words. My final book only be 100,000 words. At most! (Do the math.)  Here is what my pages are beginning to look like. (Yes, that is the life of a person who writes without an outline. Somethings seem like such good ideas at the time--then they have to go.)  But I LOVE to cut! It's one of my favorite parts.


But now, Reds and readers, we need a title. We have a working title, and it is almost set in stone, but not quite. Someone asked me to describe this book in 10 words and I said Fame. Fortune. Your perfect daughter. Can you keep one secret? And yes, it’s about celebrity, and the vulnerability of celebrities and their families, and the difficulty of keeping up the image of perfection. 

 It’s a twisty manipulative cat and mouse thriller, of course. And I have seen cover mock ups! Cannot wait to show you when we get a final one. It’s just…what will the title be?

 It is also about a reporter who gets viewer tips – – and then starts getting anonymous ones about herself and her family. Uh-oh. My first title was The Next Caller. Everyone hated that. And then: Every Word You Say. Which I loved, but sadly, I was the only one. 

 And a quick promo – – what are you doing tonight? I will be interviewing James Patterson at a 21 library event! Here is the link if you want to join us. I adore him, and I’m really looking forward to this. 



 I have to say, writing this to you, it makes me realize how much I love this work. And you. 

 Now. Any titles? And Reds and Readers, have you had the experience of someone just having the wrong name? What did you do?

119 comments:

  1. This is quite interesting . . . I like how Cassie changed in the way she treated her sister.
    But it seems like there are a LOT of words to cut out . . . isn’t it difficult to cut something you liked enough to put in in the first place?

    I can’t say that I’ve ever had a “wrong name” experience.
    Can you make a title from the words you used to describe the book???

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    1. This is the best question ever, Joan, truly. "Isn’t it difficult to cut something you liked enough to put in in the first place?" Well, yes and no. Yes, because when it worked, I liked it NO, because if I'm cutting it, it means that even the most perfect of scenes or sentences doesn't fit in the story any more. It's tangential, or too long or repetitive, or not part of the forward motion of the story. A millions reasons why. And ALWAYS, after I cut it, the book is better. SO that is glorious. And that's what keeps me doing it.

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  2. This sounds like another complicated puzzle! As for a title how about Tip Line?
    Wrong name? Natty Bumppo. No. Just no.

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    1. Pat, you are so right about Natty Bumpo! Completely wrong.

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    2. Agreed! I never understood how he came up with that!

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  3. So interesting to see how things evolve as you go through the various drafts. Thanks for raising the curtain for us.

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  4. Hank, I loved following through the Cassie character change and you talking about this editing process. The name is absolutely much better, too. Your love for writing certainly shines through your words here.

    A title? I don't think I have a good enough sense of the overall story to suggest a title. I tend to be a fan of alliterative titles, but they don't always work, especially in serious situations. Good luck with the 18,000 word elimination. That sounds rather daunting.

    I will try to remember your event with James Patterson. It just has to be fascinating with the two of you.

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  5. Hank, I remember when you shared that first version of Cassie with us.
    So interesting to see the process as you change the personality of your character. How you revised the jigsaw puzzzle between Lily and Cassie is fascinating.

    BTW, I am GLAD that you like to CUT WORDS when you are over the 100,000 word limit.
    I must admit I am the opposite for me to cut words/sections in my scientific writing. Typically, academic peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters are short (10-25 pages). It is so hard to summarize a scientific project that had taken me years to complete under such constraints. That is probably why I had to write 10-12 drafts before I was happy.

    And no, I don't have any suggestions for a title. I am not good with coming up with titles at the best of times, and certainly not without having stimulating my brain cells with my strong cup of coffee.

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    1. Grace, this reminds me of my college years when I would write several drafts of a paper for class before I was happy with the paper.

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    2. Wow--you both are impressive! I want too big on revisions when I was in college, I must say! I mean--when you have to write something longhand...

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    3. Hank, in university I used a MANUAL typewriter for my essays/term papers, so I definitely did fewer drafts!

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    4. Me, too, Grace. I would write out the essays long-hand, then borrow a manual typewriter from a friend down the hall and type into the wee hours to make the deadline...

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    5. Yup, that is what I did, too.
      Thank goodness Environment Canada used the Microsoft Word for DOS program when I started working there in the mid-1980s. So I was able to write and save multiple drafts of my research reports and peer-reviewed articles electronically. And print them out hard copy on a massive dot-matrix printer for edits!

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  6. I agree a hundred percent on having to hit on the correct name.

    And on the importance of titles, which I am terrible at creating. Good luck!

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    1. Edith, I wonder if the editor comes up with the title or if the author creates a title?

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    2. Ah, well, sometimes I come in with the title, sometimes its a collaboration. I have never had an editor tell/give/assign me a title, though.

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  7. Love this post Hank! Though I would die if I had to cut 18000 words, which I never would because I write short. But isn't it odd to have the editor put her/his finger on something that makes you realize you don't know your own character??

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    1. Same here, in terms of writing short - the thought of writing all those words and then having to cut them gives me a headache!

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    2. Oh, I LOVE it ! I love when the editor says-why would she do that? And I think--right right right! I rely on it. And I adore the cutting. It always makes it better. They are not my darlings if they're gumming up the book.

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  8. Oh, Hank, I love seeing how you go through the process! And yes, names are so important. In one recent book I read a character's last name was very similar to the name of the place where it was set. Too confusing. In another book, for some reason I never could figure out, all of the female characters, related and not, had names that began with the letter V. Who knew there were so many. Was is a gimmick or what? Whatever, it sure had me scratching my head.

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    1. Was it V is for Vengeance? Sue Grafton used to give characters in her books last names with the letter of the title. (Can't believe she got away with that--but then, she was Sue Grafton!)

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    2. Oh , I didn't know that about the Sue Grafton novels. I'll have to go back and re-read to see the naming convention on the page...

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    3. I did not know that - never noticed. But no, it wasn't one of her books.

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  9. Names are so important. My problem is I come up with the perfect name and one of my critique partners says, "No, you already have another name that sounds like that." Then I have to go searching again. I just wrote a scene last night with a Jenny and Jim, and I thought it was going to work and now I'm not sure.

    As you said, the life of a pantser.

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    1. J is the MOST used letter in names, someone told me. Then R. I have everyone's names C or M.

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    2. Hank, that is interesting...good to know!

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    3. I find it can be challenging as the reader to keep the characters apart when their names seem to follow a pattern or when they their names end up with the same initials, ex. Jane Bennett and John Bellows. Both JB. I think that, when I read, I make associations in my mind for the name/character match and if the initials are the same, it's harder to make an association that carries through my entire read.

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    4. I went through a period where all the guys initials were "JD."

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  10. NO ONE CAN KEEP A SECRET

    Cassie is a great name. Our first dog was a Cass. Loving, energetic, full of sass.

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    1. Aw..that's great. ANd somehow, my Cassie came already named. If you're lucky, that happens. If not, you get Bennett Rand. :-) Hmm..thinking about the title! Thank you.

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  11. Hank, your story reminds me of that game--what is it called?--where someone whispers something to someone and it gets repeated until the last person says it out loud. The game is to see if what comes out at the end is what was said at the beginning. It made me think of secrets. What you're told by the first person, how the truth might be twisted and turned and what comes out may be the truth or something completely different.

    Titles and names. No ideas here. Just once a story came to me in a dream--a lovely story, but alas no names for the characters. Ten pages in and no more for ten years, until the main character revealed his name. Then, boom, story completed.

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    1. Oh, yes, Telephone, right? WOW--that dream story! Amazing!

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  12. Good morning! I got the newspaper at 4:45 am before the newspaper thief struck again! Every other Tuesdays the Book Lady has a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. For about a week the newspaper thief was not taking the papers then started up again last week.

    Hank, I knew a mean girl named Cassie, who thought it was okay to take advantage of disabled people. I am glad that your Cassie is a better person. I like the new version better.

    Regarding titles, perhaps a title WITHOUT "the" in the title? Perhaps there is a quote from a nursery rhyme or a poet or a classic novel that you can use as the title for this new novel?

    Trying to remember if someone had the wrong name? Yes. Years ago we met a Deaf lady named Melody because her parents loved music. Can you imagine being born Deaf with a music name?

    How about a "overweight" man named "Slim"? Or a Tall person named "Shorty"?

    Since I have been writing my novel in progress, I am having fun coming up with names for my characters. My favorites are the names that Shakespeare came up with for his characters. Sometimes Agatha Christie created characters with interesting names.

    Diana

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    1. Bravo, Diana, in thwarting the newspaper thief! And I thought I was the only one here that wakes up before 5 am, LOL!

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    2. Grace, I think Joan does, too. No matter how early I read the day's blog she has already commented!

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    3. Karen, I figured Joan was a night owl not an early bird judging from the time she posts but maybe I am wrong?

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    4. I am sometimes up before 5, but I'd rather not be! Go Diana, for thwarting the thief.

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    5. Grace, thanks! I was surprised that I got up this early! Usually I sleep in late!

      Karen, I think Joan is a night owl since she usually is the first to comment.

      Edith, thanks! I rarely get up before 5 am and like you, I would rather not, especially on wintry cold mornings!

      Everyone, thanks! I am proud of myself for thwarting the newspaper thief. Hope I can get up early tomorrow because there is another wonderful weekly columnist on Wednesdays. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

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    6. I once hit JRW at 12:05 and there were no comments posted, but by the time I had finished my comment, Joan was there at the top of the list again. I salute her for her ability to post the first comment so reliably that I worry something has happened if I don't see her there. And aren't we all turning into sleuths, trying to figure out how she does it?

      And hooray, Diana, for besting the newspaper thief!

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    7. Gigi, thanks! I am happy that I bested the newspaper thief! This morning's paper had lots of good articles, which would have been difficult to find online.

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    8. WOW! VICTORY! now are you going to stake them out?

      Melody. Oh, no. SO awful...

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    9. Hank, I think I know who the newspaper thief is. The newspaper thief stopped for about a week, which supports my suspicions. For about a week, the newspaper was still there whenever I got up to get the paper. Before that, if I did not get the paper by a certain time the paper was gone!

      One day I was walking to get my newspaper outside when a man, who looks like a GQ model, opened the door for me and it looked like he was about to get my newspaper. I asked him to please get my paper and he picked it up for me and gave it to me. I said thank you. It is possible that I am wrong. I think he is the fellow who has been taking my paper since the pandemic started. One thing in my favor was that when I asked him for my paper, there was a witness coming back from a run and he would have seen the GQ fellow not give me my paper. The GQ fellow saw the runner so he knew he could not take my paper and run. LOL

      My thoughts: When you look like a GQ model, people notice you and what you do. Did he really think that no one would notice him taking my newspaper?

      Agreed about the name Melody. Poor kid!

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  13. It's always fun to see your process, Hank. And then later to read the book and realize how seamlessly you changed from the original draft.

    I'm reading Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld right now, and there is not a single normal name in the entire book, except maybe the main character, Lee. It defies credulity to think that every student in this school has a weird name. Aspeth, Cross, Darden, Tullis, Dede, Gates, etc. Those are all first names, and Gates is a girl. It is taking me out of the story, I'm sorry to say, because it's an otherwise excellent coming-of-age story.

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    1. Wow, Karen. That is really funny. Do the names fit the people or does it feel random?

      Here's another issue. It's very annoying when, in some books, you have to go back to look for where that character first showed up to remember who they are and what they're doing in this part of the story. Memorable names are helpful, and the story is much improved when names fit the characters.

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    2. Karen, I remember that prep school kids often do not have normal names in novels or movies.

      Judy, I wonder if the names fit the characters or if they are random. Yes! I have had that experience of going back to look for that character to remember who they are.

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    3. Most of them just feel random, Judy. Aspeth works, because she's very snooty, but the rest are just odd.

      Memorable is one thing; irritatingly weird is something else entirely.

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    4. Yes, they should feel seamless and natural, even if they're unusual. Yeah, that's annoying. I always say to myself--"wow, that sounds made up." When of course, all names in novels are made up! They just shouldn't sound that way.

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    5. Wow, I agree those first names are unique, Karen, and it would take me out of the story, too.

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    6. Karen, Darden is my maiden name! And I have run across several instances of it as a first name, which of course I notice.

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    7. Get outta here, Debs.

      Of course you'd notice! Can't say I've ever run across it, myself.

      I read the obituaries in two newspapers every day, and occasionally there's an interesting name.

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  14. Hank, how interesting. I love getting a peek at your process and totally get the cutting part. While it is difficult to cut, it also means that you have a lot of material to choose from when you decide exactly how the story will go together best. That seems to be something you have a great deal of talent doing, considering the awards you've received! It is also a reflection of your tv news background. You have two and a half minutes on air for a story and 30 minutes of tape and interviews. And, you also need to tell everyone what they are looking at. You have 2 hours before it airs on the 6:00 pm news. Ready, set, go!

    About names! Doesn't everyone love it when the name fits the person? I sure do. Rhys has a great talent for names. Sometimes I am laughing just when they are introduced in her books. And for you, with Samuel Prescott, don't you just want to do that arm pump thing when the name fits the guy so well?!

    Book titles are important. I know that editors and authors sometimes go to the mat over titles and I hate to think of any of my JRW friends being bullied into one they don't like. I actually got a chill when I read the working title, The Next Call. Here's hoping that the title is one you love.

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    1. Judy, book titles are important.

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    2. Oh. SO agree. And we'll come up with a good one! (and I think the reason they were iffy on The Next Call or The Next Caller was that it wasn't about the main character, it was about the bad guy. See? Isn't that so interesting?)

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  15. Cut 18,000 words! OMG is it too early for wine? Can't help with a title, but I admire your bravery.

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    1. It's never too early! And if I had to cut like that, I would need some at nine thirty in the morning...

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    2. Well, call me crazy. I think it's exciting.

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  16. As some others have said, Hank, your love for what you do really shines through in this post!

    I may on a complete tangent here, but as I read through your two descriptions of the book, the single word that leaped to my mind most was privacy. So I thought of titles like The Privilege of Privacy, Right to Privacy, Illusion of Privacy, Public/Private, Private No More...But again, that is based only on two short descriptions, so they are likely to be totally off base.

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  17. To me as a reader, not a writer, this is fascinating and very awe inspiring. How you Reds do it , I 'll never know but keep on.
    Yes, character names are important and need to fit the character and the story. Titles are so important too. I admit like many, a title can often make me buy a book.
    All I could think of for some reason for your book title was the line from Cheers, Everybody Knows Your Name.

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    1. Well, yes, that's a terrific idea! It's definitely about that...hmm.

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  18. Congratulations, Hank, on finishing the 13th manuscript! I have absolute faith in your ability to cut 18,000 words. For one thing, according to Mark Twain, anything can be cut by 10%, including the thing you just cut by 10%. For another, after 13 novels and countless news stories, you know your own weaknesses. You'll be able to look for those places when you took a couple of paragraphs to circle around a point before you finally got there, and can just get there minus 200 words. You'll find the spot where you paused a little too long to watch the seagulls circle or analyze the density of the traffic ahead. You'll ace it.

    But I've got to say . . . A 1,000 piece fine art jigsaw puzzle for a 6-year-old? Wow. Cassie must be much older than Lily or their mother must set very high standards. Most 6-year-olds are doing well to solve a 100-piece puzzle, and "family puzzles" are usually only 500 pieces. The 1,000 piece puzzle with all the cat faces I tackled recently just about killed me, and I'm a little bit older than 6.

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    1. oh HO!!! Brilliant. Down go the number of puzzle pieces. Thank you!

      And. yes, I can always tell the parts of the book where I am trying to figure out what to do. SO funny. Often those are heralded by a list of serial questions. :-) ALL GONE.

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    2. When my daughter was six, she and her twin brother did a lot of thousand piece puzzles. Most six year olds can do a 500 piece puzzle with help. If Cassie is older, I would not change the number of puzzle pieces. Just my opinion from experience.

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  19. Didn't someone important say that "all writing is rewriting"? I certainly agree and, like you Hank, enjoy the process of working and reworking my own writing. So fun to see where the revisions take me...

    As for names: Oh, yes. I have often wondered about changing my own name to one that has fewer A's in it and more hard consonants. However, I cannot actually move beyond the one I've had all my life! So, yes, names are important -- to me as a reader, the character's name has to ring true to who they are on the page. Authors must spend hours (days?) figuring out the right name.

    If names are hard, then titles must be ten times harder. They have to do so much work on the cover of the book. A few ideas from me for Hank's newest: Nothing As It Seems. Hidden Truths. Silent Secrets. (Thank goodness my income doesn't depend on my coming up with good titles!)

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    1. All good ideas! Hmm. (and your name is perfect.)

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    2. I agree with Hank, Amanda is a lovely name for you.

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    3. Aw, gee, thanks -- and we haven't even met IRL. Yet. I am counting on Bouchercon 2022 in Minneapolis for that! My first Bouchercon in Toronto, I was too shy to much more than hover on the edges of the JRW author wave...

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    4. My first Bouchercon was the 1992 Toronto event (not 2017) and I was just as shy as you were.

      It has only been the last few years that I go to Bouchercon to actively meet my online friends in person. I am registered for NOLA 2021 but who knows if they will have Bouchercon there next year. And I will probably sign up for Minneapolis but I tend to not sign up until just one year before the event takes place.

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  20. Hank, your issue with Cassie is exactly what I'm facing now, double checking that I haven't made a character too unlikeable. Name change? In my last book, after a two-week break in the middle of the first draft, the name of a character had changed. I didn't realize it until I did my first read-through and saw that Kevin had morphed into Gary! As for your new book title, what about using the word "jigsaw" as part of it?

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    1. Kevin became Gary! I guess he was trying to tell you something! And it's fun to look at a manuscript with a specific filter like that. Sometimes just changing on word or reaction will do it--does the person respond with love and affection and respect? Or with sarcasm and dismissal?

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    2. Yes! Thanks for the timely tip.

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    3. Gay, that's fun to know! I loved your first two books and an eager for the third.

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    4. Judy! I'm thrilled that you liked the first two. Makes me want to write faster. Thanks so much!

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  21. Okay, in my mind, Kevin=Gary. Same sort of name, same type of guy. Same age. Same interests.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Bennett Rand or Mr. Bennett Carson or Carson Bennett. Whatever. Sounds like an uptight financial executive type who takes himself far too seriously. And expects his wife to channel 1962.

    Whereas Sam (okay Samuel).... a guy I'm happy to go for a beer with. I hope he's resolved into a Good Guy.

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    1. Exactly, Susan. Funny how Kevin and Gary seem to conjure up the same image. Must have been why they pulled the switcheroo on me.

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    2. Yes, so agree. And he turned out to be not like that. :-) And..He kinda did.

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  22. I am glad you turned Cassie into someone more likeable, I think I am too old to spend 100,000 words with a bratty sister. Character names are important too. Wasn't Dickens the absolute master of 19th Century naming?
    Tiles? Tipping Point or The Imperfect Sister or. Even Stalkers get the Blues. Have fun tapping the delete key.

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    1. Dickens was absolutely the master of character names!

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    2. That's what my editor said, Coralee! We don't want to spend any time with her, and we certainly don't care what happens to her!

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  23. Hank, I'm never going to worry about names that don't seem "real" after yesterday, when legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus's took to Twitter to congratulate his granddaughter Christine on her marriage. It was very sweet, with some pretty pics of the bride and groom. Oh, the groom's name?

    Todger Strunk.

    TODGER. STRUNK.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Would he be the murderer, do you think? Or the ordinary-seeming guy who happened to witness a small but vital incident? That's quite a name to have survived elementary school with.

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    2. That is right out of Dickens. Seriously. Amazing. (and Christine Nicklaus is kinda Christmassy, don;t you think?)

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    3. Ha ha, I would never had known Todger was a male unless you told me.

      OK, I get it, parents seem to want unique names for their children like Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow) or North (Kanye and Kim) but still...they may be emotionally scarring their children for life!

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    4. Grace: I agree about the emotional scars some parental naming conventions must surely induce in their children! I don't have children, but I'd like to think that I would give them names they could make their own, rather than giving them names they had to live up to.

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    5. Amanda, exactly!
      Even in my case, my mom choosing to name me Grace (after Princess Grace of Monaco aka Grace Kelly) was hard enough. I was neither graceful nor coolly feminine like my namesake, instead I was a tomboy who scoffed at pretty, girly clothes or makeup!

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    6. It's even worse with Kanye's and Kim's son. His whole name is North West. Lawsie.

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    7. Our California niece named her first daughter Maple. We are holding our collective breath to see what she names Daughter #2 in the next month.

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    8. Karen, yes I listed North West as a bad example above. But all the West kids have weird names, right? I had to look them up the other 3: Saint West, Chicago West and Psalm West! Ugh.

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    9. Karen, your niece's next girl should be Willow, of course

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    10. We have a great-niece named Autumn. Funny how Autumn and May are okay, but Spring or Winter seem really weird.

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    11. Todger Strunk!!!! I'd have changed one or the other!! I hope he's really nice looking to balance the scales a bit.

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    12. I have a weird niece who named her daughter River. Doctor Who fan. And James for the middle name. Shaking head.

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    13. Karen, there's a Robert Frost poem about a girl named Maple. (It's called "Maple.") One of my favorites--and kind of twisty.
      ANd I have a half-sister who named her sons River and Mountain. He last name is Falls.

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    14. At least one son in every family named Rhodes or Rhoades is called Dusty (JD Rhoades, for instance). My cousin dated a guy named Dusty Rhodes, and his sister was named Sandy.

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  24. I so agree! Editing is the fun part. For me, I'm usually adding, not taking away. And YES names will be changed. Todger Strunk? That's one you couldn't make up. Sounds Dickensian.

    And titles. SOOOO important.Especially at this point when you want people to look at a list of all your titles and sense how one is different from the other but still with the flavor of you.

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    Replies
    1. The books all have to be different, but with the same DNA.

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  25. Wasn't Samuel Prescott the man who rode with Paul Revere? I think he actually
    finished his quest. That sounds like a hero to me.
    Chris Wallace

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  26. Thanks for sharing, Hank! It seems like such work to switch the entire personality of a character. As for names, I always have to keep checking in a series to make sure I'm not using too similar-sounding (or even the same!) ones.

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    1. Oh, absolutely. I try to look at it like a treasure hunt, seeing how many things I can find to improve.

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  27. Oh, the too-similar sounding names are such a pain. And sometimes you don't even realize what you've done until you're part way through the book.

    Hank, editing is fun, I agree. And I usually have lots of help from my editor, with her little marginal scribbles of "I don't think we need this here, do you?"

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    1. NICE! "You might want to consider ending the chapter here..." and "I think we said this before..."

      And oh, yes, the repetitive names. Once I --briefly--had a Danna and a Lanna. HA HA HA.

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  28. This title just popped into my head as I read the snippets of your book. Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood Noir, or Hollywood Reports. I realize using Hollywood in the title is rather cliche but it conveys the themes you are writing about in your book.

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    1. Oh, yes definitely! Except she's TV, not movie. Sigh.

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  29. I fainted at the "no outline" part and had to have the Hub throw some water in my face. LOL. My, goodness, I do admire painters. I'd have to take up drinking. This sounds deliciously suspicious, Hank. I can't wait. Titles, which I'm terrible at:
    I'll Be Watching You
    Every Move You Make
    The Hotline
    Ugh, titles are hard.

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  30. Replies
    1. Not for this book, but I am telling you, sister, I am snapping that right up for another one. Xxx

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  31. Hank, I just read the poem. Thanks for steering me to it! I'll have to find out if our niece knows it. She may, since she's a teacher. But I suspect they named Maple for her dad's Canadian heritage.

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    1. That makes sense! (It's such a surprising poem, ending so cynically.)

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  32. Names are so important to me that I have to create them first, before writing. Baby name guides and social security records are a couple of my go-tos for suggestions in the right time frame. Names change over the decades. I try to choose names that convey something about the character, that fit their personality. And yes it can be a pain when you have names that are too similar in sound or with the same first letters.

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