Winging It: Our Ever-evolving Mystery Writing Method #3

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Another reason for keeping the planning loose is that secondary characters sometimes “demand” a bigger part. The character of Julie Flynn was originally going to be killed by mistake, and it was her murder that would expose the killer. She was introduced when Frank brought her a drink, which lead to her running off at the mouth. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hey, if you don’t like me, just say so.”

“I like you fine,” I said. “I’ve had a rough day and I just want to relax and finish my beer.”

“Okay,” she said, settling back into her seat. “You wanna hear a story while you drink it? This is my story. Get your hankie ready.”

“Okay,” I said, “let’s hear your story.”

“So,” she continued, “we, me and my mom, came out here in ’41 when I was 15, my mom chasing some Army officer who was never going to leave his wife and marry her, but mom couldn’t see it. Mom was a starry-eyed romantic and a loser magnet to boot. If there was a loser within sniffing distance, she’d be hopelessly attracted to him. Except for the Major. He was decent enough, but like I said, he wasn’t leaving his wife.”

“Where’s your father in all of this?” I asked for something to say.

“Who the hell knows?” she said, snuffing out her cigarette and reaching for another.

“Help yourself,” I said, sliding my Zippo across the table.

You get the idea. By the time she was finished, I liked her so well I didn’t want to kill her. Yes, I know that it’s advised that we “kill our darlings,” but I had other plans for her—she became the title character in the second Frank Keegan mystery, The Cheongsam Bombshell.

I started the writing The Cheongsam Bombshell on November 1st, 2013. I know the exact date because it that year’s book for National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, a yearly event that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

Aki was doubtful about a story centering on Julie, but I needed a story for November. Plus, I had something in mind and I want to run with it. In fact, I began the story from Julie’s point of view, which I couldn’t maintain, but it got me started.

The Kindle version of The Cheongsam Bombshell, starring Julie Flynn in the title role, will be available tomorrow. Download a sample and check it out.

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