Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Elemental balance by Cathy Ace

When it comes to your writing, what is the most important element to you: plot, theme or something else?

This is one of those questions I always find it difficult to answer…because I could go on, and on, and on about it! I’m deep into a WIP at the moment (a new Cait Morgan Mystery); for those of you who are regulars here, you’ll know I am a detailed outliner, so – before I sat down to hit the keyboard to create the first draft – I had already worked on this title for some time. So, I suppose I’m as well placed as I’ll ever be to give a succinct response.

But I still can't because...

I always have/need a theme.

I always have/need a specific and general location.

I always have/need a thorough understanding of not just the physical reality, but also the psychological profile, personal and family histories of all my characters, as well as a comprehensive understanding of how all my characters interrelate.

I always have/need a precisely timed and planned story, with all the little plot points worked out to the minute.

I always have/need a detailed chapter by chapter outline.

Each element is critical. Each carries equal weight. Each has to be right. They all have to fit together to form a book with the right DNA.

The plot couldn’t work anywhere but the place I have set it. 

The story wouldn’t exist without the characters involved. 

The thematic framework is both created by and affects (and effects) the story and the nature of the setting.

This book? It all began with…Cait Morgan and Bud Anderson, Captain Morgan (the person, not the rum), pirates, an enigmatic skull carved from rock crystal, Jamaica, Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye, and a vision of an eccentric Englishman who likes to sing God Save the Queen from the top of a tower at sunset and sunrise every day. Is that a theme? An idea for a plot? Just a handful of characters? Too much gin whilst on a Caribbean cruise? I honestly cannot say. 

What I can say for sure is that the ninth Cait Morgan Mystery – THE CORPSE WITH THE CRYSTAL SKULL – will be published later this year. I dare say you’ll hear a lot more about it in the months between now and then, because I am hoping it will appeal to all those who have read at least some/one of the first eight books. I am thoroughly enjoying spending time with Cait and Bud again – and hope you do the same. Yes, I know this post has morphed into a bit of Blatant Self Promotion, but I am the only person who can do that, and I feel I have to speak up 😊

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Frank Zafiro said...

Cathy, it is fascinating to me how everyone's process is unique...

Dietrich Kalteis said...

An interesting process, Cathy, and one that obviously works well for you.

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Frank - Dietrich...It is encouraging for every writer to know we can all work in our own way, and end up in the place we're meant to.