Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Deadly Reflections: The Writing Process

This week I’m excited to share with you a look at how Deadly Reflections was made. Every project has its own unique process, and DR’s was pretty interesting. Believe it or not, it first started out as a 156-page screenplay. I wrote it a few years ago when I was writing screenplays pretty regularly. Nothing ever came of it, but I thought the story was really cool and it always stayed in the back of my mind. So when I decided to turn my attention to writing novels, it was an easy decision to tell this story in my first full-length book and hopefully give it more of an audience than it had sitting in my drawer.

Now, you might think that having a completed screenplay to work from would make things pretty easy. But this was not a case of simply retyping the story and changing a few words here and there. As you will see, screenplays are pretty sparsely written and don’t really have a lot to do with traditional prose. The script was a wonderful blueprint to have—the structure and characters were pretty much there—but ultimately it was more of a very detailed outline than anything else, and it was still a lot of hard work to write the book.


The very original germ of the idea came when I was working at a place with an all-glass façade. It was late at night and I was alone in the store. I thought I spotted, in the reflection on the glass, some movement in the lobby. But I hadn’t heard anyone come in. (This might sound very familiar. J) I walked over and, of course, no one was there. Now, any writer will tell you that the most common phrase running through her mind is “What If?” And naturally I thought “Well, I know I saw something in the glass…what if the thing I saw could only be seen as a reflection.” I think I even facetiously looked back at the glass to see if I could spot it again. I came up with the entire story that night.


This is the first thing that was put down on paper. I don’t always make an outline, but I did for this one. As you can see, I didn’t know the title yet.  I also drew silly little doodles in the margins that don’t have anything to do with the story. Those fanged creatures aren’t supposed to be “mirror monsters”—all the monsters I sketch tend to look like that. The first part of the outline is a list of cool things that the monster can appear on. Then I started writing scenes of the story, and I checked them off as I wrote them in the screenplay. Looking at it now, I’m kind of amazed how much I had on day 1 that made it into the finished product.


To demonstrate the rest of the process, I’ll pick two scenes from the book and show you everything that was done on them. The two scenes are First Date (Chapter 9, location 982) and Finding the Box (Chapter 10, location 1250).


You can see how little the screenplay gives you, especially the First Date section. Movies are a visual medium and information can quickly be conveyed with short little shots. Books are different—you have to describe everything you want the reader to “see,” which requires more of a time commitment from both reader and author. Those who have finished Deadly Reflections know how much the First Date chapter in particular was expanded and—I think—enriched.



Yes, I have messy handwriting. And I tend to second-guess things almost as soon as they’re written, so there are a ton of cross-outs. When something is crossed out and circled it means I didn’t like it initially and then decided it was fine. I’m usually not one to just write and write and go for quantity and worry about fixing it later. I like things to be as perfect as possible before moving on, which results in pages that look like a tornado went through them.



An invisible draft occurs when I type the handwritten draft, making changes as I type. After it’s all entered into a word processor, I print out a hard copy of the whole thing and take a red pen to it, making corrections, fixing mistakes, improving the prose. It’s a fun part of the process for me because I get to read the whole thing as a mostly finished story and see if it works. At this point, the changes are mostly cosmetic. With that said, there were still over a thousand emendations in the galley proof.


I went right from corrected galley proof to publication, which I admit was not the best move. A few mistakes slipped through, mostly due to errors I made typing the red-mark corrections into the final document. With so many emendations in the galley proof, I should have printed out another hard copy and done another line edit. Luckily, Amazon has made it really easy and seamless to upload new, corrected editions of the book. I’m not saying there are no mistakes in it now, but hopefully they have been mostly weeded out.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the writing process of Deadly Reflections. I’ll be sharing more stuff about the book with you in the near future, including an interview with the cover artist and “deleted scenes.”

Take care,

1 comment:

  1. Sir,
    thanks for that detailed look into what it is you do when you're delevoping a story line. The process has to be almost painful, slow, and from time to time...doesn't it ever feel like it'll never get done (see the light of day)? The pages you've shared here are a terrific look into your thoughts. If you gave me half of your thoughts...you would still have me well beaten in total number. Thanks for sharing, Elden