Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Isles

Last year was my first crack at the A-Z Blogging Challenge, a blogging phenomenon created by the amazing Arlee Bird. The object is to blog every day of the month of April (except Sundays), and to increase the challenge (if you wanted), to blog thematically from A to Z. No sweat, right? Last year, I blogged about music with Jessica Bell. This year, I'm heading back to my roots and blogging about all things thriller. Join me?
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There are a few thriller writers I will literally run to the bookstore for. Steve Berry, Lee Child, Sandra Brown, and this guy - Greg Isles

Not every Greg Isles book is a hit with me, but his earlier work, for sure, is brilliant. A perfect fusion of creepy and crafty. His skill is mesmerizing, and his plots keep me turning the page well into the night. A seriously skilled author. If you've never read an Isles book, start with something like Sleep No More. One of my faves.

Over the years, I've read a number of articles about Greg Isles and his writing process. One of the quotes I've never forgotten goes something like this: If you write your book in spurts and starts, how can you expect your reader to read it in one sitting? 

I understand what he's saying. Often, I start off strong writing a book, and then taper off for a bit - start something new, get bogged down in the day job, go back and edit the first few chapters, etc. For me, there's always a danger in losing momentum that way, forgetting the story, or even dimming some of the spark that compelled me to start writing the book in the first place.

To combat this, Greg Isles spends a few months researching and plotting his book. When he has the outline finished, he packs up and takes off to a remote cabin where he has no phone, no Internet, nothing but his laptop and his notes. He stocks his fridge with food, and then starts writing. Thirty days. Non stop. He bangs out a first draft.

I love this concept. Impossible for me to take off for a month - though I've been toying with the idea for some time. That said, I'm trying to practice a bit of the Greg Isles process. Instead of going back to edit what I've written, I'm going to power through the first draft of this new project. No stopping. Just writing every night - at least 1500 words. Even if they're super rough.

Because, as the old cliche goes: Editing rough work is easy. Editing a blank page is impossible.

What's your process? Are you more an Greg Isles kind of writer or does slow and steady win the race? When you read a book, can you tell when an author has plodded through the story? Inquiring minds want to know!

- Dawn


  1. I would love to be able to take an entire month off just to write. I've done Nanowrimo a few times and always end up taking a long break from my manuscript afterwards.

  2. Love, love, love Isles. An awesome writer.

    Happy A to Z blogging!

  3. Funny. My current one is the first one I DIDN'T write in fits and starts, and I think it's the best I've done. The editing has been MUCH easier.