Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing a Novel: When it all falls into place

By Sidney W. Frost

Read any good books lately?
Once again I am amazed by how a novel can grow and expand without my help. I started Sun City Murders, a work in process, with a detailed outline. I must admit I hadn't decided on the ending, but with a murder mystery, there are often a number of possible culprits to keep the reader wondering. In this case I was wondering, too. This week I had a breakthrough that will give the story more depth than I could have hoped for.

Even though I now know, I can't tell you how the story ends. But, I want to give you enough information to appreciate the breakthrough.

Liz, the bookmobile librarian, finds a patron dead and sets off to find the killer. Liz has been in all my bookmobile books, but this time she is the main character and the story is told from her viewpoint. If you've read the other books, you know she was the director of library services in Austin, nearing retirement age. In this book, Liz has married and is living on a farm in nearby Georgetown. Brian and Karen, whose bookmobile had been in all the books, have moved to California and left the bookmobile with Liz. She makes a deal with the city library to provide library service in Sun City, an age-restricted neighborhood for active people 55 or older. Michael, the bookmobile driver, is the only youngster in the book. He's Liz's grandson and she invited him on this adventure to help her with the computer which she refuses to learn.

There is a secondary story line involving a PTSD-driven veteran who is living in Sun City without a home. He served in Vietnam, and for four years after that, he worked behind the lines in Cambodia. He gets psychiatric care from the VA, but with little success.

Liz finds a baby blue Cadillac in the dead woman's garage. Last week I searched the Internet for a photo of a baby blue Cadillac and found a 1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille to be perfect. Photos of setting locations, cars, and objects help me write more realistic descriptions. See: https://www.pinterest.com/sidneywfrost/images-for-bookmobile-book-5/ for photos.

In my writings last week, the homeless veteran steals the car and it reminds him of where he was in 1975. Without planning this ahead of time, I picked the perfect car. The Cambodian revolution was 1975-1979.

Here's another coincidence. My book club was reading a novel about the Cambodian revolution (In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel by Vaddey Ratner. In reading this book I found information that will help me in writing the book.

The final coincidence is reading "A Floating City of Refuge" in the April 2015, issue of Georgetown View, describing the evacuation of Saigon in 1975. My fictional veteran was there for the evacuation and he felt so close to the people he didn't want to leave.

I've heard other writers talk about how a novel takes on a life of its own at time. I think it's true. I've also had several strong secondary characters who had to be held back from upstaging the main character.

Isn't it fun to create a story? I can't wait to share this one with you.



  1. I'd call those GOD-incidences...not CO-incidences! It's a great book, so far.
    (speaking as a member of your critique group).

  2. You're right, D.A. Featherling. Thanks for commenting.