By Alex Hughes
There hits a point in every novel where I’m sitting on the floor with a massive number of index cards fanning around me. I’m in the process of figuring out where I am with the book and where I have yet to go, and it’s always the hardest and the most rewarding few days of the whole process. Thinking is hard work, and holding an entire three-hundred page novel in your head at once tends to stretch the limits of the brain.
So there I am, on the floor, with each index cards standing in for a scene, a physical marker for a unit of text. I fan them out like a mosaic tiler, I shuffle them up like an expert poker player, and, for hours, I frown and stare and make pen-scratch notes. I turn off my phone. I chase family members away from the room. And I sit, and I think. With any luck at the end of this marathon thinking session the book has said what it is, and what it wants to be, and I walk away with the plans for several weeks or months worth of work. If not, I beat my head against the wall in drafting and come back here, to the floor, sitting with the index cards on the floor until I figure it out.
Life is like this process, I think. We spend a lot of time in mushing mode, maintaining what we have and slowly moving forward on the ideas and projects we’ve already decided on. But we also have to spend time periodically in that little room with index cards, figuring out where we are, what we want, and how to get it. To set a path to somewhere we actually want to go. And if we mess up, or go off the path, we come back to that little room and sit, and think, and think some more.
Or at least I do. There are writers – and people – who seem to have it all figured out in a neat flowchart from the beginning of time. They don’t pull out scenes. They don’t take detours. And they can see the end from the beginning, or their instincts can tell them the whole path without pausing – either way they get it done perfectly the first time. I envy those people, to be honest. I can’t seem to see the thing clearly until I’m all the way in the middle of it. Until I’ve made a few mistakes. But my way works, in the end. I get where I’m going. And some of the detours make the best parts of the book.
So here’s to index cards, and taking stock. Here’s to thinking and doing, messing up and coming back to think again. Here’s to a complicated, nonlinear world filled with complicated, nonlinear people. And here’s to life. It’s way more fun this way.
Clean by Alex Hughes
Genre: urban fantasy
A RUTHLESS KILLER—Source: Info in the About Clean was taken from the press kit issued for this book.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.
My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.
Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
About Alex Hughes:
Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.Alex's Link(s):
On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly.