Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Creative Process of Writing: Guest Post by Robert Buschel

Robert Buschel is an attorney in Florida who handles both criminal and civil cases, some of which have been featured on 48 Hours, Dateline, as well as other national news outlets and in People, USA Today, and The Miami Herald. He is a member of the Florida Bar, California Bar and admitted as Attorney of the United States Supreme Court. His first novel By Silent Majority, a political thriller set in the White House, will be published this month.

Robert Buschel:
The Creative Process of Writing

If you’re a true believer, a feeling of outrage or sadness washes over you every time the system doesn’t work the way it’s designed. Then you might figure out, by design it’s not meant to work at all – it’s just a front. Power creates the dynamics that lead to one motive -- greed. Greed, greed for money, influence, recognition, and acceptance give rise to plots and subplots in the my mind. Outrage and sadness set off strong emotions giving birth to these stories. Some of the great stories of corruption, conspiracies, cover-ups, and revenge are born in the smoke filled star chamber of the mind. I don’t think I’m alone in this process. With the proper mental exercise, the universe of creativity is a playground for all.

When thinking about characters I think about the character in the same way like the comedian thinks about his own stage-character. The comedian has to focus on himself and becoming himself; be hyper aware of every detail from voice and expressions. Then the comedian’s routine becomes second nature during a performance. To modulate it based upon feedback from the crowd there has to be a confidence in the material –the monologue and the character created – the comedian.

At the same time, the writer must think like an actor, able to empathize and understand someone who they are not. Understand what it must be like to be an evil woman who works as a housekeeper and a spy, in a part of town where the writer has never been. Then wonder how does she speak? What does she care about? In the end, what’s her overarching ambition? Just answering those questions can develop an interesting character. Of course, what is she wearing will interest other readers.

This process can be described as crazy, but I like watching a conversation between and among characters as if they are acting out a scene from a movie or a play in front of me. Play it over and over in my mind to capture and describe the setting, the narrative, and the action. If it’s a genuine conversation, it will move the story along and convey needed information without being too preachy or heavy handed.

The stories that make up a novel don’t flow out of me in sequence. In order to avoid boredom or “block,” I wrote the end of By Silent Majority after I wrote the beginning. The current manuscript in progress was written the same way with a technique of working my way to the middle. This process allows me to make better references and connections from one point in the story to the consequence later on in the story. It’s fresh in my mind and the consequence can be written with the desired level of causation.

Keeping a journal of sorts has been essential. A novel is one big story that contains many smaller stories. These stories we write down in a book can be used by a character to describe something in her childhood to enrichen the understanding of who is that character. There are pieces of a writer’s life in every story. No story, no matter how long or short, marks a time of contiguous thought in the writer’s life. Technically, all ideas create a snapshot of what was going on in the writer’s life at the time the ideas were written. Remembered dreams and more particularly the feelings associated with those dreams are worthy of recording. Perhaps a character can use the dream. A real dream has an inherent truthful quality to it.

To create great stories, I’ve trained myself to ask, what if this story were different? Stress the part of the story that presses the ethical question. Like a law professor I change the hypothetical but ask would this make the story be different and better? Writers have to hear things differently. Wonder not only about what is said, but what is not being said. In between the sandwich of truth and reality is the great fiction of mystery, intrigue, and thriller.

I don’t think a good writer has to be strange, have mommy issues, or be alcoholic. Some of the great writers seem to be steeped in depression and self-abuse. There has to be more to it than being insane. I might have to apologize, but I think linearly and am normal enough to hold down manage a career as a lawyer. It’s about mastering a process that lets the writing flow. The writer must be able to stare off into space or pace, imagining the story continuing on a canvass in front of you; carefully choosing the detail and subtlety that enriches a story. As the story unfolds, record it with description, action, and dialogue.

Writers have to like the writing and like the process of creating. This is true because getting a novel published (outside of self-publishing) will take a long time and with every writing the risk of rejection and the reality of marketing and brand building is ever present. Do you like every movie your favorite actor was ever in? Probably not. The same with readers; the reader gets to decide, if they like what you’re putting down. Second book was great, first book – didn’t know you even wrote a first book. The timing, the marketing, the changes in the reading landscape, are all forces that can affect the salability of a book – so the writer better enjoy the process of writing, not just the idea of being a world famous author.

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