Friday, September 19, 2014

Frédérique Molay on Rewriting Challenges

Award-winning novelist Frédérique Molay, author of the Paris Homicide mystery series, discusses the challenges of rewriting. Crossing the Line (Le French Book, translated by Anne Trager) will be out  on September 23. In it, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and rearing to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil?

Frédérique Molay:
Challenges: Rewriting

Imagining a plot and writing the story are just the first steps of writing a mystery novel. After that comes rewriting. This is a crucial phase and it requires patience, perseverance and rigorous attention to detail.

It could take months. Don’t get discouraged. You need to go over your work several times. Think of yourself as a goldsmith.

- Look for inconsistencies, odd sentences, and involuntary repetitions.

- Fill out the story where it needs it.

- Chop it where there’s too much. Then chop it again.

- Have someone close to you who can give you kind words of encouragement.

- Work with a tough editor.

- Listen to what both have to say, but don’t be hurt by it.

- Know how not to listen to what both have to say.

At times you’ll feel like even your inner Zen master can’t keep control over your emotions, but in the end, your story will be better for it. The French essayist Alain (Emile Chartier) said, “Writing is an art full of encounters. The simplest letter supposes choosing from thousands of words, most of which have nothing to do with what you want to say.”

Writing a novel is like bringing a child into this world. You keep it inside for months on end, and it can put you in a feverish state, as the writing is looking for a way out. The French poet Alain Bosquet wrote: “Writing is a deliverance which, sentence after sentence, word after word becomes a form of slavery.”

And once the story is born, it takes on a life of its own. It is a strange feeling, full of emotion, and worth all the effort you put into it.

After the huge success The 7th Woman met in France, Frédérique Molay left her career in politics to dedicate her life to writing and raising her three children. She now has five books to her name, including three in the Chief Inspector Nico Sirsky series.

No comments: