Saturday, 25 April 2015

Seven Secret Ways to Get Ink on Paper by Alice Loweecey

Alice Loweecey is the author of five crime fiction novels, and contributor to  Writes of Passage, Adventures on the Writer's Journey. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her characters, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year). 

Here are her Seven 'Not-So-Secret' Ways to Get Ink on Paper!

Mandy Patinkin. No, he’s not my number one way to get ink on paper. But he did star in Sunday in the Park with George, a musical about the artist Georges Seurat. In the final scene, his character, Seurat’s fictional grandson, reads pieces of his grandmother’s diary in which she describes watching Seurat create art.

Mandy Patinkin. Copyright

“White,” he reads out loud. “A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities.”

How inspiring! How creative! How to pare it down to the bare bones! That is, until I’m staring at that lovely white paper or Word doc and nothing’s coming.

A creature called “Deadline” likes to appear on my desk right about then. It usually looks like the outcome of several illegal horror movie experiments mixed with wolf spider DNA. Google “wolf spider” if you don’t need to sleep tonight – I’m not going to insert a picture here. (You’re welcome.)

When I’m being menaced by that creature and my creative mojo is binge-watching Firefly on Netflix instead of, you know, creating, I reach for my Top Seven Secret List.

Firefly. Copyright 20th Century Fox Television

1. Set a goal with a reward. For example, when I reach 500 words, I will then allow myself to binge-watch two episodes of Firefly. The words don’t have to be creative, but they do need to be productive. Which ties into not-so-secret way number two:

The Bride of Frankenstein. Copyright Universal Studios
1. Research. I love research and can get lost in 
it for hours. I like to front-load my research so all of 
it is at my fingertips as I'm writing. I’m a visual 
writer, so I screencap maps, house floor plans, real 
estate listings, poisonous plants, anything that I’ll 
need for when I’m deep in the murderer’s head. 

3. Outline.   The word is not scarier than Michael Myers with his knife! I started out as a pantser—letting the story flow on its own. But when I write my first mystery, I knew I’d have t plant clues and remember them, and for me the answer was learning to outline. From the multitude of sites and suggestions and how-tos, I chose the Snowflake Method. [website:] I like it because it’s customizable. Now that I learned the method, I use only the pieces that work best with my methods. Which leads to not-so-secret way number four:

4. Character charts. I swear by 'em. I start filling in one for a new character and the character tells me so much about him/herself in the process.  I refer back to these charts constantly while writing the book because they’re packed with tidbits and backstory. I use the Snowflake Method's character charts, but there are several out there. Or make up your own. I prefer not to make up my own for this step because it’d be too easy for me to get in a rut of my same old ways of thinking.
Hanged Man tarot card;
5. Turn your usual process upside down.  Write a 2-page synopsis if that's something you usually do after the first draft is complete. Outline if you’re a pantser. Front-load the research if you usually research on the fly. Sometimes turning things back-to-front gives my brain the kick in the butt it needs.

The Flemish Giant. New York Post
6. Rethink the inciting incident. If you discover you’ve started the book with the wrong inciting incident—this happened to me—I trolled news stories past and present. After a few hours I ended up using the news like a buffet: One element from here, part of a subplot from there, a quirky character from a third article. I now have a file of news stories labeled Plot Bunnies.

7. This final idea is a version of reversing the process. 
Write in longhand if you usually write on the laptop, or write on the 
works for any draft I’m in, regardless of deadline. Because if the words aren’t flowing onto the laptop if you prefer longhand. This keyboard, it doesn’t matter if I write faster on my laptop. I need to write, period. Sometimes my brain needs the visuals of lots of ink on paper. 

Never be scared of that blank page again!

You can find  out more about Alice Loweecey, her books and her writing life at

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