I was having fun writing my stories and was developing a routine that has survived to this day. I would write voraciously for a few weeks or a month, then I wouldn't write for almost a year.
It would feel like the well was running dry. I would get stuck on a plot point and not know how to get around it.
I am not a plotter or a planner. I have never written an outline to a story. I tried to do it once, but failed miserably. If I had to plan my novel before actually writing it...I would never write it. the outline would never get done. This is what I learned while writing these mysteries. I would start with a title then brainstorm possible situations or scenes but that was it. I had no idea who the culprits were or even the names of characters (besides the main characters of the book). I would just plow into the story and see where it took me.
This can be scary but it's really cool when a plot point works out. the drawback to this is that I would get stuck on a plot point and wouldn't be able to write until the point got resolved.
But this is how I write. I make no apologies for this. the pros far outweigh the cons. And truth be told, I haven't had a lot of problems with getting stuck on a plot development. I have been able to write my way out of many sticky situations. Sometimes the plot development is dumb, but at least I wrote the story. It can always be changed.
In 1980, I wrote a Terry Macdonald mystery called "The Mysterious Message". It is probably the dumbest story I have ever written. I was 15 at the time and was still learning how to develop plot, characterization and everything that goes along with writing a story. This story had to do with codes and was very lame, but hey, I wrote it and it was mine.
The next year, I wrote a story called "Secret Of The Old House". Terry travelled to New Orleans to visit his grandparents and solved a mystery surrounding a haunted house next door to his grandparents house.
This was 1981 and I was 16 and was in high school, grade 11. I finished another story that year. "The Clue In The Attic". It is still pretty lame and unpublishable, but it was one of the first stories where I could see a marked improvement on my writing skills. I tried to develop Terry's relationship with his buddy, Van, as well in this story. Van was becoming more of a character and contrasted with Terry.
In 1982 I wrote "The Sea Treasure" and again was proud of the story when I finished it. Terry goes camping with Van to Catfish Lake and solves a mystery surrounding a treasure at the bottom of Catfish Lake.
In 1983 I turned 18. I wrote 3 stories this year. The first one, "The Sapphire Phantom" had Terry and his friends going to England to help Terry's father who went missing.
The next book, "The Secret Message In The Sword" was another one I was proud of. Terry travels to Mexico City in this one and meets Jose Alvarez, a university professor who turns up in a few other mysteries down the road. Again I noticed an improvement in my writing. Every year I was getting better.
Finally I wrote "The Jade Warning" in 1983 as well. this one brought back Terry's cousin, Cam Roberts from #3 Haunted Cottage. Terry goes undercover on a freighter.
In 1984 I graduated high school and attended university. I wrote 2 stories this year. The first one "The Clue Of The Bronze Horse" involved Terry going out west to solve a mystery on his friend Jean's aunt's ranch. Jean Alden was a character I developed who was Van's girlfriend. She only stuck around for a few more mysteries then became the manager at the Pizza Place at the Port Salser Mall.
Also in 1984 I wrote "Mystery Of the Ivory Idol". Terry helps out Van's uncle who runs a construction site. There is sabotage of equipment in this one. As the stories progressed I noticed a definite change in the types of mysteries and the plots were becoming more complex. I was getting older and (hopefully) wiser and more mature, and the plots showed this.
1985 was the first year that I didn't write any stories. I'm not sure why. I was away at university for most of the year so that was likely why I didn't have time to write.
In 1986 I left university early in the year--the day of the space shuttle Challenger disaster actually, January 28, 1986. I got a part time job and was living at home. I continued to write and finished "The Desert Caravan's Mirage". I loved the title and in this one Terry goes to Algeria and nearly dies in a desert sandstorm.
In 1987 my father passed away and I moved out of the house. Circumstances surrounding this prevented me from writing a story this year.
"The Sky Shadow" was completed in 1988. I introduced another character, Corey Cross who was supposed to be an older more worldly friend who was trying to be an actor in Hollywood. This character has since changed as have most of my characters over the years.
In 1989 I finished "Password To Danger" where Terry travelled to Australia. This was the 15th Terry Macdonald mystery and I was beginning to build up quite a repertoire of stories. But none of them were remmotely publishable and I was just writing for fun.
In my next post I will talk about my writing in the 90's where I almost gave up on Terry and his friends (only 3 stories were written during the decade).
But I didn't give up. Last year (2015) I completed # 81 in the series and finished the first novel in the middle grade Terry Macdonald Case Files series. So I'm glad I didn't give up. But more about that in my next post.