Farmer File

Fiction writing is a world into which I am stepping, hoping not to stub a toe or two. 

Trouble is, the bumpy road on route to creating a successful novel is strewn with pitfalls and dead ends, plus wobbly plots that do pratfalls in public.

The book in progress becomes a treacherous place, sort of an extra scary Halloween haunted house exhibit. I mean the kind where evil entities spring from behind walls or drip from the ceiling, threatening to leave behind unhappy endings for disgruntled customers who wanted just a little faux fright, not a ruined weekend. 

The author may be going for metaphoric stormy weather but not a tsunami, some interesting sexual tension without trying to out spank the reader with even more shades of gray.

My novel is titled, “Deadly News,” which refers to the high-volume, true to life action among TV news people covering a sensational crime in their own midst.

No, “Deadly News” does not refer to a stultifyingly boring eleven o’clock newscast. Honest.

It’s fast-paced and full of surprises, set in Atlanta, with several scenes also in the Naples, Marco Island area of Southwest Florida.  They have alligators and crocodiles there.

The book is laced with the weird, sometimes wanton activities of media people as they battle each other for power, money, news scoops and scandals.  The words “cut throat” comes to mind.

“Deadly News” originally was set during the week leading up to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  So we researched carefully to make sure the technology of TV news in those days was portrayed accurately.  Just one example was the use of cell phones and pagers.

We had both, of course, but cell phones were not yet so-called smart phones and pagers still were widely used so care was taken to reflect that.  Videotape was the dominant vehicle for recording TV audio and video in the mid nineties.

Today, however, the digital revolution has added newer technology to the mix. We had to make sure we did not arm our fictional cops and reporters in the book with whiz bang gadgets that were, at best, nascent back in the mid- nineties.

After we dealt with that challenge, a wise author and friend who read several chapters told us to be careful about setting a story in a period that most of our potential readers had lived through.

Basically she said, “If you write that a sensational event took place right before the 1996 Olympics and it was made up, a lot of readers will see that and say, ‘Hey, that didn’t happen, and they’ll think the book is not credible.”

So we decided to move the setting of the story to, “The Near Future.” That led to a whole new area of research, as in, what would TV technology be like several years from now? And what about law enforcement tools and techniques of, say, 2016 or even 2020?

In a way, writing the manuscript, putting words on the page, is the easy part. Or at least the most fun. And the most painful and frustrating and exciting and scary.

We have to assume that the “Deadly News” flash in all this is that it was worth it.

For more on the novel, “Deadly News,” go to deadlynewsthriller.com.

don@donfarmer.com

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