It started out innocently enough. When the dinner dishes were done, my children were busy with homework, and I had finished correcting the day’s pile of English essays from my high school students, I picked up a steno pad and amused myself for half an hour by writing a story, an adventure story, a mystery—really a mystery because I had no idea where the story was going.
I guess I broke all the rules of writing. I had no outline, no list of characters, and no resolution in mind. I just curled up on the sofa and scribbled, imagining scenes in my mind, remembering settings in vivid detail from my own tramping about in Israel. The characters became composites of people I had known. It was fun.
After a few months the characters sorted themselves into heroes or villains. The plot seemed to write its own denouement. It was time to type up my scribbles. Why hadn’t I used the computer to write what somehow evolved into a manuscript of more than two hundred pages? When I began, I hadn’t envisioned a book being born. I was simply unwinding after a day’s work.
Eventually I completed the typing and went to the library for a book about agents. I sent out a few queries. To my surprise I received several requests to see the manuscript. More than one response was positive. I chose a well-reputed agent and sat back to let him do the work.
He did, and several editors asked to see the manuscript. Then the replies started arriving. “Great story, but it is not quite right for our publishing house at this time.” That was the gist of it, over and over again, polite rejections. I put the manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it.
A few years went by. Then I felt compelled to take the manuscript out again. This time I actually did have a vision. I wanted to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of Jerusalem. I wanted to reach readers not particularly interested in political blogs. I wanted to turn the story into a mystery thriller with soul.
I took the basic plot of my original draft and gave it depth and passion by adding factual background material. My characters blossomed. To strengthen credibility for motivation, I added flashbacks to the plot. The book gained intensity greater than that of a simple mystery.
The initial writing was a lark. Turning the story into a thriller with the dual purpose of entertaining and embodying truth was plain hard work. Nevertheless, the whole process was almost self-propelled, and every moment was full of the excitement of creation.
By Olivia Rodan Jacobs, author of Jerusalem 3000, THE POISONER’S AGENDA
Author’s website: www.thepoisonersagenda.com.
Review on www.writersinthesky.com. More reviews on www.amazon.com.