What I enjoyed most about writing Einstein’s Trunk was developing the characters, putting words in their mouths, and sometimes even sitting back in wonder at what they just did. When I first put the plot together, I had plans for two female leads, Yohaba, Einstein’s descendent, and Isabella, the South African agent contracted by the Russians. But I had no idea which one would end up betraying Rulon and which one would be his love interest. The decision was actually made by Yohaba when she threw herself at Rulon in her apartment. It was a total surprise even to me. I remember writing that scene and thinking to myself afterwards: Wow, never expected that!
Likewise, even later in the story, I still toyed with the idea of having Yohaba betray Rulon. But there was something about the way Yohaba waited outside his apartment after the fight in the Desperado restaurant and then ran up to Rulon in the rain that simply could not be denied. Eventually, Yohaba’s sincerity and honesty won Rulon’s heart – and mine. But Isabella may not be totally out of the picture. While she doesn’t appear in the sequel, I’m considering bringing her back in the third book.
Far and away, the hardest part for me was writing the beginning. If you give too much description and background information in the beginning, you slow down the plot and bore your readers. If you don’t give enough information then people are confused – or too much information and you kill the suspense and erode curiosity. It’s a judgment call every step of the way.
I also found it hard to write the physical descriptions of the locales and people. It was the same old question: How much do you describe, how much do you leave out, and how can you artfully include that information in the story without slowing down the action. The best beginning I’ve read where information, plot, action, and character development, were all woven together while keeping the story sizzling along and building interest was in Barry Eisler’s first John Rain book Rainfall.
My next post will be about what I’ve learned about writing and getting published.
Zurich, May 13, 2011