Friday, June 3, 2011

The First Manuscript or Farewell My Lovely DAYDREAM!

My VERY FIRST manuscript was in the crime genre!
Yup, I had been planning on being the next (feminine version) of James M. Cain or Raymond Chandler. I was so into this sort of writing although I was mainly into the film versions of the great noir classics.

Okay, this was the gist if it sounds familiar DON'T TELL ME, OKAY?!

Two sisters grow up the hard way during the Depression. One's called Edie and she marries Danny a minor hoodlum with a damaged leg (shot up). Now, husband and wife don't share the marital bed any more because Edie really (still) loves her detective boy friend, Johnny Banks. Johnny's got a fiery temper and goes a little haywire sometimes. He nearly kills a child murderer for instance. The Chief is patterned more than a little after the Chief in Detective Story (still with me)?
Johnny's got a girl (Edie's sister, Beth) who's wild about him only he doesn't appreciate her until after she gets over killed by the villain in the piece, a spoiled mama's boy from Long Island (Desmond Charles) who has had a history of long stays in private nut bins.

Des hates Edie but kills her sister instead which is ironic because Beth was nice to him.
Now that's not the only killing there is! Edie's husband Danny kills a nightclub owner he thinks is having an affair with his wife (Tony, patterned after Steve Cochran) RIGHT LADIES--(always like him)!

I want you to know while working on my masterpiece I'm getting tech help from police!

I also go plowing through every noir crime novel I can find. Read all of Ed McBain (love them )!

But then I run out of steam. I end it (in a fashion, the MS I mean, not my life)! And if you're dying to know how I ended it, Edie has left her husband, gone to Johnny but Des' mommy tries to shoot Johnny only she misses and kills Edie. Poor kid dies in the street and the last line is supposed to knock the reader out with Edie saying just before she croaks it: "death is my destiny..." which is the title, get it?!!!

Okay, I put it away, I take it out. I'm not happy with it. Something's wrong. YEAH HECK SOMETHING'S WRONG I DON'T WRITE CRIME, especially stuff that's been done a zillion times!

oh and by the way, this song by Artie Shaw was my choice for sound track for a film version of my story! 

I mean what was I thinking when I know I mainly read horror? Why did I think I could write a decent crime novel? At least I'm rational most of the time.
So why did I do it in the first place I hear you ask? Who knows? I think I was finding myself and I was experimenting. I realize that now, but not then. Then, I went blank. I just stopped, but then I did the best thing I could have done. I joined the Masters of Horror Writers (writing group), headed up by author Lee Pletzers. It was on Ning then. From there in the space of 10 months I was submitting and getting published.

I kept on writing even though I had no idea when I would dare start another novel. I didn't rush into anything and I'm glad. It took about two years and the wait was worth it. My writing improved, I learned about the markets and grasped reality as much as possible.

We grow while we wait, if we don't stress or pressure ourselves into paralysis. That first MS is our springboard--it might be a mess but it's a first step and first steps are important because every journey begins with one!


  1. lol...first novels are so painfully funny when you look back at them. I wrote my first when I was 10 years old. It was a 76 handwritten page long fantasy that was fully illustrated too. From there I've written 14, ranging from Romance, Thriller, Horror, and then low and behold, 20 years later, back to fantasy. After all that practice, I'm now on the hunt for a publishing agent.

    So I agree, that first manuscript may have been an utter mess, but it was a HUGE step for me...

  2. TEN YEARS OLD?!! that is adorable! And extremely remarkable!
    do you still have it?!
    i'm sure you'll do very well, you're prolific!
    thanks so much for that. Yes, it's a start and the more writing we do, the better we get!

  3. Wow, you know you've ripped off a movie when even I recognize the film noir plot.

    But, it's funny how so many of us begin our writing based not on the books we read but on the movies we see. I remember reading crime novels and the juvenile books about hotrods and small-time hoods when I was a kid. Yet, it wasn't until "Asphalt Jungle" that I seriously thought about penning any such book (never did, of course, because W.R. Burnett was a lot harder to imitate than Louis Calhern and Sterling Hayden).

    But, we all must start somewhere and at least we have gotten that first manuscript out of the way. Many people can't say that.

  4. Ha Ha...yes, I still have my first novel. Makes me smile when ever I look at it.

    @Gregory - funny how you should mention our first novels being based on the films we see, my first was inspired by a cartoon, Flight of Dragons, that I watched when I was about 5 or 6, and some scenes are still with me today...

  5. Looks like I'm going to be the one to break the statistic, lol. Sorry guys, but I can honestly say my fist manuscript was not based on a movie. It was actually the result of things I wished other authors would have in their vampire stories (like a heroine I can relate to...not a dizzy teenage girl or a trained assassin chick). And I stubbornly clung to my first MS until it was accepted. Though I did rewrite it about 10 times, so I guess it's not truly my original first MS anymore.

    Carol, your post is so cute. And I can see a lot of people trying to write a book based on their favorite movie or tv show and then realizing the mistake they made. :)

  6. I want to see that novel, DRC!

    Gregory, so true and you just broke me up! oh yeah my ms had about ten 40's film plot lines in it!

    And JD thanks too. did you ever do anything about that vampire story idea? i like the tough teenage heroine! how about a reform school, punk kid and a softie Edward type? nah, sounds hokey but it could be funny!

  7. You and I need to share my Mickey Spillane collection, Carole. I love mystery novels: the twists and turns, surprises around every corner. Ah, yes. Great post! I love jazz, too.


  8. Thanks Blaze! yes i have his. love them. He changed the genre forever. I mean there was Hammett and Chandler and McCain of course, but Spillane was so perfect post war.
    I rmember my Granddad had every one he ever wrote. i used to look at his books with dead blondes on the cover! so funny!
    anyway, thanks for that.
    What an era! and the best music ever!

  9. Hi Carole...
    I've used your 'First Manuscript' topic for the subject of my blog post. You and your post gets a mention and thought you might be interested.