My Writing Life, Part 2

Richard BrawerAfter graduating the University of Florida and a stint in the National Guard, Richard Brawer worked 40 years in the textile and retail industries.  He spends his retirement years writing novels, sailing and gardening.  He has two married daughters and one granddaughter and lives in New Jersey with his wife Ruth.


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My latest book

My latest book, Beyond Guilty was inspired by a screen play written by my daughter.  In her script, the protagonist is an African-American male wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death.   Despite her being a lawyer in the movie industry and the screen play winning a number of awards including $1000.00 from a “Writer’s Digest” contest she was not able to generate interest from her associates in Hollywood.  I said to her, “Let me write it as a book with an African-American female protagonist as there are many African-American actresses looking for a meaty, leading role.”  Thus Beyond Guilty was born.

However, in the process the book took on a life of its own and dramatically deviated from the screen play.  The only parts that remained the same were that the lead character was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death; and she escapes death row and fights to prove her innocence.  All the fighting, chases, and the ending are entirely different from the screenplay.

One particularly interesting deviation is the theme about nanomedicine.  I like to incorporate something educational in my books.  In my mysteries it is historical vignettes about the Jersey Shore.  In Silk Legacy it’s the era in history.  In Beyond Guilty it’s nanomedicine.  In my daughter’s screenplay, after her character escaped he had to salvage his DNA to prove his innocence.  Seemed like old news to me.  I had recently read an article on nanomedicine so I thought, why not go cutting edge?

Nanomedicine is the creation of microscopic, computerized robots that are infused into the blood stream carrying medicine to attack a specific diseased cell.  Unlike current drugs that attack many parts of the body and create additional problems as explained in the drug company’s TV ads, nanomedicine robots home in on infected cells and destroy them, and them alone, with no side effects.  Having no medical experience, I researched nanomedicine on the web.  But did I portray it correctly?  Did I write it so a layperson could follow it?

To answer the first question, I started sending e-mails to the authors of the articles I read.  One scientist, Robert A. Freitas Jr. J.D., Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, was kind enough to edit my references to nanomedicine and has written an essay at the end of the novel explaining how far this research has come and when it will be available.

The second question was answered by the reviewers.  “The author’s inclusion of the concept of nanomedicine in the plot is articulate and intriguing…” Von Pittman for The Genreview

Others called it “fascinating”, “interesting”, “engrossing”, “a scientific morality play”.  No one said they could not understand it.

Additional reviewers have said about the story line and the character:  “Twisting Action”  “Thought Provoking”  “A Fast Paced Thriller”  “Sympathetic Character”  “Authentic Dialogue”  “Spirited Prose”  “A Real Winner”.  You can read all the reviews either on Amazon.com or on my website:  http://www.silklegacy.com

I really felt I had written an excellent book so I started querying agents.  Unfortunately the rejection letters again started piling up.  Frustrated I began looking at small publishers.  However based on my previous experience I was leery.

Beyond GuiltyI wanted a small press with a good track record, that paid an advance and paid royalties.  I found those qualifications in L & L Dreamspell.  They have been absolutely wonderful.  Although a small press, they run their business like a big New York Publisher.  Yet, even with their contract looking very beneficial I still had a lawyer go over it.

I am now looking forward to a long relationship with L & L Dreamspell Publishing for novels I will be writing in the future.


What is my writing process?

First: I form a major premise along with the ending of the story.  In the mysteries it’s naturally “who-done-it.”  In the historical fiction novel it’s the resolution between the characters.  And in the suspense novels it’s how to the protagonist gets out of peril.

Second: I create my protagonist and antagonist―their looks, quirks, and their experiences in life that affect their personalities and the way they react to events.

Third: I create a very rough outline as to how the story will progress from beginning to end.  Note I said very rough as this changes as the story evolves.

Fourth: I try to create a captivating opening chapter such as finding the body in the mysteries, putting the protagonist in jeopardy in the suspense novel and creating the conflict in the historical fiction.

Finally: I write from my opening chapter to the conclusion of the story.  I strive to take the reader on a journey that is never a straight line, but more like the line of a gyrating stock market.  I place red herrings in my mysteries, adventure and jeopardy in my suspense novels and many setbacks in my historical fiction novel.  However, one thing remains constant―there is always CONFLICT.  The most important aspect of a novel is the conflict between the characters.  Without conflict there is no story.

How did I learn to write?

I read a couple of books and many magazine articles on writing, but in writing as in life, the most important lessons come from doing.   I was an avid reader.  If you want to write, first read, read, read.  If you read books with the idea that you may want to be a writer, then you will consciously start analyzing how the author created his work.  When you start writing, write the type of story you like to read.

Once you begin your writing try to find a critique group that will give you honest feedback on character development, dialogue, voice, plot, conflict and setting.  But don’t automatically take anyone’s critique as gospel.  Remember, it’s your story.  Analyze the critiques to see if they have merit.  Say you have a six person group.  If one person criticizes something then it may or may not be valid.  But if three or four in the group say the same thing about a segment then you should take it under serious consideration.

I hope my experiences will help you with your writing and publishing efforts.

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