Hitting the Pause Button

The more I write, the more I understand my own writing process. One part of this process is the big PAUSE. While I’m writing something — anything longer than a short story — I hit a crossroads and stop. I’ve started to call it hitting the pause button because that’s exactly how it feels. I pause, look away from the manuscript and then go back and read it. After the pause, I either chuck it or go on.

I just hit the pause button on my fourth Candy’s Monsters. I’m happy to report that I’m not chucking it! My Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde inspired novella is moving ahead.

Of course I have lots more to do.

Some of it is tight and some of it is still in note form and I’ve got a growing list of specific things to research. I’ll call a friend from Maryland and figure out which town’s name makes the most sense (location, demographics, etc.) Go on the Macy’s website to find out, exactly, what time the July 4th fireworks start. Dig up the name of that Celia Cruz song I left blank because I can’t recall it. And double-check the parking situation at the beach in Hampton Bays.

Yes, I’m a bear about details. Nothing shatters literary magic spells faster than a sloppy real life mistake. But, since I’m writing paranormal, supernatural and magical monster stories, there are plenty of chances for me to make things up. The big pause is an important moment for assessing those details and making sure the magic spell is balanced between reality and fiction.

I’ve already consulted with my forensic pathologist friend and when I described the properties of a drug essential to my plot, she gave me the go ahead to make it up. There is nothing like your doctor buddy giving you the green light to create a magical potion! I love it when a scientist says — go to the lab in your notepad and CREATE.

Writers out there, do you have a pause button too?


  1. I’ve never thought of it as a pause button but… yes, I’ve noticed I have something similar in every [long] piece I write. For me each new story begins with a character, or set of characters, and I explore their lives quite happily until suddenly that moment arrives when I realise a good story needs more than just interesting character arcs.

    That’s when I stop and start thinking about plot, background, culture, politics etc. If I’m luck something obvious jumps out and hits me and then I can see where the big picture is going. After that I can start weaving the characters and the plot together. I guess it’s a backwards way of working but it’s how my brain works. 🙂

    • Candy

      Every writer has a process. I think the more you understand your own process, the better you get! I don’t think your M.O. is backwards. I remember hearing P.D. James tell an interviewer that she often started with a place and worked toward characters and plot after the setting. Interesting, given her complex plots and characters.

  2. Yup, I have a pause button but the evil one pressed it for me and then hid it. I haven’t been able to get on since. All hail the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde book coming to join the others. Should be a great welcome waiting for them Candy. xx Hugs