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I'm a aspiring writer and have just finished my third fiction novel. All my novels are action oriented with lots of guns, intrigue, mystery and shocking twists and turns. I'm twenty-two years of age and have only started writing over the past three years. But I love it and I have a few questions. The first is about my unorthodox way of writing and creating ideas. For my first two novels I had the idea for a start and an end. It was just a matter of linking the two together. My ideas in between were, however, not thought up at the start, they just came to me during writing. I could be writing about one thing one minute, and suddenly another idea would pop into my head. And so on, so on. For my third novel, I wrote the beginning of it during a stint of writers block in the second novel. But I had absolutely no idea what the finale was going to be until two-hundred pages in. My question is: does it seem normal to be writing a book and have no idea where it's leading two-hundred pages into it! Also, what tips have you got, if any, for using misdirection in novels. I realised from reading other books--mostly Jeffery Deaver, who's an artist at keeping you guessing--that misdirection is a brilliant thing to implement into any novel. I'm sorry if this isn't your area of expertise, but you're the only one in the general area of knowledge for my questions.  

Hello Daniel:

First, let's discard the idea that there is an "abnormal" way of writing. However you write, that's normal for you.

What you are describing in regard to the "ideas in between" is the way imagination/creativity works. That's why brainstorming works so well in generating ideas - what one person doesn't think of, another will. You must follow your bent - if you are comfortable going 200 pages in without knowing where the thing will end, fine, especially for a first draft. I believe it was Stephen King who said you write one draft for yourself, the second for the story and the third for the reader.

The first draft is to reveal the strengths and weaknesses in your story. If one character starts out strong then fades out to invisibility, you will know what to do with that character in the second draft. Same with the plot. If there are weak points they will be revealed, and you will have a chance to tweak them in the second draft. It's also for toying with those little bits of business that pop up like online ads when we are writing. I used to separate those in the MS by running two lines of ****** to set them off. In the first draft, play with the thing, let your imagination roam, have fun.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "misdirection," but I am guessing you're talking about what in mystery-writing is called "red herrings": information given to direct the reader's attention away from what's really going on, the same way a stage magician would.

In my mystery BLINK TWICE AT MURDER, set in the 50s, it is important that my detective knows where everyone was the night in 1953 when Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnez introduced their new baby to the public on their TV program. She's thinking of an adult killer, and she's right, but a primary clue is given by a child, during a time when she is distracted by some red herring event that proves a dead end. If that is what you mean, that's the only way I know how to do it. If not, come back with more information and we'll take it from there.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 500 questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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