Nasty Little Beast, Part Two

On Monday’s Nasty Little Beast post, I mentioned my snarky bout of professional envy (“PE” for short) relating to Chelsea Cain’s success. I went to her talk wondering if the ten-buck nonmember fee would be worth it.

After Ms. Cain’s talk about her ten surefire tips for writing a thriller, my friend M– and I strolled down 10th Avenue with a chill wind at our backs. I admitted to my petty bout of PE. However, I also realized that I no longer felt the PE. Instead I was thinking, Good for Ms. Cain for writing where the writing led. Sometimes it takes guts to do what we want.

M– and I wondered aloud whether we could write a cheesy thriller such as Ms. Cain described. I’m not so sure for myself. In part because some of the tips felt depressingly formulaic. End each chapter on a cliffhanger, for example (tip #2). (Think The DaVinci Code.)

The tip that resonated the most with me was her last of the evening: Value your writing (tip #18!). I told M– that I probably didn’t value my writing enough, and he said, You’re right; you don’t.

Here’s the entirety of Ms. Cain’s last tip: Value your writing; it’s worth millions. With that in mind, the next morning I woke up ready to write that day’s new chapter. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to enter the scene. What the hell, I decided, I’ll make use of one of Ms. Cain’s tips. So, I opened the chapter with a physical action (tip #4), all the while reminding myself of tip #10: Put it in; you can always take it out later.

Does this make me a fledgling thriller writer? Nah, but my character’s hand signal toward her soon-to-be amore’s dog got me off and running for the day’s writing. Thanks, Ms. Cain, the ten-buck nonmember fee was worth it.

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