Writing Motivation by Phyllis Middleton

I stared at a blank page for quite some time trying to come up with something to write for this blog.  I wrote the last line and then stared at it for an even longer time.  What could I write that would possibly interest anyone reading this blog since I am not all that interesting in reality.

For the reader who gets totally engrossed in a book and the characters, this is how a book starts.  A blank page and for a pantser writer like me, that can be frightening.  For a plotter writer, they map out the entire book, the characters, and the circumstances in some form or fashion before starting the book.  Those writers have an idea about what the story is about.  For those of us who are pantser – AKA writing by the seat of our pants – we just start writing.

We may get a seed of an idea when we see a real-life news story.  Perhaps, the writer has just watched a real life touching scene between two people and a story flourishes from there.  I tend to write backwards.  Let me explain how my mind works.

I’m a retired cop and I worked as a detective and crime scene specialist for many years.  When I got a case, I arrived after the end result has occurred and have to work backwards from there.  So, I have a body.  First step…who is this person?  Next step, how did this person die?  Next step, what lead up to this person’s death?  You ask questions and find the answers and so on.

Therefore, I tend to write in the same fashion. I have the big black moment or climax of the story hit me…usually when I’m just about asleep…and my books start there.  I write the climatic end or the crucial moment of what I think the book will be FIRST.  Following my investigator training and experience, I start tracking down my characters movements and events backwards until I have the beginning in sight.  This generally works for me, but then, I write suspense and that is a good genre for that type of writing.

What triggers a story for me?  Dialogue.  I will have a wonderful line pop into my head that one of my characters will say and the next thing I know, the words start spilling out and I have a scene to build from.  There is nothing like doing dishes and carrying on a full conversation between two characters out loud.  Fortunately, Hubby ignores me.

What I hate…lack of motivation and desire to write.  I’m at that point in my life right now.  I know that since a teenager, writing has been an outlet for me and my sanity.  Therefore, I’ll start writing again.  I just have to find that right story and the mojo that goes along with it.  When I do, look out keyboard



About phyllismiddleton

Bio Phyllis Middleton is a former law enforcement officer who worked as a Deputy Sheriff, a City Police Officer and a Senior Investigator for the Coroner’s Office. During her twenty years of service, her expertise ranged from patrol and investigations to a certified police instructor, a crime scene and death scene investigations specialist. She’s been writing stories since age 13 but didn’t take it seriously until 2005 when she joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA). There she learned the craft of writing with the goal of publishing. She teaches online Death and Crime Scene Investigation online classes to writers.
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9 Responses to Writing Motivation by Phyllis Middleton

  1. Cop and crime scene specialist? That’s interesting. Don’t sell yourself short. 🙂

  2. Chris Scott says:

    Phyllis, it’s so interesting to hear how you go about constructing plots to get your stories to print. I’m in awe of people who can do that–no matter what their technique. I, too, have always enjoyed writing–but my biggest accomplishment these days is journaling every night to recap details of my time spent with my grandkids. Their dad works for a printing company, so has compiled each of my yearly journals (we’re starting #7) into print form, adding pictures taken throughout the year. These little books have become some of my most precious possessions, and I hope they will be treasured long after I’m gone as a reminder to my angels that their Grandma always loved them in a super special way–and was always thrilled to have them come to spend time at ‘Grandma’s house.’ They also give parents detailed memories of all those special moments and ‘firsts’ they missed during all the busy days they were working and didn’t get to experience them first-hand.

    Doing what I do, I never run out of material or experience that every-frightening “writer’s block,” but the best advice I ever got (from Miss Tookey at Centennial High School) for dealing with that predicament was “write what you know.” It’s obvious that all the events of your career have stayed with you to spark the imagination that’s now becoming your published work. I also know that your personal life in the past several years has provided you with material that is still evolving into its own story. Is it possible that there is a story worth sharing in the events of your current, daily life?. What you’re living right now is in no way uninteresting or boring. It’s painful, devastating, and still extremely inspiring and full of possibility, faith and hope. It’s possible that the sharing of your journey could be very therapeutic for you and life-changing for someone who might read it later.

    I wish you continued success sharing your novels and in all that is yet to unfold in the plot of your very own personal story. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day.

    Love from a a very big, long-time fan of Phyllis Middleton, the person

    • Chris, you’re going to make me cry. I love, love, love what you are doing with your journals. That is a fantastic idea.

      I have been thinking along the lines of an inspirational type of story concerning my faithduring these last few years especially.

      Thank you sweet friend, I love hearing from you.

  3. What an inspirational blog Phyllis, I think your method is spot on. I write suspense and my just finished manuscript is a thriller. I wish I had your wealth of experience in crime and law enforcement it is a tremendous advantage. You shouldn’t poo-poo your ability to write a fascinating blog that readers embrace, you’ve just done it. Thank-you!

    • BelleAmi,
      How sweet of you to say such wonderful things. I have to admit, it isn’t so much the not having much to write about as it is just being motivated to write it! I greatly appreciate you encourage words.
      My first book ended up a thriller. I’d be happy to assist you with any questions you may have about my previous career. I teach writers on Crime and Dearh Scene Investigations, so I’m more than willing to troubleshoot problematic scenes.
      Thanks, Phyllis

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