Guest Post: How I Write by Marc Jedel

How I Write (a not-very-serious version)

People always ask me about my writing process for my humorous murder mystery series. They’re interested in how I get the ideas and how these turn into a novel. “Magic,” I tell them, but that rarely suffices. Some authors seem to swim in an endless pool of plots and characters, effortlessly plucking out one plot twist or character arc after another until they’ve burned through their keyboard.

Not me. 

So how does it work for me? 

Research. That’s a fancy term for my process. I start by collecting funny anecdotes, interesting people or snatches of overheard conversations. Back in the days when I used to leave my house, I would add notes to my phone about what I saw in daily life. (Don’t worry if you see me hanging around now, I’ll be wearing a mask.) I also change the names and exaggerate—or combine—the incidents to protect the guilty. 

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I pay much more attention to my surroundings than I ever did. I also have become more willing to approach strangers and ask them questions. Who’d have expected that the solitary life of a writer would make me more social?

Plot. As plot ideas smack me in the face, I jot them down before I forget. That’s how FISH OUT OF WATER started. My extensive study of bestselling books clearly highlighted the importance of having a plot. All those other successful authors must be on to something. 

It’s harder than you’d think to come up with convincing and interesting ways for someone to murder a person and to have a completely amateur sleuth figure it out. I try to come up with ideas for challenges to throw at Marty (my protagonist) and then think about how he might solve the case despite those problems through his powers of self-delusion, attention to detail, and the inability to leave a coherent voicemail message. 

Characters. Once I developed the concepts for a few of my regular characters, I find myself wondering how to make life more difficult for them during the course of the book and how they’d react to unexpected situations. Having my novels take place over the course of about a week has been a deliberate approach to force myself to increase the pace and make the characters act and react more often.

Humor. I made a real effort to keep puns and dad jokes from showing up in FISH OUT OF WATER. I certainly am guilty of them but am trying to keep them in the Silicon Valley Mystery series where they better fit with the main protagonist, Marty Golden. I do enjoy laughing at things I’ve written while I’m writing so I do try to include situational humor where possible. Writing can be a long and lonely process, and editing even more boring. My dog is great company but not the best conversationalist so I have to entertain myself as I go. Sometimes that spontaneity happened months ago and I wrote it down and sometimes it comes to me as I’m writing. Fortunately for readers, my editors are awesome and remove my attempts at humor that aren’t quite funny enough.

Outline. Some writers are ‘pantsers’. This means they fly by the seat of their pants, writing without a detailed plan. Not that they wear pants. Some authors probably do wear pants when they write. That’s kind of a personal question best unasked of an author, especially in these days of a pandemic.

I outline. I admit to it. If I didn’t, I’d still be trying to figure out how the book would end, or who gets killed. Creating an outline with each scene on one line of a spreadsheet helps me to look at holes, try to spread out when different side characters show up, and make sure the action keeps moving forward at a good clip. Then I go through all my notes and put most of the notes into the relevant scene so I can include all the right amount of humor as well as balance tense vs wacky situations. Once that’s done, there are no more excuses. It’s time for the next stage.

Write and Edit. This part sounds simple — write, edit, repeat.  Eventually magic makes it good.

FISH OUT OF WATER is the first in my new Ozarks Lake Mystery series. It’s a fun clean read with quirky characters, lots of twists, town secrets and an exciting race to the ending for the last half of story. It’s available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RMDC3ZG at only $0.99 for a limited time. It’s free to Kindle Unlimited readers. 

My 4 books in the Silicon Valley Mystery series are also humorous cozies available on Amazon. The first three are available as audiobooks from Tantor Audio almost everywhere that audiobooks are sold. All my books can be read standalone but I think you’d enjoy reading all of them—and probably enjoy it even more if you buy copies for everyone you know. I know I would. 
For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.

A small-town homicide. A community swamped in secrets. Can married amateur sleuths bait and capture the killer before the truth slips away?

Elizabeth Trout had escaped her rural Arkansas hometown. Compelled to sort through her deceased grandmother’s belongings, she and her new husband Jonas make an unexpected trip to the family ranch. But when the property manager turns up dead, Elizabeth is rocked when her ex-boyfriend-turned-deputy arrests her for the murder.

With incriminating evidence and the sheriff convinced he’s got the right suspect, Elizabeth and Jonas must fish for clues on their own. But with a multitude of potential culprits and her husband’s contrasting personality, Elizabeth fears she may be left dangling on the hook for a crime she didn’t commit.

Can these newlyweds net the real killer before Elizabeth is jailed for murder?

Fish Out of Water is the charming first book in the Ozarks Lake Mystery series. If you like quirky characters, clever twists and turns, and puzzling whodunits, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s humorous tale.

Buy Fish Out of Water to reel in a slippery catch today!

Purchase Links: Amazon


A small-town homicide. A community swamped in secrets. Can married amateur sleuths bait and capture the killer before the truth slips away?- fISh OUt of WaTER An Ozarks Lake Mystery by Marc Jedel

For most of my life, I’ve been inventing stories. Living in many places around the United States, including a lot of time in the South, has given me a particularly keen appreciation for those who feel like a “fish out of water” sometimes.

My writing skills were honed in years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley. While my high tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, we called these marketing collateral, emails and ads.

The publication of my first novel, Uncle and Ants in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, gave me permission to claim “author” as my job. And achieving Amazon Best Seller status gave me even better adjectives to use in front of “author.” This has led to way more interesting discussions than answering “marketing.”

Telling the stories in the Ozarks Lake Mystery series has given me an enjoyable opportunity to spend time with characters that somewhat resemble people I’ve known. Writing alternating chapters from the perspective of each spouse of the newlywed Trout couple allowed me to experience multiple personalities without getting a visit from mental health professionals.

Author Links 

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for showcasing Fish Out of Water today and hosting my guest blog. I really like the image you created with the book on the dock! The book is only $0.99 during this Great Escapes Tour so it’s a perfect opportunity for readers to get into this new series.

    Liked by 1 person

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