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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

 

By Richard Doetsch


Every successful author will tell you to be a great writer you must write every day. True. But that doesn't hone your craft as a story teller. I don't care how well you write, how good your prose is, how deep your vocabulary is, in this day and age, story is king.

As writers of fiction, we need to distinguish ourselves, make our stories stand apart. How many police procedurals are out there? How many stories of love lost and found; how many tales of the handsome detective/Navy SEAL/Covert Agent are there? What makes the great ones stand out? Great original story.

I have what I call the everyday story file.  Every single day I jot down a quick story, I have been doing it for a long time and so I have amassed a large file of stories which I have drawn on to write novels, Vooks, and movies. 

Creating compelling stories is an art. So often when someone finishes a novel they take the first or second idea that has been floating in their head for months and run with it. But what if you have a file of ideas to draw on, a file with over 300 ideas in it?

If you want to write a great story you have to create a new story every day. Every single day, 365 days a year.  Nothing big. No more than a page, usually just a quick paragraph or two, maybe the three act approach. Write anything, write something out of your comfort zone, write something no one would believe you would write. Granted most of the ideas will probably stink, you may not want to repeat them to anyone, but think of this: if only five percent of those ideas are good, that's 18 good ideas! And If 1% are great that's 3 great ideas.

Of course you may marry some of your ideas together and come up with something completely different. But more importantly, you will open your mind, you will tap that well spring of creativity, the place where your childhood imagination ran wild.

By doing this you will hone your craft as a story teller, because after all, the public wants great stories, new stories, Hollywood and publishing want the next great idea. If you only ponder a story a few times a year you might get lucky once in a while but in this day and age we can't rely on luck.

By example, The 13th Hour was an idea I had on April 26th 2008 of a story told in reverse, I had another idea from January 14th 2008 that involved a man going back in time in one hour increments to save his wife who had already died. I put them together and wrote The 13th Hour in July 2008.

Embassy was an idea from February 2009 that was sparked as I was walking by the Russian Consulate on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was a what if scenario about a hostage crisis within the walls of a foreign Embassy in New York, a place that U.S. law enforcement can't enter.

And The Thieves of Darkness encompasses six different ideas that ended up fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.

So when you listen to all the experts out there, all the people that say write everyday, you should listen, but just as important you should create every day, dream every day, formulate a story every single day and file it away.

And think of it this way, you get to free your mind for fifteen minutes from your current writing assignment. How great is it to let the mind wander, to go anywhere it wishes or is taken?  If you don't believe me, try it for a month and see what happens, you will be surprised what you come up with.

Hope all is well with all.

 

Posted by: Richard Doetsch AT 09:17 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 14 January 2010

1. I have a huge vocabulary but can't spell, my grammar is weak, and English was my weakest subject in school. So, for such obvious reasons, I sold my company and became an author.

2. I have been passionately in love with the same woman for over 30 years.

3. I'm amazed that my 21 year old son and I go to concerts such as Velvet Revolver, AC/DC, Breaking Benjamin, Fuel, Theory of a Deadman, Chicken Foot, Journey, Def Leppard, Aerosmith et al... and he is not embarrassed by my presence.

4. I'm a republican but have made far more political donations to democrats.

5. My family is extremely close

6. My wife, son and both daughters each have an amazing sense of humor.

7. I have an almost perfect memory back to the womb for everything except numbers and names. And that is why I went into the number intensive world of real estate finance.

8. I never wrote anything longer than five pages in high school and the first thing I wrote since--25 years later--was my novel, The Thieves of Heaven.
 
9. There is nothing greater than riding a horse in the mountains of Wyoming or skiing the peaks of Utah and looking out at the amazing country we live in.
 
10. Seeing the aged faces of the musicians and actors from my youth is a sad reminder that the clock is ticking for us all.

11. I hate flying yet I have flown over 400,000 miles.
 
12. I love music as much as life, all types from Zeppelin to Brad Paisley, Metallica to Leonard Bernstein, Clapton to Gustov Holst. My IPod is a 9000 strong, schizophrenic amalgam of songs. 
 
12A.   I write and play all of the instruments in the trailer music for all of my book trailers. 
 
13. I believe in living and staying focused in the moment; life is great but our preoccupations with the mundane makes us miss it.
 
14. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, never have, never will but I'll never preach about it nor judge people over it. Of course, my abstinence worked out well for all my friends who partook of my share. ( I did drink champagne at my wedding and out of the Stanley Cup?who wouldn't?)

 
15. Am I the only one who finds American Idol a sad commentary on life and how cruel people can be? Not to mention the heartrending, distorted, self image of those seeking celebrity as a mark of success.

16. I wish people would educate themselves beyond a newspaper headlines before talking like an expert.

17. I go to sleep at 3:00 AM and get up at 7:30

18. The best part of a triathlon is the unlimited bagels and bananas at the finish line.

19. My wife competes and wins on a national basis in Ballroom and Latin dance and has appeared in the Dancing with Stars Tour. And, of course, I can't dance to save my life.
 
20. My closest friend, Tony Bellantoni, and I married sisters which makes the holidays amazing and our kids cousins.

 
21. I am eternally filled with hope and I've always endeavored to spread it.
 
22. I've always been a listener.
 
23. Wouldn't it be great if we spoke of people with the same reverence, incite, and passion before they died, before they were eulogized?
 
24. Our friends come from all walks of life and couldn't be more different (artists, lawyers, actors, newscasters, landscapers, professional athletes, Wall Streeters, mechanics, musicians, politicians). There is nothing better than our dinner parties where we sit those with divergent opinions next to each other at the table, sit back, and watch the conversations fly.

25. I consider myself beyond lucky and privileged to have the amazing life I have led.
Posted by: Richard Doetsch AT 11:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

"If you're going through hell, keep going." I always loved that quote from Winston Churchill, it's so applicable to life no matter how old we are. 

As you may or may not know, The 13th Hour is about a man stepping back in time in one hour increments to find the single moment that will save his wife from death. 

So, ironically, this past weekend, I stepped back in time not in one hour increments but by decades.

I had my high school reunion (not saying which year but be it suffice to say it was more than 20). I walked in without expectation and walked out four hours later with one of the life's greatest experiences. Passing through the doorway into the reunion was like falling through a time machine, years washed away. No matter how much we had changed, all were recognizable. While hairstyles were different, not only in color but in volume, and gravity had tugged on the body and heart, it was the eyes that gave immediate recognition, that pulled back the curtain to reveal the friend we hadn't seen in ages.  

While most would assume the reunion was the recapturing of youth, reliving those moments of teen success and conquests, it was something far more.  I realized what an amazing town I grew up in, what an amazing school and time, and what amazing people I shared part of my life with.

In our youth, in what was a different era,  we didn't' t know what someone else's father did for a living, could care less who had a car and who took the bus. We weren't cognisant of each other's religious or political beliefs. We judged each other by the simple barometer of either like or dislike.  Of course there were cliques at Byram Hills as there are in all schools then and now, but those, along with the years, seemed to wash away with the passage of time.

We tend to romanticize the past  particularly our teens, often forgetting the youthful pressures of fitting in, of tests, of making the team, or the heart break of first love. But it's the people who surrounded us at the time of growing up, our friends who helped us endure those obstacles that made us survive the passage into adulthood. These were the people we walked through hell with. These were the people that saw us in our most vulnerable moments.  As such, bonds were made over those shared experiences that connect to this day and tie us back to that special time where hope abounded, where we thought ourselves invincible, immortal, where the future was always bright no matter how dark the day, no  matter how painful the problem.

And while I wished our get together would have lasted a few more days, and we all made promises to stay in touch, we all walked away knowing we would be pulled back to the future, back to our current lives where we would disappear for another five years. But I think we all left that reunion with a new sense of appreciation, a new bond over a new shared experience. I think we all walked out of there with a bit of recaptured youth and hope and love.

Not to mention, for me at least, the incredible characters and story arcs to draw from for a future story or two.

Posted by: Richard Doetsch AT 12:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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"One of the best thrillers of the year" ABC News

"Riveting... Emotional... Amazing" The Huffington Post

"A shocking thriller" - San Francisco Chronicle

 

"A gut-wrenching read" - The Houston Chronicle

 

"Constant shocks and twists" - Today/MSNBC

 

"Grabs the readers attention and doesn't let go" - Winnipeg Free Press

Jack Keeler has seen his fate and has only until dawn before it catches up with him... and the rest of the world

Now in Paperback Feb 2011!

August 25 2010 in Hardcover

"Whip-smart and lightning-paced... This novel left me breathless and awed by the scope and scale of this story. Truly a masterwork by an exploding talent."

--James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Altar of Eden

 

"Doetsch handles all the elements of a classic thriller superbly... The plot offers an agreeable blend of heist drama and escape story. Knowledge from the previous St. Pierre adventures is not necessary, but readers will scramble to find them after finishing this masterpiece.  Doetsch has earned his seat at the table with other A-list thriller writers."         --     Booklist


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"A modern masterpiece."   -- Providence Journal-Bulletin

"If there ever was a novel that deserves to be read in one sitting, this is it. With a totally original and compelling story line, The 13th Hour is one of the best thrillers of the year." -Booklist

One of the top five thrillers of the year - Library Journal