There’s more than one way to write a book

This is my first post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. You can check it out (and join!) here:

I’ve been checking out the IWSG blogs for a while, but have never felt confident enough to sign up. But this month’s prompt is about reading preferences and writing, and guess what? I have reading preferences and I like to write. I might be able to do this!

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I have always loved reading mysteries. Encyclopedia Brown was fun. I read my Trixie Belden books so much I wore out the covers. But as much as I enjoyed them, neither of those affected me the way Agatha Christie books did. Once I discovered her my whole worldview changed. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have a house in the English countryside. I’d have friends that entered the house through the windows just like the characters in Ms. Christie’s books did. I didn’t realize that when Ms. Christie said someone came in at the window, she was actually referring to patio doors. I really thought the characters climbed up into the windows, and I could not wait to have friends like that. We’d have weekend parties and only use doors when we were dressed for our formal dinners every night.

I didn’t imagine solving murders though. No one ever died when I imagined my country house. No one even sprained an ankle exiting via the window. Sometimes I thought there might be some amnesia type mystery, but never a murder.

I eventually quit thinking that people climbed in windows, but I never did get inspired to write a murder mystery. I get a vicarious thrill when I see how an author handled a clue – “Ooooh, it must have felt good when you put that subtle mayonnaise reference back in chapter three. Excellent.”- but I have no idea how to go about doing that myself.

I am currently working on an epistolary novel, so these days the closest my brain would get to a murder mystery would be along the lines of, “Dear Maude. The vicar was shot. There is a person here investigating it.” I could probably keep up the suspense for three pages if I threw in a description of the ha-ha. (I’m still dreaming about that house in the countryside). The big reveal would probably be, “So it turned out the gardener killed the vicar because of the tea set. Oh right. Just realized I forgot to tell you that the vicar had a tea set that belonged to the Romanovs. Sorry about that. Anyway, they arrested the gardener. Please give the puppy a kiss for me. Love, Victoria.” Not Hercule Poirot-esque at all.

That’s not to say that my reading hasn’t influenced my writing. “Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman was the first epistolary(ish) book I ever read. It was the first time I noticed “how” a book was written. I remember thinking, “An entire book in letters/memos/etc? Is that even allowed?”

It also seemed like it must have been fun to write. I know now that might not have been entirely the case. Writing is not always fun. But the idea that writing could be fun was an exciting idea I had not considered up to that point. That one fun book in an unusual format captured my imagination in a way that all those murder mysteries had not.

Hang on-a fun book in whatever format I want? Sounds great. I will definitely finish writing that soon.


I’m always interested in an epistolary book, so If you have any recommendations please let me know. Murder mystery recommendations are also always welcome.

10 thoughts on “There’s more than one way to write a book

  1. cleemckenzie March 3, 2021 / 12:14 pm

    So glad you joined the group to share your writing experience. I don’t have an epistolary story to recommend, but if you find a good one, be sure to tell us.


  2. Carrie-Anne March 3, 2021 / 12:23 pm

    I’ve always loved epistolary books, particularly in journal form. The best ones read like narrative stories, with the diarist as the main character in a grand play s/he just happens to be writing. There’s no interesting, deeper story if one only conveys events from an emotional, detached distance, instead of embellishing them with details and narrating them as though they’re unfolding right then and there.


  3. J.Q. Rose March 3, 2021 / 1:21 pm

    Hello and welcome! I’m thrilled you decided to join in on the IWSG blog hop! I enjoyed your sense of humor throughout the blog post. Thanks for the smiles. And I even learned a new word to add to my vocabulary, epistolary. Hope to see you next month!
    JQ Rose


  4. Nick Wilford March 3, 2021 / 3:29 pm

    Welcome to IWSG! You’ll be very comfortable here. It’s a great group.
    The phrase “epistolary book” was new to me, but I’m all for trying things in different formats. Especially with self publishing, the sky’s the limit.


  5. Kathie Estes March 4, 2021 / 4:30 pm

    I must admit that I looked up epistolary and realized I have read mystery books with several letters and diary entries in them–an epistolary mystery. Lori, you are a wonderful writer and I enjoy reading anything you compose. Your humor is uplifting and good teachers use that in teaching. You are a teacher to me when you write each post and I learn a lot from those posts. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rich March 9, 2021 / 9:51 am

    Didn’t know there was a word for this sort of thing. Might be fun to do as a short story.


  7. joylenebutler May 8, 2021 / 4:48 pm

    It’s been so long since I read an epistolary novel I can’t remember who the author was. I think it would be tough. I’d be interested in how you find it. Keep us posted.


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