Behind the Scenes During the Writing of ‘Quenton’s Honor’

QUENTON GLOBE EXPERIMENT - TRQUS - w. keyboardPeople often ask me where I get ideas for my novels, and they also like to know the “behind-the-scenes” details of the actual writing. So periodically I share some of those details — especially the ones that I found personally enjoyable or that helped me grow as a writer. The writing of Quenton’s Honor taught me much about dedication and commitment to a project — the kind of commitment that refuses to throw in the towel because tracking down those miniscule details takes multiple phone conversations, some with foreign speaking individuals, and hours poring over dusty facts and figures and then double-checking to see if any of them have changed since I started the research. But it also taught me that even the drudgery work has its own rewards in the positive results of self-discipline.

Quenton’s Honor was actually my third novel, but it was the first of all my novels to be published, with the first printing coming out about 7 years ago. The basic story had been hanging around in my mind and my heart for months before it took enough shape to send me to the keyboard to write the first words. Once I was started, however, there was no stopping. I had to do a considerable amount of research where Pakistan was concerned, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was dealing with a huge time difference between St. Louis Missouri, and Karachi, Pakistan. That time difference didn’t cause me nearly as much trouble, though, as the loss of 12 whole days when I decided — after finishing the novel — to substitute Chapter 3 for Chapter 1.

As often happens in writing a work this long, once it’s done, the author can look back and see new possibilities for the beginning chapter — scenes that will better help grab the reader and get him involved with the story immediately. I realized that Quenton’s Honor would be a better story if I took Chapter 3 and gave it to the readers first. It was a beautiful trade, and I was very happy with it, except for the fact that I had lost 12 days of action. Not to be thwarted, however, I managed to squeeze in a little flashback to grab those 12 days. Of course, I’ll admit it took me 3 days to figure out how to make it all work. But in the end, all was well.

Another editing change came when I turned it over to a friend who reads all my novels critically. I like to have him read my works before anyone else, if possible, because he is very particular about the quality of books he reads and is eager and quick to speak up if a book is lacking in any area. When he read Quenton’s Honor, he loved the book overall and was genuinely touched by several parts, but he was not at all happy with one scene where Quenton’s life is about to be snuffed out by his terrorist guards, and the men sent to rescue him have not arrived. My friend insisted the scene needed more energy and physical action.

Now, this friend is a very shy, introverted, quiet-spoken person, and definitely not the physical confrontation type. However, when I asked him for his ideas about changes to that particular scene, he got up from his desk and began to act out all the parts of the physical confrontation for the scene. I sat and watched him with my mouth open. Here was an entirely different person from the one I’d known several years. He was so energized as he acted out all the parts that he made a believer out of me, and I went home and re-wrote that scene exactly the way he had acted it out. Of course, I acknowledged him gratefully in the front of the book.

So far, readers seem to find the changes I made very agreeable. Any of the rest of you who read the book are welcome to let me know what you think as well —  about the beginning, the short flashback, and the fight to save Quenton’s life — or just about the story in general.

The printed version of Quenton’s Honor is available from St. Ellen Press, and the digital version is available from Amazon’s Kindle Store. The publisher plans to make the print version available on Amazon this summer.

[Background globe photo by Prawny. Used by permission. Edited.]


3 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes During the Writing of ‘Quenton’s Honor’

  1. Its great to see how things affect others,, I am redoing my love story, and changing names of all main characters, but for the past four days I cannot settle on the male characters name, so far changed it four times. Stuck on this is making it hard to continue the edit/rewrite. It is a lesson forr me to hear how others write their stories. 😉

    1. I agree names are hard. Hang in there, Gerry. It’s good that you’re taking the time to really think.

      I made the mistake once of naming a character rather off-handedly because I thought he was going to be just an incidental character to give me a love triangle for a couple chapters. (I had named my main characters carefully, but I really didn’t think this guy mattered enough to spend much time on him.)

      Unfortunately, as the novel came to an end, a sequel kept pressing me to write it, and he turned out to be the main character in book # 2 — and one of the important characters in every other book in the series.

      I was never really happy with his name, but once the first book in the series was published, I was stuck with it for the rest. So I’ve never been sloppy about anyone’s name since then.

      1. I used my name at first and funny enough it seemed to fit with the story line but I always had in mind of changing it when story was done, but now I had got use to it and nothing else seems to work.. Keep working on it, one might fall into place.. thanks Sandra for your posts and thoughts..

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