New Beginnings

Bruce Robert Coffin here, hoping that you’re enjoying the warmth of summer.

This month I thought I might chat a bit about new beginnings. Having finished the latest Detective Byron manuscript, at least until my editor slashes through it with his red pen, my mind turns to different possibilities, new stories, new novels. I’ve even set aside some time to whittle down my massive to be read pile.

Completing a novel is a feeling like no other. It is actually quite freeing. We writers tend to chain ourselves to a project, dragging it around behind us for a year or more until it is finished. Much like towing a boat trailer, the novel manuscript never really leaves our sight until we send it off to our publisher. Of course there is still work to be done. Even so, the fact that I’ve untethered myself from it means I’m free to consider other projects. Those ideas for other novels or short stories that have been swirling in the recesses of my mind. I return to the many documents I’ve filed away, each containing the words “novel idea”. You’d be surprised how many of them there are. Some are barely more than a book title and an accompanying paragraph about the concept, while others are highly detailed mini synopsis and story arcs.

While I suspect most writers have more ideas than time, none of us truly have enough time to do all the things we wish, or tell all the tales we want to tell. But finishing a book opens the door to those other possibilities. Which novel idea will be the next Detective Byron Mystery? Which might make a great stand-alone? Which of these barely formed ideas will I grab hold of and chain to my tow hitch?


Some of you reading this might be picturing the writer staring at a blank page with a look of horror. What do I write? the author thinks. But I don’t see it that way. I prefer to look at it with the wonder and excitement of a new student. What will I write today? What will I learn? Where will my story take me? What will my characters reveal to me?

The truth is fiction writers can create any world, and inhabitants of that world, we desire. And believe me when I tell you that is every bit as cool as it sounds. Much like walking into a movie theater to see the latest flick or curling up in your favorite chair and cracking open a brand new book, it’s the feeling of going on a journey to some exotic and far away land, with absolutely no idea how you’ll get there.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have a novel to write.

Write on!

About Bruce Robert Coffin

Bruce is a retired detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine's largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director's Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive. He is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mystery Series from HarperCollins. His short stories appear in a number of anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016. Bruce lives and writes in Maine.
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3 Responses to New Beginnings

  1. So true, Bruce. So far I’ve always had at least one more book under contract to write, but I always can’t wait to get started, even as I’m doing the final polish on the one due in two weeks. It’s exciting to see where a new book will go, who will pop up in it, how I can improve my writing (but only in the service of the story). For me I let those short story ideas rise up when I’ve finished a first draft and am letting it jell for a couple of weeks. I look forward to reading what rises up for you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find that while I am doing other things, like buying groceries or deadheading the flowers, characters will show up and talk. Always on their schedule and never reliably, but come they will and demand that their stories be told…which is why I am now chained to my desk for another year, ‘cuz a guy named Rick O’Leary has a story to tell. Enjoy this creative hiatus, Bruce.


  3. John Clark says:

    My ‘borrow these books’ list runs 27 pages and I just got 3 more from Bullmoose. I’ll be long dead before I could touch everything I want to read. Good thing authors keep writing stuff i like.

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