I got notes back from one of my critique partners. More red than usual. I wasn’t surprised. I was trying to change an old–and not so wonderful–writing habit. I’m more than happy to write: She smiled. He frowned. And more times than should be humanly possible: He sighed. A friend at writers’ club called me on it. “We can do better than this, can’t we?”
Yes, yes, I can, but only if I work at it. The problem? My brain only seems capable of concentrating on so much. In this book, I wanted to step up my tags and step up my pacing. And as usual, things I normally do fairly well sagged a bit from neglect. Not the end of the world. Red ink circles show me what I need to fix. Thank you, Mary Lou!
On my next book, my learning curve should go more smoothly. The old and new should blend better. AND, I should have enough ideas, witnesses, victims, and suspects to reach 70,000 words without panicking. Plotting mysteries, for me, takes more than plotting romances. Now, I know, I’m addicted to plotting when a lot of my friends don’t even have to bother with it. But for my mysteries, I’m not plotting enough.
I’m not sure why, but if I came up with 40 chapter ideas for the urban fantasies I wrote a long, long time ago as Judith Post, I could pound out 80,000 words if I wanted to, no problem. Urban fantasy craves more description, battles that escalate the longer the book goes, and strong characters. All things that demand words, so that word count grows organically. It just happens. It flows.
When I switched to writing romances as Judi Lynn, I used the same format–40 plot points, but this time, I only needed 70,000 words. For romance, characters interacting with each other made up the majority of the words I used. And 40 plot points morphed pretty well into 70,000 words for me. The same hasn’t held true for mysteries. I sang a sad dirge when I reached the end of this book’s first draft and was 10,000 words short. I struggled to hit 70,000 words for my first mystery, too.
Now, I have friends who can cough up 100,000 words with no plot points with no problem. And yes, I’m jealous. They’re wonderful people, or I wouldn’t like them anymore. But every writer’s different, and for me, starting a book with no plot points is like traveling across country with no maps or GPS. I’d be lost all the time and take a winding, unusual route. I might never reach my destination.
When I write mysteries, I’ve found that my chapters are shorter. And I need more subplots. I also need more suspects. In this book, I introduced a perfect suspect and then didn’t do anything with him. I gave him an alibi before I found the next body. Shame on me. When I figured out I’d made a mistake, I had to go back and add him in more scenes, and then, I had enough pages. But going back and threading in scenes is a pain in the derriere, so I don’t want to do that again, if I can avoid it. So, for my next mystery, I want to have 50 plot points before I forge ahead with the book. And I want to list the victim/s, family members affected by the murder/s, witnesses, suspects, and anyone who might interfere with finding the killer. And who knows? Maybe I’ll end up with more words than I expected. But at least, I’ll have plenty of material to work with.
Whatever you’re writing, and however you write, have fun with it! I’ll be deep into editing this week. Happiness is making words better!
My webpage (and I put up chapter 33): https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Twitter” @judypost (I’d love to hear from you!)