I’m a little obsessed with plotting. And there are LOTS of ways to do it. Some people don’t need to do it at all–I’m jealous. But for me? I need all the help I can get to keep words and ideas moving for a 70,000+ book.
After all these years of writing, I still like to read about the CRAFT of writing off and on, just to keep me on my toes. And hopefully, my writing will keep getting better. I still have flaws, and I know it. So does my writers club:) For new ideas, I recommend Story Empire: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/nutshell-catch-point-no-return/ Staci Troilo is writing about plotting on that site right now–a method I’ve never heard of–the Nutshell Method.
For a long time now, I’ve divided my books into four parts with a plot point twist at the end of each one. Once I know those twists, I write plot points for every chapter in the book. And that’s worked for me, but I wanted MORE. I use a character wheel to develop important characters in the story, and that works really well, too. But…surely, there was something else to make my mysteries sharper? stronger? So I came with a list of questions to answer BEFORE I started work on my plot points. And boy, am I happy with what I came up with. I think I finally have a good balance. At least, for me. And mysteries. You might be able to fiddle with the questions for other genres, but since I don’t write those…well,…you’re on your own.
Anyway, I’m playing with an idea for a new cozy mystery. The premise popped in my head and wouldn’t leave. Kept bugging me. But that’s ALL that came to mind. So…syymied…I turned to my list of questions. Suddenly, suspects and witnesses filled my head, the victim ended up as the dead body she deserved to be, and my series characters flexed their muscles and showed their true selves.
If you’re writing a mystery and would like to try the questions, here they are:
- Who is killed (at least, the first person) or what is the crime?
- Who commits it? And how? (step by step so no holes or confusion)
- WHY Is it committed?
- Who are the suspects and why? (At least two, more’s better)
- Any witnesses? Does someone see something that looks suspicious? Any innocent bystanders?
- What’s the ending? (I always know this before I write)
- Any special clue or red herring? Any alibis or fake alibis? Accusations? False arrests?
- A subplot (something going on with a character other than the crime)
- A smaller subplot.
These questions helped me. Doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. But whatever method you like, happy writing!