I read about Scapple from one of the writers at Story Empire, (I can’t remember which one), and it sounded like it might be helpful, so I gave it a try. And I like it. I used it when I first started thinking about Jazzi 8, What I like about it is that I can jot down random thoughts. I don’t have to think about cause and effect or the order the story happens in. It’s just a place for me to write down ideas that I might or might not use when I finally get serious about writing my plot points.

Plot points are the key things I want to include in each chapter of the book. I use them to organize my thoughts, so I take time to make them flow and include everything I need to move the story. Scapple is just what-ifs. It’s a place for me to answer the questions I ask myself at the start of each mystery.

  1. Who’s killed and why?
  2. Who’s the killer? How did he do it and how did he hide his tracks?
  3. Who are the suspects and why?
  4. Any witnesses? Will they tell? Will they try to blackmail the killer? Will they try to protect him?
  5. What’s the ending?
  6. Any fake alibis? False accusations? False arrests?
  7. What’s the main subplot?
  8. Can I think of a second, smaller subplot?
  9. Is there an antagonist (someone who gets in the way of the protagonist like a newspaper reporter who pesters him or writes misinformation about him) besides the killer, who’s trying to mislead the protagonist or harm him?
  10. Do I have an interesting enough villain?

These aren’t plot points, just ideas. So they get put on Scapple, along with ideas for setting, holidays, descriptions, pets, anything else to add atmosphere to the story. It’s a place to let my mind wander and be free before I try to fit everything in place.

I wasn’t sure I’d like this new approach, but I do. I can add things over time, whenever inspiration strikes or my mind wanders to that particular story. I can play with more than one book at a time. Is it essential to my writing? No, I could scribble everything in notes, but it’s kind of nice seeing it all in one place. It’s a luxury for me, not a must-have. But I like the freedom it gives me when I’m playing with a book and peopling it with characters who are new to me.

I printed out my Scapple notes today and started a first chapter for The Body in the Buick. I have six plot points. Not much, but a beginning. And once I hear Jazzi, Ansel, and the characters in the book start talking to each other, I’ll make myself write more plot points, but for now, I need to get the feel of the book right. I need to do character wheels to see the people I’m going to live with for the next few months and get to know them better and how they interact with the other people in the book. And then I need to glue my fanny in a chair and write!