Monday, October 08, 2007

Plotting can be an awful word--depending on whether or not you are step-by-step, plot out your whole story kinda gal, or a SOTP (seat of the pants) type of writer. Either way, mysteries can throw a monkey wrench into the best laid plans, especially if you aren't careful to keep notes on where your story is going. Here are three important keys to developing a solid plot:

Creating a list of suspects:

Part of plotting out your story is creating a list of suspects, adding a link that connects them to the crime, and giving each suspect a motive. This adds layers to your story and makes your overall plot richer. When creating your list of suspects, include the character's name, the character's secret, their link to the crime, and their motive for committing the crime.

Creating an outline:

Most writers think plotting is a long, tedious process with very little benefits. That may be true. However, having something as simple as a basic outline can help you keep your story on track and ensure that you don’t forget to tie up any loose ends. Here are just a few sample items to include in your outline:

One sentence premise

One paragraph summary

One paragraph setting description

Character sketches

Creating believable clues:

Believe it or not, part of creating a solid mystery means dreaming up believable clues and planting them in strategic places throughout the story. It’s not enough just to have your sleuth stumbling on facts and drumming up evidence. Without clues and red herrings, your reader will be left wondering how in the world the sleuth was able to arrive at the answer. Here again, is another reason why completing a detailed outline is so important.

How about you? Are you a plotter, or as SOTP writer? Why? How do you keep track of your list of suspects and their connection to the crime?


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