View Full Version : The Mystery Writers Guide to Developing thePlot Book

March 2nd, 2011, 09:38 AM
The ideas come first for some of us, for others the characters. However your story comes; it’s important to put it down on paper. And there are two different schools of thought on how to do this.
And, let me emphasis, there is no right and no wrong way on how you write your book. It’s simply how you work.
First pathway is the Panzer. A Panzer is one who opens the first page of a document, starts with the a blank page and writes to the every end.

The second group are called Plotters. I happened to be of this group speaks to writers of suspense. They have to plot….and scheme…and I think most mystery writers fall into this group.

As a suspense writer, you have to know where to bury the clues, develop the mystery.
You should know your characters intimately; in fact you should know them better than your best friend. I hear a lot about how real my characters are. Characters should have constant core strengths, unique personalities, and a mission to finish their own mystery.
Villain, hero or heroine, your characters should be real. As real people do they/we all come with a back story. Give them as much depth as possible.

You can develop your characters in and through the Plot Book, which will be coming to you at the end of this lesson.

I like to read and write about characters that grow. Both Devin in Haunted Hearts and Haley in Pirates in Paradise grow. So does Jane Eyre who grows from a meek nanny in Mr. Rochester’s house who faces her problem to find love and overcome adversity with courage. ….but like real people, our characters have a chance of redemption and a change to grow and evolve.

In Pirates in Paradise, my character Haley grows from a quiet bookish store clerk to an amazing woman of fathomable courage she didn’t know she had. She is forced to face down physical threats from brutal men all for love, love of her sister love for a modern day Pirate. In Pirates Jack Morgan grows from a despondent, isolated man to revisiting his sense of self and finds something worth fighting for. More about characters later.
And a word about our villain. He or she too needs to have depth and dimension and he doesn’t need to spring full grown from the last pages of your book to surprise your reader. Introduce him early.

Unless you plan your novel on an isolated island, there are people around. It takes a village. In Lights Camera Murder, I had over 185 characters on a television production crew to move around, not to mention the cast, caterers, police department, town and a mob of reporters.

Now the setting. How well do you know your setting? How can you make your setting another dimension and or “character” to your novel?

We will be working on each of these elements in the coming weeks but I wanted to give you an overview.

Last and of equal important is the plot. Many years ago a group of professors torn down the variety of plots and broke them down into three groups.

Man against man. Man against nature and man against nature.

Lastly in this foreword, there are in my opinion three parts of any great book, the Beginning, the Muddle (not misspelled) and the End.

Your Plot book will help you plan the work and then when you begin writing the book, work the plan.

For those who are interested, I hand write out all the elements in the Plot book in a six by 8 inch notebook. I carry my plot book with me everywhere. This allows jotting down plot twists, developing scenes and adding character dimension.

Okay, authors, print out your plot book for your notebook or a word doc, and enjoy developing your mystery!

The Plot Book
(Page One)
Title: __________________________________________________ _______________
Author: __________________________________________________ _____________

Setting:__________________________________________ _____________________
Season:___________________________________________ ____________________
Duration:_________________________________________ _____________________

(Page Two)
Plot/Main Conflict:
__________________________________________________ ___________________
__________________________________________________ ____________________
Subplot: __________________________________________________ _____________
Timeline: __________________________________________________ _____________

And you want to develop as many subplots as possible. I’ll be covering subplots in a later lesson.

Red Dragon
March 2nd, 2011, 10:53 AM
It's 2:0am so wil have to look at this in the morning
Wish I could stay longer :)

March 2nd, 2011, 01:26 PM
Thanks, will be thinking about the plot book - Gloria

March 2nd, 2011, 04:50 PM
Thank you Gloria! I have found Plot Books extremely helpful for mystery and romantic suspense authors though anyone writing any style can find them helpful. You have to plan where to put those red herrings and bury the clues. I usually start my Plot Book when I am just about done with my work in progress. It doesn't take away from the creative process at all. Its more like a roadmap for a planned adventure and there is plenty of room to change a plot course as I do the actual writing. Its okay as I mentioned, be Panzer, its simply how you get the work done. Throughout this class, I'll be giving you more and more information on The Plot Book. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. Have a wonderful day! Linn

March 6th, 2011, 11:02 PM
Oh wow, this is going to help me a ton with trying to write my first mystery. Thank you for this seminar.


March 7th, 2011, 07:13 AM
Thank you Jude, I appreciate your comments and thank you for writing. Write anytime!
Linn Random

March 7th, 2011, 08:15 PM
I've never used a plot book before, but more or less jotted down notes on what I had in my head about the characters. I'm going to try this, it's more organized than my method of writing random thoughts and scenes.