After you write down your book’s Turning Points; you now want to start the actually plotting in The Plot Book. Writing out the who, the where and the when.
In my notebook, I’ll write down Chapter One flip over several pages and then write Chapter Two, etc. etc. until books end. So I have a bunch of blank pages with chapter headings on them.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll plan three scenes per chapter. For me that is a right number.
You can write whatever works for you. There is no rule, just what works for you and your style of writing.
As each chapter will deepen your mystery, each scene should advance the plot and or subplot and keep the storyline moving forward.
In my Plot Book of, Lights, Camera. Murder! My initial notes read like this:
Sage finds the body on the television production set.
Sage must call Jon Maddox and bring him to crime scene
Conflict between Jon and Sage
Introduce Director: Hillary, Jeff Sanders, Double K and other characters
Bring in CSI & Medical Examiner
Sage finds second body.
That’s usually all I write. It is usually very simple but by chapters end, I have an action plan to follow. Those few sentences usually turn into 25 pages or so.
In the Plot Book, I continue developing the following chapters until I get to the final climax and how I wanted to close out the book.
You can call it an outline of sorts. My notes are not so well refined just more on what scenes/actions should occur during this chapter.
When I was writing my novel Haunted Hearts about a medium; which was written long before the television shows Medium or Ghost Whisperer ever aired; I began working on my plot for Haunted Hearts.
Subplots included the relationship between my heroine and the book hero as they fall in love. Other subplots were the four ghosts found in an historic Inn in St. Augustine, Fl. Each of them died relating to the mystery and each one was respectfully freed by my Medium as she uncovered the clues.
As I was working on Haunted Hearts, I can’t tell you how many ghost books I read or haunted history shows I watched or ghost tours I went on to accomplished the research required to write this book.
One scene came from real life. My great aunt said to her dying day that she witnessed a theater in time in Virginia when she was a little girl. A theater in time is a scene or series of scenes that continue to roll over. In her case, she saw the reenactment of a Civil War Battle.
I liked the theater in time incident, and decided to use one in my book. So, I pulled out my Plot Book for Haunted Hearts and wrote in “Theater of Time” in the Chapter 7. As I got into the book, it actually appeared later but as you write out your plot in those blank pages of your Plot Book, you can see what you want to add or incidents you want to occur when.
With an idea of what I wanted to occur when, I continue working on chapter by chapter until the book is developed. I do this in all my books.
In the old days before The Plot Book, I would have a terrific beginning, an idea of a great climax and in the middle, I had "the muddle". A Plot Book avoids “the muddle” of the book’s storyline and I hardly ever stumble into writer’s block where I don’t know what to write.
So, at the end of the day, when I start to write the book, I have a roadmap to follow and know when basically where I’ll be injecting clues, red herrings, etc., etc.
For me, developing the Plot book doesn’t take away from the actual creative process of writing the book. And sometimes, as my characters take over, some ideas are never used and other ideas are developed as I am working on my work in progress.
Nothing is set in concrete as the creative, actual book writing is completed; but I know where I am going. I also find working with a Plot Book keeps me from getting stuck somewhere in the middle not knowing where to go.
As I begin the actual writing of each chapter and each scene, I use as many of my five senses as possible.
What does your heroine see? What is she feeling? What is she thinking? What interaction is she having with others? What is the goal of this scene?
Also what time of day is it? If her hand is on a bannister, is the bannister cool to the touch?
If your heroine and hero are talking, what does your reader see around her? A family of tourists in a station wagon or a pedestrians walking on a busy street? If it’s the latter does she pass by storefronts. What do they look like?. What does she touch or feel? What does she hear? City traffic, a baby laughing, crying, shouting, or birds in the distance? What are the smells she encounters?
It’s not necessary to describe each of these element every time, just enough like the right pinch of salt to add flavor to your favorite meal.
If you would like an exercise in writing a scene, visit any restaurant and observe what is going on around you. Are their waiters coming in and out of the kitchen? What activity is going on at the other tables? Are a group of friends talking and laughing? Is a single man or woman reading a book? Are a married couple not talking? What does the table look like? Do you notice the table cloth, or the salt and pepper shakers with other condiments to include a drink menu? Are there windows in your restaurant? What is going on outside the windows? Is the hostess ushering in new diners? Jot down a few impressions for the next time your heroine is eating at a restaurant.
While I used a restaurant for this purpose, other venues include a playground, a city street, or anywhere your scenes happen to take place even if you are sitting alone in your car, what do you see and experience, what are you feeling?
You don’t have to describe every detail about the location, just enough for the reader to grasp the setting. For example, when my characters enter a home library, I will describe the chairs, the rug, the walls, and might even add a couple of book titles. The reader will quickly populate the bookshelves with hundreds of her favorite books. Thus with the setting in place, I can move onto the goal of the scene.
Remember too, your characters are experiencing weather. Where applicable, mention and use the weather.
If you want to see how the notes in my Plot Book turned out for Lights, Camera. Murder! Go check it out on my website at www.LinnRandom.com and click on Chapter Read under the Lights, Camera. Murder banner.
The Next lesson will cover the elements, the pieces and the parts of writing a good mystery.