I was watching the being of the television show Castle one night, and the main character said to the audience, there are two types of people to think of murder all the time, one is a serial killer and the other is a mystery writer.
I laughed, that is definitely a very true statement. Murder and mystery are on my mind all the time. And when I’m not thinking or writing about mystery, I’ll relax with my TV shows or a good book about the same thing.
If you are like most authors coming up with the idea is the least of your worries. They are everywhere! Need an idea, pick up a newspaper.
They can come from a bit of overheard conversation, idle moments on a beautiful beach, torn from the headlines, or quiet moments just before sleep maybe even a dream. It can come from an image of a particular character or a concept of a plot.
Once the idea comes to you, it will take hold, and grow. Like a mustard seed your idea must be cultured, developed, researched and worked out. You can do this in your Plot Book-write the idea down.
Sometimes especially in its infant stages, it’s best not to speak too much of a book idea because you will become emotionally spent and the work is never completed.
One of my favorite personal mottos is plan the work and work the plan.
You can do this in your Plot Book.
Let’s start with the idea. Now you plan it out chapter by chapter, scene by scene. In your Plot Book take the pages after your characters and write down your novel’s turning points.
Whatever you call it, its cause and effect. Action and reaction. Goal and effect. Its what will take you from page one of your novel to the end.
So, in the next pages of your novel you want to write down your book’s turning points right up to the climax.
By the way, it takes me about 3 to 6 months of working on my Plot Book before I begin the actual writing of the novel. Right now I am finishing upmy work in progress- Black Waters; I began my Plot Book for Cold River Murders about a month ago.
It doesn’t have to be written in one setting, take your time; you have a lot of clues and red herrings to bury within your pages.
In Pirates in Paradise, the concept came to me many years ago. The idea was force a good twin to pretend to be her twin sister. In my original concept, I thought this book would make a great comedy; it turned out to be one of my top selling romantic suspense novels.
I had my bookish twin, Haley be forced into assuming the role of her twin sister, the flamboyant South Beach Party girl who was involved with the leader of a drug cartel.
The scene that follows is in the prologue and sets up the action of The Plot
Tears glistened on Jenna’s perfect, heart shaped face. “Haley, I’m in so much trouble.”
“Is it Ricky?” Haley asked between sobs. She had met Jenna’s boyfriend only once.
“Yes. No.” Jenna’s voice cracked. She sat up and wiped her face before looking at Haley, her expression desperate. “Look, I need you to be me for a couple of days. Just until I can get a few things straightened out.”
Haley stared at her sister. “You can’t be serious! We aren’t kids anymore. We can’t just trade places. What’s going on? Honey, whatever it is, I’m sure we can figure something out.”
“It’s best you don’t know.” Jenna sobbed. Tears blinded her eyes and chocked her voice. “Look, I’ve made arrangements. You’ll be perfectly safe. Haley, please, I really need you to be me for just a few days.”
First Turning Point
Jenna escapes out the back of a hotel room, leaving Haley to be taken by the US Marshals. Amongst other things that happen at the end of Chapter 1, the safe house where Haley is staying at comes under attack by the cartel. Haley and one of the agents make a daring escape on Florida’s intercostal waterway.
Second Turning Point
Without doubt someone in the Feds gave away the Safe House. The Marshal who helped Haley get away is injured. There is no one to trust except for Jack Morgan who is in the witness protection agency. The marshal calls Jack, and Jack the hero comes in to grudgingly offer support.
Third Turning Point
After several days in the Florida Everglades with Jack, Jack begins to suspect, Haley is not Jenna the party girl that the Cartel and now Feds are looking for. At the end of this scenario, two thugs break into Jack’s house and hold Jack and Haley at gunpoint. Without giving away how they get away, Jack and Haley escape into the ‘Glades on Jack’s airboat.
Fourth Turning Point
Jack borrows a truck and Haley and Jack make their way into the Florida Keys. Jenna as last calls Haley and asks them to rendezvous with her in Key West.
Fifth Turning Point
At the rendezvous point, thugs from the Cartel get into a gun battle with the FBI and Marshals. Again, Jack and Haley escape.
Sixth Turning Point
Jack and Haley make their way back to Miami and while out getting breakfast for Jack, Haley is at last abducted by the Cartel. Jack sees this and tries to follow her abductors through the streets of Miami.
Final Turning Point
Haley is taken to the Bahamas to retrieve some Bearer Bonds, Jenna stole from the Cartel.
Jack has borrowed a boat and also in the Bahamas. The following is the scene leading to the final turning point or Climax.
Pirates in Paradise
Passing the lobby, Haley noticed two couples waiting, one old, one young and a man with a newspaper seated on the elegant white sofas.
As they passed the man seated on a sofa who was reading a newspaper, he dropped the paper beside him. Rising, he stepped in front of Ricky and Haley blocking their path.
“Take the money,” Jack Morgan said evenly to Ricky Rojas. “Leave the girl.”
Okay, I’m not going to give away more but Pirates in Paradise has been accepted by a movie studio so I won’t take away the fun of the movie, or how this all works out for Haley and Jack.
In Your Plot Book, you have your characters, your setting, and now take a couple of pages to write out the following:
The First Turning Point_____________________________________________ ____
The Second Turning Point_____________________________________________ __
The Third Turning Point_____________________________________________ _____
The Final Turning Point_____________________________________________ ______
The Climax____________________________________________ _________________
The Conclusion________________________________________ _________________
You will notice I have several turning points; plan at least three turning points or sequences which happen causing reactions by the characters all working the mystery toward your book’s climax.
There are many subplots in Pirates in Paradise. Jack’s relationship with Haley and Jenna’s relationship with Ricky the head of the Cartel. The stolen bearer bonds and Jack’s struggle with himself and his situation. Jenna has two subplots. Haley changes on this journey. She grows from a quiet little clerk in a bookstore to a resourceful heroine who has to use her wits if she and Jenna are to survive. Jack also changes. He grows from an embittered, lonely man to a man who not only finds love but a future he longs for.
Whether you outline or follow the Turning Points as previously mentioned, you want as you lay out your action, you are making yourself a roadmap to follow.
A quick word and a very important word about my favorite book on plotting. I have had the privilege of attending several classes, lectures and all day seminars’ with Debra Dixon. I cannot stress enough it you have one book in your library on writing, I urge you to buy Goal, Motivation. Conflict. It is in my professional opinion the best book on developing character motivation, conflicts and goals. I totally recommend this well written book for you. And if Debra Dixon is at any conferences near you, please do yourself a favor and make sure you to attend. This book will go into more in-depth plotting can I can here. It’s truly wonderful and a must have for your library. Again the book is Goal, Motivation & Conflict, by author Debra Dixon Publisher: Gryphon Books for Writers, ISBN 0-9654371-0-8
Lastly, you will notice, I have only listed four Turning Points here. Have as many as you like. There in my opinion is no set rule in this but I think most books will offer at least three.
So, plan your twists and turns. Tomorrow we are going to explore how to refine your plotline by using the High Concept and then on to subplots and more about setting on Friday.
For those of you who would like to share your turning points, please feel free to post! I look forward to reading all of them.
Pirates in Paradise and all my books are available here at Coffeetime Romance. For full chapter reads, character interviews, reviews, and more visit my website.
See you online, at Coffeetime! Linn