Friday, September 28, 2007


Is your book plot driven (many mysteries and thrillers are plot driven) or character driven (Literary books often pride themselves on being character driven.) For me the best books are character and plot driven, especially since I like mystery and paranormal but want the main character to be three dimensional and change as the story/series continues. In some books, the characters never grow or change (i.e. James Bond, Dirk Pitt just to name a couple) and their fans don't want them to.

You flesh out your character with a character study so you know how that person would act in a given situation, which also helps drive the plot. (eg. that good catholic girl better have a more compelling reason than convenience in order to be talked into an abortion. Otherwise, why would she risk excommunication and go against her life teachings?)

Plotting is another thing. Many people plot as they go, seat of the pants. For "Privy to Murder" I had a chapter outline and pretty much knew where I was going, a good thing when you write a mystery. I have to know who gets killed, why and who. The map is great. However, when I wrote "Fairy Dust" it was seat of the pants. However, FD was only 10,000-12,000 words, easier to keep track of. I like both ways. I have a sketchy outline for "Museums are Murder" and for "Bloody Murder." I will feel a little better if I fill in more for Bloody but some is going to be spontaneous stuff, which can work for paranormal as it frees up the imagination.

How do I plot? I use the divide the book into sections, at the end of the 1st chapter, the first plot point(in my case, with a mystery-murder) for paranormal a murder or other strange crime. Mid way into the book comes the second plot point, a surprise that reverses things (The primary suspect is in jail when the murder takes place, or is killed or . . .) The next plot point, Crisis, things couldn't get any worse, then they do. Then you have the wrap up. I like to use a white erase board with a sticky note for each chapter so I know where I want to be by the end of the chapter, even though I don't know how I'll get the character there. (More on this next time.)

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