July 14, 2021 - Characters

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Yes, I’m cheating. I was too tired last night to write this post, so I’m doing it the following morning.

I reread the first part of the Plotto instruction manual to try to get grounded in the method again. I supposedly had done the first exercise (but not recently), where you choose the Masterplot you want for your story. I couldn’t find any record of having done that, though, so back to square one.

As I started to look at the Masterplot structure, I wasn’t sure I could move ahead because all plots start with a character. And I don’t know a lot about the characters in this story.

Oh, of course I know Titus Strong and Elisabeth Wade and Owen Campbell, but what makes mysteries different from other genres is that the major characters are usually your victim, your killer, and your primary suspect. The main character detective and his or her team aren’t as central to the plot as in, say, romance. Their stories are more likely to be subplots rather than the main plot.

I don’t know the key players in this mystery yet. Worse, when I went back to the small notebook where I jot down story ideas, I discovered that the person I’d been thinking of as my primary suspect, I’d said was going to be the murder victim. Why?

This situation is a little daunting when you wanted to be done with the bones of the outline in another week, and the fleshed out outline by the end of the month. Anyway, back to characters. Most of my characters don’t spring into my mind out of the ether. They usually start with either a real person or someone else’s fictional character. With that as a start, I think about other aspects of their personality, behaviors of other people who are a little like the original inspiration, etc.

So, rather than working on plotting, I have switched to character. In a way. Because I really wanted to read up more on pirates, even though they don’t appear as live people in this novel. So I spent some time reading The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler, which is really interesting.

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