July 8, 2021 Back on Track

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Woohoo! Today I wrote 655 words and finished “Murder at a Masked Ball.” Naturally, this is just a first draft, but that was my aim for now. Depending on whether I’m selected for the anthology or not, I will revise this story later in the year, probably in August, according to how it will be published. The anthology has a strict word count limit, which I’m very close to, and so the story will stand pretty much as it is now for that. But if I’m going to distribute it to my newsletter subscribers, I’ll probably expand some of the scenes.

Since the end was in sight, over the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about the plot of the next novel. Not necessarily what the plot will be, but how I will develop it. I watched a YouTube video with David Farland on story development that was done recently, and in it he mentioned his book “Million Dollar Outlines.” I seemed to remember buying that in the past, and sure enough, I had the paperback on my bookshelf. Pristine. Untouched. Since I’m getting ruthless about how many print books I own, I decided it was time to open that book up and see if it was a keeper or not. I’ll let you know.

Then I spent an hour with the Plotto instruction manual. This was a method for developing plots that was popular in the pulp fiction era. Erle Stanley Gardner studied it and used it as the basis for his own method of plotting a mystery. One of the problems with Plotto is that most of the versions available are basically photocopies of the original book pages, and they’re in a very small type. A bigger problem is that all the elements for building a plot and suggestions for conflicts are given a number or letter combination. For instance, suggestion number 1018 starts with the following:

(606 ch A to F-A; 705 ch A to F-A or 638 ch A to F-A)

Yeah, plain as mud. You have to look up each of those codes in the appropriate list to make any sense of the thing. But I’m hoping that once I get comfortable with deciphering the thing, it will spark more ideas faster for plots for my books.

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Elise's bookshelf: currently-reading

A Clash of Kings
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