August 9, 2021 - Plotting the Novel

Monday, August 09, 2021

The title is kind of misleading. That’s what I was trying to do, but I made very little progress.


I know the setup of this book—a group of old college roommates gets together for a reunion—and there’s a murder, which my senior sleuth solves. Sounds great, right? As far as it goes, that is. But there are lots of details missing, and today was the day to start working on those.


It took me a while to settle on whether to start with the characters or the plot. I thought it should be the plot, so I opened up my notebook to the page where I’d started making notes. I only had two plot variations, and I decided I didn’t like one of them, which left me with one. I needed more ideas than that.


So I began to look through some of my references on plotting a mystery to see if that would help. I almost bought another book on Amazon, but fortunately was able to convince myself to try with one more reference I already have before doing that. (Yes, buying more craft or marketing books is always a great way to procrastinate on actually doing anything.)


Well, that worked only briefly, because many of the situations required specific occupations or relationships between the characters. So I was back to character to see what I could come up with. There are six women in this group, which is larger than I usually begin with, but I want to make sure I have enough suspects without going outside the group and be forced to use some of the continuing characters in the series.


I find it awkward to refer to characters as Suspect 1 or Suspect A, so I needed names. This led me to the Social Security website to look up names that were popular in 1960. Since I want them to be close to retirement, I had to start with subtracting 60 from 2021 to come up with a birth year. Then, in Googling some other information, I happened upon a wonderful site which has a summary of news events, movies released, etc., and pictures of fashions for each year from the 1800s to the current day (https://www.thepeoplehistory.com/). Yes, I did get lost there for a while.


I decided on six names, then thought I needed to know what their occupations were going to be at the time of the story. Yes, more searching the Internet for likely occupations for a woman with a college degree today. I particularly wanted two that were somewhat related to use as a point of contact that might be a reason two of them had kept in touch over the years more than the others. Finding those suggested a scenario that could lead to a problem. Good stuff!


So back to plotting. That put me back to where I started. I was either going to have to dig deeper into one of the plotting references or do more internet searches for stuff. That was not going to be a short task. :::sigh:::


Fortunately, I checked my email, which reminded me of something I needed to do by tomorrow for Sisters in Crime. Which I did. And now it’s just about time for the Red Sox game (why am I still watching them?), so I thought I’d better write this up and post it.

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