method and madness

One of the things I’m coming to realize about myself as a writer is that I tend to jump in feet first and then realize once I’m treading water that I should have had a better plan. So, usually I’ll start off with an idea, then I’ll write a couple of chapters, then I’ll go back and write an outline.

I’m working on a murder mystery right now. I started writing it with only one idea in my head: wouldn’t it be funny if a bestselling crime-fiction writer got tangled up in an actual crime? I had a vague notion of who the bad guys and suspects would be, but I didn’t really sit down and fathom out the crimes themselves until yesterday. Which is a problem, because all the best mystery writing has clues dropped from page one. I find that the mysteries I enjoy the most are the ones with the endings that surprise you, but that have dropped clues all along that you find when you go back and reread. As a writer, it’s tough to insert those clues if you don’t have all the evidence gathered.

So I drew a map. I find that drawing can help me visualize something, especially something as convoluted as a mystery plot. (I also draw maps when I set novels in fictional towns, and I’ve been known to draw family trees when I’m writing about big families, and other things in a similar vein.) So I took a fuzzy picture of the map I drew yesterday. You get fuzzy, because it contains spoilers; the book’s not even done, but should I someday finish it and publish it, I’d hate to ruin it far in advance. 😀

So there’s a little taste of what I’m working on. A complicated mystery with a little bit of a twist in the ending. So now I have to go back and edit to put in more clues. And also fact check my police procedure. And also make sure the pacing on the romance subplot(s) works. So much to do!