Saturday, March 25, 2023

Plot Development Technique

Scott Myers’ Screenwriting Tip: Index Cards
Nights are made for sleeping, but sometimes I have insomnia. And I’m making the best of it. During those middle-of-the-night wakeful periods, I work on the plot for my cozy mystery.

After publishing two detective mysteries with simplistic plots and writing a draft for a third detective story with a two-pronged plot, I’m beginning to learn how to create storylines with more complexity.

The main character in the ‘Murder at Binkley House’ cozy mystery is first-personing her way through the plot’s crimes. Things are happening to and around her. The more she digs, the more she puts herself – and her best friend – in danger.

After enhancing the plot with clues and red herrings pointing to multiple suspects, the order of the plot elements was harder to keep track of.

I bought a pack of index cards and wrote one clue, red herring, or plot point on each color-coded card. Now I can shuffle the cards as I experiment with plot order.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Short Stories

My short stories need help. The format is harder to write than I’d expected.

My last short story attempt gave me great learning opportunities and lots of room for improvement (i.e., it was almost a total failure).

I have over a dozen developed plot lines for novel / novella length detective stories, but I wasn’t getting around to writing them. I figured stripping the detective part from a mystery plot would automatically create a short story. Reader feedback proved me wrong.

I tried this approach twice. One story had a developed main character with relatable motives and actions but a weak ending. The other had a weak opening, a character without motive, and a good last line. Unfortunately, I can’t merge the good parts into a respectable short story.

I signed up for an online short story class. Learning the basics will help. I also joined an online short story critique group. Reading short stories and learning the focus areas of critiques will help refine my writing craft.