Sunday, May 9, 2010

And Then What?

I’ve been stuck trying to outline a mystery. This would be my first mystery, and maybe that’s part of why I’m stuck; I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I’ve even read a couple books on ‘how to write a mystery’, but I’m still stuck.

I’ve got my main protagonists. I’ve got the opening situation – a dead body in the trunk of a burning car. I’ve even got a minor complication to work in, in that some tiny clue will remind one of the characters of a significant time in her past. And then what?

I don’t know.

After finding the body, the Medical Examiner would fill in details, like the body’s gender, age, general size, and – hopefully – reason for death. Assuming the detectives on the scene could not figure that stuff out, and that would be determined by how badly the body was burned. That is where I’m stuck. There’s too many possibilities. Male or female? Child, teen, middle adult or old age? If female, was she pregnant?

Hopefully, deciding a few things would help me figure out those mundane little pieces of the plot – who killed this person, and why? The problem is, I’m too afraid I’ll make the ‘wrong’ decision.

I suspect there really isn’t any ‘wrong’ decision. At this point, any decision I make will point me in a direction, more decisions to be made, and so on, until the plot is settled. All I have to do is figure out which of the possibilities leads to the story I want to tell.

So wish me luck. Next weekend is Demicon in Des Moines, but I should be back on Sunday, so I’ll see you then. Trudy

1 comment:

  1. The mystery I keep wanting (and failing) to plot would involve a long-suffering detective having to put up with an obnoxious-but-brilliant teenager. Kind of Psyche meets the Hardy Boys meets Nero Wolfe.