Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pinning Down Your Best Ideas

Pretty is as Pretty Dies I’ve started work on my next mystery. Beginnings are the favorite part of the process for me. Brainstorming is exciting and at the beginning of the manuscript, the possibilities seem endless.

For this WIP, I’ve gotten quite a few ideas and can see several possible storylines. I’ve got victims, killers, and suspects---far too many of each, actually.

I’m not complaining. I can definitely use more than one victim and probably even more than one murderer. But I need to commit and then use the extras for a future book.

So I’m looking at my scrawled notes. These are some of the things I’m thinking about:

Which potential characters are most charismatic? Which would I have the most fun creating storylines around?

What locations would the bodies naturally be found in, depending on the plot? Which ones tie in my sleuth in the most natural way?

If my sleuth isn’t tied in by her proximity to the crime, is there a character and plotline that would get her connected to the murder?

Which victim makes the most sense—how many people want to get rid of him or her?

Do any clues and red herrings come quickly to mind with the different plot scenarios?

Is there one plot scenario that seems stronger than the others?

If would be nice, actually, if there were a reality show where characters and plots vie for spots in the novel—who gets voted off the show each week? The winners get parts in the book.

How do you nail down which storyline to pursue in your WIP?

email twitter 2

Elizabeth Spann Craig


Paul Lamb said...

It sounds more like you've started active work on your next mystery. With all those character and plot ideas already in hand, it seems you've been doing casual accumulating all along.

I have journals filled with story and character and thematic ideas. I don't think I actively begin work on a story, though, until that epiphany moment when I seen how they all fit together or come to an end or something. Then I can make sense of all of the parts I've accumulated.

G.M. Malliet said...

You are indeed at the fun part, before you have to commit either way.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Paul--That's true. I *have* been accumulating material for a little while. I like your approach for starting out.

G.M.--But the fun needs to stop now! :) My deadline is April 1, which will sneak up faster than I think it will.

Lisa Bork said...

I write scenes as they come to me then wait for the epiphany Paul mentioned to tie them all together.

Alan Orloff said...

Yes, epiphanies and Acts of God are a writer's best friends.

(How's this for the working title of my next book: "Epiphanies and Acts of God and Zombies."?)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Lisa--I'll have to sign up for those epiphanies! They must be hiding out with my Muse in the wilderness somewhere. :)

Alan--I *really* like that title. Or how about "Epiphanies, Acts of God, and Sea Monsters?" I think that's the sequel.

Jen said...

Mine is more of a choice of which story to work on! I have so many book ideas and I sit and stare at them, wondering if I start this one, what will happen to that one. I just need to commit to a story and, if after careful consideration, I find some of my characters would work better in another story, and I can pluck a few from that other story, I may be onto something!

I like the idea of the character reality show. What fun!


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I'm with you. The best part of a novel is at the beginning, looking at a fresh page and considering the possibilities. It's like opening a fresh box of premium chocolates.

I say throw it all on the page and see what/who emerges as the most interesting. It might surprise you.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jen--It's definitely a good problem to have, though!

Sue Ann--I think I'll give it a go. I really can't decide which one to go with!

Keith Raffel said...

I'd like to offer an alternative to the beginning as the best part of writing a novel. How about when you get a call from your agent telling you it's sold?