Practical Meerkat: In Which I Plot

First: the ObPromotionalBit:  A half-faun PI.  A girl who sees Death. Magic that runs on electricity.  NYC.  You know it’s gonna be a party…  Go on, check it out.

Ahem.  And now, onward to the writing neep.

So, today I started working on the second mystery project.  And The first thing I did was take out the proposal (the thing my editor saw) and start breaking it down into an actual Plot.

I know a lot of damn fine writers who freak out when asked to sit down and figure out where the plot’s going.  If they think about it too much, the story dries up on them.  I can empathize to a certain degree: I try not to think about the final (or the penultimate) chapter until I actually get there, and then I see how the changes along the way have altered the closing scenes.  But the first three-quarters of the book?  That, I plot out.  And I especially plot it out when I’m working on a mystery (no matter the genre).

(Yes, I’m a Virgo.  What was your first clue?  Not that I believe in any of that stuff, mind you.  Except when I do.)

For me, though, plotting is like packing. Yeah, you CAN just throw stuff in your kit & go, but then you run the risk of getting there and realize you need That Thing you left at home.  And yes, sometimes you can run out and buy what you need, but then there’s cost (in money – or, in this analogy, of time in rewriting everything up to that point), and what happens if what you need changes everything you’ve done?  It’s like packing for the tropics and ending up in Nepal.

– mind you, I’ve done that.  I mean, thrown a toothbrush, a random change of clothes, and my meds in a bag and headed for the airport.  But what you can do for a two-day trip (or a short story) isn’t the same as traveling for a week, or a month, or a hundred thousand words.-

Right now, I feel like I’m pre-packing – lining up all the plot-things I need, & seeing how best to fit them all in.  It’s fun.  But then you realize something needs to go BOOM earlier, and you have to haul everything out and resort…

I can see where some people say screw it, and dive into telling the story.  But for these books?  A packing list is essential.

Now. Where does that first BOOM fit….?


EtA: Hah! Found the first BOOM. And it was hiding later in the outline, of course…

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