I just started to write the fourth book of my Annie Tillery Mystery series. The enjoyable part of writing the book is now at hand because I have laid the groundwork I need to help me navigate through the plot of a mystery novel.

I guess I’m old-fashioned. I need an outline. Once I get the basic idea for the story I write a list of chapter titles, even giving the chapters the most clever names I can think of to remind me of what I want to put there. Then, I go back and fill in the details. This helps to clarify the plot. Some of the original ideas just don’t fly when you put them in writing. Next, I make a flow chart of where I introduce the clues used by the characters to solve the mystery. This helps me to take care of every clue and tie it all up at the end. Then I go back and mark where I need to do research. I make a list of possible research terms and sites for my Google search, etc. The list of characters emerges from the chapter outline, and I make a separate list of them, choosing their names, traits, and role they play in the book.

This gives me a good matrix around which I can write the story. Even if I must leave the writing for a period of time, I can go back to this work and pick up where I left off.

Lastly, I start a writing course in a few weeks. I do this every time I write a book, because it reminds me of all techniques, and introduces a few new ones to help move the action along, home descriptions and make the characters come alive.

The next book brings Annie into contact with the life of her great grandmother who played an interesting role in WWII.

Spread the word. Share this post!