So, I sat and thunk and thunk some more and EUREKA! One of those crazy mind magic thinking things happened! I’m not what they call a ‘Pantser’. I am a ‘Planner’. I like to plan things, everything. I’m such a planner that if I have planned to watch a TV show at 8:00 and that TV show is postponed until 9:00 I can become very anxious. You would think that my home would be much more organized with my mild case of OCD, but no, as a Perfectionist I am also a Procrastinator. It is a terrible weird mind I live with. In any event, I clearly did not plan this novel enough before the beginning of November (see ‘Procrastinator’) so now I have written just over 3000 words and have no idea where to go next (see ‘Perfectionist’). I decided that I cannot just stop writing (see OCD and Perfectionist), but that I cannot go further without a better idea of where this story is headed (see Planner – okay, you get the picture.) So, that’s what I did this morning. I made a little map of where the next few scenes are headed. This is the part where our intrepid heroine is given the box of evidence from the 70 year old murder – well, this is the evidence that has recently been turned over to the police. There is a slim file folder and an old shoe box. I’m not sure what’s in the shoe box, but it is important to our story. So, I sat back and thought more about the story and the shoe box. My map suggested that I have a primary plot – the 70 year old murder – but, I ought to have a secondary plot. Unbeknownst to our heroine the Detective Sergeant is going to ask her on date, but that didn’t seem like a proper secondary plot – more like a tertiary plot. So, what might be a good secondary story? Well, any good murder mystery has some suspense and dangerous moments for the protagonist. Maybe, someone doesn’t want our sleuth to find out who the murderer was 70 years ago? Hmmm … this could be promising … go on. Why would someone now want that secret to remain buried? Well, because he or she has known for fifty years who murdered Archie and thinks it is in the best interest of Archie’s surviving lover, Lil, that no one ever discover who it was. Oooo, I like this … who is it? Well, that is something I’m going to keep to myself. It wouldn’t be fair to give up all my secrets before the novel is even written, would it? Now, this will mean that someone is stalking our forensic historian, Parker, possibly hurting her at some point. I must admit I am loathe to do this to a historian, even though this is a very important element in the detective genre. I have read a lot of mystery novels and a lot of different kinds of mysteries. The one thing that really bugs me is the sleuth who shouldn’t be involved in crime at all. Why would a librarian, mechanic or symphony conductor be in the middle of a murder? The first novel is always, well, novel. By the seventh time the nosy symphony conductor is being hunted through the darkened rehearsal hall by a vicious killer my belief suspension has snapped! I have only ever seen dead people at funeral homes. How can a librarian become involved in a murder every twelve months, especially as they all seem to live in small towns? So, while my sleuth has good reason to be doing police work – I admit, a forensic historian is new, but not unheard of – I am worried about putting her in harm’s way. Will this be believable, even after the reader has accepted to suspend some belief? Will it seem too far fetched? I’ll have to cross that (suspension) bridge when I get there, I guess. And, as I already know who is trying to stop her it seems unlikely that Parker will be in full-on life-threatening danger, just heart-pounding danger.
So, I may not finish the 50,000 words by the end of November. Who are we kidding? I’m not even going to get close! But, I think I have stumbled upon a process that works for me: write a bunch of junk, get stuck, make some plans, think about stuff, make some notes, write that, repeat. So, I ought to have something resembling a first draft by the new year! My immediate problem is that I still don’t know what the hell is in that shoe box!