Plotting and Planning

On one of my lunch hours last week I went for a walk. Instead of going down to the river like I normally do in the summer, I walked the opposite direction, across the canal and into the Glebe (I work right next to the beautiful Ottawa Canal). Right at the corner by my work is the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I really needed to walk that day so I made a mental note to go the next day. And I did. I walked into the library, marched straight over to the writing section and started looking up books on writing. Specifically tips on writing mystery novels. I found several books, plopped down into a comfy sofa chair and skimmed through a few. I narrowed it down to the two books I have now.

The first book is giving me all sorts of great tips on writing a mystery novel. Of course it’s caused me a great deal of additional work for the book but the extra work will be worth it. I wonder if the second book will hold such jewels.

Firstly, I created a schedule for the book. The schedule has me publishing in April, which is a lot later than I had originally wanted. But I also don’t want to rush the very first book. So six months to write the book and six months to go through the various edits, have others read the manuscript and provide feedback, and additional edits. It will also give me time to research publishing and marketing. I’m leaning towards self-publishing but from what I’m learning its quite hard and time consuming.

Secondly, I created a stepsheet. This is what the author calls the plot outline. I set it up in excel, divided it by Act, then Chapter and then broke it down into scenes, high level plot and plot details. I’ve also included a column for notes for when I start the editing phase. I’ve entered some notes already where I think I may want to add/revise in the first editing phase.

I’ve also started taking a hard look at the characters, and their names. I realized during my reading that the last name of my main male character in the novel is used in four other mystery novel series. Not good. So I have a short list of names for him and I’m thinking of polling on my blog to see what people think the last name should be. It may also be a great promotional tool for the book. There are a few other names to consider and the title of the book.

And lastly, an update on the word count total. I’m up to 41, 545 words. Awesome! I have two more months of writing scheduled and 9 chapters left to write. The first draft is getting close to being done. And if I don’t reach my final word count goal with the first draft, I’ll have the chance to add more to the novel in the editing phase. As long as I’m around 60,000 words or higher by the time I publish it I’ll be happy.