Plotters and Pantsers
Some writers create detailed outlines of their story before they start to write. These writers are the plotters. Other writers don’t create outlines. They just start writing whatever comes into their head and then shape a story around it. These are the pantsers, in that they write “by the seat of their pants.” That makes for a lot of rewrites because some elements or characters will need to be revised or even deleted to make the story flow. But for many, that’s part of the joy of writing or the joy ride.
What About Mysteries?
With a mystery, you need to leave clues along the way. If you don’t, the reader feels cheated. You can’t just throw in a surprise, such as a twin brother who suddenly appears at the end and who commits the murder. If you’ve got a twin brother wandering around, he needs to show up earlier in the story to be a plausible suspect.
My Way of Writing
As for myself, I like to create a basic outline of the story and who the characters are. Most of the time, I start with how the story ends. With some novels, such as The Cubist Caper, I had a detailed outline of who, what, where, when and why. While many of my locations are made up, when I write about one that is real, I’ll research what’s actually there.
For example, in The Cubist Caper some of the story takes place in a church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s a well known church. So when I was writing the novel I took a trip to Santa Fe to scout out the church. I needed to make sure of its location and that it had a back entrance, because it figured into the story. I also went inside to get the feel of the place.
Here’s some photos of the church:
But That’s Not the Whole Story
I am now leaning toward being more of a pantser. I create less and less of an outline and more of a joy ride for myself. If I want readers to be surprised at how a story ends, because they had a hard time figuring it out until it did, well guess what? I had a hard time figuring it out too. I didn’t know how it was going to end until I got there.
Well, thanks for reading,
The Trouble With Murder, D.X. Varos, Ltd, 2022
Hidden Agenda, Forget Mellemgaard APS (in Danish) 2021
The Cubist Caper, Forget Mellemgaard APS (in Danish) 2022
A Palette for Murder, A Lana Davis Mystery, Five Star Publishing, a part of Gale/Cengage Learning 2015
A Blue Moon, CCHB 2013