This week is all about story development and getting new words onto the page.
Next week is serious marketing and list building, so I need to focus on the story asap.
W/c Monday 27th November. What has to be done by the end of this week?
|1||Work on a pro-forma template 4-Act structure for a cozy mystery story.|
|2||Develop the list of 5 suspects and their motives, means and opportunities.|
|3||Select one suspect who is going to be the main antagonist and an equal match for my heroine sleuth. Build up their backstory. Why now?|
|4||Recreate how the first murder was committed and then create the clues that will lead the sleuth to the killer. Add in possible fake clues and distractions from other suspects.|
|5||Start filling in the outline text with expanded scenes and dialogue.|
|5||Track the wordcount for each scene sequence every day.|
My Story Development Process
I develop a simple template story structure for my cozy mystery story. This is what I feel SHOULD be in each sequence of scenes for the mystery plot to work.
I see these elements as signposts that take the reader from the start to the end of the murder mystery journey in this book.
This template is based on a 4 Act story structure with 4 scenes per Act, so 16 scenes or scene sequences.
This is my starting point.
I can move these 16 steps around to create the most compelling version of my story for the reader. Or I may not need 16 sequences of scenes in 40,000 words, or I might need to add more steps, but it is somewhere to start.
Important. My story structure template is not a formula, or join-the-dots writing, but rather a story pattern that I think cozy mystery readers (like myself) will recognise and enjoy. This works for me, but it may not be a good fit for your project or your writing process.
Then I start to develop around the outline for this story, adding in dialogue and detail as ideas emerge as I work on the elements of the story.
This is very much freewriting using the signposts in each scene sequence to guide me as I create a first draft.
I don’t always work in chronological order. In fact it can make sense to write the first scenes to establish the story world and characters, and then go to the end and work backwards from the resolution to create the reveals and clues that lead the sleuth to the real killer.
Whatever works for you and your creative process.
The 16-Step Story Plan for My Cozy Mystery
This is an 8 page document so I have attached it to this post as a PDF which you can view or download if you find it useful. Click below to open the PDF.
Hat Tip to all of the Story Craft Resources I have used and borrowed from over many years, including: Paul Gulino, Blake Synder, Michael Hague, John Truby, Nancy Cohen, Robert McKee and countless screenwriters and genre fiction novelists whose blogs, books and courses I have attended.