Friday, December 29, 2006

Year-long mystery

Note: This project only went on for 10 weeks before a computer ate all my daughter's notes and we lost enthusiasm for it. But you're welcome to read through as far as we got to see if the book might interest you. It was a new and interesting experience for me to plot out a book before writing it :-)

I just picked up an intriguing book called The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery by Robert J. Ray (author of 7 Matt Murdock mysteries though I'm not familiar with the series) and Jack Remick.

It's 52 weekends to a finished mystery novel. They write their own mystery along with the reader.

Kat thought it sounded like fun so, as we're doing it, I thought I'd post summaries of what the authors suggest you do each weekend on Fridays so you can join in if you'd like. Obviously their book has more thorough explanations and lots more encouragement. But we'll see how well it works!

If you'd like to try, mysteries don't need to be contemporary! I like historical mysteries, though that might involve some research. ;-) But authors have successfully combined fantasy or science fiction with mystery, like Laurel K. Hamilton's vampire series and Isaac Asimov's Robot series, just to name two.

To get going, they suggest creating a story profile. Obviously at this stage you won't know much! But write down ideas that pop into your head. They aren't etched in stone. You can always change them. You can always leave blanks to fill in later as the story sails along:

Fill in (as you can):
  • Working title
  • Type of tale
  • Setting
  • Time
  • Main characters
    • killer
    • victim
    • sleuth
  • Notes on the murder
    • weapon
    • wounds
    • time of death
    • motive
    • other
  • Body discovered by
  • Witnesses
  • Suspects
  • Scapegoats
  • Other

The creation schedule is broken into 4 parts:
  1. Planning
  2. First draft which is written "fast and loose" -- like NaNoWriMo :-)
  3. Second draft -- where the gaps are filled in and the bumps smoothed out
  4. Final draft -- where it's polished

And the weekly breakdown of tasks is:
  • Weekends 1-4: Character work
    • Killer
    • Victim
    • Sleuth
    • Catalyst
  • Weekends 5-9: Plotting
    • Back story
    • Key Scenes
    • Plot Picture-Diagram
    • Subplots
    • The working synopsis
  • Weekends 10-13: Scene building
    • Crime scene
    • Dialogue
    • Action
    • Setting
  • Weekends 14-25: First Draft
    • Writing Act One
    • Writing Act Two
    • Writing Act Three
  • Weekends 26-38: Second Draft
    • Weekends 26-29: Rewriting Act One
    • Weekends 30-35: Rewriting Act Two
    • Weekends 36-38: Rewriting Act Three
  • Weekends 39-52: Final Draft

(By the way there's also The Weekend Novelist for writing a novel.

And that's it until next Friday!

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