It's been a week and a half now since I've done any work on either of my novels - although it feels like a lot, lot longer - but my brain has been silently working away, thinking about the plot for novel #2.
I know that some people (hello Nichola!) think that plotting and outlining is a really, really bad idea but something writing novel #1 taught me is that I need to plot. If I don't I grind to a halt when I don't know what happens next and I have to pause and wait until a solution appears. I need to think novel #2 through before I write anything (as proven by the opening I already had to scrap!).
I need to think about making each scene count, about increasing the intensity of the MC's crises as the novel progresses, about incorporating unanswered questions that stick in a reader's mind, about making this book a real page turner. I also need to think about the balance between the plot and the subplots (something, I admit, I didn't actively plan for novel #1).
I was reading Holly Isle's pdf on plotting a novel and started thinking about the 'candy bar scenes' (scenes that you're really looking forward to writing) in novel #2. That's what the coloured index cards are for. I've got four different coloured cards and, co-incidentally, a main plot and 3 sub plots (okay, one main sub plot and two lesser sub plots). The idea is to write down as many different scene ideas as possible on the cards and, when I've finished, go through them to see how they fit together, discarding any scenes that are rubbish.
If you look at the bit of paper in my photo you'll see I've drawn a line down the middle with 'beginning' at one end and 'the end' at the other. It's divided into 3 Acts (I used the same structure for novel #1). All the scribblings beneath that line are the ideas I've had for scenes so far. The beginning is fairly straight forward - as it was with novel #1 (I knew exactly what the first few chapters were) and I know what the first crisis point is but, unlike novel #1 I've got quite a few scenes for the second Act and none for Act 3. In theory the scenes I scribble onto the index cards will help me structure Act 2 (I know what the crisis point is at the end of Act 2 which is a help).
Act 3 however...
is a problem.
I don't know what happens!
There's a big mystery to be solved in novel #2 and, at the moment, I have absolutely no idea whodunnit! I'm not even very sure who the suspects are. I read an interview with a crime writer recently who said that, when she starts her books, she has no idea who dunnit until the end. That way, she argues, the reader will be as surprised as she is. Fair point. I'm hoping my subconscious will fill out Act 3 in the next couple of weeks but, if it doesn't, I'm not going to worry. If I've got Acts 1 and 2 planned I'll just start writing and see what happens.
But first, on with the fun stuff. Thinking and scribbling and shuffling.
Am I the only one that finds this bit more fun than actually writing the novel (candy bar scenes aside)?
p.s. If anyone has found any helpful hints online about writing a mystery/whodunnit please feel free to point me in the right direction!