How To Plot Out A Thriller/Mystery

A year ago, I plotted out my own little mystery thriller and hope to make it into a book one day. I enjoyed the scheming and implanting surprises. So here’s how I did it.

I knew I could complete a story in as many chapters as I needed. However, I didn’t have a story yet. So I thought I’d see what I could come up with in 27 chapters (3x3x3). I didn’t end up using all of them, but it did get the ball rolling

I came up with my ending first. What did I want to accomplish? What emotional state was each character going to be in?

I worked backward. I felt like my beginning should be the exact opposite. I wanted a story where my characters were heroic and loving at the end and lame and hateful at the beginning. I wanted there to be two main characters who grow closer throughout the book.

I had a beginning, a middle, and an end: boring and strangers, action and comrades, heroes and friends.

Then I decided what kind of action: do I want it to be a crime? A jungle adventure? A spy undercover operation? The list goes on. I thought a crime would be interesting. Multiple crimes, in fact.

So, I split my beginning into three parts, my middle into three parts, and my ending into three parts. I already knew that I had to find out about the crime, investigate the crime, and then solve the crime, but how could I split finding out about a crime into three parts? Investigating a crime into three parts? Solving a crime into three parts? Well that’s where my creative side came in. Each third became it’s own beginning, middle, and end.

I added character development, conflicts, and plot twists to fill the gaps, otherwise it’d be a three-chapter book. Maybe it takes three problems and two solutions to fully discover that a crime was committed. Maybe it takes a leap of faith, three lucky tip-offs, and two steps backward to get through the investigation. Maybe because of a new friendship and two minds working on the case, with a few cafe scenes here and there, the crime was finally solved. But the case is not closed until the criminal is caught, so there’s a few more scenes for ya’.

There are so many options that I had to split the thirds of the three into three parts themselves, resulting in 27 or so chapters. It allowed me to explore the characters with back stories, have intimate as well as action scenes, and really build a secret over time, which I had planted at the beginning of my plotting process. It sprouted into a drawn out sequence of events that became my book outline.

I hope that helped some with plotting your next mystery thriller!

Keep writing,

WritingMime

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

Writing Beginnings To Your Books

I wanted to do a “How To Make Your Book’s Ending Unrushed” post, but I decided to do one on book beginnings instead. Almost every book on Amazon.com gives an excerpt of their first few pages. If they don’t, that’s probably a sign that the book has a bad beginning.

My hypothesis: Beginnings should make a reader curious. It’s not always cliché to start with an eerie lead and loose facts to get a reader going. I’ve switched my chapters’ order so many times to fit this. I finally decided to take the easy way out and pick the one with the most action to start the book. Although, the first time I wrote it, that’s not at all how it started in my head. Is that okay or am I betraying my story? Is it action or curiosity that reels in readers? Here are the beginnings to other books I’ve read so we can begin to figure that out. My research:

Looking for Alaska, by John Green:

  • Does it have action? No, in the next chapter he arrives at his boarding school. The first chapter revolves around Pudge and the reason he is going to a private school.
  • Is there curiosity? Yes, by giving Pudge purpose to go, we want to see if going to a private school will pan out the way he wants it to.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher:

  • Does it have action? No, in the next chapter, a box of tapes arrived at a boy’s door step and really starts the story. The first chapter is the aftermath of what has happened. It’s very unclear.
  • Is there curiosity? Yes, we are immediately interested in the boy’s purpose; why he’s acting to such degrees of importance and what events cause this. There is clearly need to know.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling:

  • Does it have action: Yes and no. No fighting or chase scenes if that’s what you meant. Yes, we follow characters other than the main one around. There is contrast between them and wizards looming around the muggle world. It’s not until chapter four that we actually enter the wizard world.
  • Is there curiosity? Yes, the first chapter refers to some event that happened before this new story begins. We also want to know what is going to happen to this poor baby that has been given to a mean bunch of people he’ll have to call family.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black:

  • Is there action? Yes? The MC wakes up in a bathtub after she’d drank too much the night before, only to find the rest of the partygoers are dead in the other room. She explores.
  • Is there curiosity? Yes, we immediately want to know how everyone died and how she survived. It sounds cliché, but only if you write it just like that. Holly Black used detail to mask many clichés.

The Merchant of Death, by D. J. MacHale:

  • Is there action? Sort of. Bobby is writing in past tense through a letter about leaving a pretty girl at his house to go someplace unknown with his uncle.
  • Is there curiosity? Yes, we know something has gone horribly wrong by the urgency and confusion Bobby speaks in. We also immediately want to know where his uncle takes him and why he’s acting this way.

Well, it looks like the beginning of my story can have action, but what’s most important (and I should mention the books I’ve chosen above are one’s I’d recommend to others) is that it entices the reader’s curiosity. Possibly create a purpose or a goal, or maybe rewrite the beginning in a way where the end of the story comes first so the reader wants more. Putting contrast between different characters or between how one usually acts and how they’re acting while in danger would both work. If you have many of these in many chapters, which one would create the most curiosity placed at the beginning? Go from there.

Thanks for reading,

WritingMime

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

Timeline of Book Writing

1-5 years before: Writing your manuscript
It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as it’s to your liking.

1-5 years before: Building your following
Post on Twitter, Tumbler, or even Facebook. If you don’t have any of those, now is the best time to make one. People will follow you based on their curiosity and interest in what you do. Just remember to always be updating them and always be true to yourself.

AFTER WRITING YOUR MANUSCRIPT, PICK YOUR DUE DATE AND COUNT DOWN

One month before: Find an editor
Now that your manuscript is finished, you want to find an editor. It’s pretty simple if you know what you’re doing and takes about a day. Look for a wide variety of editors by searching the web. But never go for the cheapest your final draft (you get what you paid for). For more tips on finding an editor, here’s a link.

 One month before: Coming soon trailer
You want to have people dying to read your book before it’s out. A coming soon trailer will show minor details of the book, but not spoil the entire thing. The trailer can be anything you want it to be; it can show quotes from your book over pictures or you can narrate a small part to the audience. Here are more tips on how to make a book trailer. The best time to work on a book trailer is when your manuscript is being checked over by an editor.

One month before: Making your book cover
Just like your trailer, you’ll want to spend the time away from your manuscript making a book cover. You’ll want a nice cover that appeals to the target audience. If you don’t have artistic talents, don’t worry; have a friend do it or hire a professional.

After your book cover is finished, see if your distributor will advertise your books release date for pre-orders.

When you get your manuscript back from the editor, make your final touches.

A WEEK BEFORE

Here is where you need to do the most work, in my opinion.

Depending on how much money you want to put into distribution, take the following as seriously as you like.

Visit your distributor’s site and see if there are any programs you can sign up for to get pre-reviews before releasing. These are free reviews of your book that will show up in your reviews where readers can find your book. Best of all, you can make changes right before publishing.

Maybe have an early release date for hard-core fans, or give away 50 free copies depending if you have a rather big audience.

1-3 days before: Make your Out-Now book trailer
Change your previous trailer a tad bit, change the Coming Soon to Available Now, and presto chango, you have yourself a new trailer. You can release this the moment you have your book out if you like.

Go tell your followers and promote your book now!

1-2 years after: Traditional Publishing
If you want to go beyond self publishing, you’ll want to find a traditional publisher who might find your success profitable. Keep sending your book to different publishers until one accepts you. You’ll get it – I know you can!

Thanks for reading,

WritingMime

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

The Right Way To Outline A Story

Let’s play a game. It’s called Writing A Well-Written Book In The Least Amount Of Time Game.

Rule 1: Don’t worry about your book’s theme. Seriously, don’t even think about the book’s theme or any other stuff that takes major thinking and causes the most headaches. Trust me, it won’t matter if you try now or later. I will teach you how to make your theme better after you’ve reached a certain level of clarity.
Rule 2: When I say you aren’t allowed to make changes, I mean it. Don’t do it.

Step 1: Write an outline, study it for early-on mistakes, and then write out the entire body of the book (even after realizing you have made a mistake in your outline, you should continue to write the rest of the book out in one-paragraph-per-chapter form if you’ve already started), and do not make changes from the outline. Put your ideas explaining how to change your story on a separate sheet of paper until you’ve finished the full body.

Before you write a book, or you are getting ready to do NaNoWriMo, you need to prepare a rough draft of what you want to write, in the form of an outline. Write the outline out, chapter by chapter, using one-line sentences. So to not waste more time, you can see if the plot is actively moving during this first stage, instead of later down the road, when it gets very confusing. The more that you can clear up now, the better chance of you finishing and not rage quitting after a bunch of headaches and heartaches.

If you didn’t look too hard at your first outline and are already writing, you’ll be doing more rewrites than what you could’ve avoided. But don’t worry – that’s the fun of writing!

Once you start writing your first draft, you’re not allowed to skew from the outline you’ve prepared. Why? Until you write the whole story out (even if its single-paragraph chapters the rest of the way through because you’re already hating your book), you won’t have any body to guide off of. You might have good ideas for changes after writing the first two chapters, and you might be very tempted to rewrite an outline and rewrite chapters to fit it. But this kind of approach leads to unorganized thought, unorganized documentstion of what you’ve improved and what you want to improve, which can get you lost somewhere down the road. Sometimes, this leads to an unfinished manuscript, so make sure to always finish what you set out to do.

Waiting to make changes will guarantee a better chance at finishing a book (because you’re actually writing the whole book), than if you kept making changes outside your outline, spending most of your time rewriting outlines instead of writing your book. There needs to be a balance between time spent note-taking and time spent writing. Place any ideas you get on a page in your journal labeled Changes One, away from your book. Let them sit and rest, and don’t make any changes to your book’s current state until you’ve written out all of outline1.

The No-Touch approach also forces more ideas to come out of your head, filling the misc. ideas page, and coincidently, your book – a detailed, and organized book.

Step 2: Write a second outline that is more organized than the first (if ‘organized’ doesn’t describe your second outline, you didn’t do it right). Adjust your written-out first draft accordingly. Don’t spend too much time writing notes, do not spend any time at all revising grammar, and do not go off course from your new outline. Stay focused.

After the first draft is written out, you can finally make that second outline you’ve been dying to draft. Take your time – make sure you read all your misc. notes that correlated to the changes of your first draft carefully. Anything else that doesn’t relate to the plot directly stays in MICS.

Change your outline1 into outline2. Outline2 will have a better plot line (which means movement-in-story). It will have a better grasp of a beginning, middle, and end, and will move smoother and quicker than outline1. Also, it will take the same process to write out as outline1 did.

Work on top of your first written draft – add chapters, fill the chapters you’ve left as paragraphs in, etc. You will know if your chapters are comfortably ready to be written out in long page form when you’re personally excited about writing them – because the plot is so interesting. Since this is only outline2, the second addition to your first draft, there still might be a handful of chapters left as paragraphs because they don’t interest you as much. As long as you write everything you need to fit outline2 and continue to not make changes to your story until completed, you’re staying on course. Again, don’t make changes, and use a new page in your journal labeled Changes Two to place all your future changes there. Make sure to move your old misc ideas over, and then leave all of this to sit. It’s much less time consuming if you are writing your book, and not a book of notes. I know at this stage, your notes are more interesting than your book, which is why you are so tempted to write them all the time – but don’t do that. You need to focus on your book in book-mode.

Tip: If you spend the most time with your notes in the redrafting-of-outline and transferring-notes-over stage – you will save a lot of time. Focusing on them all at once with your updated draft complete will give you more focus to understand your notes better, and you’ll have less headaches. Ideas that come up during book-writing-mode should be made into key words, clear enough to understand, but short enough to keep your time focused on finishing updating your draft.

Step 3: Repeat this outline-then-draft process over and over, until you have a strong plot line that readers will love. This will be the closest thing to a finalized, first-draft outline that you can share with others (it’s more like your fourth or fifth outline, but you can keep that to yourself). At the same time, you’ve also produced the correlating first draft that goes with your worked-out outline. It’s your REAL FIRST DRAFT of a story (even if it’s really your fourth or fifth, as well).

When you finally find the perfect outline, and have the perfect first draft of your story, you’re ready to work on the more important things, like theme.

But before you do that, there is one more thing I want to clear up.

When I say you will have an interesting, well written story, I mean you will have an interesting, well written plot line (movement-in-story). This means that you had a fantastic time writing each of your chapters and you fell like they are moving together marvelously, organization-wise.

I’m not talking about the poeticness of each word, nor am I talking about grammar or spelling, or anything that makes the reader think you got your book professionally edited.

I’m talking about the fun exciting plot, and the stories inside each chapter – the outline and rough draft that at all times is interesting for the readers, and yourself. If you don’t feel this way yet, don’t worry, you are probably still on outline1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., and are over-reading this. Just reading this and feeling the opposite might make you feel discouraged, but that only helps you find out where you are in this process, which is that you still need to work on your outline.

Another thing that you have to realize before you move onto theme is how confident you are with your story. How long have you been working on your book? Months? Weeks? But you still feel like your book is out of shape? That’s either because you took too many notes and adjusted too many times, which filled up most of your months writing, instead of finishing your drafts all the way through. Or, you still have plot holes in your story, which means you need to really think hard about what is going on in your outline. Fix these things and see if your confidence has improved.

If you feel like you are doing everything right, remember that a good book will take a year or more to reach its full potential. Don’t go off of how long you’ve been working, even if its been a long time. If you’ve been focused, and have known what times to pay attention to notes and what timed to write your book, your outline and first draft won’t be decent until about six months, which is half of what the finished product will take. Every story is different, and you should remember yours might take longer to create. Knowing this will help you prepare yourself for the next stage.

Change In Game Announcement: After you are confident with your first draft of an outline and manuscript, you are now allowed to think about your theme. It is now allowed – but only with the correct methods of going about it.

Ways to mess up your theme:
1. You didn’t listen to me, and you’ve been thinking about how to make your theme apparent in your book this whole time, instead of staying focused on writing your first draft.
2. After your first draft is written, you go through your book and try to change your chapters here and there where you feel is correct, without looking at the big picture – more like you are making random updates throughout and skipping over less noticeable mistakes.
3. Your changes aren’t actually productive, and don’t improve your theme in the long run.

The Correct Way To Make A Book Have Greater Meaning

Here we go – take out your journal again. For each of your chapters, write a paragraph summary of what is going on. Include how each chapter relates to, at least, one other chapter and how the chapter is important to your story. Then, write down some kind of theme that carries over in the chapter. If the chapter doesn’t have a lot going on in it, write what kind of theme comes out of the connection it has to another chapter. Be truthful with your theme judgments. In fact, try to write down the most negative truth there is about each of your chapters, because that will only make your changes stronger.

From there, look at all your themes. Is there one theme that shows up a lot during your analysis? If so, that’s your books supposed theme, with a few random ones thrown in here and there. Better question: Is that the theme/meaning you want your readers to take from your book?

The usual answer is no, if you were truthful with your judgments. If yes, you still have room for improvement. But that’s okay. In your journal, take the easy step of writing down what is wrong with your chapters, theme-wise, underneath your summary and theme analysis. Underneath all of that, write down how can you change them. Review your notes on changes you want to make for every chapter, and, one more time, make sure everything that will change fits together.

Since your story already flows from all the work you have done with plot, and you’ve learned how to keep a story interesting from the experience, the process will be much easier when tweaking your book for the desired theme. Get ready to produce another outline to help you.

Big things with reactions and event changes might alter the meaning completely, in your favor. Little changes, like in the atmosphere or mood of your chapters might build up to a drastic change, as well. Remember that the more you can repeat the theme, the more stronger it will be in the end.

With your new outline, apply the changes to the original, ‘perfect’, first draft of a manuscript. This might require a few chapters to be changed, but that’s why your first draft was called a draft. However, the changes will be much easier to make, especially with the book already written out. You don’t have to rewrite a whole manuscript, but maybe just its ending, or a few chapters in the middle. If you think about it, how long will it actually take you to write one chapter, if your new outline demands it? One more day of writing is totally do-able, especially since you already know what’s going on in the rest of your book. That privilege wasn’t there when you were first writing all those chapters, but now, it’s a shoulder to lean on.

After all of this, you now have a second draft of your manuscript, with a promising theme and plot line. If you want to be super careful, write another outline and make more changes.

Step 5: Revise your book more thoroughly with grammar and spelling, giving you a well-written third, almost final draft. At this point, you are ready to work with a professional editor to work towards that publishable manuscript.

Here is my vlog that correlates to the information I’ve already presented:

Alright! That was a big chunk of information to take in. I’m probably going to apply some of this to my own story very soon. I hope you all found the material useful, and keep following my blog to see more writing tips I have in store for the near future!

Thanks for reading everyone, and don’t forget to keep writing!

Your friend,
WritingMime

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

I’m So Excited, I Just Can’t Hide It!

Hello, my name is WritingMime and welcome to my blog!

I’m new to WordPress, or was when I first wrote this, so enjoy my first attempt at posting on the job.

This blog will be useful to those seeking advise on writing or the process of publishing. My experiences range from far to many, being an aspiring writer myself. I’ve critiqued other authors’ work, and have spent a lot of time researching the marketing business. I’ve written quite a few rough drafts of stories in my day and love to draw. Hopefully, I can put some of my own illustrations inside my books and on their covers one day!

In each of my posts, I’ll either be writing about what I’m working on, tips on drafting and revising, supplementary advice for a YouTube video I recently uploaded, or big news in the publishing community.

I hope to keep my readers enticed, with a bit of tomfoolery here and there, working to make better writers out of all of us! Always remember to have fun with it! And never stop writing, ’cause those words won’t write themselves!

Woot! We have a bright future ahead of us,

WritingMime

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime