Notes and files from TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF WRITING
As promised, below are the files for the tools I use to me stay organized while I'm plotting a mystery.
These can be printed on 2x4 labels, or the points can be jotted into your writer's notebook.
These points will help you plot each scene in your novel. They'll remind you to list the characters in the scene, the time and place it occurs, the major action contained in the scene, the goal of the scene, and the purpose of the scene/emotion to be evoked. Each scene we write should further the plot, have a purpose, and make the reader feel something.
Suspect Interview Punchlist:
These can be printed on 2x4 labels, or you can use the graphic for reference and only write the numbers in your writer's notebook. I prefer using the numbers only--it takes up less space.
Our detectives, not matter whether they're amateur or professional, have to do a lot of talking to a lot of people. This punchlist should help you get the basics out of every interviewee, whether they're a suspect, witness, or whatever. I find that a lot of times I don't use all the information I compile, but sometimes it helps flesh out the character to know some things about them you don't necessarily divulge to the reader.
1. Where/when/who: Where and when is the interview being conducted? At the crime scene right after the crime, or in someone's living room several days later? Who is doing the interviewing, and who is listening in?
2. Link/motive: Every interviewee must have a link to the crime/victim/suspect or a motive to have committed the crime, otherwise there's no reason to interview them.
3. Implicated by: Who pointed the finger at this person as someone who should be interviewed? Did another interviewee say, "If you ask me, his wife is as guilty as they come."? Also, their circumstance could implicate them without anyone pointing fingers. For example, the wife of the deceased would be implicated simply because she is the significant other.
4. Reaction to #3: How does the interviewee react when the detective explains why they are being interviewed in the first place? Sometimes to get a big reaction, the detective (especially an amateur one) can divulge who did the finger-pointing.
5. Alibi: They either have one or they don't.
6. Secret/Lie/Truth: Here's where the interview gets interesting. Have them either divulge a secret, tell a lie that your detective takes as truth, or have them be a truthful interviewee throughout.
7. Points to: This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #3. This is where the interviewee points the finger at someone else, either to save himself or be helpful to the detective. Or to throw out a red herring to throw everyone off.
And as an added bonus, a word document with a clean outline worksheet!