Whether or not you’re a Plotterhead or a Wing-it Person, at one point, some form of plotting is handy. Especially, if like me, you write mysteries. Most of the time I still surprise myself, but before I start it’s handy to know in which direction I want to go. Much like a road trip where a vague sense of direction and a lot of snacks are part of the experience.
You can add as much detail as you want, like adding clues to the crime or other important bits. I follow the simple three-act structure, which looks something like this for Act One:
|Second thoughts: New turn (heroine decides to take action)|
|Climax ACT ONE|
What I love about this is that it helps keep me focussed and I know where to go, but it’s still up to me HOW to get there. I mean, I am a pantser at heart so that will never change. Usually I change the ending of my mysteries and switch up the killer. Somehow it always fits with the clues I’ve scattered about the novel. And this setup allows me to wing it if I want to. All I have to do is change a sentence or two in this plan.
|Midpoint: Big Twist|
|Climax ACT TWO|
|Descending action: Wrap up|
Beforehand you should decide on the goal for the main character. That will make it easier to fill in Act Two. For obstacles I list minor situations that prevent the character from reaching her goal. The disaster leads to the crisis and that in turn leads to the climax of Act Two, at least that’s what I usually do. It’s fun to play around with it and see what works. Perhaps you want to use a different structure or you just want to list key points in your novel. It’s up to you. Use what works! Despite the fact that plotting makes me want to adapt the simple lifestyle of a Tasseled Wobbegong, this makes plotting and writing easier.