Wednesday, February 15, 2012

5 Things I've Reluctantly Learned While Trying to Outline a Mystery

1. Agatha Christie was a GENIUS. I've always, always loved her and her books but I don't think I ever fully appreciated how in command of her craft she was until now.

2. Red herrings are very difficult to properly plant. However, beggars can't be choosers. I will settle for a herring of any color at this point (I'm open-minded).

3. I thought being an outliner at heart would help me in this endeavor. But being a messy outliner at heart...yeah, not so much.

4. Hey, the ending will be totally unpredictable if I don't plant any clues about it! And that's what we want, right?

5. I think I might die by outline. Ooooh...I wonder if I can use that as a plot twist.


  1. Death By Outline -- yikes! Been there! I have never been able to plant many clues or plan red herrings in an outline. I wish I could. I usually forge blindly ahead, write a bunch of pages, and pause every 50 pages or so to look back and find places to add or amplify clues. It's terribly inefficient, and involves trashing lots of pages, later, but I find the clues and red herrings just don't come to me easily. They come out of the places and characters. BTW I'm thrilled that you are working on a mystery!

    1. Thanks so much for the tips, Diana!! It's super helpful to see how a mystery pro handles this stuff.