Plotting the next novel

I have tons of ideas for my next novel, but a lot of thought needs to go into the underpinnings of any new project, because it is the themes that drive everything else. Specifically, how does the theme in general specifically generate character action and consequence (which needs to be made literal in the climax); how do the character’s driving wants and needs lead to that climactic moment; how can the character’s internal drives be made visible through action, and the external plot (that is, the antagonist’s driving actions) feed the central character’s internal change? I need to know all of this before I can begin to structure what happens.

But the good news is: I know what questions to ask. Now to dive in.

The Crime Scene

I have been studying the elements of writing a mystery novel with a small group of fellow writers, and one of the critical elements is the crime scene: why the villain killed (kidnapped, or whatever) the victim, their relationship, how it was planned, the location (including time of day, season, etc.) and exact mechanism of the crime–leading to clues. This scene may never end up in the book–in fact, it likely won’t–but the author needs to know it to the minutest detail.

I have decided that my next novel will be structured as a mystery, so this week, I constructed the crime scene. Man, I learned a lot.

Another Grant Application

Finished the text of another grant application. It is not due for a while, so I have submitted it to my writers’ group for critique. As it is not fiction, I queried first, and they all were interested in reviewing it. It will be interesting to see what kind of feedback I get.

Daughter with a Doctorate!

Oh, yeah! Had a cool experience this week, invited to sit in my daughter’s creative writing dissertation defense. She handled herself with terrific aplomb, and passed the exam. She will have a few minor revisions to do, and then we can all call her “doctor!” In the meantime, she is applying to professorships and post-docs for next year. We celebrated by taking her and her significant other to dinner.

Mystery Mavens

Our mystery writing group finally has a name: Mystery Mavens. We met on Thursday, this month, with Mahrie Reid, mystery writer and teacher, who answered our current questions, and more. In addition, we had a lovely meal and more than one glass of wine! Now I am doing the “becauses” for my novel. For each scene, I am writing why the key events happen, so they are part of a causal chain, rather than by coincidence or left-field. Almost done!

ARWA meeting today

Had a great opportunity to go to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association meeting to update them on the financials for the Robin Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest. Wonderful group of writers–very friendly, organized and active group.

Great IFWA meeting last night

Met a potential client at my writers’ group meeting last night. We went to the bar after the meeting and discussed his novel. I suspect his would be a big project and with all the work I have already scheduled I doubt if I would be able to take on his project. Luckily, I can recommend other good editors.

Reading an interactive fantasy

Had the great opportunity this week to ready Heather Osborne’s interactive fantasy, Figuera. What an amazing experience! Really enjoyed the entire process, and want to read more threads through the maze of the narrative. The ending I reached was wonderfully warm and satisfying, though I know there are 3 other endings I haven’t yet read.

But I have the link. I can always start from a different opening and follow a new path through the story!

Teaching Show vs Tell

Today was Day 1 of a two-day weekend intensive workshop I am teaching for the Alexandra Writers Centre on showing vs telling. Only 5 students, but they are good talkers and willing to share their writing. Having some great discussions, and with only five it is such an easy pace–we can explore students’ questions a bit more fully than trying to race through with ten students. Loving it!