The WHEN, WHO, HOW, and WHY of Writing

Now and then The Real Me shares a writing tip. Here’s one repurposed from The LadyKillers blog, my other blog home.

I’m working on the manuscript for my 25th mystery novel, ADDRESSED TO KILL, the third book in the Postmistress Mysteries by Jean Flowers. That’s a lot of victims, killers, weapons, and motives. I worry that I’ll repeat a pattern and there will be no mystery in the next mystery.

So, before I decide on the main elements of a novel, I consult my recorded history. In an effort to have my pub list be egalitarian (as many female as male victims and killers) and diverse (varying the weapons and the motives) I maintain the following chart*

Book   Victim          Killer              Weapon          Motive

1.               M                    F                      gun                  jealousy

2.              F                      F                      vehicle             politics

3.              F                      M                    poison             blackmail

4.            M                     M                      knife                greed

and so on.

* To avoid spoilers for those catching up with my backlist, these entries are fake. But you see the value in the real chart – it helps me spot patterns and avoid predictability. What if a reader notices that a gun is used in every third book, or that a male killer never uses a rope? Not that this guarantees unpredictability, but it helps!

I wonder who else uses gimmicks to support “creativity?”


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