1. redwolf
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    redwolf New Member

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    Connecting plots

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by redwolf, Oct 25, 2011.

    So, I have this mystery I'm working on. Its not a contemporary murder mystery. The story is set in the forest and the world itself is fairly primitive, pre-electronics. Magic is more important in this story than science.

    I have a back plot for the story already, and I have a general idea of how I want the story to end, but I dont know how to go about having my main character find the clues and information he needs to solve the murder.

    Anyone have any hints? Or do you need more detail?
     
  2. Aeris
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    Aeris New Member

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    These are two general tips but they have helped me a lot when writing any sort of mystery.

    1. Work backwards. You mentioned you already know how it's going to end, so from the end point, you can decipher backwards. It's easier and sometimes provides more opportunity to be creative with your evidence/information so you aren't stuck in a linear progression. What was the last piece of information that turned him in, how did it come about, etc?

    2. This is an exercise I like to do when there's physical evidence that I'm observing to use in a mystery. Get a hold of the object itself, or something like it. A rock for instance, and observe it, feel it. Sense it in all ways. Any indentations, scratches, fossils, other materials on the rock all got there somehow. Each characteristic of that rock has its own story. That might help you decide what's important enough to call attention to, and cause you to really take in subtle details about an object that you may have overlooked.

    What is your character like? Use his personality to help you decide what will stand out to him in terms of evidence, and what he might find irrelevent. Remember that there is more to evidence than physical objects, there's assessment of situations and people, and answering other questions along the way. Any other details you'd be willing to give away about your story will help us help you, but it IS a mystery after all.
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I'm a writer of mystery stories. I would call myself a novice in general, but I've gotten pretty good at filling out a plot to a story.

    There are many ways of going about having your main character find evidence. For example, one way I like to do it is to just have some piece of evidence that is just so out of place. You could have a victim with 20 stab wounds on his body... no knife, but there is a gun found right next to him. As a reader your first reaction would be "woah, this is wierd, I wonder how things turned out that way". And then you spend the rest of the story slowly explaining how it happened. Now... that's just one "formula" for finding plot. My suggestion for how to get good at doing things like this, watch a LOT of TV. They say that TV is a bad thing to base books off of, and this is true. But for the purpose of figuring out how to write a good plot it's perfect. It might take you a day to get through an entire book, but in the same time you might be able to watch 10 episodes of a TV show. And in that time you'll kind of notice how each show establishes their plots in each episode. And also... think about which shows/episodes had you the most interested, and what it was specifically that interests you about said show/episode and try to recreate something like that in your story using different puzzle pieces.
     
  4. WoodenPaw
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    WoodenPaw Member

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    I agree, create a problem which is not normal then investigate yourself....read pre-historic or medieval stories or watch TV shows based on them.
     
  5. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Well... that's just one way. Again, usually watching TV will give you ideas for different "forms" for how to do plots. I'm a mystery/crime/medical drama addict pretty much. Watch stuff like CSI, House, NCIS, Psych, Monk, The Mentalist, Castle... other shows no one has heard of. From show to show you'll probably see the same "form" implemented with a different plot. For example, I'm sure all of these shows have done a few episodes in which the crime solvers "know" that one of the guys is guilty but they can't find the evidence to prove it, or maybe said guy has an airtight alibi and they either need to find the evidence to convict him or prove his alibi is bad. Another example that I've seen done a few times is where you'll have X number of victims die and the crimes can all be connected to the same killer but you don't know what the victims have in common or what the motive is for killing them. And half the time it turns out that they all served on a jury together and the killer is trying to get back at the people that put him away or something crazy like that.

    As for "connecting" plots. Usually the way they do it on some TV shows is you'll find evidence... and that gives them a lead pointing towards a certain suspect, then they go investigate the lead and maybe it turns out they are on to something but can't find the evidence to officially charge the guy. And maybe in the process of trying to do that more evidence comes in (a lab guy finds something... or some random lacky/secretary gets a tip from someone) that gives them another lead that they check out... yada yada yada and they eventually get to the truth. Again, different shows do things differently, and that's certainly not the only way to go about it. But like I said, watching some of these shows can be a good way to get a handle on how they write plots if you are observant enough. Also... perhaps you might want to read stuff like Sherlock Holmes that were published before all of this crazy DNA and fingerprinting technology came about.
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    For mysteries, I first write down what the mystery is. I write down the ending. Then I write down all pieces of evidence. Next, I figure out what order that evidence should be found by the MC. That is how I unfold the mystery.

    Mystery: Who killed Samantha. Why and how?
    End: Samantha's sister did it with cyanide slowly delieved by powdered donuts. She did it because she was jealous of her sister.
    Evidence: Weird taste to donuts. Flu like symptoms. Samantha's credit card traced to show she bought rat poisoning. Clues about Samantha's sister being jealous, etc.

    When I think of evidence, I think of information that would help me know who did it, how and why.

    This works for ghost mysteries and other types as well. First know the mystery, then know how it ends. After that, you can think of evidence necessary to solve the mystery.
     

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