I think your character is getting old and senile.

That is what my oldest daughter, one of my beta readers, said to me while reading my latest draft of the next Gabriel Hawke book. I laughed and asked why. She mentioned two things that were not my character’s fault. They were mine. So it is the writer and creator of Gabriel Hawke who is getting senile! LOL

Actually, this last manuscript, I found myself having to reread the last two or three chapters every time I sat down to write because I would have days in between being able to write. I lost the flow of the story and the events. Even though I also write about three or four chapters and then go back and on a notepad write down all the significant events that have to do with the murder or investigation they are doing.

I also have a calendar white board that I put small sticky notes on each day with the significant information that is discovered that day. It helps me keep track of the length of time the book plays out over and what forensics information could be coming in.

With all of these “cover my backside” in place, I still repeated things and had my character saying things that he’d already said. Yikes!

Now I know why I didn’t pursue my writing career until my kids were older. Right now we have our oldest granddaughter living with us. We have been attending her volleyball games and I’ve been taking days to go trail riding with other grandkids. I’m spending time with family and my writing is suffering. But I would rather have that than my family suffering.

While the Hawke book is off with my beta readers, I started fleshing out the next Spotted Pony Casino Mystery book. I did something I have never done. I made a 5 page outline of sorts. I wrote five or less sentences for each chapter pushing the plot of the story along. I didn’t add in any emotional or sub plots, but I’m hoping those will come naturally as I write and the outline will keep my story flowing without repeating and backtracking. Because until this granddaughter graduates in May, I will be busy with her and her school functions as well as having fun with the grandkids down the road.

If you are a writer, do you plot or do an outline before you start a book? Have you ever discovered at the end that you had repeated information?

Readers, have you ever read a book that repeated information or made the main character seem lost?

A Pantser’s Kind of Outline, by Amber Foxx

I sometimes say I don’t outline, but in a way I do—backwards. After I write a chapter, I take notes on the plot progression, including the events that might be clues or might be loose ends. This becomes a clean-up guide as well as a quick review of the story structure when I finish improvising and following my characters where they choose to go. I also note emerging themes and subplots. Later, I use the notes as revision tools. They help me in deciding what to keep, expand, or cut.

Having reached the near-end of my work in progress, the crisis and the partial solution to the mystery, I now have the denouement chapter to write, the one where I tie up the last loose ends. In looking back over my notes, I find about half are tied up. As for the remaining ones, many are so minor I can cut the lines that set them up, while others are significant questions that have to be answered. I’m glad I kept that list. Now I have something bordering an outline in advance for the final chapter, as well as a plan for future cuts and reorganization.

*****

The sale on books one and two in the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series will end June 13. Until then, you can still download The Calling free and buy Shaman’s Blues for 99 cents. No murder, just mystery.