Thursday, February 20, 2014

Card Games

It's plotting time again, which means that I've taken over the dining room table to play with my scene cards.

I'm a very visual plotter. Each card is a scene, and each suspect has his or her own color. Sometimes I give a suspect their own color of card, but this time I simply used little colored flags. The colored Post-It notes on the top of the scene cards also mean something--pink ones are dead bodies, and orange ones are fight/attack scenes. All of this color enables me to see the story arc and structure at a glance. And the blue cards? Those are clues or twists that are still looking for their proper place in the scheme of things; this is very early stage, with only the first dozen or so cards on the far left actually in place. The rest are still in a holding pattern.

This book is proving to be a bit different as it has a very involved "backstory"--the details of the victim's life before she is killed--that also needs to be worked out. Of course, in any mystery, there are always two stories going on at the same time--the events the reader and the detective see, and all the stuff that's happening off stage.

As for a title, that's still open. I'm thinking about using the word "silence" in there, or maybe "children," perhaps with a WHEN or a WHERE, but I'm still waiting for inspiration. Hopefully it will strike soon.

As for Angel, his tests results are back and his numbers are stable, so it's good news!


Sue said...

I'm so glad your books all start with a 'wh.' I only have 300 or so books in my Kindle library so sorting by title makes it easy to find them all.

Plot point idea -- have you ever thought of having your victim fake her own death and come back to her wake in a heavy veil -- then get killed for real later?

JustWingingIt said...

I just love it when writers share their methods. I have no inclination to be a writer myself but it still fascinates me to see all the different methods that writers use to produce their books.

So is this the road trip book? And does that mean that Hero will be left behind? I just adore her.

Glad to hear Angel's check up went well. Good news is always good. :)


Helena said...

I find it fascinating that you plot in this way. Once you get writing, do you transfer the cards to a pin-board? Or do you just not have a dining room table for months?

So glad about the test results!

Rachel Walsh said...

Great news about Angel! What a relief for you all. :-)

I had a quiet chuckle at your dining room table pic - my office floor looked just like that on Monday. I need to "see" what my plots look like, too, and its quite amazing what you can spot with a birds-eye view.

Happy plotting!

cs harris said...

Sue, I must admit the longer the series goes, the harder coming up with titles is becoming!

JustWingingIt, yes, this is the road trip book. I honestly haven't decided if Hero will be there, too. I keep thinking about all those hours in a carriage with a baby, but I guess they did it!

Helena, once I get the cards in order, I type up an outline and work off that. I keep the cards, though, because sometimes I need to pull them out again and rearrange things.

Rachel, my back and knees would kill me if I tried to do this on the floor! Plus the cats would be walking all over the cards....

Anonymous said...

Very happy to hear Angel is stable!!! I don't know how you manage to keep the cats off your dining room table. Just tonight I walked thru the dining room to see 4 yellowish eyes reflecting back at me in the darkness - table height. Sigh. I counted 4 pink slips - lots of dead bodies already in this one. I can't get excited about it yet as I'm still anticipating Kings with relish. Give me another two weeks and I'll be begging you for more hints and such on this next one. Sabena

Suzanne said...

Great news about Angel. It must be a great relief.

Thank you for sharing your writing process with us, it is fascinating. I looks rather like a police incident board except that you are approaching it from a different angle.

Does it feel strange to be working on one book whilst we are all talking about the one you wrote two years ago as our present? Like a sort of time warp experience?

lmhess said...

Angel is the prettiest cat...I'm glad he's on the mend.

paz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paz said...

Glad to hear that Angel is doing well.

Love your plotting system, with the cards and the colors. Your lucky to have a table big enough to be able to do it! Though maybe a folding tri-fold thing might work too...

Now, if I was one of those people who like to read endings first, I might be tempted to scour the internet (and local spy shops) to find software that might allow me to peek at what those cards say. But I will contain myself LOL

Anonymous said...

very happy to hear that angel is doing well. i wonder how that black cat is doing with Hero??? and only 11 days to go till we find out. at least i hope he's still around.

i'm just happy to see that another book is in the making. good luck with all your efforts.

Alison Stuart said...

Thank you for sharing your plotting process. I am moving towards historical mysteries and looking at different ways of pre-planning. A hard job for a pantser!

Glad Angel's prognosis is good :-)

witchhuntress said...

Nice plotting method!!

I pray Hero would be in this book. It's just interesting to see, I guess, the family dynamics, with baby Sebby+Hero. ^^ And I guess it would be fun to see the newly complete family on a trip though baby can't talk yet!

On another note, I'm so excited to get my hands on book 9! ^^ Thank you so much!

cs harris said...

Sabena, I started when they were kittens, and I'm home all day to remind them. Although every once in a while...

Suzanne, there is a seriously weird disconnect. Sometimes when I do an interview or talk on the latest release, I need to go back and look at it to remind myself what it was about! The big problem is that I need to wipe the last book out of my head before start the next one.

Ali, the cat is still around, although he doesn't get a name until WHO BURIES THE DEAD.

Alison, I used to plot my romances, but no where near to the extent I do my mysteries.

Witchhuntress, thank you.

cs harris said...

Imhess, he's the world's crankiest cat, but he's also very, very loving.

Suzi Love said...

Oh, yes, please send Hero on the road trip. I'd love to see them all interact in a carriage.

cs harris said...

Paz, I haven't figured out the details of the ending yet, so those cards aren't actually on the table!

Suzi, I probably need to simply stop thinking about all those days in a carriage with a baby and just go for it.

Anonymous said...

Yes do go for it... a story without Hero in it is quite unthinkable

Anonymous said...

Yes, think you should go for it. It will make for one or two humorous situations, I'm sure. Sabena

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, the more Hero the better :)

paz said...

I add my voices to those advocating for Hero to take this trip, especially since she always wished to travel. It would be kind of sad for her not to be able to go, even if that would have been the more likely outcome during her time. Perhaps you can let her blaze this trail, so to speak...

cs harris said...

Sabena, Betsy, and Paz, okay, I guess I know what my readers want!

JustWingingIt said...

Yes, Hero! Not only because it would be sad for her to miss out on some traveling like Paz mentioned, but also because Hero doesn't strike me as the type of person who shys away from the harder path. Plus, I think it would drive her to distraction to know that she was missing out on whatever new mess Sebastian gets himself into.

And, of course, how can you resist the chance at a family road trip? We all know how those go, lol. *wink*


cs harris said...

Veronica, the truth is, Sebastian is going to be finding out some unsettling things on this truth, and who else can he talk to it about except Hero?

Susan J. said...

I just read 'What Angels Fear' and I really enjoyed it. I've sent for the next two in the series and I can't wait to read them. As an Englishwoman, I'm surprised at how you have managed, as an American, to get into the very essence of an Englishman, with the character of Sebastian. For example, the reserve on the surface with all the turmoil and passion going on underneath etc. As someone who lived through the IRA bombing campaign in 1970's London, I found the pro Irish stance a bit hard to take. However, I appreciate that for once, you are at least making it clear that it was the powerful elete in Britain who were responsible for any injustice, not the ordinary Engish people, who did not even have the vote at that time.
Thanks again for a great read.

Anonymous said...

I think I need to go back to book #1 and go through all the way to "Why Kings Confess" Reading all the comments on your different topics I must "confess" I find it difficult to remember the stories. Reading dozens of books between your publications gives me a lapse of memory....Yes, please do include Hero in the road trip. Would be fun. ....Sincerely, Sandra

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