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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tuesday Tip

Yes, I know it's Wednesday but imagine you're reading this yesterday :)

I'm writing a mystery and thinking I was on the home straight with very little book left to write, it was a shock when a brick wall appeared, I ran into it and bounced off. This happened when all the major characters gathered together. They'd started off together, then gone their own ways, but eventually meet again. It would be unnatural if they didn't do a bit of catch-up with each other - a lot has happened since they last met.

It's been so long since I started this story and during revision there have been major changes. I've lost the thread and the plot.

So, I want to look at what each character knows, and what they cannot possibly know at this point. I need to fill in the gaps but not rehash the whole story otherwise the reader might go to sleep. So, I think a little table will do nicely, with the following info on it:

* each of the characters involved
* what each character knows
* what each character doesn't know
* what the reader knows at this point
* what the reader does not know but needs to know.

The table should make it clear what information the characters need to drop in their chat together so the reader is fully informed.

Agatha Christie was great at doing this. She made it easy for herself though by having one character who carried all the information and who usually did the resume at the end.

How do you keep track of what your characters do?

8 comments:

  1. Prue, I love this. What a great idea. It makes so much sense. I've got a massive headache, but this I cannot pass up. It is worth a *happydance* ;) Do you mind if I jot this down and add a link on my blog to yours? This is fantastic!

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  2. Great--You are sharing your known/unknown grid with your readers. Cool. Look what else I found:
    http://daraparker.com/2011/02/16/heritage-preservation/

    I know you've travelled/lived in that area of the world, but this person has a slightly different POV. Nice photos.

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  3. Well, I don't write mysteries, so I just track that kind of information in my head. If I get confused, then I just do some freewriting about who knows what and who doesn't and that usually clarifies it for me. I'm not very good at organizing my notes, anyway. :P

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  4. > Yes, I know it's Wednesday but imagine you're reading this yesterday :)

    It's actually Friday - and so now I'm really confused! :D

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  5. Cryndl: Thanks :D Glad you like it. Feel free to link it. And get better soon!

    Texanne: Thanks for the link - lovely photos. It's a great place.

    Rabia: Sounds as if you're in control of your book. Mine's got away from me :)

    Sarah: :D You're not THAT easily confused! Don't tell me you don't know what day it is...;)

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  6. That is a good idea to make a table.
    Characters tend to do behave different sometimes from what a writer actually wants. So it is necessary to keep an eye on them.
    Good luck with your writing and with your weblog.

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  7. What a great idea, Prue. I'll definitely add this to my arsenal of writing tools ;).

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  8. Welcome R! Glad you could get over from Holland. You're so right...characters get up to all sorts of things and don't tell you until later :D
    Thanks for your good wishes. Groetjes!

    Sari: Hope it works for you Sari. It's been useful for looking at the characters from the point of view of the reader.

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