Saturday, May 20, 2017

Master Plan

This is a post that I had on a blog tour for one of my books. I thought my readers and followers might enjoy it.

I’ve been drawn to mystery for a long time.  The cat and mouse game the writer plays with the readers, keeping them guessing is my favorite part. I love it when a writer fools me, and yet, when I think back over the story, it was there all along.  
That is what I try to do in my Shandra Higheagle Mysteries.  I start out with who was killed and how. Which means, I must know that person’s background and why someone might have wanted them dead. The how can change as I start lining up my suspects. The how may have been one way in the beginning but as I list the suspects, their motive and opportunity, sometimes the how must change to fit the opportunity.

I have what I call a suspect chart that I use when listing the suspects. The columns are: Victim – Death- Suspect-Motive- Red herring.  Suspect and motive are self-explanatory. The Red herring is what the character did or didn’t do that makes them look like a suspect. I usually have anywhere from 5 to 7 suspects. Using this chart helps me to keep the story moving forward. I use the red herrings and motives as the information in each scene that keeps the story going forward and the sleuths following clues. 

Red Herring
John Doe

Gang member
Has a criminal record for stabbing people

While this all sounds like I have my book all planned out, I don’t. Of the 7 Shandra Higheagle mysteries I’ve only written 2 where the killer stayed the same from the suspect chart to the end. As I write the book other secondary characters enter the story. What they see and do changes what I thought happened in the beginning processes. 

One of the wonderful things about writing, and writing mystery, is how my mind can have me write a character doing something, and at the time I don’t know why, then later on it is connected to the story in such a way it makes a huge impact on the outcome. 

In my stories, I also have dreams that play a role in how the main character, Shanda Higheagle, helps to solve the murder. Sometimes the dreams are explicit enough she can help guide Detective Ryan to the clues and murderer. Other times, she is too close to the situation and can’t figure it out. However, if the reader really thinks about the dreams, they could figure out who the killer is.  There are times I need to add a dream to the story, but I’m not sure what I want to show. When that happens, I quit for the day and find other things to do, and usually, out of nowhere, the dream will come to me.  It is either a foreshadowing of what’s to come or a cryptic message about who the killer is. You can go here to discover more about Shandra, her deceased grandmother, and her dreams.

The latest Shandra Higheagle book, Fatal Fall, will release May 25th,

When the doctor is a no-show for her appointment, Shandra Higheagle becomes wrapped up in another murder. The death of the doctor’s elderly aunt has everyone questioning what happened and who’s to blame. Shandra’s dreams soon tell her she’s on the right path, but also suggests her best friend could be grave danger. 

Detective Ryan Greer knows not even an illness will keep Shandra from sneaking around, and he appreciates that. Her insight is invaluable. When she becomes embroiled deeper in the investigation, he stakes out the crime scene and waits for the murder to make a tell-all mistake.

But will he be able to act fast enough to keep Shandra or her friend from being the next victim?

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