Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Plotting Murder -- and Romance

It has begun! My next novel! I always add exclamation points to announcements such as these because really, as a writer, when you keep coming back for more, it deserves an exclamation point. Both of my novellas are finished and turned in to the publisher. I am contract-less, deadline-less, and waiting on multiple manuscripts at publishing houses to see if someone will take a bite. I'm all right with that. Writing under deadline is a blast! But, having a summer to write at my leisure is freeing too.

So what are the first steps in writing a new novel? I don't know! There's no science to it for me. But I've been plotting the storyline, and some murder, and lots of romance. I've been research old newspapers from England, watching documentaries on Jack the Ripper (no, I'm not writing a slasher novel or another spin-off of dear, horrible Jack), studying photography in 1906, learning the mechanics of how one made a dead person look alive in the creepy habits of Victorian/Edwardian I-just-died photography, and building the concepts of my new hero, who, after-all, must be romantically inclined.

My heroine quickly came to mind. She is strong-willed (shocker), insatiably curious, and quite nosy. Picture a feline in a woman's body. She can claw at you when perturbed, snuggle when sleepy, purr when contented, and hunt when hungry. Knowing the "why" to every incident is very important. Not because she wants to learn from the situation and avoid problems in the future. No. She's not cautious. She wants to know know why because, well, why wouldn't you want to know? It's a mystery. She's also an orphan, so while quite plucky, she'd really prefer a place to belong. But, she's reconciled the fact that that will most likely never happen, because the one thing all orphans learn well into adulthood is, no one will ever truly love them.

My hero, on the other hand, has been quite elusive. I've tried to learn his M.O. and can't. He has hidden, in the shadows, as if he prefers not to come out. And, then, I realized, that's who he is. He prefers life not to be disturbed. Thing should be in order, well-planned, and procedural. But then, when something happens to interrupt those plans, he also responds with a shrug, recalculates his route like a GPS in 1906, and prefers to respond with an, "it is what it is". He can't change what happens, but there's no reason to dig and uncover why it happened. When someone asks "why", it never turns out well, and it's usually none of their business anyway. Besides, he has all that he needs. His sister, his home, his work, his
faith. The four corners of his life make a very solid square, and that's pretty much what he is. Square. All edges and dull. Until an orphan uncovers a mystery that threatens to tattoo 'why' on the memo of his life in permanent ink. He'll have to stop her before curiosity kills the cat, but first, he'll have to decide he actually cares.

So those are the first steps in my novel. Figuring out who I'm writing about. Their personalities, how they'll be at odds, and how they fit into the plot. Next, I'll build their quirks. Like I'm pretty sure my heroine chews on her hair when she's thinking, and my hero has a habit of giving one long blink right before he dismisses an idea or person to retreat to his well-crafted, square world.

My heroine will have a cat too. I mean, what more obvious way would there be to drawing out her personality? It will be a stray, just like her, with a bum rear-leg, so it only walks on three. I think she'll call him "Whiskey", 'cause he hobbles like a drunk man.

And that's what I do when I start a novel. Build, plot, plan, and imagine. It's possibly the best part of being a writer. When the voices start talking, you start listening.

What questions do you have about the writing process? I'd love to answer them!


Professional coffee drinker and best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright, resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited and gritty turn-of- the-century romance stained with suspense. Her day job finds her working as a Director of Sales & Associate Relations. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan.” Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and a coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW, has seen her work on both the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly top ten best-sellers list for inspirational fiction, and has the best writing sisters ever!
Periscope: @jaimejowright


  1. 1906, that's when my grandmother and grandfather were born, paternal. Interesting time period. Your characters sound like ones I'd like to get to know. Keep us updated.

  2. Matthew MacFadyan makes a wonderful Edwardian hero. :D


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