Monday, November 28, 2011

Mystery Monday #12

It's Mystery Monday!
Welcome to our regular Monday feature, where you'll find different kinds of writing prompts and exercises. Each week, we'll give you something to help exercise your mystery-writing muscles.

So far, most of our Mystery Monday prompts have been about getting those creative vibes going to begin a story, but what if you are halfway through a story and are stuck? How do you work your way through a stumbling block in your plot and keep going?

I know many authors who, when this happens, simply write: "Something exciting happens here!" and then keep writing - which is exactly what you should do. You have to keep moving or the quicksand of doubt will surely pull you under. But eventually you will have to come back to that spot and, well, insert something exciting. What do you do then? While I can't help you out of that particular spot because every plot is different, I can tell you the answer is always the same: Look to your characters.

In an earlier post of Writing DNA, I talked about getting to know your characters. This is exactly where this helps because you can't get yourself out of this rut - your characters have to do it for you. If you find yourself in this situation, examine your characters. Their quirks, their fears, their habits - see what you can use to write yourself through the quicksand. Here's an exercise to get you started:

Your main character is snooping around in the villain's house and the villain has come home. Your hero is now trapped inside the villain's third floor office! How does your hero get out? Before you begin writing, think about the villain -- what would he/she have in his office that could help your hero? What would your hero have in his/her pockets that could help? What are the villain's habits, routines that you HAVE ALREADY ESTABLISHED in your story (i.e. you can't suddenly decide your villain always comes home and takes long baths; but if you already knew this and established it in a previous scene, you can use it). Any tactic - dialogue, diversion, etc. - is fair game as long as it fits into what you already have written about your characters.

Okay, write your hero out!
Good luck and have fun :)

What if a classmate went missing right after you fought with her at a party and she was later found dead? What if you couldn't remember anything after that fight? Not even how you got home? Would you tell the police the truth? Or would you lie about what you remember until you could find out what really happened that night?

16-year-old Roswell Hart finds herself in this very predicament in Laura Ellen's YA thriller, BLIND SPOT (Fall 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

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