Back to the future…
Well, back to the present moment in the story at least. Finally caught up the opening chapter. So Chapter 1, present day. Chapters 2 through 11, flashback catching up – with lots of good mystery and tension as I introduce the characters and the “Big Mystery Thing” that will tie the whole series together.
Now Chapter 12 (about 1,650 words, btw). It’s time to start the process of bringing together what’s going on beneath the surface (those mysterious notes) and the one-and-done plotline of this particular novel (a man left for dead at the bookstore).
Plus, I’m introducing my first few red herrings!
|Image by Wade A. Tisthammer from Pixabay. Used by permission.|
Evidently, red herring (the fish) have a pretty strong odor, is often served smoked, and so covers up the scent of everything else around it. In mysteries, the introduction of a red herring or two (or three) covers up the scent, metaphorically speaking, of the clues that the author plants which point to the real suspect.
Since I’m new at this cozy mystery thing (I think what I’ve written up until this point are cozy adventures, lol), I’m practicing the art of distraction. I’m trying to throw the reader ‘off the scent’ if you will. Basically, I’m introducing a few subplots that might or might not go anywhere, but will hopefully serve to send the reader a few different directions, wondering who the real culprit is.
We readers expect this. It’s part of the contract between the writer and the audience. If there’s no suspense or intriguing details that obscure matters, then there’s really no mystery and not much of a story to tell.
Now mind you, I’ve read a few plotless stories and they can be well done. They take you on a beautiful ride with no destination. (These kinds of novels are often ‘literary.’) But most of us expect a twisty mountain road kind of journey that sometimes heads off in the wrong direction but ultimately gets to the final tourist stop.
Whether I succeed at this is for the reader to decide. I figure since this is only my fifth novel, and the first that focuses on one major story arc from start to finish (the first four of my novels being more episodic in nature), I’ll probably fail big time.
That’s part of the adventure, though, of being a writer.
On a personal note, this past Monday (Aug 1) we just closed on our new condo (well, new to us) in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. And while I’d like to think I could write in the mornings, clean the new place in the afternoons, and move our belongings in during the evening, it did not happen like that at all.
I’m already feeling overwhelmed with trying to keep up on adding words to the page every day – and have skipped a few days already on this novel. For examples, I outlined Secrets & Scents last Tuesday, July 26. Wrote three days in a row (chapters 1 to 6) for almost 10k words. Stumbled a bit on Saturday, July 30, then finished two more chapters on “Day 4” (Sunday). Day 5 was just one chapter – Monday, and we closed on the condo that evening.
Tuesday, Aug 2…nada. Wednesday was Day 6 (2 chapters). Thursday, nada. Now today, Friday, Aug 5 is Day 7 (1 chapter done). So seven days of writing, story is at almost 19,000 words. But it’s been ten days since I started the novel. All that to say, I’m going with writing days. Not sure I’ll finish the book in twenty writing days or not, but that’s still the goal. May take over a month in actual chronological time, but heh, it is what it is. We’re moving! (grin)
Research red herrings (the literary ones), what they are, how they’re used, and what to avoid when weaving them into your story. That’s the extent of my advice since that’s what I’m doing right now as well…researching like a new student, which is what I am.
Progress: Writing Secrets & Scents...
Introduction – Part 2: The Missing Novel
Day 1 - 3100 (Chps 1 & 2) - Total: 3,100 words
Day 2 - 3300 (Chps 3 & 4) - Total: 6,400 words
Here's a placeholder image for Secrets & Scents - A Kelli & Jo Candle Shop Mystery by yours truly. I'll be launching a Kickstarter Campaign in September, 2022, for cozy mystery fans to acquire their exclusive pre-release edition of my latest novel with a brand new, professionally designed cover. Watch for details.
In the meantime, if you become a Patreon Subscriber, you'll be able to read Secrets & Scents as I write it! New chapters of my WIP every week, plus a backlist novel a month and bonus short stories exclusive to patrons.