Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Planting Time

Rather than a how-to, this is more of a how-do? We all know one of our favorite parts of reading a mystery is trying to figure out all the clues...can we discover whodunit before our intrepid detective, whether it’s a police investigator or the nice neighborhood grandmother who always seems to be involved? Is there that palm-to-the-forehead moment of "I should've seen that"?

I tend to lay in the clues as I go along – I know what I want my reader to know, what s/he can extrapolate from that and what should be a bit, shall we say, “fuzzy” in an effort to keep the villain's secret as long as possible.

Let’s share what we do: how do you get your clues in there? Do you plot them out before hand? Do you go back through your manuscript and drop them in the right places at the end? Do they surprise you and kind of insert themselves at opportune (or even inopportune) moments?

Let’s dish for our readers!

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
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K.M. Weiland said...

I write historical and speculative fiction, not mysteries, but the laying of clues is a challenge for writers of all genres, I think, since none of us want readers guessing the ending ahead of time. I find I'm most productive if I have a clear idea of when and where I want to plant my clues before I ever start writing. But I always leave room for when the muse strikes in the midst of a scene!

Libby McKinmer said...

Yes, that Muse will surprise us sometimes, no matter how carefully we "think" we've figured it out!


Mark Troy said...

I plant a lot of seeds as I go. Then, on revision, I go through and eliminate all the seeds that didn't take root or that turned into weeds. Sometimes I have to plant a few more because the story demanded it.