Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Do You Do When You Have A Title But No Plot?

That is exactly the problem I had with my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. A friend sent me a comment on Facebook that said, "Write a book with the title, Murder in the Worst Degree."

Pretty good title, I thought, think I'll use it. Because she liked the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the title needed to be used for the next book. So I typed (on my computer) the title page, Murder in the Worst Degree by F. M. Meredith.

Then Chapter 1 and I began to write. Because I know the characters very well in this series--after all I've been living with them for a long, long time, there were things I need to write about them and what was happening in their lives.  But, to be honest, outside of a few preliminary plot ideas I didn't really know where I was going or how I was going to tie in this title.

No matter, I began writing. The ideas kept coming--that's the plus side of having ongoing characters, I picked up the threads of what had been happening in their lives in the previous book, which was Deadly Impulses. 

I kept on writing because the ideas kept coming--as usual there were several plot threads--but none that I really could say pointed to the title.

And I was nearly to the end before I knew how to tie in the title--and I think it worked.

I've had some advanced reviews and this one is great:

F.M. Meredith has outdone herself with Murder in the Worst Degree. I have enjoyed this series ever since I read my first one, but this is the very best one yet. All the familiar characters return. their lives continue to change and progress. When an elderly man’s body washes up on the beach at Rocky Bluff, the police begin their investigation, only to discover he was already dead before his body went into the water. In addition, a rapist strikes. As always, all the plot lines are completed, and the ending is very satisfying. This is a great read and highly recommended.

--Lorna Collins

So this is where I am, anxiously awaiting the book and what others will think about the title and how it fit the story.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith


Jean Henry Mead said...

Great title and book cover, Marilyn. I've never had that problem. The title usually comes to me as I'm writing the book.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Most times the title comes when I'm writing, but this was a big turnaround.

M.M. Gornell said...

I've started with a title and gone from there several times. Great title and interesting post!


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks, Madeline.

Diane Kratz said...


Thanks for the wonderful lesson. Sometimes writers get stuck and STOP writing because they don't know how to tie in an important plot point to make it all make sense ( I know I have). You've show us today that if you keep writing you will eventually get there! I love this title!

Rayne Golay said...

Marilyn, this speaks to me in a big way. For some reason I've always had the title before I had a well defined story line.
Your title is great. Do titles sell books? I believe so. Some years ago, I bought a book only because the title seduced me; "The Forever Kiss." The story turned out to be porn :)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, boy, Rayne, what a shock that must've been!

And Diane, my best advice always is never give up.

Morgan Mandel said...

I usually have a general idea of my plot, but it evolves as I go along. I like being surprised!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I like being surprised too--often I'm not sure who the murderer us until midway or further into the book.