Finding My Way: Thoughts on Plotting

In Antiques to Die For, the third Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, I wrote without an outline. Boy, was that a mistake. Twenty-twenty hindsight and all that. Writing without an outline worked out pretty well in the first two books in the series, but man, it sure...

The Origin of Ideas

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is where the ideas for the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries come from. Because so many people have asked, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about the question, and still, I don’t have a definitive answer....

Plotting Organically

The great American author, Edna St. Vincent Millay, once wrote that she couldn’t get the woman onto the porch. What she meant, of course, was that she couldn’t figure out an organically sound reason for the character to do as the plot demanded. I struggle with this...

The Traditional Mystery

The nature of a traditional mystery becomes most clear when contrasted with other sub-genres in general and with what is least like a traditional mystery in particular, a thriller. Before comparing and contrasting a traditional mystery to other sub-genres, however, it...

Red Herrings: What’s Really Going On?

An element commonly used in traditional mysteries is a device called a red herring. Sometimes the term “red herring” refers to a plot point; usually it refers to a person. A red herring is a false trail. Until recently, the accepted etymology of the idiom...

Plotting in Your Sleep

The great American author, Edna St. Vincent Millay, once wrote that she couldn’t get the woman onto the porch. What she meant, of course, was that she couldn’t figure out an organically sound reason for the character to do as the plot demanded. I struggle...