I finish up Will Lavender’s seminar with the last five aspects to plotting the puzzling thriller.
- Play fair with the evidence. Don’t hide evidence to later be revealed as always having been there.
Don’t cheat. No baseball bat lurking in the corner that you didn’t mention in chapter 3 which shows up in chapter 23. The protagonist has to have all the evidence before the final solution. Mentioning Queen again, he did this with the readers. Before the final couple chapters, he gave the challenge to the reader. All the evidence was revealed and he gave the reader an opportunity to solve the case before Ellery did.
- Have a critical time frame. Goes back to Number 2 in Part 1.
Don’t let the story drag on. There must be a deadline. In the excellent thriller, Mannheim Rex, by Robert Pobi, the deadline for the two heroes catching the monster fish was winter was approaching.
- Must have a reveal time that is not overly complex. The solution cannot be too technical.
When the solution is given, again, the reader should be able to connect the dots from the evidence given. If you’re relating the fact that A happened because C did this to D and F went to Paris with H and B happened to see E in Moscow…too complex. Remember the KISS principle.
- When revising, watch continuity and logic problems.
Many times I’ll add scenes or changes scenes on the rewrites. This is fine, but don’t lose pieces or clues along the way. You’re the boss. Don’t make an editor catch something or worse, a reader.
- Be proud of completing the novel.
But of course. You wrote it, celebrate. Remember Colonel Smith’s line in the A-Team. “I love it when a plan comes together.” When your novel is done and you look back and see what you have created and you know it’s goooood, and you know people are going to enjoy it, give yourself a pat on the back. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating accomplishment.
I hope these points help you in your writing. I thank Mr. Lavender for taking the time to detail everything and he made the seminar enjoyable with some humor and most important…he finished on time.