Monday, December 21, 2009

More Plotting Tips From Down at the Mule Barn

Slim Randles is a syndicated columnist and author, and his work is featured on the online community magazine where I am Managing Editor. Back in November he introduced us to the unique plotting techniques of a country boy, Dud. Here is a follow up, just in case you were wondering how the story of the duchess and the truck driver is coming along ...

Anita Campbell watched as her husband, Dud, quietly built a fire in the fireplace. She was still a fairly new bride, but she had learned at least this much of his body language by now, and fixed two cups of coffee. Fire, coffee, evening equals serious talk.

“It was us getting married that did it,” he said, finally. “I want you to know I’m really happy being married to you.”

“Well thank you, sir,” she said, smiling, “but our marriage did what, exactly?”
“Got me thinking about the book.”

Oh, the book. “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms,” which Doc said sounded like a young mother with too many diapers. The rest of the local world referred to his book as “The Duchess and the Truck Driver.”

“What about the book, Hon?” she asked.

“Maybe I should tone down the murders and put more love in it. I mean, after all, the duchess and the truck driver had a dukelet together, even though the truck driver doesn’t know it and he married someone back home and had a daughter, and his wife died in childbirth, and the daughter wants to marry the dukelet because she doesn’t know he’s her half brother, and the dukelet likes her, too. So instead of their parents being murdered, what if they get together again?”

Anita sipped her coffee and smiled. “I’ve always liked love stories better than murder mysteries, myself.”

“But you see, I have all these murders … I’m down to just six of them throughout the book. So if I have a happy ending for the duchess and the truck driver, that cuts me back to just four murders, and then I’ll have to figure out if they’ll live in her castle just outside Budapest, or at his place back home. Then I’ll have to figure out who killed those other people before I get to the end of the book because I can’t have it be the same guy as before because that would wreck the romance, you see.”

“I know you’ll figure it out, Dud,” she said, putting her arm around him.

The strain of the creative demon in him showed plainly in his furrowed brow. It used to be so easy to just do his job and come home each night, but literature makes a guy’s brain hurt.


Brought to you by “Sun Dog Days,” Slim’s latest novel. Available at Slim Randles Web site

Posted by Maryann Miller who is so thankful that Slim shares his wit and wisdom with the readers of Visit Maryann's Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.

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  1. The creative process is good for the brain they say. It's a good hurt. It feels even better after everything is all figured out.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Writing does strain the brain and the emotions. But it beats crying in your beer. That just dilutes it.

    Fun post!

    Straight From Hel

  3. I'm with you, Morgan. I like it better when everything is all figured out and I am not challenging my brain too much. :-)

  4. "It used to be so easy to just do his job and come home each night, but literature makes a guy’s brain hurt." Ooo... low blow, lol. Working one's creativity is good exercise. I once heard that the brain is like a muscle, it needs exercise to stay healthy. Without some brain work the writer risks leaving unforgivable lose ends.

    Frank Riganelli

  5. Glad you came by and enjoyed the post, Frank. Dud is quite the writer, but I'm not sure I want to follow his plotting lead. LOL

  6. My husband has suffered through more conversations like this one than either of us like to remember. His answer is always to bring in the helicopter in the opening scene for a murder on the desert. Even if the book is set in the mountains.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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