For this little cozy mystery I'm writing, I decided to be good and make sure I got my main points in there, so I am outlining... oh, not super far ahead... just four chapters at this point (since I need to write three for this audition), but here is a true conversation from my writing time last night:
“It's back there. Don't worry. I have a good sense of direction.”
“Don't you think we ought to stick closer. We might miss a plot point.”
“Naw. They make a lot of noise coming, so we'll have time to get back over there.”
“Come on; let's just nudge back.”
“Check it out! I knew there was a llama farm this way!”
You might be able to spot the challenge for a woman with Digression as religion. Outlining is a piece of CAKE. FOLLOWING an outline on the other hand...
That said, I am still having a blast. I've got a dead body, a detective, and a connection of the MC to the investigation, plus a key character who can't be found the next morning when they try to call witnesses... I wrote 8 pages last night and covered half of my plot points, so I guess I'm not doing as badly as I worried... 16-20 pages is about the chapter goal for first draft.
The way I figure it, I have a little detail to add in about the city, and about the theme of the series (gardens, flowers, plant life) but my writing runs long, and I've had better success writing long and cutting the unnecessary, so if I am about 20% longer than I want to be, that is actually perfect. Far easier to delete than fill in (other than the things I've marked that I KNOW I need to fill in, anyway).
I am reading a cozy right now to get oriented, 'Slay it with Flowers' by Kate Collins. I'm having a really hard time figuring out whether she is a totally superior being on a different plane than I am altogether, or whether when I finally get to the cleaned and polished stage, I will ALSO have that great of a book—it's a little intimidating...
And a new assessment. I say that, because I think had I read it a month ago, I would have thought, 'oh, what a cute book.' I never would have spotted all the things I'm spotting right now as the mastery of plotting, the five thousand ways to stick humor in there (yeah, seriously ME, I wouldn't have thought about how clever that was) It just would have been a cute story.
It's the opposite direction most of my assessments have gone since taking up writing seriously—most books I think, “well that was too obvious” or “why didn't they do this?” I've grown far more critical of plotting and writing and have read with a more... probably TECHNICAL eye for what is done well and poorly. Now I'm not to the end, so it's possible she'll snuff up the ending, but I am just thinking she has this system down pat, and I hope I can do so well (though I can't make myself write in the first person at this point... one new skill at a time. I've only written first person for a couple shorts, never a novel.
I think though, since this is my first time trying to write a cozy mystery, I am experiencing how hard that particular thing can be, and appreciating all the things she's doing well. My own stuff is typically more suspense, and I haven't read a suspense book since I really got going... so maybe that is the key.
Whatever the case, as much fun as I'm having, I am feeling humbled about the mastery required...