Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a Hard Working Writer...

  • Roger Colby

The Reverse Outline


Now to write the first book set in that universe.

I want it to be a mystery novel, as in someone or a group of someones is murdered, and then our intrepid hero who is the last human in existence (as far as he knows) has to solve the crime in order to bring justice to those who were murdered.  He does all this while dealing with the idea that he is the last Terran (the working title) and that the victims of the clime are the remaining Terrans in his fledgeling colony.

I have set the bar high.  You mystery novelists blow my mind, really.  I have read deeply on the subject, and there are several methods for outlining a mystery novel, but I want to go with the reverse outline.  It is what works best for my process and it holds the most promise for my second attempt at concealing the end result from the reader.

Basically, a reverse outline is where we begin with the end result (who murdered who and how they did it) and we work backward, laying out the red herrings after the murder design is created.  I already know how I want the first book to end, and I simply have to record all the details of how the murderer reached the ending I have envisioned.  I will, however, be working in a little bit of political intrigue into the story, along with a plot by an unforeseen nefarious force who wishes to bring about the destabilization of the planetary government.

I know I have a few of you who follow this blog who write mystery novels.  How do you go about it?  What is your process?  How do you plot out a mystery novel?  I may be out of my depth here, but I’d really like to make this story a success, and I think I have a winner of a plot here.  Please post below with any ideas as I love to hear from readers who are working through the plot of their stories.  If nothing else, vent about the plot you are working on at present and how you designed it.

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