Falling Into Place

When working on the first draft of a mystery, or any story for that matter, I find there are few things better than having all the bits and pieces of the story fall into place. Sometimes the result is planned and everything works out as I envisioned. Other times, I’m completely taken by surprise by the way various plot and character elements click together. Actually, I’m probably taken by surprise more often than not, but pleasantly so!

When I started writing my most recent cozy mystery, I had no idea that the main character and her love interest had known each other when they were younger. I only realized that when I reached the scene where they meet for the first time in the course of the story. It was as if the characters had already known that they had a history and simply didn’t get around to telling me that until that point. But it made complete sense once I was aware of it and it seemed to fit the story so perfectly. In fact, the more I wrote, the more I realized how important that aspect of their relationship was to the rest of the story. It provided a foundation for the relationship story arc and made the characters’ interactions more believable.

With past manuscripts, I’ve had a character do or say something early on that didn’t seem to have much significance, but then later on in the story I realized that it was actually quite important and played a significant role in tying various elements of the story together. I don’t know if I’m aware of these things subconsciously all along or if it’s just dumb luck that allows me to plant seeds along the way that grow into something more later in the story. Either way, I love it when all the puzzle pieces fit together in an unexpected but satisfying way.

Are you often surprised by the way the pieces of your story fall into place?

Author: Sarah Fox

Author of cozy mysteries. Llama herder when required. Chocoholic always. Music Lover's Mysteries (HarperCollins): #1 DEAD RINGER #2 DEATH IN A MAJOR #3 DEADLY OVERTURES Pancake House Mysteries (Penguin Random House): #1 THE CRÊPES OF WRATH #2 FOR WHOM THE BREAD ROLLS #3 OF SPICE AND MEN (November 2017) Literary Pub Mysteries (Coming in 2019 from Kensington). Represented by Jessica Faust of BookEnds. www.authorsarahfox.com

8 thoughts on “Falling Into Place”

  1. Absolutely. I learned some new things about my characters this weekend, and I’ve published five short stories about them. It makes them all the more real to me. I made them up and even I don’t know everything!


  2. Sarah, this has happened for me too. Sometimes it’s a “wait–do they already know each other?” Right now I’m on book 4 of a series and I realized I don’t know one of the recurring characters as well as I should. All of a sudden I’m discovering new things about him! This is the most fun part of the process, I think!


  3. Yes, it happens to me, too, and it’s such fun! I call it “magic happens.” It’s not just characters but also objects that can have a bearing on plot. For example, in my current WIP I have just discovered the reason why I kept making bird references early on. Magic.


  4. Oh, Kait–I’m just getting here now, so I’m even LATER! Sarah, this post resonates with me, for sure. It’s one of the things I love about writing, but is also one of the things that’s hard for me to share with non-writers. I love the conversations I have with my characters! Attended a great conference session w/Gerry Boyle (he writes two series, Jack McMorrow mysteries and Brandon Blake mysteries) where he shared how he writes character profiles, mini-essays, about each key character. The process allows him to get to know them. And of course, they still throw in surprises later!


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