© Karen Phelps Heines. All Rights Reserved.

The Lamb Was Sure to Go is the working title of my mystery. I began writing fiction four years ago and this is the fourth revision of the same core story, although the revisions look nothing alike. The mystery develops in eighty-three scenes, a number that changes as I refine it.

 After the plotline diagram, the scene list is the most critical element in developing my mystery. The scene list maps writing from plot point to plot point. It keeps my three concurrent story lines (bad guys, law enforcement, and victim’s family) in sync. I know from experience that these get out of sync without a scene list.

In earlier versions I wrote a brief paragraph describing each scene and, after completing the entire scene list, I wrote a rough draft. Many of my scenes missed a sense of place or other major element and they felt flat. I added object, wants, setting, characters, action, dialogue and climax/hook to each scene list description. Now my rough drafts set mood and build suspense.

I use a Word table, enabling me to sort, great for changing scene sequence. I color code each major character, highlighting the name in yellow in the first scene where each appears, and in hot pink for the last scene. Plot points, midpoint, firsts and lasts are highlighted in pale gray. I am visual, and this provides a snapshot of my mystery.

For samples of Karen’s condensed and detailed charts, click here.