Mansfield Manor: How a story grows and develops.

I’m now into my third week of writing for my first draft of The Murder at Mansfield Manor, and it’s been real.

My first murder mystery has developed quite differently from my last story, where I found myself having to retrace my steps a lot during the drafting process. This time, I’ve found that initial planning has helped me to keep my focus clear and my purpose central in each plot point. The process so far:

– Develop the story goal, motivations, and new characters.

– Write a simple plot outline.

– Draw a ridiculously poor map of Mansfield Manor and the surrounding area.

– Attempt to put a few scenes together

– Revisit the map, test plot for any issues.

– Write the first draft.

The process has resulted in 16,500 words to date, with a solid plot line. I’ve jumped forward to write a few extra bits when I’ve felt particularly inspired, but otherwise it’s been a matter of linear story progression, with some extra elements getting pulled in along the way.

The great thing about the Inspector Ambrose stories is that each one has introduced a new element of the world he inhabits: Mrs Milliard’s Mech has Mechs(!), The Vanishing Villa introduces a very important villain (I haven’t actually told anyone that before…) and Mansfield Manor ties in the Eastern Empire.

So this story has grown and developed naturally, but each of the Inspector Ambrose stories is slowly building a wider world, layer by layer.

Here’s to first draft completion in the coming days!

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