How it Begins

Vicki Doudera here, and before I start this week’s post, let me follow up on last week’s Wrath of the Whites.

If you recall, the day of that post was the day I left for a 3 day hiking trip – an annual getaway with friends that has endured for 17 years.  This year, we began the day at Pinkham Notch, with a hike to Mount Washington via Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Now, none of us crime writers likes it when life imitates us.  It’s creepy, but it happens – more times than we can admit.  Last week’s post was a case in point. The day after my blog appeared – the day after I ascended Tuckerman Ravine Trail — a Canadian man fell to his death on the very same path.

My heart goes out to Luc Paquette’s family and friends, and those who tried their best to save him. Luc joins a long list of hikers who have perished in New Hampshire’s White Mountains – a place as beautiful as it is treacherous. 

Now that I am back from my hike, I’ve turned my attention to the sixth book in the Darby Farr Series, and I thought I’d share with you how I go about coming up with my “pitch” synopsis for the acquisitions editor. This useful two-page condensation is what will convince her to publish the book (I’m ready for a new contract) and help me write the thing, so it’s worth spending  a few days developing it.

The first thing I decide is the setting. I ended book 5 (DEAL KILLER) with Darby promising to visit Miles Porter in England, so I know that’s one of the locales.  The other will be Maine, as I’ve decided to root more of each story there when I can.

Next, I brainstormed about what connections there are between Maine and England. Trade trips to lock in seafood deals, for instance. Gardening voyages to see the lovely estates in each country.Perhaps antiquing journeys to acquire inventory?

I like the theme of antiques, so I then begin researching what kinds of dirt I can come up with to give my idea a realistic hook.  Well —  it turns out there is MUCHO deception going on in the world of antiques.  Did you know that two of the revered Antiques Roadshow’s experts are most likely going to jail? I read a few stories and then my wheels get tuning.  I jot down ideas about what a deceptive antiques dealer might have done.  Things so bad, he or she might have been killed because of it.

Now… what sort of person would actually take the step to kill said antiques dealer? A few possibilities float around, and I decide to choose someone who wants revenge because the antique dealer robbed a family of their most prized historic possessions.  Something to do with the Civil War.  I’m not sure WHAT yet, but that will come.

I need more characters to round out the antique dealer’s circle of family, friends, and colleagues – preferably people who may also have had an ax to grind with him.  I think up three or four characters, and then I remember…. Darby is ALSO supposed to go to England.

What will get her there?  What brings her back home?  Will she be solving the mystery while across the pond?  All these are things I ponder while sketching out the roughly two-page synopsis.  It doesn’t have to be EXACTLY what I end up writing, but it will be a good road map for the writing journey ahead.

And now you know how it begins.

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8 Responses to How it Begins

  1. Gram says:

    Interesting. Thanks for the link to the article on the frauds. Dee

  2. John Clark says:

    Sounds like you will not lack for material for this one. It’s great fun when you realize the inspiration bag overfloweth.

  3. Barb Ross says:

    Vicki- I love “origins” stories about books. This one sounds like another winner.

  4. MCWriTers says:

    Vicki, so much fun to read this, and think about how I might start plotting the book.

    Thanks for sharing this part of the adventure with us, and good luck with your editor!


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