Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Figuring Plot Details

I'm working on my third Grant Starr novel, with a working title "Sunset Hill," which is in the northeast corner of Seattle, Washington. Grant is based in Modesto, CA, about a two-day drive. Well, maybe one day in the Ferrari. Right off the bat I bet you can see the problem: how do I get Grant involved in a case two states away? He's not some fed.

I ran through several scenarios before I hit on what I think works the best. First I thought he and Amber could be up there on a vacation. But there were several problems with that. One, that's what they were doing when "Death of a Matador" opened. They were in the Mount Shasta area of Northern California, at a B&B. Don't want to be redundant. Also, Bensen has to be in the book and I'm going to write him in as a tag-along on Grant and Amber's vacation. Although he's been curious about Grant and Amber's sex life, him being the married man and all, I don't think he'd go for being the third wheel. So I scratched that idea.

Then I thought, what if Seattle has a case similar to what Grant battled in "The Mighty T" and called him up to help. I saw a bookish detective on the case in Seattle, a guy who remembers everything. He read about the case of the terrorist Samuel Raimes III, who called himself John Lightfoot, and thought his case was so similar that Grant could surely help them. The problem with that scenario was, bah! It was a little boring and, if I may say, pretentious. Maybe if Seattle was dealing with an eco-terrorist like Raimes, but they're not. Plus, Grant would likely have to go to Seattle alone, and we couldn't have that.

Next I thought Grant, Amber, and Bensen could be in Seattle attending some kind of cop conference. I had to consult Google to see if cops had conferences like that and guess what? Not only do they, they had one in Seattle in 2012. I like realism. So, Grant, Amber, and Bensen are at the conference. I'm still thinking about letting Hanks tag along, to make it an even number so Bensen would have someone to share a room with. I still might do that. I liked Hanks limited role in Matador.

I'm almost finished writing chapter one and I'm having a little trouble figuring out a believeable way to get Grant together with the Seattle detective who's caught the murder case we're interested in, Ira Utter. Utter's not an expert at anything so I couldn't have him speaking at the conference. For that matter, Grant's not really an expert at anything, either, wo why would he be speaking?

Ah, but he has had experience in tracking down an eco-terrorist, and not many cops can say that. So, I'm gonna have him take 5-10 minutes of someone else's presentation on "Home-Grown Terrorism" and Utter's gonna be sitting in. But Utter's busy on a new case, why would he take time out to attend a boring conference, especially one meant only for "police executives"? He's there because his captain, Captain Marks, is giving the presentation and she told him he had to go so there'd be at least one person laughing at her jokes. Grant's gonna say something at the end of his breif talk that's gonna catch Utter's ear.

As I've posted about before, I don't want anyone to be able to point out big holes in my plots. I also don't want anyone saying "Hey! That couldn't happen!" So I labor at getting my plots to make sense and keep both feel planted in the real world.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.