My Favorite Part of Writing…

I love to plot!

The possibilities are endless, the characters new and the settings fresh. This is the part where my imagination takes flight, and I let it go, not trying to make sense of the ideas, just letting them flow. There is plenty of time later to say “no, that is silly” or “she would never do that” or “no way would they go there”.

I created this image from the AI program

This is the part where I make new friends and find out all I can about them. I write character sheets with details I will probably never use. I visualize what they look like, use pictures of actors or faces created by an AI site, think about how they will sound and talk. What habits do they have? Are they going to be cast as hero or villain?

I research locations (google is great for that!) to create my story world. Usually I create a town that is not real, but very similar to a real town. I can add what I want then, putting parks, lakes, highways and downtown where it best suits my story.

Since I write cozy mysteries, I have to come up with a murder or crime. And that means a victim, cause of death, motive, suspects, red herrings, plot twists and a sleuth. And my sleuths all have four legged side kicks with tons of personality.

Gypsy from the Citrus Beach Mystery Series

Part of a cozy mystery is also about the side characters. And in a series, there are many that return over and over in each book. These characters need to be thought about too. There has to be a reason for every person placed on the page, good or bad.

My sleuth has to be someone relatable with connections to the location, characters and have some reason to be involved with the investigation. Otherwise, wouldn’t you just leave it for the authorities?

Speaking of the authorities, the sleuth must either work with or around them, but there has to be a way to get real information about the crime, so it’s best to plan a connection that makes sense.

How do I do all this? There are several steps to my method. I’ve tried different ways, but always seem to come back to these three…

Mind-map sample

First, I mind map; just throw ideas on the paper and see where and if they connect. This is also a good way to see how the characters connect to each other and the crime.

plotting with Plottr for a Beach House Mystery

Then I do a more step-by-step plot. I lay out a timeline, determine what action is going to be in each chapter, what characters are going to appear and why, what time of day or day of the week it is, where the action takes place… you get the picture.

Using Scrivener to write the story

Finally, I write, using my outline as a guide. But more often than not, my characters will take over at this point, and start changing things around or adding their own opinions of what should be happening. I kid you not. Sometimes I’ll look at a chapter and wonder where it came from, it certainty wasn’t in my outline!

And somehow, it all comes together, ready for the next phases; editing and publishing!

Victoria LK Williams


July-my month of Learning and Writing!

It seems crazy to designate one month as a special learning and writing month, and it wasn’t planned. July is the month (for me) that new seminars, conferences and webinars are open for attendance. And this year I’m trying to do as many as I can.

Mascote of Sleuth Fest
Photo by Jimmy Chan on

First there was Sleuth Fest. This was a four-day conference hosted by the Mystery Writers of America. Usually it’s held in the spring, which is my busy gardening time, but this year it was July and for the first time I could attend. Although the conference focuses more on traditional publishing, there was still plenty to learn and wonderful authors to meet. From writers starting on their first book to established authors with one hundred books, the entire conference was friendly and informative.

Now I’m doing an online conference called Inker’s Con. There are enough sessions to keep me busy for days! Top selling Authors, mostly indie, are conducting the sessions and panels (which I love!) on marketing and craft.

Later in the month will be the Self Publishing Conference, also online. I just can’t swing flying to England for a writer’s conference-yet. This is always a good show and full of great information.

And in between all the learning, it’s also Camp Nano Month. You know, write 50k in one month…

You might wonder why writers get involved in NaNo-it’s a lot of extra pressure, so I asked a few authors to share their thoughts.

Why do you participate in NaNo?

Sally Howe Bayless

Writing can be a solitary job. NaNo surrounds you with supportive, encouraging colleagues. The energy helps the words flow!

MP Smith

NaNo is a wonderful kick-start to your novel. It’s a competition with yourself to get a large chunk of writing done within a short time, and the NaNo process makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Writing with friends is always more fun.

Katie Brown

Nano provides a deadline to meet while also fostering comaraderie and encouragement as writers share their progress, wins, and setbacks.

Sheila McCallum Perry

Taking part in NaNo over the years has meant discovering the advantages of writing something every day-whether I feel like it or not!

Victoria LK Williams

My hubby calls me the Queen of Procrastination. He’s right, I’m terrible about doing things at the last minute. NaNo forces me to have a daily goal and the backup of fellow writers.

At the Pool with Miss Marple and Fletch

So there you have it, my educational July, all mapped out! With most of it online, you can be sure I will spend some of my learning time by the pool!