Am I Trying to Write Two Books Instead of One?

By Elaine L. Orr

I’ve been working on New Lease on Death (13th Jolie Gentil cozy) for several months, sometimes going full speed ahead, other times pausing for a week or more. Yes, I am busy. Who isn’t?

When I’m not moving fast or feel stuck, I look at the intersection of plot and subplots and which character is doing what in each. Because the book has two points of view (sleuth Jolie Gentil and a former town resident who left under a cloud years ago), I’ve been careful to define each character’s role carefully.  The usual who-does-what-to-whom and why, plus outlined details about the clues that lead to solving the murder.

I’ve been wondering if I’m stalling for…what? Time? I set the schedule. Today I went back to basics while sitting quietly (a.k.a. away from my computer) and wrote about the inciting incident. Then I insisted (to myself) that there were two inciting incidents.

Ah, a clue. Maybe I’m working slowly because I’m trying to write two plots instead of a plot with strong subplots.

Below is the working description of New Lease on Death.

Jolie always has her hands full appraising houses, running the food pantry, and enjoying her family. Enter Buck Brock — an annoying landlord who likes to skimp on amenities and wants Jolie to lowball appraisals on properties he’s buying. He makes Lester look like a mild-mannered uncle.

She and Scoobie also decide to let a troubled Iraq War vet back into their lives, and Jolie finds him work cleaning units for Buck. Or will Josh’s presence end up helping her family — especially Scoobie?

Jolie’s in the Java Jolt Coffee Shop when Buck’s weekend tenant (a friend of Jolie’s sister) collapses. No one expects her to die so quickly. It’s hard to identify suspects, but Josh pops up on the police radar. Or could some evil person have put poison in a Java Jolt product just to cause trouble?

Jolie, Scoobie, and friends are pondering this when an annoyed Buck asks Jolie to meet him at a house she just appraised. She’s peeved, but he’s a steady client. What she finds in the foyer does not encourage tourist traffic in Ocean Alley.

As a mom of four-year-old twins, Jolie doesn’t jump into crime solving casually. But figuring out two murders may be a leap she has to take.

Except it doesn’t include my main subplot. I think this is going to be a week of rethinking. It’s either two books or one that needs to mesh better.

                                                                *     *     *     *     *

To learn more about Elaine L. Orr, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.