The Plot Behind the Plot

Read the first five chapters of Frey’s how-to this morning and realize I have work to do. Work that will not be adding to the 150 or so pages I’ve accumulated in the WIP.  Yes, the stuff I need to do will inform my story, but most of it won’t be a part of the book. My murderer needs a better backstory. I have a hazy idea of the way his mind works. I know who he kills and why. I cut a photo out of a magazine that looks like him. But that’s all I’ve got.

Frey says I need more.

So far, my murderer has been mostly off the page, but he’s about to become more obvious in the second act. Not obvious as the murderer, because Frey gave me the excellent tip that although he should be evil, he should appear to be good. In Act One I had him drop in maybe three times as a kind of background thing. He needs to come to the foreground now. It’s time.

Frey calls the murderer in a mystery the “character who pushes the action.” He’s the “author of the plot behind the plot.” The plot behind the plot is essentially why he murders, whom he murders, and how he intends to get away with it. “The murderer’s motive is the dirving force, the engine” of the mystery.

I do have all of that mostly worked out.

Am going to somewhat reluctantly delve into a more complete bio of this evil dude over the weekend. According to Frey, for a well-rounded murderer, I need to figure out his physiology (how he looks, how his body works), his sociology (his background, where he grew up, how he became wounded), and his psychology (how his mind works, including his ruling passion).

The “ruling passion” is a “dramatic force that is driving the character’s personality.”

I don’t have that, or the three descriptions of the well-rounded character, yet. I need to give it some thought and some ink.


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey of your WIP. I think you mentioned this is part 2 of a previously completed novel. I’m not much of a mystery reader, but you already got me interested in reading your work one day.

    Sounds like you’re making some headways here recently…

    With regard to the murderer (antagonist), I agree with Frey that the murder or his deed will propel the plot.

    Now, I’ll go work on my antagonist…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.