Plotting a Murder Board
by Rebecca McKinnon
It all started with walking through the school supply section of Target. I noticed a box of cute push pins, and my husband jokingly asked, “Do you need those for your murder board?”
My mouth fell open, and I started bouncing. “I want a murder board. I need a murder board!”
I left Target the proud owner of a bulletin board, push pins, tiny index cards, and string.
At home, I sat down to play with my new toys.
The first thing every murder board needs is a victim.
I’d already been thinking about ideas for a cozy mystery set in my beloved Rocky Mountains. So, even though this was the first book I was trying to really plot instead of making it up as I went, I already had some of the key plot points in mind.
That meant I didn’t have to look too hard for a body.
What did I know about the victim? Her name was Mary, and she owned a yarn store.
I drew a silly little crime scene body outline and stuck it to the board.
One lonely little card didn’t make the board look happy, so I wrote up a list of details about her death. The murder weapon: yarn. The location: her apartment over her shop. I filled the new card with things I can’t tell you (spoilers!) and pinned it next to the first.
But two cards looked almost as lonely as one.
What my murder board needed was color. Visuals. Something to bring it to life, so to speak.
So I went onto one of the free picture websites and started looking. And looking. Soon I found a decent match to my victim. I set that aside to print, and got back to work.
What else does a murder board need?
That’s right, suspects.
And I had a town full of them. Since I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, I narrowed down the possibilities before searching for pictures to represent each of them.
Now I had my victim and suspects. But every murder board needs to show connections. That meant I needed to figure out how each of my suspects connected not just to the victim, but also to each other.
What secrets did they know?
What motives were they hiding?
And just how many crisscrossing strings could I add to make it feel more murder board-y?
I started writing the connections on color-coded sticky notes and assigned each of the characters on my board their own color of string, to make it easy to see things at a glance.
Once everything was mapped out, it was time to start writing.
I kept my murder board on the wall of my office while I wrote the story that went along with it. I added to it, and pulled things off it, and moved things around to fit with what went on the page.
When I reached The End, my murder board had walked me through the whole story. It taught me that when I’m ready to write a book I might get turned around in, plotting a murder board is the best way to do it — and not just because it means I get to play with school supplies.
About The Book
A Rocky Mountain Yarn with Small Town Charm
Jemma hasn’t been to the tiny Rocky Mountain town of Clear Creek in years, but when her grandmother tells her something strange is going on, Jemma drops everything to return and help untangle the clues.
She arrives to flashing lights, a house full of police, and the news that her grandmother has been killed with her own yarn. After learning she inherits everything, Jemma is faced with the choice of casting on a new life by reopening her grandmother’s yarn shop, or returning to her live-out-of-a-suitcase life as a travel vlogger.
One thing’s for sure — she’s not leaving town until the mystery of her grandmother’s death has unraveled. But when the deputy in charge of the investigation ignores clues Jemma stumbles upon, she decides to do her own poking around. Because her grandmother was right — there is something strange happening in Clear Creek.
Purchase Link: Amazon
About the Author
Rebecca McKinnon enjoys playing with her imaginary friends and introducing them to others through her writing. She dreams of living in the middle of nowhere but has been unable to find an acceptable location that wouldn’t require crossing an ocean.
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