Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's a mystery to me - Act 1 of 3

Here is a summary the first 3 checkpoints (Act 1) of the mystery I am working on in my Mystery Writing Class. Any suggestions/comments are appreciated.

Theme:  Love trandscends time
Protagonist flaw:  Nate lacks self confidence, initiative
Premise:  What if Nate's true love is trapped in the past and he cannot overcome his self-doubt/lack of confidence in time to save her?



Nate stared in confusion at the ring in his hand. Just moments ago it had been in the painting, resting in the palm of the young girl so beautifully portrayed there. As he studied her face, a sense of her hopelessness washed over him. He looked around quickly to see if anyone else was in the Museum. Alone, he put the ring in his pocket and slowly turned to leave. His footsteps hesitated momentarily as he heard a woman crying. Closing the door behind him he thought “coward” as he walked away.


Nate is the lead landscape designer at Hillside Museum in Connecticut. He is following a legacy of his father back to great grandfather who were all gardeners/caretakers of the grounds at Hillside Museum. He supervises a crew of two and a host of volunteers who tend the ground and gardens. He is a loner and guards his space and time carefully. He is a gentle dreamer, not a do-er, much to the dismay of Rennie.

Rennie is the Program Director at the Museum and she is frustrated with Nate because he has not fully completed the landscape plans for the grounds for the 100 year celebration set for next week. She continually has to push him to discuss and finalize these plans. She has lately found him inside the Museum standing in front of a one hundred year old painting dated 1909 of a young girl titled “Anna”. She has told him his job is in jeopardy if he does not have the grounds in perfect shape in time.

There are a number of businessmen and townspeople who sit on the board, volunteer, and contribute to the Museum, and have a stake in the outcome of the 100 year celebration.


Nate is once again drawn to the painting.  As he stands before it, he hears her voice saying, "Please help me.  You are my only hope."  His instinct is to flee.


  1. I really like where you are going with this and I'd be interested in reading it! I "failed" that Fiction class with the same teacher (LOL), so I am no good at telling about the technique according to his instructions. But I love the premise and your hook!

  2. Thanks! Did you take the mystery writing class of the fiction writing class? He has a pretty rigid structure. I'm only on Act 1, have Acts 2 and 3 to go, so we'll see! Thanks for reading it!

  3. The techniques are pretty rigid, but I like that kind of structure. When I took the fiction class it really made a difference in how I wrote my second manuscript. Now I'm applying those same techniques as I prepare to rewrite my first novel, which I wrote by the seat of my pants.

    Your first act is engaging and I can't wait to see where you go with it.

  4. I, too, pretty much dropped out of the mystery-writing course. It was more formulaic than what suits me and I was exceptionally busy with work at the time.

    It will be fun to see where you go with this. Good luck!

  5. Well, his first critique of my story idea was pretty "harsh", and I had to work on my protagonist a bit, but I am determined to continue on. I have no idea where I'm going - so it will be fun! We'll see if the formula concept works for me!

  6. Yes, I took the Fiction class (not Mystery, but I think they're very similar). I did learn some things, but his structure is very rigid and not really to my style of how I like to create. However, it's good to learn the basic structure of fiction and I think the class did that well.

    One thing I found hard was that I didn't have a story that I was working on before the class started, and mostly everyone else did. So I found my story flailing and changing alot along the way, which was frustrating. I would recommend his classes for someone who already has a story that they want to try to make better, imho. I just think I would have learned more if I'd had at least the germ of a story.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement! I truely feel I am learning! I'll post as I go! Sounds like everyone is too busy to do the Take Ten's, so maybe we can restart if in April! Of course by then you will all have your re-writes done!

  8. Sounds like an interesting story. I haven't taken any of his classes yet. I'd heard about how rigid he is and I don't know that I'd get anything out of it. Then again, I may change me mind one day.
    I completely forgot about the take ten plan. I'll try to do a couple this weekend.