Friday, March 12, 2010

It's a mystery to me --- Acts 1, 2 AND 3!

Here is a summary all nine checkpoints (Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3) 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 stares 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 studies her face, a sense of her hopelessness washes over him. He looks around quickly to see if anyone else is in the Museum. Alone, he puts the ring in his pocket and slowly turns to leave. His footsteps hesitate momentarily as he hears a woman softly crying. Closing the door behind him he thinks “coward” as he walks 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.



Although Nate is drawn to Anna, he does not feel capable or willing to involve himself in her plight. But because of this he can’t sleep, eat or think about anything else. He cannot concentrate on the job he has to complete by the end of the week, which means he could be fired. This also causes him much stress and anguish because this position holds great significance to his family in addition to himself. He is confused about what this all means – why is he hearing her and no one else is; why did she pick him.


Nate is increasingly drawn to the painting but fights with himself to stay away. He feels Anna’s escalating fear as someone else is trying to get to her. His landscaping plans are being sabotaged and the plans for the 100 year celebration are not coming together. One of the local town business leaders is calling for his termination. He beats himself up because nothing is going right and he is continually seeing his safe and simple life evaporating, and he can’t figure out what to do about it. Every step forward causes two steps back. His self confidence is at an all time low.


At this moment Nate realizes he is in love with Anna and must protect her at all cost. He realizes he can no longer sit back and watch what is happening. He steps forward and vows to fight for both her safety and his job.



Nate goes to the Museum at night to listen to Anna and to figure out how to help her. He professes his love for her. She tells him they are soul mates. She also tells him he will have to find the code to break the spell to release her from the painting, and that he has only one more day before it will no longer work. She tells him there is someone else looking for the code to get the necklace she is wearing and that she is afraid he intends to kill her. Nate sets a trap to catch whoever is sabotaging his landscaping for the celebration. He is finally acting instead of reacting.


Nate finds the code to break the spell and releases Anna from the painting. There is someone else in the room too. The antagonist jerks the necklace from around Anna’s neck, because he knows it gives special power to the one person who should be its keeper. He is certain that he is that one person; he feels it is his right. A struggle ensues between him and Nate for the necklace, and Nate outsmarts him. Nate is the one person who has been chosen to be its keeper. The antagonist is in a rage and attempts to shoot Anna, but Nate steps in and the gun goes off, killing the antagonist.


The 100 year celebration begins at the Museum. The grounds with Nate’s landscaping plans are stunning. His job is no longer in jeopardy. He appears with Anna and introduces her as an old friend just returning to be a part of his life. The necklace is safely hidden. The details of relationships 100 years ago between Nate’s, Anna’s and the antagonist’s relatives are revealed.


  1. Wow, good for you to have all those points lined up! It looks like a worthwhile outline to work with and from. Keep us posted.

  2. Hey - thanks! The outline has grown today to just over 3000 words, and I've just been putting down plot and history! I heard back from Susan but she is too busy to talk with me. I have enough from their website and what I don't have, I'll make up! I have renamed the Museum in my story to Hillside Museum. Thanks for taking a look at my outline. I am liking the structure for this first time around.