Number 61 — December 2, 2005
Story Preparation — Part 3
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Continuing my search for a creditable POV character to tell my story, I write brief outlines from different characters' perspectives. I do not fret about writing them in the sequence they will appear in the story. My sole purpose is to examine the story events from various positions. I begin with Lucia.
This will be a murder tale in which Lucia's father produces a criminal plan to get Otto's wealth. Edmundo, her father, is a maniac who thinks he is clever enough to devise a scheme that will avoid detection. Why would Lucia share in such a plan? She too covets great wealth. Why? Because she remembers her mother telling her fairy tales of kings and treasures. After her mother's death, she sees her father as a millstone around her neck, blocking her success. At age fifteen, she finds a job in a convenience store where she advances quickly. She comes to the attention of the owner, Otto de la Fuentes. After a few years, she owns four franchises. Meanwhile, her father, having failed as an author, succeeds as a petty criminal. When he learns of Lucia's success, he creates a plot to murder Otto with Lucia's involvement. When the plot succeeds, Lucia reveals to her father she married Otto and the entire estate falls to her. When her father objects, she threatens to betray him.
From Sergeant Grimes point-of-view, this will be a cat and mouse story. He must discover the information known to Lucia. The story will begin with a call to homicide telling him about the murder. He arrives at the scene, interviews the flight attendant, Lucia and possibly other witnesses if needed to fill in the blanks. Edmundo, who used an alias, will have left the scene. When Grimes pursues the false name, he discovers no involvement by any of the people with the same or similar name. He is at a dead end when he remembers a statement by the flight attendant conflicting with Lucia's testimony that turns his investigation in a new direction. Bit by bit, he uncovers Lucia's past. When he finally traps her, she identifies her father as the guilty party. She tries to convince Grimes she is innocent. In the Lucia version, the inference is she gets away with the money; in this version she probably won't.
Finally, from Edmundo's perspective the story will disclose a criminal mind at work. The reader will meet him as a recent widower with a ten-year-old daughter. He is on welfare, trying to earn a living as an author. Lucia finds work at a convenience story. Her earnings increase, and she buys her own franchise. This results in Edmundo's welfare disqualification. He turns to a successful life of petty crime, astonished at how fast Lucia progresses. Her close friendship with Otto leads Edmundo to dream of a grand hoax. He convinces Lucia to join in the scheme, not telling her the eventual goal is to murder Otto and steal his estate. The police find Edmundo, unveil his alias and discover Lucia is Otto's wife. She inherits the estate and her father goes to jail. This suggests Lucia is a victim, not an accomplice.
These brief snippets, which took only a few minutes each, reveal three different endings. In the first, the inference suggests Lucia, as a willing participant, gets away with it. In the second, Grimes exposes her culpability and she suffers the results. In the last, the reader perceives her as a victim.
I am ready to decide which story I want to tell. I selected Lucia as the POV character because I think that will make the best story. I based my choice on my personal storytelling approach and my writing style. Mystery writers could well select Grimes as the POV character; while others would prefer Edmundo. No universal right and wrong answer exists.
Having outlined the story and selected the point-of-view character, I'm ready to begin writing, but one more problem remains. Will I write the story in first, second or third person? Next week I'll consider these choices and make a decision.
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