Writer on the Verge

August 14, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge tagged as , with 4 and 0

Research – What Came First, the Plot or the Vacation?

by Kate Carlisle

One of my manuscripts stuck on a shelf deep inside the bedroom closet, never to see the light of day, involves a heroine who must travel from her home in San Francisco to the West Coast of Scotland in order to unravel an ancient mystery. Along the way, of course, she meets a really cute Interpol agent and falls in love with him and settles in the Highlands.

It’s got everything — romance, mystery, a touch of paranormal, and location, location, location.

This is how I like to plot my books—and plan my vacations. My husband has learned to live with it. If I need to see Etruscan pottery at the British Museum, then he’ll need to see the selection of bitters on tap at the Museum Tavern across the street. If I’ve got to pop into the London Transport Museum to look at carriages, I’ll find him later in one of the Covent Garden pubs, researching single malt scotch. It works for us.

My next book will involve a killing in a wine bar on the Ile St. Louis. Our intrepid heroine will track the killer—and the wine shipment—all the way to Castellina in Chianti. She’ll stay in a 17th century stone house overlooking the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany. She’ll dine on wild boar and mushroom risotto served with a fine Brunello di Montalcino, and finally trap the killer in an ancient wine cellar. No bottles will be broken, no alcohol spilled, in the pursuit of justice.

Hey, it’s my process!

What’s your process? What comes first? The plot or the characters—or the vacation plans?


  • Anonymous
    on August 14, 2007

    Kate, no worries, I won’t kill you. Minions must stick together, you know!

    By the way, I should learn to read what I write and clean up the spelling! I’m so sloppy….

  • Anonymous
    on August 14, 2007

    Ooh Jen, I love your process, especially the frantic mood swings! But my life really isn’t all that great, so please don’t kill me, LOL.

    Maureen, hi! I love the idea of “researching” Irish pubs! I find great inspiration in a pint of Harp lager. 😉

  • Anonymous
    on August 14, 2007

    Kate….I knew you were talented, didn’t realize you were also BRILLIANT!!! God, that’s a great process!

    For me, characters come first, then I figure out what the location is and then the story, because the story inevitably grows out of LOCATION! And oh yeah, love to go back to Scotland and Ireland for my ‘research’!!

    Writing is a great job!

  • Anonymous
    on August 14, 2007

    Kate, I want your process! Never mind your process, I want you life! It sounds like so much fun…

    But wait, what if someone (a fictional character) REALLY wanted your life? And she decided she had to kill you to get it?

    There’s the beginning of my process. From there, I descend into wild mood swings of frantically working the idea, and then panicking that it’s a really bad idea and I’ll never pull it off.


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