Plotting and Planning...
I just couldn't see the 'big picture' using the excel format and the 'balance' did not seem right. There is majot event about three quarters of the way through The Missing Heiress. My plan revealed too much information in the days leading up to this event and left nothing for Lavender to uncover afterwards. On some days, his investigation was a frenzy of activity - on others not much happened at all.
I had read somewhere that many authors use postcards to help them with the hundreds of ideas flashing around in their imagination. Events and scenes can be written down on postcards and shuffled around physically, to see how they follow each other and build up to the climax. Well, I didn't have any postcards handy but I had a pair of scissors and plenty of paper. Two hours later, I had a huge pile of paper slips, all covered with scribbled notes.
The next thing to do, was to lay them out in a chronological format which worked. I needed something big. Whilst the family were away at a football match, I requisition the kitchen noticed board, covered it with paper and marked out large squares. Each square was a different day of the investigation. Finally, I laid out my scribbled notes and shuffled them around until I felt the plot flowed smoothly and balance was restored.
Sadly, my family were not impressed with my brilliant idea when they returned home from the match. They were more concerned that the flyers from the pizza takeaway shops had disappeared. It took a while before peace was eventually restored...and I think I'm going to have to buy another kitchen notice board. ;)