TDE: Another Shayne story, “A Matter of Policy,” about a crooked claims adjuster, is tightly plot-ted, with elements that all come together by the story’s end. Are you a plotter or pantser? What’s your writing process today and how has it evolved over the years?
MB: I had to reread “A Matter of Policy” because I didn’t remember it, and I was pleasantly surprised how well the story holds up after all these years.
Alas, nothing in my notes reminds me how this story came together, so I’ll talk more generally about my process.
I am a combination plotter and pantser—a plantser, if you will. Many of my stories begin when I write an opening scene that introduces a character or characters and an inciting incident. Too often, that’s all I have. Then the story sits—sometimes a few days, but occasionally several years—before I return to it. I may then plot the next few scenes or the entire balance of the story before continuing the writing. So, I often begin a story as a pantser and finish it as a plotter.
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Vol. 49 No. 2 Feb. 1985
Hal Blythe & Charles Sweet writing as Brett Halliday “The Quick and the Dead”
Mike Taylor “The ‘B’ Murders”
Stewart Street “Music Man”
Joseph A. Sekelsky “The Charm Bracelet”
Mel Washburn “Sweet Sister”
Alan Warren “Smithereens”
Michael Bracken “A Matter of Policy”
Richard Connolly’s Purloined Letter (art quiz)
Lane Marsh “A Delicate Situation”
John Ball’s Stiff Competition (book reviews)
Best By Mail (classifieds)
Publishers: Edward & Anita Goldstein
Editor: Charles E. Fritch
Art Director: Robin Schaffer
Founder: Leo Margulies
5.25” x 7.75” 130 pages $1.75