Coming Up With New Plot Ideas for an Ongoing Series

Marilyn (F.M.) at Madera Library

Marilyn (F.M.) at Madera Library

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.


To put it simply, it isn’t easy.

But to be honest, some of the planning isn’t hard.

The most difficult part is to come up with a crime—usually a murder—that’s different from what I’ve written about before. This usually means inventing a character that more than one person might want dead for a reason and who they are.

That’s what I usually do, but in my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, I went a different direction. The idea came from a newspaper clipping about a missing man whose car was found in his driveway with the engine running. That’s all it took to get started.

Because I have a cast of ongoing characters—the Rocky Bluff P.D. officers and their families—I always pick up additional plot ideas from where I left them in the last book.

There is an ongoing theme in this series and that is showing how what is happening on the job affects the family, and what is happening with the family affects the job. Within this theme I’ve tackled issues that people face in real life: relatives with Alzheimer’s, the birth of a Down syndrome child, failed romances and marriages, stalkers, and much more.

As for the job: an underfunded department, equipment, not enough manpower, the usual crimes any small town might experience, plus false accusations, a new police chief, new hires, blunders, and a natural disaster.

Beginning a new book is always a bit daunting at first, but once the ideas start flooding in, and they do, it’s something I love.


Violent DeparturesViolent Departures:

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

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Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

Tomorrow I’m answering the question,
Where Do My Characters Come From,

16 thoughts on “Coming Up With New Plot Ideas for an Ongoing Series

  1. Thank you for allowing me to be a guest today, this is one of my favorite blogs and I follow it religiously. Now I’m off to tell everyone to come take a look.


  2. What I like about your Rocky Bluff series is there’s not only a crime, but also on going character-lives-intrigues. Very enjoyable! Haven’t started my copy yet, Marilyn–waiting for a special time when I can just hide out and read! Though, might have jury duty tomorrow–perfect time, maybe while I’m waiting.



  3. This is something that I’ve been wondering about – how you come up with so many different plots. I think it’s a God-given gift, personally. It’s so much fun finding out how you do all of these things on such a consistent basis.


      • I also write, and my intentions were always to write thrillers, but frankly, my life has been filled with abundant and unique and strange happenstances; consequently, I am inspired by memories and then I begin to write about a non fiction incident ( probably more bizarre than many novels I read); the problem is that my writing is about real people and I don’t know the rules or consequences of recording my tales.


          • That helps so much; I did change people’s names and the actual names of places; however, a colleague told me several years ago that a ‘memoir’ must reflect the truth ( I teach writing arts in a university), so I went back and plugged in real names, once again, but then left my work unfinished due to the level of discomfort. Now I am ready to embark on a new writing venture, and I will certainly take your advice.


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