So I started working on a tool that would do some of the heavy lifting for me.
There are lots of things that have to come together for a novel to work. Some of these (like writing good sentences) are really hard to get a computer to do well, and some (like keeping track of the interactions of a cast, organizing biographical information, and making assertions about how characters with different personalities will interact) a computer can do...decently...
So I wrote Novel.js to do some of the things that computers do well, so I could spend my time doing the things computers don't.
The app will give you a basic outline of a story, essentially a series of writing prompts, and you - the real writer - fill in the interstices (or put together the puzzle) with the story you want to write.
It's not a blank page, and I like that.
The mystery stuff isn't terribly intuitive, so a brief explanation: each important element in the story gets a secret (you'll have to come up with the secrets) and over the course of the story, there's the potential for these secrets to be disclosed.
"Mystery: declaration" reveals to the reader that there's something more to the character/ship/company/foundation/church than meets the eye.
"Mystery: clue" gets you closer to the truth, while "mystery: deception" misdirects.
"Mystery: revelation" discloses the secret, while "mystery: inversion" means the not only was the secret not what you thought it was, the way you asked the question was exactly backwards, and led the reader away from the truth.
I might get into the details of how I put all this together in a later post, and I definitely want to polish it a bit more, but after working on it (and going down so many blind alleys) for the last 5 months, I just wanted to finally make it public.