Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What We Writers Write

Genres: the various differentiated areas of novels.

Let's start with Mystery writing!

According to Sue Grafton, the mystery is:
"a way to examine the dark side of nature, a means to by which we can explore the perplexing questions of crime, guilt and innocence, violence and justice. The mystery not only re-creates the original conditions from which violence springs, tracking the chaos . . . but attempts to divine the truth through the process of rational investigation and eventually restores order to the universe."

So, a mystery writer must be(come):
  • A psychologist (a person who studies humans and human nature). A person who studies and details little, sometimes unimportant, items that can be used at a later time, or that make sense when put together with other information. A person skilled in mind puzzles.

A mystery is (to some people's way of thinking) the most explicit of all novels. You pose a question in the beginning. By the end, you have answered all the questions. The basic question: Who did it?

A writer must follow some rules to write a mystery. Some of them are:

  • Plot (which is everything for a mystery novel)
  • Hero (ine) must be credible and interesting.
  • The setting must be a suitable background for your story line and your pool of characters.
  • Some type of violence is required. (whether theft, greed, murder, etc.)
  • Some types of violence are a no-no! (graphic details of crime and certain types of crime dealing with children or animals)
  • First person point of view is the preferred manner of story telling, although it does limit the story line to the ONE view. Some do use third view and succeed.
  • This is a duh one: the hero cannot be the villain. Kind of hard to do this in a 'normal' mystery.
  • Bring in the culprit early in the novel, within the first two-three chapters. Fairness to the reader in giving the clues throughout the book.
  • In a mystery, two character scenes simplify the ease in reading the story.
  • Do your research (this works for all genres!). You don't want a more knowledgeable reader turned off by your confusing, lack of correctness information weaving throughout your book.

Remember: rules are meant to be bent or broken. But you better have a good reason to do so!

What you want is to practice, practice, practice. It doesn't matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it's thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on. --C.S. Lewis


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