Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lessons Learned

Since that wonderful discovery about my bent for mysteries, I've been studying. And I have learned a thing or two about my own taste within the genre: Don't bore me! I get the set up, so don't tell me the same thing every time a new character makes the same discovery. That feels like padding or mistrust of the reader. Keep the point of view limited enough so that I can relate to the main characters. And let those main characters on stage early. If I'm tossed a red herring with a bunch of people who don't need to be there, I get lost. I keep expecting them to step up and do something important. I'm not good with long short stories. This attitude surprised me. I love novels, but that intermediate length seems to lose me. Maybe it's hard for the reader and the writer to sustain the pace without chapter breaks.

Keep the dialogue realistic, but concise. And the diction consistent with the setting, both time and place. To notice a word that none of the characters would know lifts me out of the story, as if I were stumbling over a broken place in the sidewalk. As I said in the previous blog, I like the violence off stage. I don't do well with being forced to admire gore, no matter how well written the passage. That's my problem, rather than the writer's, I admit. No writer can serve all readers. I love humor, when I find it, in a mystery story. I love solving the puzzle, but not too soon. I like action to begin--bang!--on the first page, rather than having to wander around in backstory for a while. Amazing what I learned once I knew where to look. Of course, putting all of these discoveries to good use will be the real challenge, but that's one reason I write.

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