Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing the Mystery Thriller with Sneed B. Collard III

Collard gave an overview of mystery writing, since he has written several recently.  Below are things that mystery writers need to think about:

  • The definition of a mystery is that they are deliberately trying to solve a problem.
  • In most adult mysteries a murder is involved.  Not so in children’s mysteries.
  • Need active engagement of main character.
  • There are often red herrings or dead ends.
  • Two major elements in mysteries are character and plot.  The plot is king!
  • A whodunit or quest is straightforward—piece together clues. 
  • A mystery-suspense is when bigger events take over the characters investigation.
  • Types of mysteries: treasure hunting, murder, theft and crime, espionage, family secrets, forensics, scientific, historical, disappearance.
  • Types of sleuths: police, social workers, scientists, military, reporters, enthusiasts, spies.
  • Traits of the sleuth: curious, persistent, quirky, think outside the box, flawed, humorous, specialized knowledge, smart.
  • If your characters aren’t working out right it’s because you haven’t done enough research.  James Joyce says: "A writer should know how much change his character has in his pocket.
  • Collard gave two good exercise handouts on outlining your main character, and interviewing your antagonist. I have copies if anyone wants them.

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