Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guest Author: Lauren Carr


Practical Tips for Beginning Mystery Writers
By Lauren Carr

Everyone wants to be Jessica Fletcher. Do you remember Jessica Fletcher? Oh, that’s right. She was in the 80’s. I guess I’ve dated myself. Okay! I admit it! I’m THAT old. Do you want to make something of it?

All right. My mood is swinging  back into the other direction. … Where was I? Oh, yes, you want to be a mystery writer.

Number One: Research. Research in mystery writing is very important. However, I strongly advise against hands-on research in murder mystery writing. No matter how good you may be, if you kill your ex-husband, they are going to catch you and you will go to jail. Then you will be spending so much time fighting off a muscle-bound, tattooed roommate calling you “Cupcake” that you won’t have time to write your book.

It is best to do your research online. Google is a good starting source. There is an unbelievable wealth of sources on the Internet now, geared specifically toward writers for research in law enforcement and forensics. I know one author who found a video on YouTube on how to build a bomb.

Number Two: Once you’ve done your research into murder, you now need to come up with a story line.  The best place to start is to come up with a protagonist. Another word is hero. Some writers base their detectives on themselves. Others base them on their fantasy hero. At this point, ask yourself: Who do you want to save the day? You or some dashing, sexy, man with piercing eyes and a big gun? …
(Hold that thought while I go get a glass of cold water.)

Number Three: Your victim. You can’t have a murder mystery without someone getting killed. You may already have a murder victim. Many murder mystery writers have victims in mind before they have even thought of writing a book. If they are honest, many mystery writers were driven to write murder mysteries because of their victims.    

This is the one case where it is okay to ask: Who do you want to kill? Bosses are a favorite. Once at a book event, a reader told me that she had two ex-husbands that she wanted me to kill between the pages for her. (Note to self: Look into becoming a literary assassin.)

Number Four:  How are you going to kill your victim? If you are basing your victim on someone in particular, you may already have a murder method in mind. Or you may have so many ideas that you don’t know which one to choose from. It is all a matter of preference. Do you want your murder victim to go out with a whimper or a bang? Is he or she worthy of going out in a blaze of glory? If not, maybe you want a particularly tortuous death, like being dined on by a komodo dragon. Or, you could have him die “off-stage”. In this case, you don’t need to write it out. You could simply have the reader hear about it later.

Number Five: The solving of the case. This is where many mystery writers get tripped up. They have so much fun with Steps One-through-Four that they’ve forgotten that someone has to solve their victim’s murder. Maybe because subconsciously, they don’t want their victim’s murder solved. That is something for the writer to take to Dr. Phil to sort out.

As much fun as it was killing their boss or ex-husband or nasty neighbor or lawyer who rolled over and played dead in divorce court or—How about that teacher in high school who gave me a “B” on the essay when I bloody well deserved an “A” and because of that I didn’t get into the Harvard and my life was ruined and now I’m cleaning gutters for a living—

Excuse me. Back on track.

Your mystery does need to get solved. After the murder, you need to lead the reader on the path through the detection, solving of the crime, and the capture of the killer.

That’s right. In the end, the killer is captured by the detective.

That’s why in the beginning I warned you not to practice this in real-life at home. 

Unless you want to evade capture when they find out by getting cosmetic surgery, dressing up like a member of the opposite sex, joining a rock band and then spending the rest of your life on the lam—which is another blog post.

Happy Mystery Writing!

*     *     *     *

Blast from the Past

Author: Lauren Carr
Kindle Edition
File Size: 3391 KB
Print Length: 258 pages
Publisher: Acorn Book Services (January 2, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Link

Synopsis:

In this fourth mystery on Deep Creek Lake; Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents. 

After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars—Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.

1 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

Interesting post with lots of good advice.

I'm old enough to remember Jessica Fletcher.

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