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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Clues, Red Herrings, and Happy New Year

Santa on Dauphin Island
Whew! I’m with Santa. 

Even though I’d rather be sleeping, I’m now back at the keyboard, thinking up another adversity for the protagonist/sleuth in my WIP. Writing a mystery is a learning process for me. Thriller and suspense genres I have managed to some small degree, but a mystery is a whole ‘nother story.

What remains the same among the genres is that my protagonist (i.e., sleuth) must be likeable, have some personality quirks, and a bit of backstory baggage to be dropped intermittently into the story (no info dumps, please). My sleuth has a confidant, which is a recommended device. There is a unique setting and a love interest to add a little jazz. Each of the major characters, including the bad guy, has a secret that I hope will generate some degree of sympathy.

Mysteries need a theme, and I have a theme that will, I believe, hit a universal nerve with my readers. Where I’m struggling is with the clues and red herrings. Where and how to place them so they invite the reader to try to solve the mystery but don’t reveal so much that they really can.

I am a pantser, or more accurately, a pathfinder. I find my way through the story by building roadblocks for my protagonist then figuring out how to have her escape. For a mystery, I am going to have to do a bit of {gasp} plotting. Before I can hide the clues and weave in red herrings, I should know how my protagonist will be solving the crime.

Like all manuscripts, my mystery will change with each future edit cycle. My characters, clues, and red herrings will change and be rearranged. And that process has already started. For example: I know the victim is murdered (off-page, on page 7), but the description of one of my red herrings may force me to change the how. Changing that scene will most certainly waterfall into other changes throughout the manuscript.

What I really like about all this is that I’m learning new things. My personal goal has always been to learn something new every day, and this project is certainly helping me reach my goal. How about you? Did you reach a personal goal this year?

That’s it for this post, and I’m tired. I think I’m going to take the rest of the year off (::lol::).

I pray that your new year will be filled with the love of family and friends, good health and good times, and the magic of books. HAPPY NEW YEAR !!

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj

By the by: 2016 is a Leap Year, so Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to all you Feb 29 babies!

PS:  The photo of where Santa was on Dec. 26 is by Jeff Johnston

cjpetterson@gmail.com
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook

Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! Most of my 2015 success will come to fruition, God willin and the crick don't rise, in 2016. The cozy genre was new to me 2 years ago and I think I did that pretty well. It remains to be seen if I'll keep on there. I hope to hear that it will continue! Happy New Year!

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