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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Challenge of writing mysteries and, count 'em, two thriller/suspense releases in April


cj Sez: My favorite genre to write is thriller/suspense, and I have two releases in April for you. They both have a touch of romance to keep give readers the warm fuzzies, but writing a romance novel this year has some challenges:

From Facebook


   On today's writing front, I’m thinking up another challenge for the protagonist/sleuth in my work in progress, and it is Work. Writing a mystery is presenting a huge learning curve to me. Thriller and suspense genres I have managed (see the news of my April releases below), but a mystery is a whole ’nother story. Here’s what I know so far:

   What is the same among the genres is that my protagonist detective/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 another recommended device. 

   My setting is rather unique as non-cozy mysteries go in it’s not in a big city, and there’s a love interest to add a little jazz. Each of the major characters, including the bad guy, will have a piece of history or secret that affects how they react, and—I hope—generate some degree of sympathy.

Jeffery Deaver: “I like the way words go together and I like the gamesmanship of poetry. It is such a challenge.”  

(cj Sez: Works the same way for me with novels.)

   Clues and red herrings are struggles for me. Where and how do I place them so they invite the reader to try to solve the mystery but don’t reveal so much that they can do that too soon. I am a pantser or, more accurately, a pathfinder. I find my path through the story by throwing roadblocks in the paths of my characters then figuring out how they escape. For a mystery, I’m going to have to do a bit of ::gasp:: plotting. Before I can hide the clues and weave in the red herrings, I have to figure out where they need to be.
   I recently heard of a program called Plottr that was said to be good at telling the writer where a red herring or clue could/should be inserted. If you’ve used it, what did you think?

   It’s said that Hallie Ephron struggles with these same problems, so that makes me feel better. I guess this struggle might be problem for many mystery writers. I do know that, like all manuscripts, my characters, clues, and red herrings will change and be rearranged with each future edit cycle.

Diablo Cody: “I don’t have a formal rewrite process. I just compulsively groom and re-groom scenes like a cat with OCD.”  (cj Sez: My method exactly. I can groom the words right off the page.)

   What I really like is that I’m learning new things. One of my personal goals is to learn something new every day, and writing a mystery is certainly helping me reach my goal. How about you? Do you have a personal goal?


Thriller/Suspense releases in April:

THE DAWGSTAR launched April 15, 2021.  ebook pix

The Dawgstar is available at these fine sites:

DEATH ON THE YAMPA, is currently available for the pre-order price of 99 cents!  

At these sites:    ebook pix

Death on the Yampa launches April 30, 2021


Writerly quotes: 

 “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” Mark Twain   


Something personal:  Jeff D. Johnston (my son) migratory bird photo.
Red-breasted Grosbeak. Taken on Dauphin Island, AL—a rest-stop for birds as they migrate north.


 That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. 


P.S.  TO ORDER my autographed books or any book of your choice on-line and support an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:
  The store has re-opened to limited hours (and they have an awesome bookstore kitty, Mr. Bingley), so if you’re in the Mobile area, you can stop and shop, too.

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