I have an idea for a story. I'm just starting out and wondering if I should attempt to build my crime from scratch, or loosely base it off of an actual event? I'd say the story leans more toward romantic suspense than actual mystery or crime.
It may help if you remember that you don't have to go to those dark places; your characters do. Allow whichever of your characters creates the drak atmosphere you eluctant to enter to have the personality to make it so, then place your imagination in that situation. It may take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it's effective, and can be a lot of fun.
Thanks for responding John. This may be the hole I need to fill. My life experience leaves me at a disadvantage. The bulk of my work experience has been bartending/Insurance administration/mothering. Research here I come! I recently ordered some books recommended by Dana. Hopefully this will help some.
You are very lucky in that respect, although having it all in your face like that may pose the opposite problem. I know that I don't want the crime to take over the story, I just want it to help move things forward and add a touch of suspense. Can you be an cop so young? I can hardly imagine, the movie 'Hot Fuzz' comes to mind ; )
Research at the bar brings to mind what I did when writing my private eye novel, HEADLOCK. I'm not a drinker at all, and do not go to bars, taverns or cocktail lounges. The story, however, required authentic depiction of the McFeely Tavern, and its patrons, in Walla Walla, Washington. So, I sat there for hours a day, sipping squirt and simply listening. I'll listen to anything, and so will my protagonist. If you read the book, every bit of dialog from secondary characters in the tavern is 100% authentic. I didn't make it up. It was all true. They say "write what you know." If you don't know, find out.
I'll have to check it out. If it's anything like some of the conversations I've been privy to, I'm sure to be entertained. An added perk to the bar scenario is an endless supply of characters. I'm tinkering with an idea, except it would revolve around the workings of the bar and those that run it, rather than the patrons. I'll have to chew on that. Thanks for your input.
I can't agree with Burl enough. I tended bar at my aunt's restaurant one summer in college. No crimes got discussed, but you hear not only the kinds of things that go on in the lives of people who stop for a bump and a beer at 7:00 AM (shift workers), but you'll develop an ear for the cadences of how people actually talk. I've read many books that use all the right words for dialog, but the cadences of speech are all wrong, so it still comes off as stilted. I think being trained as a musician helped me, but anyone should be able to develop an ear for dialog with time and patience.
dialog has always been my strong point, perhaps because of my experience prior to writing for print was writing radio commercials. Orson Welles had to approve the radio spot I created for his film, F FOR FAKE. Thank God, he did. I love listening -- most significant for me is the use of tenses in common speech. Past tense and present tense become interchangeab le. "Okay I walk into this bar, and there I am, standing here and I'm minding my own business. This woman is walking towards me, and of course I'm looking at her lovely ankles and her slobbering St Bernard, and now I reach down to pet the dog, and i didnt expect that while im doing this, right then..okay? right? So, im leaning over and she is giggling so loud that i dont hear the moose that was snorting behind me.." etc
Interesting that the blending of tenses, so common, in speech, is the major literary criticism leveled against the Sacred Texts of many religions. That always seemed odd considering the blending of present past and future makes more sense in matters of spirituality than in physicality..but i degress