In the golden age mysteries, the victim doesn't necessarily die right away, but I have heard that the convention today is to kill your first victim off within the first 30 pages. Is this a hard and fast rule? Are there successful examples of mysteries that don't lead off with a murder immediately? Look forward to your thoughts.

Views: 31

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

He's a great writer. Thanks.
That's my second favorite Connelly, after The Lincoln Lawyer, because I loved the set-up. (On the down side I figured out the villain fairly early on.)
Did that diminish your appreciation of the book, do you think? Or perhaps you enjoyed outwitting the author!
I'm curious about what you mean when you say it depends on the number of plot-lines. Would that suggest you have enough suspense going on so you don't need to dispatch people sooner? Interesting! I have two plot lines and in my existing draft I've killed off someone from my secondary plot first, but that seems to be disorienting some of my readers. Maybe the victim from the first plot has to come first? Thanks.
In my latest Daisy mystery, SHEER FOLLY, there's no victim till about half way through. My editor was worried, but as he read, he decided the tension kept building so it didn't matter. Still, just to please him, I put the body in Chapter 2 in the next book, A COLOURFUL DEATH, the second Cornish mystery. The one I'm writing now has three bodies reported in Chapter 1! I go with wherever the story takes me. On the whole, I like to get to know characters before I kill them.


Oops, sorry, that pic came out bigger than I expected!
Yeah - I want people to want my victims dead, and to know them is to hate them. Your mystery looks like a lot of fun, btw. Thanks. Lisa
We've been victimized
Oh, I JUST got that one!
How soon is a great question and I have to agree with a few points I read here. If the point of the story is to solve a murder, then I agree it should be early and the hook is important. Whether it's the first, second or third chapter should be up to the writer. My first mystery is about an art theft, but there is a key murder that is "uncovered" quite by accident well into chapter 5. I tried it at the beginning, but it was more a distraction than a key element to set up the plot so I left it where it was. Stumbling across it had a much greater effect. I like writers that don't follow hard and fast rules, especially in a mystery. Some people jump right into a hot bath and others ease in one toe at a time. Either way, you still get wet.
Your art theft sounds very glamorous. What's the title?
Hi Lisa,
Along Came A Fifer - is the name of the book. There is a murder that is an element of the plot. It is suggested at in the first couple of chapters but it gets revealed by surprise later on. This sets up the second story line. The second book in the series starts out with a murder which sets up the plot for the entire story.
Mike
In my September 15th release Honor Thy Neighbor, I started the book with the heroine's recollection of a murder that ties in with the murder that drives the investigation. When my editor suggested I rewrite the first chapter, ditch the recollection and begin straight off with the first murder, I was unsure this would be good for the book. Two murders at the beginning seemed too violent to me, but I took her advice and rewrote my first chapter. Fans have written to tell me the book hooks them straight off from the first page. While I'm very pleased by this, I'm also curious as to whether or not they'd have had the same reaction with my original first chapter...

Whether you lead off with a murder or build up to it, I think it depends on how you want the plot to unfold and whether or not it's important that your readers get to know the victim prior to death or revealed slowly throughout the book after their death.

RSS

CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2019   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service