Sometimes, reality feels like that, lately. We've got fifteen year-old girls killing nine year-old girls 'just to see what it feels like,' mass shootings at army bases, people stabbing each other over subway seats... in short, human life seems to be cheaper than ever. As a crime writer, I wonder sometimes if I'm contributing to this, by writing murder mysteries. Has anyone else ever had this thought? Of course, justice triumphs at the end (at least, in my books it does), but are we contributing to 'violence porn' in our culture? Your opinion and thoughts, please...


Views: 27

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Here's where I offer a counter-arguement. I think a lot of readers are looking for a believable hero. Someone who faces the bullies, crazies, and criminals and exacts some measure of justice from them. Yes, I know it sounds simplistic in nature to assume this. But that's one reason why I think James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mike Hammer, and others remain so popular. (add to the list at your leisure)

Perhaps moral certainty is boring--but in a world that projects the perception the bad guys are winning (insert your definition of what a 'bad guy' is) if a book comes along with someone who fights these bums--and is good at it--that's a book that succeeds.
I don't diasagree, B.R., these just aren't the kinds of books I read. Are you talking about Lee Child? That kind of thing? I guess I'm looking for something more recent than the ones you mentioned.
John, the essential ingredient for the hero is there. . . it doesn't matter from what era he (she) comes from. The really good ones are always flawed, always fight their own demons. And that's what makes them heroic--in knowing their flaws they understand how easy it is to become the bully and the crazy. So they take it upon themselves to become the first line of defense.
And let me give you the perfect(?) example: the original Batman of the comics, and now found in the new movie series. . . is one step away from becoming a truly mean bad ass. He fights his demons everyday. Yet he somehow keeps them bottled up and turns that energy against those who want to unless their demons.
Don't forget the flaws. The 21st Century protagonist must have flaws. Damage. Demons are always nice. No one too normal. ;-)
The better I get to know people, the less normal they seem. Weird, right?
Dana, just asking--but what's the difference between Chandler's Phillip Marlowe flawed character and a 21st Century hero's flaws? (not trying to start an arguement--just curious to see what the definition of the modern hero might be)
Marlowe's biggest "flaw" is that he has a generally very dark view of humanity: he trusts almost no one, even himself. He's morally rigid, highly judgmental, and doesn't generally like women all that much. He's too tough for his own good, in a way. Contemporary detectives all have PTSD or weird phobias (like mine) or OCD or ADD or dyslexia or something: their flaws make them vulnerable. After reading a bit of Homes this fall, I've been kicking around a story idea about a contemporary detective with Asperger's syndrome--extremely high IQ but zero ability to read social cues. He'd always be saying "so that's a joke, right?"
We agree on a lot of points about Marlow, Jon. For me, Marlowe was the ultimate pessimist fueled by booze. A border line alcoholic who . . as you have pointed out . . trusted no one. And certainly didn't trust women.

But he was a lot like the character who want to write. Marlowe always had a chess game going and his IQ was way above everyone else he encountered.

The truly different character would be one who was just the opposite of a Marlowe. Generally an optimist--accepting those who were different--open to women--neither for nor against alcohol.
BR, I think Jon pretty much nailed it. Modern heroes almost have to have something wrong with them, like it's not enough to be a "normal" person and see how events wear at him, unless he's an amateur. A cop or PI has to be a drunk, addict, have PTSD, agoraphobia, whatever.

I've been told by more than one person my PI series didn't sell because the detective wasn't flawed enough. I'd hoped to show how the events he encountered turned a relatively healthy man into something else, but it doesn't appear anyone wants to wathc him get that way; he needs to start there.
Maybe you'll just have "start" a few books into the series, Dana, and then make book #4 a prequel.

It could work out great, just as you get to the point where you're hitting a all, you'll already have the next book ready.
He needs to already be who he is, I think. You can do a lot of fun things to fill out the backstory, though--I did mine in dream sequences, but there are lots of other options.


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2023   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service