If you read enough crime fiction, you'll eventually notice a few recurring tropes. The tortured PI who drinks too much, for example.
If a genie popped out and said you could eliminate one of these stereotypes forever, which one would you choose? (This genie is picky about the wishes it grants.)
I don't remember the late 1969s. I heard the song for the first time in 1979.
Sorry Brian, I'm a jazz and classical musician ... Thelonious Monk? Stravinsky? Chuck Mangione? Great. Rock ... not so much. Blood Sweat & Tears, ok. But gee, if everyone liked lima beans, there'd be a shortage, right?
I like classical as well.
I agree, the characters have to grab you by the throat. Lots of time, there's some good plot going on but the characters feel kinda hollow. I always try to put character first, even if it means there's a break in the action. (And realistically, there's likely to be a break in the action anyway.) Characters always comes first for me. It might even come at the sake of the "writing rules" sometimes, but I owe it to my characters to make sure they take precedence.
Wow, this is one of the liveliest discussions I've seen here in a long time! I agree with everyone. And what Jonathan Francesco said just about sums it up---
Methinks that if we took away everything somebody has suggested in this thread, there might not be much left to write about in crime fiction. lol
It has been said there are only a few plots in all of fiction. Certainly that's got to be true of crime fiction. But it IS a genre, after all, and there are certain..."guidelines." The reader comes to a mystery knowing this, and expecting certain things to follow suit. The fun is to see how "original" a writer can be WITHIN the aknowledged boundaries,and also whether the writer can step outside those boundaries with some little (or large) innovation or other.
I think there's plenty of ways to turns cliches into something new. Sometimes, all it takes is one little tweak to make a story seem fresh. Or maybe a story can be totally cliche, overdone, and yet still enjoyable cause the writing is so crisp. I try not to ever worry too much about originality and just tell my story, and hope that people like it. All any of us really can do anyway. If there's something we feel is overdone/underdone, we can choose to correct that with our writing. No need to make it disappear. Variety makes the fictional world go round.
I sometimes think I super-impose a mystery plot on the lives of my characters. It's not so much what happens, but rather how what happens affects them.
I agree with that. It's probably why I rarely focus too much on the mystery of who does it and more on how it impacts my characters.
Elizabeth George has said that her mysteries always revolve around "character." And, I've read almost all of I.J.'s novels, except maybe the most recent, and she's also very good at character---as well as setting (medieval Japan). This also makes her stories seem fresh and believable. There are so many good people out there to learn from.
Including one of my all-time favorites ( and still going strong, with two new novels coming out later this year)---Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine.
Oh, and I'm not saying that because you're "only" 20----I think that all committed writers want to keep on learning, no matter how long they've been at their craft. :)
I'm one of the readers for whom psychological suspense is the best kind---the "why." And also, in those novels where you know beforehand who the killer is, the "how"---the way the detective (or whoever) uncovers the "who" and the "why."
Good luck to you! Anywhere on line we can read any of your stories? Please let us know when and where!
There are a lot of good character-writers around. I'm trying to find some that feel like good fits for my tastes. Considering looking into John Hart a lot more. I liked The Last Child a lot. I probably don't read for leisure as much as I should. But I suppose my literary philosophy is a bit rebellious anyway. I feel that when it comes to things like character development, it doesn't really matter where your inspiration comes from. As long as you get it. And for me, I have found that good movies and the like still provide plenty of character inspiration for me. I still am trying to read more though and am always looking for some good books. Right now I'm checking out the new release from fellow Crimespace member David DeLee. I don't fancy myself a harsh book critic, but it's also kind of hard for me to stay interested in a book. I'm a visual writer, and so for me, visual mediums always seem to be more help for inspiration.
But I am not one to underestimate the importance of a good book. It does help, especially when it comes to the language of writing. And hopefully I can find some writers whose works fit.
I like psychological suspense too. I am still working on plausible ways for the cops to figure everything out. It's hard to ride the line between borderline-psychic deduction and being totally clueless as to the obvious. Right now, I often get the who out of the way pretty quickly, and I go back and forth on the how and why sometimes too. I've often kept one hidden for awhile, but sometimes I just lay it all on the table as well. It's fun to play with procedure to see if you can still make it work.
Well, if I am completely honest, the answer is 'yes.' Technically, anyway. I've stopped sharing stuff on public websites because it essentially makes it already published in the eyes of publishers. There is a lot of old stuff from before I started writing novels that's out there, but, while it still means a lot to me, it's honestly quite horrible. Even if there's some good plot going on there, I've changed my writing styles so much since then that I honestly cannot recall how I ever thought the drivel that IS out there was ever good.
The stuff I do feel has a chance at being good isn't posted. I usually only share it one on one with people.
However, I should mention that one of my short stories was accepted to a local new lit mag. It's supposed to be primarily an e-zine, so I imagine it'll be available online when it's released in October. This story isn't really a "crime fiction" piece, but I suppose it's not too far removed as to be irrelevant here. The only other thing I ever had published was in my college's lit mag. (And by total accident, I sent them a less polished version of it.) That's not online at the moment. Although I can send something one on one if you're interested.
it doesn't really matter where your inspiration comes from.
Re: character development---life is the best teacher of all. Observation. Even though you are writing fiction, if you know how people behave in different circumstances, (and not just crime scenes :) what makes them tick---that really goes a long way towards making your characters convincing. If you are going to be a writer, then reading is important too---and not just mysteries. I can tell, when I read my favorite writers, that they are also well-read---they know the classics, the Bible, Shakespeare, and more. The more you know, the less you will be inclined to imitate. (I find this true in all the arts).
I have a feeling that publishing on websites doesn't really get you the kind of critiquing you need, so you are probably wise to stay away from that. Sharing with too many people early on could be confusing.
Yep, observance is a good key. I try to be observant without letting it drive me too crazy. I am trying to dilute my influences as much as possible. Then again, it was likely never as reliant on one thing as I sometimes thought.
Nope, definitely doesn't get you strong critique. Even classroom critique is limited in it's usefulness. But I think more than anything, it's the fact that it's already published that keeps me from sharing it online. I think I am getting at least a little bit better at seeing which critique is helpful and which isn't. I do have an editor/mentor I trust, but she's not online much anymore so I am learning to try and get it done by myself. I am always open to sharing samples with trusted people to get their takes, if only to see if it agrees with everyone else's critique or if they see something somebody else missed. I am noticing myself critiquing my reads a little more now than I used to. I'm noticing things that I never would've before. And I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it's good cause it means I am learning. On the other hand, it'd make it harder to enjoy fiction if I'm always looking for/noticing errors. (And it was already pretty hard to hook me with a book.)
But I suppose as long as it helps my writing in the end, it's all alright. I see a lot of good stuff out there but I've yet to find too much that has the feel my writing does. I could easily just be overlooking it, or maybe mine just isn't that good. I guess I'll see one day. I am hoping my writing is commercial enough to fit in but still feel like it's a fresh approach.