clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Start With the Puzzle

CSCD on wikicommons lets us use the image at left of Rubic's cube for our discussion.

There are many mysteries in the world. This one is mine.

That's where to start. When you contemplate murder or other crime of note as a central item in the story: the puzzle is the thing.

It isn't necessarily the thing for you or even the readers; but, it is the thing for the characters. It drives them.

Why was he killed? Who killed him? Who found the body before George? Where was he killed?

Will I be killed, too?

That last one is a great one. What are the consequences I in danger?

There are many mysteries. My favorite is why Girl Scout cookies are not considered single serving items in their boxes. I mean, have you ever opened a tube of thin mints and not consumed them all in some guilty oblivious pleasure?

I you assert you have resisted, I assert you are lying.

And the lie - another great puzzle. Why should characters tell the truth? You don't You write fiction.

You lie like the rug.

Look, All I'm saying is don;t forget that a mystery is a puzzle and if you and the readers aren't concerned: cool. The characters are.

Nobody finds a body and the summer house then goes merrily on without a care in the world.

Dead folks change things. They change them more than the living.  In murder, they change things most of all.

They're a demarcation point in fiction: beyond the body nothing can remain the same.

Are your characters reacting to the body in a strong enough fashion? Are you sure?

Then throw in another body. You can ignore one. It's part of the landscape. Two ... well. Two is a problem no one can ignore.

Get to it, Jack.

Put one on the page. Change some things.

I'm off to do just that.

I've got an ending that needs revision. A good perspective on the murder will do that for me.

Bodies drive stories. They're puzzles in the flesh.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

"Dead folks change things." Good point! I think the danger for me is that my sleuth/I may get...dare I say...blase about murder after so many bodies. I know my Myrtle series has now resulted in 20 bodies in a tiny Southern town. Cabot Cove syndrome!

As a former Girl Scout and former Girl Scout leader I can only say, "Well, with the way they keep cutting back the number of cookies per box, maybe each box *is* a serving size." :)

jack welling said...

"Another body? Oh, dear. We'll have to have a look at that. Tea?"

There's nothing like a fresh corpse before dinner. It raises such an appetite.

We've all an appetite for crime. Myrtle is practically a glutton - and the luckier are we for it.