clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Placing the Clues

At left, public domain photograph courtesy the US Forest Service.

Here, two experts discuss the optimal placement of the second body in the plot map of the story.

We know the first body comes in the first act. Duh.

I have a holiday story that I've played with for a few years now. Ugh.

I hate writing that.

Anyway, cute opening (for a holiday murder)  as my former police detective makes his way to an all night diner where the investigating officer devils him a bit. We learn the officers married sisters and only one marriage took. Only one career took as well.

Guess which one?

Anyway, the story just never works in the last two thirds.  I'm two slow on the second body and the whole business drags.

I'm not Chandler. I cannot delay the complication indefinitely. I can't have my character drive around blithely in the car engaging in an internal monologue.

I need an action event.

Now, my second body is going to be immaterial to the primary case -- or so we think until the twisty bit at the end. That's beside the point.

I have to get the reader to the end of the story for any of my slight of hand cleverness to matter.

I don't know why I haven't realized the second murder comes too late in the story before now. In some versions, I don't even have the second murder.

I mentioned it is a holiday bit, didn't I?

I'll make some notes over Thanksgiving and box it for next spring when I'm letting the long-form project cool on ice. This holiday diversion is a short story.

I can't believe I didn't see that the action was dragging.

I honestly thought it was the language. I thought the tone was too noir.

I can be an idiot sometime. Where'd I put the body map?

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