Monday, November 19, 2012

Foreshadowing, imagery, characters and what’s next

I was starting to wonder about an event that will happen in the second quarter of the WIP.  To do this, I needed to pull a recurring character onstage, one who hadn’t been seen since Seen Sean? And I needed to begin foreshadowing a major event that happens later on.

So I picked up the character, put her in a scene in a natural way. And I had no idea where to go from there.

So I spent time noticing what she noticed.  And I still didn’t know how to foreshadow what’s coming later.

So I thought some more.

And then I realized that what she noticed is already a symbol for the situation as it is now: Outwardly, everything is going along normally, but pressure is building behind the scenes, and the slightest disruption can make the whole thing fall apart.

If you ever read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you’ll recall a conversation between Aronnax and Nemo about how glass is strong but fragile.  What my character tells the MC is that her job is like that, little realizing that the MC is in just such a position.

What do you think? Does that accomplish enough?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A plea to ebook publishers

I have at least 3 books on my Kindle in each of which the font is specified by the book, i.e., the the user has lost control of the presentation of the text.

See, in a physical book, someone (a worker, a craftsman, an artist) makes the presentation choices for the reader because there’s a physical product that has to be delivered. But in an ebook — and I mean a book of words: zero or few graphics (other than the cover); zero or few simple, narrow tables — the only point is the words. Almost all books are filled with plain, Roman text, with the occasional italics or boldface in the running text. (Chapter and section headings don’t count in this discussion).

If you’re publishing a book of plain text, please, I beg you, leave the font to the reader’s discretion: the face, the size, the line spacing.  These give the reader the ability to adjust the comfort level and get to the words.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why do I write traditional mysteries?

Thrillers are bigger.
Young Adult (i.e., fiction for high-schoolers) is bigger.
Romance is bigger. (Ignore the howls of laughter from my wife.)
Paranormal romance is bigger.
Heck, zombies are bigger.
And yes, I know erotica is bigger. (But I wouldn’t read that, much less write it.)

So why write traditional mysteries (sometimes called cozy mysteries)?

2 reasons:

  • It’s what I love to read. I don’t mean that I read mysteries exclusively. This year I have read (partial list):
    • A Tale Of Two Cities
    • The Lord Of The Rings
    • The Hunger Games (all 3 books)
    • 212
    • The Bible (I will finish the entire thing by the end of the year. It’s a foundational document for our society, and to understand the West, you must understand this book.)
    • The Red House Mystery
    • All The Blue-Eyed Angels
    • No Time To Run
    • Invisible
    • Vimana
    • Prophecy (ARKANE thriller by J.F. Penn)
    • The Space Between
    • Creative Spirit
    • Disintegration
    • Doctrine of the Trinity (John Owen)
    • Brainrush II
    • Storm World: Speaker Of The Gods
    • The Flinch
    See: Thrillers, YA, supernatural, SF, religious works, and, yes, mysteries. I didn’t like all these equally. One I would warn you off of because of the quality of the writing; in one I would warn you of the content.
  • Traditional mysteries are appropriate for a very broad audience. I fell in love with the genre in late elementary or early junior high school. My great uncle, T.O. Dahl (who attended the US Naval Academy with Robert Heinlein), lived across the street from us; he loaned me copies of several books by Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. I was hooked.
  • Mysteries, as a form, give almost infinite possibilities in story telling: All the categories that are currently “bigger” can be subsumed in the archetypal seeking for truth. Or a story that is primarily in another genre can have elements of a mystery. (Will Katniss wind up with Gale or Peeta?)

Why traditional mysteries? Why not noir or supernatural or hard-boiled or juvenile or …?

That’s easy: To have to broadest appeal. Look: fundamentally I’m telling human stories. So in Unthinkable, everybody knows the dotcom-bust victim; everybody knows the alpha-girl in high school; detective shows are so popular that a tall, handsome detective who cracks wise is easy to picture.

So that’s why. How have I done?