10/07 M.E. Browning, Shadow Ridge
10/14 Alexia Gordon
10/21 Adam Meyer
October Guest Bloggers
10/03 Kathleen Kalb
10/17 S. Lee Manning
10/31 Sharon Dean
WWK Weekend Bloggers
10/10 Jennifer J. Chow
10/24 Kait Carson
For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.
Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!
KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.
Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Unnecessary and Extraneous Details
Mystery readers want to find out the solution to the mystery, reading until the end. Once the solution is revealed, they think back on what they read, remembering those “unnecessary and extraneous” details, and realize that if they had only put one and one together they could have solved the mystery themselves. They sometimes do solve the mystery or know who dunnit at some point in the book. From a writer’s point of view, we don’t want them adding it up too soon. But even when they do solve the mystery themselves, they require the facts and logic of the book to add up to the solution. I call this internal integrity, much like the research project design I studied in graduate school.
There are various methods to ensure internal integrity. The “best” method is via a novel’s outline, in which the author carefully plots the book making note of major clues, where they fit, adding complications, and then the author uses characterization, which adds to the internal integrity by making the characters authentic. The author then looks at the pacing the story making sure that the reader’s emotions engage in a pattern of peaks and valleys. In short, authors try to create a page-turner of a book.
To accomplish this, I write chapter by chapter and revise before I go onto the next chapter. Usually this occurs in intervals of two to three chapters making sure the details and connections pin the chapter in place, much like attaching one side of a garment making sure that it matches the other side. There are a few details in previous chapters that I may have to adjust, aside from word smithing and tweaking, my novel should be finished by the time I write the last word. Then I’ll let a professional editor dissect it. It should be interesting to see what the editor determines I need to rewrite.
I do have one problem though. One member of my critique group has made assumptions that she shouldn’t make. It reminds me of a TV ad in which a man cooking spaghetti sauce and holding a cleaver appears to be killing a cat that has jumped up on the counter when his sweetheart walks into the kitchen.
Reading between the lines is a fun game. But don’t blame the author when jumping to erroneous assumptions. In a way, I’m glad of her assumptions because the ending will come as a complete surprise, and yet I hope that she is not outraged when she finds that her assumptions are false. If she studies the logic and facts, she will find her error because for mystery writers and readers, internal integrity is a requirement underpinned by those “unnecessary and extraneous” details.