If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

June Interviews

6/02 Terrie Moran, Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

6/09 Connie Berry, The Art of Betrayal

6/16 Kathleen Kalb, A Final Finale or A Fatal First Night

6/23 Jackie Layton, Bag of Bones: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery

6/30 Mary Keliikoa, Denied

Saturday WWK Bloggers

6/12 Jennifer J. Chow

6/26 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

6/05 Samantha Downing

6/19 Lynn Johanson


E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez. It will be released on June 21st.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!


Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Writing Tip from Shakespeare by Leslie Wheeler

When I took a Shakespeare course in college, my professor was writing a book (long since published) on thematic doubling in Shakespeare. Now, Shakespeare, as many of you may already know, was fond of various kinds of doubling: on the stage he had the same actor playing two different roles, and he also took pains to show both the good and bad sides of his characters. Thematic doubling, as the name suggests, involves the repetition of a theme or important idea that infuses a work of literature.

One of the themes of King Lear is parents’ blindness regarding their children. Lear mistakes his two older daughters, Reagan and Goneril, for his “good” daughters, and poor Cordelia for the “bad” one. Gloucester makes a similar mistake when he wrongly chooses his evil, illegitimate son over his good, legitimate son. Thus, one thread of parental folly is echoed by another.

I’ve found myself doing this kind of doubling or echoing in my mystery novels, only later realizing that perhaps I owe a debt to the Bard—never a bad author to emulate. Here is an example. In Rattlesnake Hill, my first Berkshire Hilltown Mystery, there are two love triangles, separated by more than a hundred years, but alike in that each involves two men and a woman, and in each, the woman is killed under mysterious circumstances. My main character, Kathryn Stinson, becomes involved in a third triangle when she falls passionately in love with a man from the second triangle. Sound complicated?  Some readers and reviewers have found it so, one complaining that “This book has a lot of moving parts,” while another described the novel more positively as “intricately plotted.”

I have also used thematic doubling in my latest mystery, Shuntoll Road, the sequel to Rattlesnake Hill. In this book, there are two women who harbor secrets that they fear others will find out about. These secrets are related to the comas experienced by two women, one in the past, and one in the present. Because both of the coma women are friends with my main character, she is able to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be in a coma. More importantly, as someone who feels responsible for having caused the present-day coma, she gains insights about how someone else who was in a similar position might have behaved. If your head is spinning after reading this, you are not alone. I don’t know how many times the members of my critique group suggested I ditch the present-day coma and the secret surrounding it. But I kept both, because I believed these additional elements enhanced the story.

The downside of thematic doubling is that it makes your story more complex and therefore asks more of your readers. But I would argue that it can enrich your book with another layer of meaning. After all, what worked for Shakespeare should be able to work for us, too.

Writers, have you used thematic doubling in your books? If so, to what effect?

An award-winning author of nonfiction, Leslie Wheeler writes the Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries, which debuted with Murder at Plimoth Plantation, and the Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries which began with Rattlesnake Hill and continue with Shuntoll Road.

Shuntoll Road
Boston library curator Kathryn Stinson returns to the Berkshires, hoping to rebuild her romance with Earl Barker, but ends up battling a New York developer, determined to turn the property she’s been renting into an upscale development. The fight pits her against Earl, who has been offered the job of clearing the land. When a fire breaks out in the woods, the burned body of another opponent is discovered. Did he die attempting to escape a fire he set, or was the fire set to cover up his murder? Kathryn’s search for answers leads her to other questions about the developer’s connection to a friend of hers who fled New York years ago for mysterious reasons. The information she uncovers puts her in grave danger.




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Kait said...

Best of luck with the new release, Leslie.

Doubling sounds like a great way to enrich your plot and engage your readers. Well done.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your new release! I enjoy doubling in a plot.

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

Interesting post, and good luck with the new release!

Susan said...

Congratulations , Leslie!!

leslie Wheeler said...

Thanks for your comments, Kait, Margaret, Judy and Susan. It's nice to know that some of you enjoy doubling in mystery novels, and might use it in your own books. As I've said in the post, it does require more of the reader, but in my view it's worth to have that extra bit of layering.

KM Rockwood said...

I know I appreciate doubling when I read a well-plotted novel. I'm not nearly so sure I'd enjoy trying to incorporate it into my own work. It's a skill that I'd like to acquire, though.

JudyinBoston said...

This is very interesting. We don't necessarily write stories dumbed down for our readers. I have to think about this doubling business some more.
Thanks for a provocative post.

leslie Wheeler said...

Hi, Kim and Judy in Boston (aka Judy Copek, thanks for your comments. You're both right that doubling isn't always easy to achieve as a writer. I'm not sure I even did it in my first three mysteries. Think I kind of fell into it in Rattlesnake Hill, liked it, and continued with Shuntoll Road. However, I'm not sure how much I'm doing it in the third book,Wolf Bog, though one troubled mother-daughter relationship is echoed by another such mother-daughter relationship. I'll have to give it more thought myself.

Christine Bagley said...

Interesting article. And congratulations on your new release.

Claire A Murray said...

I'm glad you stuck with your decision, Leslie. I find that some days I want a quick, easy read. Other days, I'm bored with those and want to sink my teeth into something that makes me think.