Saylor's Goodreads Bookshelf

Saylor's books

Animal Farm
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Great Gatsby
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
The Count of Monte Cristo
Les Misérables
Moby-Dick or, The Whale
The Joy Luck Club
The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Saylor's favorite books »


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Monday, September 19, 2011

Fiction vs. Reality

Right now I’m writing a mystery series and frankly I’m less concerned with who done it as I am how events throughout the story change the people. It's the whole chain reaction from one event that weaves and escalates into the lives of the characters.  Let me explain.  I feel that too often when I’m reading a cozy  mystery that the actual murder doesn’t really change the characters in the story.  They’re tripping over bodies left and right, yet it doesn’t seem to have the emotional impact that it would in reality.  Now there are many mystery books that do change their lead characters emotional weight and motivations, don’t get me wrong, there are some great works out there.  And that's what I want to get that right in the O Line book series (which is a huge difference from the Podcast 1st season series).  I don’t think the O Line should treat murder and mayhem like -who stole the cookies from Granny’s place and oh aren't these ginger cookies delicious?  That is where the O-Line book series  deviates from the cozy mystery mold a lot.  It's a delicate balance between an entertaining puzzle and too much reality.

As a reader, mysteries are a literary puzzle or a logic game. The crime (murder) is only a devise, an event, that gets the ball rolling.  (I think we authors choose murder a lot because it is seen as an "ultimate" crime one with a cause and effect.)  While reading, it's playtime as well as exercising our "little grey cells".  I love to be told a good murder mystery with plot twists and fun characters who evolve in the story.  I love it even more if it's solved by a amateur sleuth.  But in reality, there really are only a few reasons why an actual murder is committed.  There has to be a "reason" of course and many will argue that it is done by one who is simply crazy - temporary or otherwise.  And maybe those arguments are correct, it is a big deal to plan and execute an actual murder.  There is an emotional line that is crossed and one in which can never be undone. A change in the emotional make-up of a murderer must occur.  We all live in a manner in which is logical to each individual, so that logic too must change.    Then there is a ripple effect on the loved ones of the victim.  Their "living logic", emotional make-up, actions and reactions are changed as well.  Do they have the moxie and wits to solve the murder after the emotional impact and shock of having a loved ones life inexplicably snuffed out?  I don't know.  What an interesting person they would be.

Agatha Christie once wrote in Toward’s Zero (and I’m taking a huge paraphrasing liberty here): that sometimes the murder is the end of the story.  I couldn’t agree more.  But there are a lot of mysteries in our world, like exactly how can a politician get paid off and not get caught or what kind of person breaks into an animal shelter and steals the food (the latter’s answer would surprise you, sometimes reality really is stranger than fiction).  

As a writer, finding out what exactly Mr. Plum was doing with a candlestick in the library is just as satisfying as who did Mr. Plum in the library with a candlestick.

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