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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Story Behind The Story

A really great mystery or suspense novel whisks me along the protagonist's journey as she unravels clues, escapes from danger, or lands smack in the middle of trouble all over again. (Hey, if it's smooth sailing, that gets kind of boring.) An excellent writer makes this trip seem effortless. When I read a book by one of my favorite mystery/suspense authors, I careen along through the book just for fun the first time through. Then, I try taking the story apart to see how it works.

One thing I've discovered is that a mystery/suspense writer must tackle two story lines: the version the reader gets, and the story behind the story. What the reader doesn't know, but will...eventually...

This story behind the story is the murderer's journey. Maybe they don't think they've made a mistake in covering their trail. Maybe they're a little over-confident. "No one will suspect me." Yet no crime is exactly perfect, and it only takes one slip-up for the murderer's scheme to unravel. That, plus an intelligent sleuth.

Before I wrote the synopsis for my book, I figured out the murderer's story line, from the first time they felt disgruntled, to the time they were pushed over the edge (yes, to the Dark Side), all the way to their cleanup and coverup after the wicked deed. In the murderer's mind, they feel they're partly if not completely justified in their actions, even for an instant in a crime of passion. Paying attention to the murderer was vital to my story, because I would have no novel at all if it weren't for the unseen villian.

But, someone might ask, what if the murderer's point of view never enters the story? Knowing the murderer is just as important as knowing the protagonist. Although my novel, A Suspicion of Strawberries, is in the heroine's point of view, I traced the murderer's trail while I followed Andromeda Clark's attempts to figure out who killed Charla Rae Thacker. The murderer is smart, but I believe Andi Clark is smarter.

And one day, readers will know The Rest of The Story.
Happy Writing~

2 Comments:

Blogger Dineen A. Miller said...

Hey Lynette! Great post! Thanks you!

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Raj said...

Apparently, when I read your blog, I careen along through the post/s just for fun the first time through. Then, I try taking the story apart to see how it works. Only then do I appreciate your brilliant writing...

9:52 AM  

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