Monday, August 17, 2020

Book Research

Moran State Park, Orcas Island, WA
My third Detective Scott McGregor mystery is set in the San Juan Islands in Washington State’s Puget Sound during the annual mid-August Perseid meteor showers. I visited the setting so I could write about it more convincingly.

My research assistants and I explored the islands for dastardly locations and situations to make the heroine of my story suffer immeasurable agonies: being hungry, injured, and scared while lost in the forest and pursued by someone with evil intentions. All of this sadistic behavior on my part is supposed to make for good reading.

Book research is hard work. My assistants and I stayed in bed & breakfast inns on two different islands. We trekked countless miles through dense forests. We viewed fabulous scenery from scarily high overlooks. We braved the midnight cold to watch meteor showers. We consumed alcohol in waterfront taverns and island breweries. Ya gotta feel sorry for authors, right?

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Story Structure in TV Shows

Halfway through the season of a recently binge-watched mystery drama, I realized it was a cozy. It met the major requirements for the genre described in a Nancy Curteman blog: an amateur sleuth; a murder occurring before the story began; a small pool of suspects; the sleuth becoming a target for murder; and no sex, violence, or cussing.

And halfway through the season I knew whodunnit. It wasn’t the actions the character did or didn’t do, but how the actions were presented. I recognized the approach from studying the craft and writing mysteries myself. I enjoy watching mystery shows and observing how plot points are played out, especially when it’s accomplished in a subtle manner.

Recently I’ve been re-watching Midsomer Murders, an English detective series based on the books by Caroline Graham. The detective, DCI Barnaby, has a seemingly endless supply of village suspects, and there are often multiple murders. Keeping track of clues and connections in this series can be difficult, and the identity of the guilty person can be a surprise until the end.

The Midsomer Murders scenery is beautiful, but before you pack your bags for a lovely English countryside vacation, you may want to read this blog post: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village.