Tag Archives: importance

Why Mysteries?

People have asked me why I like to read and write in the Mystery genre. My answer: mysteries have it all. If I need an intellectual challenge I can select one that has a complicated plot and denouement and slug all the way through to a satisfying conclusion. Perhaps I’ll spend a good deal of time working out a puzzle, deciphering clues and enjoying the challenge of working out the solution on my own, maybe even before the protagonist does. Mystery writers are great at creating suspense and misdirection and keeping us readers on the edge of our seats. They also generally play fair by providing the clues for the reader to utilize along the way, and they usually wrap up loose ends before the story reaches completion.

If I’m in the mood for a lighter touch, I can turn to the cozy or humorous side of the genre. These mysteries can contain romance, fantasy, laugh-out-loud fun, comfort settings and food, and often a beloved pet. In other words, they provide a happier, more positive and relaxed environment where I can escape from daily trials.

Then there’s the kind of story in which the protagonist sets out on an adventure of discovery and suddenly I’m learning about an occupation or foreign country and its customs and mores unfamiliar to me. Or the atmosphere or setting of a place will inspire me to draw or paint the feeling it gives me or recreate it in an original story of my own. How many times have you been reading something that sparked all sorts of creative ideas in you?

Series mysteries are very popular. As readers follow a specific character or characters through different adventures and become emotionally attached to them and their settings, these characters become “family” and readers enjoy following along in their lives. And, luckily, most series authors are good about making each book work as a stand-alone. I really try to read series books in order though, because the protagonist (and sometimes other characters) tends to learn and develop with each case he/she has to deal with and it’s nice to see how and why these developments occur.

Mysteries often contain atmosphere. British mysteries come to mind immediately. The phrase, ‘A castle in Scotland” immediately conjures up an image somewhat similar for most people, but along with that phrase can come, ancient, gray, crumbling stones, thunder and lightning, rain and fog, lonely, dark and dreary landscapes, ramshackle outbuildings, etc. Or perhaps you see in your mind’s eye a palace with all the finery that comes with that image. Plush, royal robes, crown jewels, carriages, a monarch. Words that are full of colorful paint.

Most of my favorite authors are traditionally published and their books have been edited professionally. That is extremely important to me as a reader, because correct grammar and sentence structure make for clear writing and thus, for me―understanding. I must add that I have read some self-published authors who have gone that extra step to have their books professionally edited and I say kudos to them.

I have a TBR pile (To Be Read) and there are many sub-genres of mysteries represented in it where international characters, each vie for my attention in this century and others, depending on my mood. I do have some memoirs, women’s fiction, biographies, fantasy and horror books, too, but most of my TBR pile consists of mysteries. Mysteries all ready to load onto paintbrushes. What’s your palate preference?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

8 Comments

Filed under Art, fiction, musings, Scotland, writing

The Importance of Being Important –by Pat Bertram

In The Art of Creative Writing, Lagos Egri states:

Whatever a character does, it is for one basic purpose — to strengthen his position in life and his security; all the chameleon-like changes for one reason only — to remain alive, to be secure (overcome insecurities), to be happy, and most of all, to be important.

Never overlook the importance of being important.

Man has nothing more precious to defend than his self-declared importance, and he will defend it with his last breath.

This sounds like a good start to developing a character, or at least a character’s inner conflicts. In fact, this is one of the themes of the grieving woman book I want to write. With her husband gone, so is her sense of self, along with her sense of importance. She might not have been important in the world’s eyes, but she was important in her own eyes because she was important to him. She tries to find importance through other people, but in the end realizes she has to find it in herself.

So, in the book you are now reading (or writing) what makes the character feel important? What does the character do to defend his or her sense of being important? How does the character strengthen his or her position in life? How does s/he struggle to remain secure? What insecurities does s/he have to overcome? Is the character happy? What does s/he do to remain alive, both physically and mentally? Does s/he find happiness? Does s/he find importance?

Let’s talk.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,  and Daughter Am I.

2 Comments

Filed under Pat Bertram, writing