Tag: murder

How my mind works

I think I’ve figured out my clown phobia. And dolls. And especially puppets. And fun houses. And those distortion mirrors that make you look either really tall and skinny or short and stumpy. Fairs and carnivals? Oh hell no.  Scary-doll1

Let me preface by saying I did not have a traumatic childhood. No big yikes moment.

I had my share of dolls and loved everyone of them. Even the armless, nappy haired, scuffed up, missing-an-eye ones. I had my share of puppets and participated in my share of puppet shows. I ventured in and out of many fun houses and stood laughing in front of many weird mirrors. Even got to know a couple clowns from Ringling Bros. & Barnum Bailey one year when the circus came to town. They were fun and crazy.

All of it was perfectly normal and safe. It wasn’t until I started writing mysteries that the happy-go-lucky things of childhood became the creepier-than-all-get-out trauma inducers of adulthood. Why? Because I started looking beneath the masks and behind the mirrors. I started looking under the surface, peeling back the layers, page by page.

il_570xN.805565391_tobtFun houses became crime scenes. The distorted features seen in those fun mirrors became the twisted view of a killer. Clowns hid deep, deep secrets beneath the make-up and fake smiles. Dolls pretended to be something they were not—alive. They cried, they wet, they ate and they pooped. Some of them said “mama” in uber creepy voices. And puppets…oh my. They’re the worst. Because they have no backbone. They have no sense of self until someone, probably someone deranged, puts them into motion. And carnival workers, or carnies as they’re often called—don’t even go there. I’m sure some of them are fine people. And I’m sure some of them are serial killers. Those are the ones who seem to always find their way into my imagination.

One of the most frequent questions asked of mystery writers is where do you get your ideas. Take a look around you. Have fun at the fair this year! print24-6

 

 

The proper way to kill people

On paper of course. In fiction. Like in a murder-mystery. Now that we’ve got that cleared up.

Crime shows like Castle, Bones, Blue Bloods, Southland, Hill Street Blues, and the list goes on and on…make up a good portion of most watched television. Why? Because they’re entertaining. Some aren’t entirely believable, but they are fun to watch. gmom is amazing and i love her very much – HA! – editorial comment inserted by granddaughter Ava. Back murder1to the story…mystery writers love crime/detective/police procedural shows and that’s great. As long as you’re just watching to enjoy and not using them for your research. If you are, it’s a lazy way of writing. Stop doing it right now.

There are way too many resources available to help with your research for you to write your mystery using a television show as a guide. Because most of the shows on television get it wrong. Sometimes with cringe-worthy results.

Many moons ago when I first turned in a manuscript for critique, I was scolded for having a flower bloom at the wrong time in the wrong place. The critique partner wasn’t being picky—she was being thorough. I was being lazy and picked some random flower that didn’t even grow in my settling. I lost a little bit of my butt and a lot of my credibility.

And as writers, we know what happens when a you lose credibility with a reader. They put the book down and will hesitate, if not refuse to, read your next one.

murder-mystery-partyLearn the difference between a revolver and semi-automatic. Learn the dynamics of what happens to a person when shot—no, they aren’t blown backwards like you’ve seen a thousand times on television. They drop straight to the ground. Learn terminology. Learn the legal system—no, you don’t have to study law but knowing when a warrant is needed and when it’s not is a good thing.

Two of my favorite resources are Crime Scene Writer Yahoo Group and the Writers Police Academy. The Crime Scene group is populated by experts in many fields and they’re more than willing to help with your questions. No matter how odd. Trust me. Murder-graphic-008

And as a side note, I’ll be presenting a program for my Sisters in Crime/Murder We Write chapter on writing crime fiction and getting “it” right Sunday, Nov. 17 from 2-4pm at the High Point Public Library. I’ll be discussing some of the resources available to help you get it right.

 

 

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