Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who's the Sleuth Here?

Who your sleuth is determines what type of mystery you are writing or reading. Did you know that?

Whodunit? Is important, but who is investigating it brings a whole quandary of possibilities to explore as well.

Whether you are a writer (of any style, from novel or short story, to play or the big screen) you should read how to books. If you’re a reader, you should read how to books. It will give you some idea what your favorite author goes through to write what you love to read.

Let’s talk specifics. Let’s talk Crime Fiction. Perhaps you call it mystery, suspense, or thriller – whatever you call it you need to know what a publisher, book club, bookstore, movie director or editor calls it, so that you can find what you love to read or so you can direct your Manuscript query to the right place.

Most of us classify crime fiction simply as mystery, suspense or thriller. But, how do publishers and bookstores class them?

Robert McKee, author of Story, substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting offers some clarification:
It all depends on the Point Of View (POV) of your character. Who is holding the camera on his/her hypothetical shoulder? Who is telling the story?

If the story is told from the Master Detective’s Point of View, it’s a Murder Mystery. A Caper is told from the crooks POV and a Detective Story is told from the cops POV.

A Gangster story will be told from the Crooks POV, Thriller or revenge tale, is told from the victim’s POV. If we have a lawyer’s account of the tale it becomes a Courtroom Drama. Reporter’s POV, it’s a Newspaper Tale, Espionage tale is told by the spy and more than likely on the side of good vs evil.

If you want to tell a Prison Story it should be told from the POV of an inmate. Now, a Film Noir enthusiast will have his/her protagonist be part criminal, part detective, part victim of perhaps a feme fatale POV character.

So now you are armed to find the type of story you want to read, or to classify your story so that a publisher will look at your query and know you know what you are trying to portray.
Write Like the Wind and Read What You Like!
Billie A Williams, Mystery – Suspense author whose Accidental Sleuths solve crimes with wit, wisdom, and chutzpah,,
P O Box 134, Amberg, WI 54102

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