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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nothing new under the sun

I don't know why I'm writing a murder mystery. I was never much of a fan of murder mysteries - not that I have a problem with them, they just aren't my thing. And yet, here I am writing a murder mystery. 
It's not going well, if you're wondering. I had a couple of months in there in which I was just useless. While I'm back at it now, it's not going well. I write several pages a day, but I'm not making progress somehow. 
Something very interesting about the process is how original it would appear I'm not. You would think that someone who hasn't read a ton of murder mysteries would be ideally suited for writing something totally new. Now that I've read a bunch of murder mysteries, that wouldn't appear to be true.
First, it was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I knew nothing about the dragon tattoo books when I created my pierced, dyed, tattooed hacker with no social skills and uncanny skills with machines. She's nothing like Lisbeth Salander once you get to know her, but the surface similarities are such that I had to retool. And that was a good thing, really. I was relying too much on the character's outward appearance; plus having a character who is a hacker when I don't know anything about hacking is kind of lazy. So The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was good for me. Yes.
Then I read some other mysteries. Turns out that even though I didn't know there was a very specific formula most mysteries employ, I was conforming to it perfectly - the two leads falling in love, the male lead pushing the female lead away in the interest of her safety, having a character wake up in the hospital only to have everything explained by a helpful cop who appears out of nowhere. Yep, it's all there. Well, not anymore, and my story's a lot better for it.
But then there's Fifty Shades. I swear to god this is the last time I'm bringing this book up. Fifty Shades wasn't even out when I created a character with red hair and grey eyes who was adopted from an abusive home, has his mother's maiden name for a middle name,  and who is often thought to be gay. What the hell? I mean, my character's hair is strawberry blonde, as opposed to red...
What are the odds?


Dee said...

Dear Brigid, Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such a thoughtful and reflective comment. That's led me to your blog in which Iearn that you are writing a mystery but that you don't read mysteries.

I am a lover of mysteries. I don't read any cozies, but I do know the names of those authors. I also don't read extremely violent mysteries as my imagination won't let go of the picture the scenes create. Some of my favorite mystery writers are the following: Jacqueline Winspear, Deborah Crombie, Margaret Coel, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Alan Bradley, Charles Todd, P. J. Tracy, Giles Blunt, Erin Hart, and Elly Griffiths.

Perhaps someone in that list will inspire you to continue your journey into being a mystery writer.


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Hi, Brigid. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for signing on as a new follower. I do appreciate it, and am happy to reciprocate. It's interesting that you've chosen to write in a genre you don't particularly like. The usual advise directs us to write what we love. Then again, since you've inadvertently written stuff that matches what some of the "greats" have written, who knows? Maybe you're a "natural" at writing mysteries. Good luck with it.

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Susan - thanks for visiting! I've really enjoyed reading your blog and hope you enjoy mine.
I've started reading mysteries since starting to write my own and have found some that I've really enjoyed, and that have helped me a great deal as a writer. I'm not sure why it is I'm writing a mystery; the story I was writing just took shape that way and this is the longest I've ever stuck with something, so I'm running with it.
Thanks again for reading.

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Thanks for your advice, Dee, and thanks for reading. I've not heard of those authors and will definitely look into them.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

This is so interesting to me because I don't enjoy reading memoirs, yet that's what I write LOL! Isn't it strange how that can happen?

Keep pushing on. It sounds like your book will be amazing when all is said and done :) You're a natural!