Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Figuring Out the Surprise Ending

Dear Readers,

Madame L was happy to read Laura's comment about figuring out the plot of a mystery novel:
I read one of the books from that list - "The Crossing Places," by Elly Griffiths. I had the "whodunnit" part figured out, or part of it at least, about half way in, and couldn't tell if that's because I'm getting better at discerning plot lines, or if it was a thin plot line. Either way, I enjoyed the book and liked the main character. 

Madame L has a hard time figuring out the plot in those kinds of stories, and she has heard that that's exactly what the authors of mystery and suspense and thriller novels want. 

In fact,  in a workshop Madame L attended recently with three writers of suspense novels, one of them, Dana Haynes, put it this way:
Mystery writing is like football: You have two teams competing against each other: the writer versus the audience. And mystery readers are smart. Be respectful of them. But mess with the reader's mind! And keep thinking to yourself: That's good, but this will be even better! It's not unfair to use obscure clues. But don't cheat. Make the clues out there, but obfuscate them.

As a result of taking that workshop, Madame L looked for a used copy of Mr. Haynes's "Crashers." She hasn't read it yet, but she'll report on it when she does.

(Madame L found it at a local used bookstore, but it's available at Amazon.com for as little as a penny.)

Keep those comments coming!


Madame L


LFP said...

I've always suspected that's how mystery writers operate - THEY know the facts, but obscure them or even keep them completely hidden to a degree that doesn't allow the reader to fully know whodunnit until the big reveal. I'm okay with that. I used to think that I had to know how it ended before it ended, as though I were the detective - but since I figured out that I don't have to know how it's going to end, I can just sit back and enjoy the ride. It's better that way.

AskTheGeologist said...

Hmmmm. I would think that all the possible permutations of plot twists would have been exhausted by now. At a rate of 2 books a day, you HAVE to have seen 'em all by now at least once. There are only so many butlers and candelabras, ya know? ;-)