Category Archives: Genre

The Mystery Genre and Why I Love It

This is the one I like to read and write. Adult or kid stories—its all the same to me.

The mystery is fiction where a crime must be solved.

It started with Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Series and Agatha Christie’s sleuths—Poirot and Marple.

Some subgenres are: the cozy, whodunit, comic, forensic, police procedural, locked room, historical and private detective. These are but a few of them.

Depending on the sub-genre there usually is a small cast of suspects and each suspect has a creditable motive, means and opportunity to commit the crime. The trick is to figure out who did it and why before the hero does.

One of the things I love about writing mysteries is they can pretty much merge with any other genre. I’ve done fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, romance, contemporary for adult and middle grade and it all works. Think the Harry Potter series for example, most of them ended with a grand reveal of who was behind everything.

Some readers believe it is about the puzzle and the puzzle is a huge part of it. But it also reflects the writer’s need for justice and to right a wrong.

Do you have a favorite mystery?

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The Thriller Genre and Why I Love It

The thriller is known for provoking suspense, excitement, surprise and anticipation and anxiety (this not so much). The villain driven plot that drives the hero forward often jeopardizing their sanity and their life.

I do love the feeling of excitement as the story unfolds. But I’m not a thrill seeker in my day to day living. I love thrillers so I can have the rush without jeopardizing anything.

Here the underdog takes on saving the world while sip cocoa and enjoying as they succeed against impossible odds. After the story is over, I’ll bask in hope. For if an underdog can succeed, I surely can too.

No wonder I love them so.

In the movie industry, Hitchcock was one of the best. I still remember watching The Rear Window, Vertigo and Strangers on a Train. I could barely breath never mind look away.

The Firm, and The Client, by John Grisham. He reeled me in like a silly old fish on a line and couldn’t get free to save my life. Truth be told, I didn’t try that hard to get away.

What about you, do you have a favorite thriller?

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The Horror Genre and Why I Love It

Horror covers all fiction that is designed to startle, frighten, and/or disgust (I don’t care for that one) the reader, provoking terror and creating an eerie atmosphere.

It began with Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley and we still read them today. Heck, we even make movies about their monsters.

I don’t write horror. But when I’m looking for horror, I’m looking for exactly that feeling. The feeling of eeriness that carries on long after the story is done.

What scares me most:

Insane people acting normal. My first taste of that was a movie called The Eyes of Laura Mars. I jumped at every unexpected sound for weeks.

Evil entities: I think the first time I was really, really scared was when I read ‘Salem’s Lot. I stayed up to all hours and was convince that reading one more chapter would calm me down. It didn’t happen. Night had a new meaning to me for quite a while.

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

Stephen King

I watched the American Werewolf in London. I was at a drive-in (remember them) and ran all the way to the bathroom and back. When I was heading back to the car the scene with the man being chased in the underground was playing. I couldn’t move my behind fast enough.

I love to be scared, but after years of watching and reading horror it takes a heck of a lot to scare me.

What scares you?

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How to connect with a reader?

Help the reader find what they are looking for?

vintage-1836813_1280It is impossible to write a story that will meet the expectations of all readers of all ages. Expectations vary as much as genre.  Mystery readers look for puzzles and justice. Other readers look to fall in love again, spy on foreign powers, fly through space or run with the elves.

To play fair, make sure the essence of your book is on the cover–in the artwork and the blurb. Give the reader a chance to dive in or move on early.

As a reader, I need it to be organic

It may start with a recommendation, the book blurb or the cover, but  when I read the first sentence I need to feel something–anything. Many times it’s curiosity that prompts me to read the first paragraph, and if I make it to chapter three I either feel a connection or I put the book down.

Making Connections

If the main character shares some of the same organic/visceral reactions or emotions with the reader, they’ll connect.

Our job as writers is to convey the emotions the human race have in common. It can be as simple as the frustration of waiting in line, or as visceral as a missing child. It’s these raw emotions that draw a reader in.

For example, everyone has been driven to frustration once in their life. Placing a character in a situation that makes them frustrated is relatable. What the reader doesn’t know is what your character is going to do about it. The reader may be surprised, disappointed or embarrassed. It doesn’t matter. What does is the fact they reacted.

If a story makes me laugh, I enjoy the characters, or like in the Harry Potter vintage-1849411_1280series—I love the world, I know I’ll be back for more. It might be the next chapter or the next book. Some books are a lovely place to vacation.

What do you look for in a book? Wouldn’t your reader be looking for the same thing?

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Why Everyone Should Read Mysteries

By now most of you know I love mysteries. I don’t keep it secret; and in fact, I can go on and on about it if unchecked. I swear I’ve seen eyes glaze over and red flags thrown to the ground.

spider-web-309451_1280Notice I didn’t include the word murder. The Harry Potter Series had a fair share of mystery in it and it’s one of the reasons I love it so. Murder only proves the stakes are high, and that common decency is in jeopardy.

Death taps on everyone’s door, eventually. Not many of us need reminding that death is unjust, unfair, and mostly beyond our control.

However, when it comes to murder in a mystery, the reader understands it’s coming. They know that it will happen early in the book and possibly a second time halfway through. And while most mysteries include one or two murders the focus elsewhere.

Great mysteries don’t just solve a crime. The stories are multilayered and cutting flora-312815_1280bthrough all of it is a thin thread that links all the events together. They take a serious look at the human condition; and not only do they recognize wrongs, they attempt to right them. They confirm the goodness in not only the hero, but the rest of the world.

And they wrap this wonderful story in an unspoken challenge: solve the whodunit before the main character does.

Puzzle pieces must be gathered from page one. They must be visible but not glaring, so we have to think at each stage of the investigation to determine who the wrongdoer is. Over and over again proving or disproving a choice. Then beginning again if hitting a dead end—no pun intended.

With or without the reader’s success, justice will be served by our hero. A hero that can be a stone-hard detective, a young boy at school, or an older woman who knits and listens.

cheer-308040_1280I’ve got a suspicious mind after years of reading these things. I sometimes see clues that don’t exist. Other times, I have two suspects that could do the deed and only one piece of evidence swinging me one way or another.

To me they are the first interactive books—author against reader. No matter what side you’re on it is fun for all.

Do you read or write mysteries? What do you think?