WIR #29: Writing the Mystery

writing the mysteryFinally! I'm done! It may be that the problems I found earlier in this book predisposed me to look for more, but I doubt that I would've missed the additional problems that I found.

I don't like writing negative things about any book, but sometimes these things just have to be said. The concluding chapter is something of a question and answer session, where Hayden answers questions sent to her by aspiring writers. She says they are, "tough questions asked by writers I've critiqued over the years. While each question pertains to an individual's specific work, I feel the lessons here are universal." What's annoying about it is the form it sometimes takes. For example:

Why do you call my opening "crowded"?
You have a great deal to say and you're trying to fit it all in at once. The material is intersting and you do have a hook at the start, but the hook, which is strong, is buried, so you have to unbury it. You also have to remember that you have a whole book ahead of you and you can dole out your wonderfully rich material in measured doses. Believe me, I am going to want to read your book, so just slow down. I'll stay with you. You don't have to to tell everything at one time. You have me with the hook, now reel me in.


The question immediately comes to mind, what value does this advice hold without the text to which it refers? No examples are given, the text is not provided, and so the phrases "you're trying to fit it all in at once," "you can dole out your wonderfully rich material in measured doses," and "just slow down," become abstract and have no meaning, and Hayden does this repeatedly. A couple of examples are these questions:

My romantic suspense doesn't seem suspenseful. Should I re-write the plot?

Why do you say this scene has to be cut?


Some questions, like those below, are handled just fine:

What does literary mean?

Should I t ell the editors that this is a simultaneous submission? Or should I just submit one at a time?

What is print on demand?

What is iUniverse?


However, there's just too much annoyance, even including the common mishandling of a certain phrase, and I would expect a professional writer would know better. The phrase? She wrote "could care less," when it should be "could not care less." This is typically said as, "I could not care less." The phrase is a way of saying that you are devoid of care, and thus whatever it is you are referring to isn't worth your time. But the first says there is still some care left within you.

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