Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden

I recommend this book of 24 fiction-writing problems that makes your work "dead on arrival" to the publisher or agent. Whether you write mysteries or romance, the principles are the same. Roerden's ideas open your eyes to spots needing correcting, and does it in a humorous, straight-to-the-point way.
The one I'd like to address on this blog is the "Clue #14 - Slow Death". As a new writer I many times fall in love with my own words. That, according to Chris Roerden, is the slow death of your manuscript. Research demands a large role in contemporary fiction and a hefty one in historicals. The fact that we have pages of notes on our subjects tempts us to dump it all in three pages. Not good. We might write only a sentence of it in the whole manuscript. When you read over your words, if there is a word, sentence, paragraph or entire scene you can't cut, it's the one your might have to cut.
Another helpful idea came from Clue #12 Unsettling Settings. Pacing your setting to match your tension or conflict strengthens your writing. To begin, the setting could take up a paragraph, but three pages later could include only a phrase. Always connect the action (tension, conflict) to your setting. If it doesn't have relevance later, leave it out.
I'd suggest buying this book. I discovered help in all 24 clues. I recommend it with relish.
Happy writing,
Janet K. Brown


  1. I've never heard of this book, Janet. Thanks!!!

  2. This sounds like a good book to help with writing mysteries and suspense. I love both. I'm definitely going to either buy the book or try to talk you into loaning it to me.

  3. Wonderful review! I can't wait to see what you have for us next time.


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