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Writing Excuses Transcripts

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Writing Excuses 11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A
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mbarker wrote in wetranscripts
Writing Excuses 11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/06/26/11-26-elemental-mystery-qa/

Q&A Summary:
Q: How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? Should you even try?
A: Yes. Especially small mysteries. A plot, B plot. Be aware of when you open and close each one, and the proportion of time spent on each. Sequential, with the answer to the first mystery introducing the real problem.
Q: What types of mysteries can fit as subplots? For example, when does a murder work as a subplot rather than as a main plot?
A: Any mystery can be a subplot, just set the scope and number of clues. A subplot find the murderer can heighten tension and build characters. Make sure your murder is a complication, that it changes things for the characters.
Q: When the beta readers all figure out the mystery too early, how can I tweak it so that my readers won't have the same experience as my beta readers?
A: Ask the beta readers what tipped them off, then take that out. All mysteries in first draft are either too obtuse or too obvious, and you have to add and remove to get it right. A good red herring that gets pulled out from under everyone helps.
Q: In terms of the MICE quotient, do all mystery plots have to be idea based?
A: Yes.
Q: How do you write a protagonist that is smarter than yourself?
A: Use revision, young writer! Accelerated thinking through rewriting. Jump to a conclusion, then explain the process of thought and clues -- it was not a guess! Extra mysteries with quick solutions to show how smart we are.
Q: So you've made your protagonist really smart, smarter than the average reader and the other characters. How do you still have it be a struggle for them to solve the mystery without losing people or ruining the story just by having it all internal inside of the protagonist's head?
A: Let them make mistakes. Use red herrings that mislead them, too. Make the cost of being wrong really steep. Lack of resources, or other kinds of obstacles.
Q: How do you keep a kidnapping victim from just being a MacGuffin if they aren't recovered until the end of the story?
A: Given them a point of view, and agency through trying to rescue themselves.
Q: How intellectually stimulating can you make a genre mystery? How literary or serious can it be?
A: There's what's happening (the story) and how you tell it. These are not intrinsically related! You can tell any story with any method. Genre, especially elemental genre, does not dictate method of writing.
All the questions... and answers, too!Collapse )

[Brandon] So, your homework. I've got your homework this time. One of the things when we were discussing these episodes we realized is mysteries are embedded so much in our stories. There are often so many of them, a surprising number. So I would like you to take a book or film that you enjoy and just jot down every mystery you can see. From who drank my milk to who killed this person or how does the magic work. Whatever it is, write down every one, and you'll start to see that the curiosity of solving a mystery is integral to almost every story that's been written. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.