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  1. murphy2112
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    murphy2112 New Member

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    Ideas for detective/noir story, help!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by murphy2112, Apr 17, 2010.

    I'm brand new to the site (in fact, this is my first post), so bear with me if this is in the wrong spot (and pleae point me in the right direction).

    I've always written short stories, but I've recently decided to try my hand at some sort of longer fiction. I fell upon the idea of a good old-fashioned Hollywood murder mystery. Below is a basic summary of the layout of the story. It should be noted that I haven't figured out who the murderer is yet (all I know is that it's none of the listed suspects).

    The Victim is the most famous man in Hollywood; a dashing, handsome contract player for (the temporarily-named) Star Studios. He's discovered dead (stabbed) in his dressing room on the set of his latest middle-ages romantic epic. Basically, he was Errol Flynn. Notoriously charming in public, he was in fact a very depressed alcoholic.

    The Suspects are:

    -The Actor's Wife, who has recently filed for divorce after discovering the Actor was having an affair with...
    -... The Leading Lady, who is furious with the Actor for leaving her and trying to patch things up with his Wife.
    -The Studio Head, who is upset with the Actor for buying out of his contract to move to the rival studio.
    -A Director, who feels the Actor ruined his career (reason undetermined as of right now, suggestions very welcome)
    -A Rival Actor, who was once friends with the Actor until he (the Victim) became so obsessed with fame and fortune that he left him (the Rival Actor) behind, actually convincing directors and producers not to hire him (the Rival Actor) so he (the Victim) can get the parts
    -A Mafioso, whom the Actor borrowed money from in order to buy out of his contract with the Studio Head

    The Investigator is a Police Detective with the LAPD, and he's also the one we follow as the story unfolds.

    So there you have it: the crime, the red herrings and the man whose job it is to solve the crime. I've very seriously considered having some crooked police be somehow involved, but I fear that's too close to LA Confidential.

    Any ideas as to perhaps a motive for murdering the Actor, or an interesting perpetrator are welcome. I'd also like some suggestions for another, lesser crime (that the Detective talks to one of his colleagues about while at the police station) that is ultimately related to the murder of the Actor.

    Thank you very much in advance.
     
  2. ManOfSteel
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    ManOfSteel Member

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    Write it first. And then wonder if it still looks like LA Confidential.
    Idea: the crooked police officer is also a gambler and has borrowed money from the mafioso. He's unable to pay back, so the mafioso wants something else from him: to keep an eye on the investigator and notify the mafioso of his progress. A docile cop is useful and still better than a bankrupt or dead one.

    A crazy fan?

    Murders and drug dealings related to the crooked police officer and/or the mafioso. Maybe the officer is doing the mafioso's dirty job and killing competing drug dealers.
     
  3. murphy2112
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    murphy2112 New Member

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    Yeah, a fan's a good one. It had never crossed my mind before. Drugs and dirty cops go well together, too. Thanks a lot, man. Plenty of ideas running through my head now.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as you probably know, all of those ideas are cliche, so be sure you give your story enough different twists to set it apart from all that have gone before...
     
  5. JoeyMystery
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    JoeyMystery New Member

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    Ah, the epic battle of man vs. cliche. Now there's a story worth reading!
     
  6. murphy2112
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    murphy2112 New Member

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    Yeah, I'm fully aware of the cliche-ness of all these plot points. What I'm trying to do is present the cliches in a new way and hopefully twist them right around so you really don't know what to expect. I've got a lot of ideas for double-doublecrossing, unlikely heroes, unlikely villains (and not just the cops), different settings for these kinds of stories, etc. I'm putting in a lot of work so that it appears average and cliche from the outside, but when you get into the guts of the story it's something (hopefully) new and unexpected.

    For instance, the "hero" of my story (the detective) is a really unlikable guy. I know that most detectives from detective stories are "rough around the edges," so to speak, but my guy is almost despicable. He has good intentions and does good things, but he's a hair-width away from taking it too far. His methods are less Dick Tracy and more Denzel Washington in Training Day (except less criminal; think of the Snoop Dogg scene). The reader has no choice but to try and identify with him, though, because the story is told from his perspective (I also understand the importance of not alienating the reader; this guy has to be somewhat relatable, or at least identifiable). If I can write it the way I want, he'll change by the end of the story but not necessarily for the better or in the way one would expect.

    I'm also trying to write it so that the style of prose changes gradually from the standard, old-school detective yarn stuff to something more reflective of the situations/mood as the story goes along. The prose is constantly evolving to reflect the story, which gets kind of rough as it goes along (not, like, Se7en territory, but not that far off).

    I'm still not sure if it should be told from a first-person or third-person perspective. I'm actually writing it once in each fashion to see which I prefer.
     
  7. Kozue
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    Kozue New Member

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    The murderer could be someone that everyone trusts and relies on. Someone that readers grow attached to. It could also be an accidental death or maybe the main character tries to make it look like a murder for insurance purposes.

    The accidental death sounds a little far-fetched since the victim was stabbed, but you never know what might work:-D
     
  8. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    you forgot the very old cliche of the love triangle;)

    the killer was Mrs. Plum with the horseshoe in the study, the actor was a cheater!

    I love noir detective fiction, I don't even mind the cliches, I just love the retro feel of it, good luck:cool:
     
  9. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    I like this idea, mainly because a) I like the atmosphere that is sometimes created with these sorts of stories (although you may not be going as gritty as I would), and b) you're not afraid to tackle an idea that's been tackled before. That might sound strange, but so many people are afraid of using unoriginal ideas these days that they miss out on great opportunities.

    However, too many cliches can be a problem. The solution? You have to add a new dimension to it, giving undercurrents of some other idea. You could, for instance, add elements of philosophy, morality, something like that to it, making it deeper and more meaningful than a raw thriller/fun mystery. Or you could add in some other element such as war, conspiracies, supernatural (or at least the belief in it), something like that. Just go above and beyond the expectations of the genre, blending genres when you can.

    Good luck! I will enjoy reading this when you finish.
     
  10. System-Crashed
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    System-Crashed Member

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    I wonder whodunnit, excuse the pun.

    You could begin with a prologue or in the middle of the action. Then you can add some romance in there as a side story...

    Why are you asking me! It's your story!
     
  11. Zwinge
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    Zwinge New Member

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    You should have it where the detective did it. The detective works for the mob as a hitman on the side. They want him dead because the wife of the actor is the daughter of the mob boss and she found out he is cheating on her. Though what they don't know is that he was cheating on her with the detective! So the entire novel is the detective trying to steer the investigation toward some unsuspecting person, while covering up the fact that s/he was the secret lover.
     
  12. Sybre
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    Sybre New Member

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    How about a writer/screenwriter of one of the victim's successful films for the murderer?
    Both the murderer and the actor won awards for the film which was both critically acclaimed and a box-office favourite, so noone would immediately suspect the writer as it would be expected that he was happy about the success of the film.
    However, the actor's (highly popular) portrayal of the character is completely different to the writer's imagining of the character and completely derails his intended feel/message for the story - so the awards and popularity are, to the writer, a slap in the face.

    I know that when I try to describe character/story ideas to my partner and he suggests changes which are entirely missing the point I get really irritated - not homicidal but then I don't have as much emotionally invested in them at the time.
     

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