1. violinguy
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    violinguy Member

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    Key Ingredient Missing

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by violinguy, Feb 7, 2014.

    So I've been outlining a mystery/thriller type story for the last week or so, and several pieces have fallen nicely into place. I have the protagonist who is called by his former college roommate who is now a detective to help decipher some clues in the murder of a seemingly unimportant person. After a little research and a few calls, the protagonist uncovers a much larger conspiracy around a major historical artifact and a discovery about its validity is the key to the murder.

    That said, I have two problems. First, the story seems eerily familiar to a book I despise about Leonardo De Vinci and some code or something...

    Second, assuming I can get around the obvious Dan Brown comparisons, I am missing what is probably the most important element in a murder mystery, the ultimate motivation for the killing. I have been stuck on this for the last few days.

    I don't want to abandon this project, but if I can't get this missing piece to show itself, I don't see any point in continuing down this story's road to nowhere, so to speak.

    Any thoughts?

    VG:confused:
     
  2. Wowzie
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    Wowzie Member

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    How did the victim spend his time, before being dead?
     
  3. Earthshine
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    Earthshine Member

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    Well it sounds to me as if the murder is secondary to the uncovering of the conspiracy. If that is the case, then perhaps the motivation should be tied into the conspiracy and the clues they discover. Maybe the victim was too close to the truth. Maybe they were a part of the conspiracy, but they got cold feet and tried to back out. Perhaps they were unwittingly involved and disposed of when they no longer served a purpose.

    There's a multitude of reasons a person could be killed, but you need to remember to somehow tie it into your story. It won't make sense if the victim was a normal person killed by a jealous lover, and then the police discover all these clues leading to some great conspiracy. One needs to lead to another. Cause and effect. The murder needs to be tied in with the rest.

    Also, probably even more important than considering the victim is considering the killer. After all, they were the ones with the motive. Is the killer going to be your antagonist? Someone who works with your antagonist? Consider the killer, how they fit into the story, what their personality might be like and ultimately what their motivation was for killing this person.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lol I did think immediately of Dan Brown, but few people can write as poorly as him. I think you'll be fine as long as you write good characters.

    As for the reason for the killing - well, who's the victim? How did they die? Go backwards. And who is the murderer? What's his history? Has been been convicted before? What does he do now in his day job? Answers to these questions would probably reveal to you his motivation (assuming it's a he).

    If all else fails, you could just have him be a psycho killer who simply enjoys the thrill of the kill.
     
  5. violinguy
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    violinguy Member

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    Thank you for the responses.

    I'm torn between two plot ideas. The first revolves around the theft of a valuable piece of a Mozart manuscript over 50 years ago (this really happened) and the motivation for the murder being ultimately related to finally uncovering who stole it. Second, the murder is motivated by a respected historian (ultimately the killer) who has discovered a Mozart manuscript previously thought lost (again, loosely based in fact). The historian is trying to shock the world with his discovery but the victim had proof that it was fake all along.

    I am leaning toward the first one as the motive for killing someone is stronger. In both cases, the police detective assigned to the case uses the protagonist (himself a musician) to help with the investigation, and when the police have a suspect in custody, it is our intrepid protagonist who stumbles upon the real culprit. A little hackneyed? Perhaps. This would be my first novel - I've written a few dozen short stories over the years.

    I am hoping additional plot elements come to me as I start working on characters and settings.

    VG:)
     
  6. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Nice fiddle you've got there (teasing from the resident banjo player). :p

    I'm reminded of a plot from the Gene Wilder movie Silver Streak. May be helpful, maybe not. The background story is a art historian discovers some lost letters penned by Rembrandt, that reveal one of his famed paintings (now owned by a devious art collector and criminal) is actually a fake created in his own lifetime. The collector/criminal kills the historian and seizes the letters before the historian's book is released to the public. The plot continues with a body double historian who is to ruin the book tour and discredit the book, but you don't need that part. Someone with extreme motivation, in this case the collector/criminal, feels that the truth would discredit him in the art world and ruin him financially, so the killing is justified.
     
  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to find a greater significance for the Mozart document, otherwise it is of no real significance and could just as well be a bundle of money, or a bag of coke (not the drinking kind). Simple monetary value would be too mundane. Dan Brown's book was a hit because he distracted everyone from his relatively simply plot by using the religious controversy he knew his subject would stir up.
     
  8. violinguy
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    violinguy Member

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    I think you just hit the nail on the head. My main issue is the lack of proper motivation for murder. If can't see why someone would kill someone over "x," than my readers certainly won't. I'm still thinking about it though, but I'm not going to let this speedbump keep me from writing other things. I'll probably do a one-pager of my idea for the plot and let it sit while I try other ideas. If I still want to do it, I'll make it work. If not, well, it's in the file....:)
     
  9. Fizpok
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    Fizpok Member

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    A Copycat murder. The guy read "Da Vinchi", misunderstood it completely up to he level when he makes mistakes in Fibo numbers, so the police has to figure out what is going to go wrong the next time :)
     
  10. Fizpok
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    Fizpok Member

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    Oh, and there should be a "real", "hidden" conspiracy behind this.
     
  11. vera2014
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    vera2014 Contributing Member

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    Hmmm....Maybe you could write that the victim betrayed someone in a big way. Let's say they got greedy and tried to do something super sneaky like seducing someone's spouse to get information they shouldn't have and it worked. Then again, these ideas might be over-used. There's so much written that it's hard to be original. :D
     
  12. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    The dead guy was an painting preservation specialist and he had found out that a certain artist really didn't know how to paint, and had simply been painting over the sketches of a friend's work and taking credit for the pieces.
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is just a normal part of work in progress. Ideas gradually evolve from something that might be similar to another book, into something that's yours. I have no shortcuts to offer you. I spent a better part of last year making all pieces fall into place in my detective story. Euphoria rose and fell as I recognised other well known plots, tried to disguise the similarities, then tried to bargain with it by changing bits and pieces, then researching true crime, fiction theory and my own soul, which eventually pushed the idea further and further away from being a rip off of some kind and closer to being an unique story. Once it happened, once I understood all my characters and why they do what they do, the plot became awesome compared to how it looked in the beginning. So best of luck working on it, I hope it doesn't take you as long as it took me :)
     

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