1. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Murder Mystery... With Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by isaac223, Sep 13, 2016.

    Well, obviously, with a quick glance at the title, it would definitely be hard for one not to come to the conclusion "Hold it! This boy... He's a fan of murder mysteries and fantasy novels, isn't he!?" ...Obviously, right? (Ace Attorney is a pretty good game too. Spirit channeling is kiiiiiinda like magic, right?)

    Now, it isn't a nonexistent trope, but not one I really see all too commonly -- a murder mystery with heavy, yet secondary, fantasy themes or a fantasy with heavy, yet secondary, murder mystery themes.

    However, there's a huge issue with what I wish to do: I feel like the two genres being fused here could limit my audience, as I feel like fans of murder mystery are looking for a more realistic (with minor stretching of the Suspension of Disbelief) albeit thriller tale of a complex murder and the quest to solve it in a more succinct environment, and fans of fantasy would be looking for a less... hopeless form of death when it comes to characters in fantasy, a more fantastical, magical large-scale action-packed conflict, potentially (I would definitely hope) complemented by a well-done complex plot and vast world-building.


    The conflicts here make it seem like, however I do it, I may be limiting my audience by the taste of fans of either individual genre.

    Along with that, I'd also simply like to ask what I should look for when going to write this fusion of Murder Mystery and heavy Fantasy to keep it from falling flat on its face.
     
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  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I don't see why you couldn't have an Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Crime/Thriller. Sounds much more interesting than the old Urban Fantasy stuff already out there. As long as you have an established world and rules that specify as such, you should be fine.

    I have almost 3K in a short story with Night Elves, though they are not magical in anyway. More of a different sort. :p

    Anywho, I think you should be alright and good luck. :)
     
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  3. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    If that's the story you want to write then go for it! There's always an audience for a great story.
     
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  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No problem here ;) I'm working on an Urban Fantasy myself and I get the impression you're talking about Medieval-esque, but any fantasy setting is probably going to have societies with at least a few laws against murder. Why not focus on a street-level medieval fantasy world instead of an army-level?

    If you're worried about people not knowing how your investigative/legal systems work right off the bat: people didn't even understand our own systems until CSI and Law&Order showed up (though sometimes not even then :bigmeh:). Just introduce us to your original setting's law enforcement procedures the way modern crime dramas introduced us to our own (but better, if you please).
     
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  5. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    For a medieval type setting, I recommend having a look at Cadfael. It's not fantasy but it shows quite clearly how a monk can solve mysteries without the aid of an investigative system. I love the tv series and I am thinking of reading the books at some point. Highly recommend it. Here's the wiki on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadfael

    By the way I love this idea!
     
  6. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    done well theres no reason why it couldnt double your audience to fans of both genres
     
  7. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    I'm sure HistoricalScience can testify, after being so helpful on 2 (or more, if my memory is failing me) of my threads, that I have something that compels me to want to merge Fantasy with literally everything. (Murder Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Metafiction, Haha, I think I may have a problem.

    Joking aside, thank you all for your responses.

    I.A. By the Barn, I will definitely look to Cadfael like you suggested. It's definitely an interesting-looking series.

    Well, I'm not even sure about our legal systems either, so I suppose crafting my own would be a good choice. All I knew about our legal system is from Ace Attorney's seemingly-mixed nature of American and Japanese legal systems, and that is: Look for contradictions... EVERYWHERE.
    But yes, I will put forth the proper effort to introduce the setting's investigative/legal systems. With all of the world building I've done (for all of the novel projects I get sidetracked from and that are currently sitting in a "Books" Folder on Google Docs or my laptop... perhaps from about 6 years ago) I've never had the legal/investigative system be as prominent a theme in the narrative, especially not as much as it is now, so it seems like it is going to be quite a task indeed.

    Here's to hoping I can actually make a great story out of some of my... countless in-the-work projects... :confuzled:
     
  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Think of it kinda like Clue, but more serious and intense (also the where, when, why, how, and who).

    It was the Dwarf Butler in the basement, with a Glock 1911. He had plenty of time to slip away from the
    rest of the group, seeing as he has more domestic chores to attend to keep the mansion functioning properly.
    By deductive reasoning it was him, because he would have a periodic check on the boilers in the basement.
    So in the 15 minutes of his disappearance, he had plenty of time to kill the stripper, hide her body behind a
    wine cask, and recover the brass casing.

    There was that so hard? O_O Just come up with something more complex and grander scale. Try reading
    Crime Novels to get a basic idea of what you can do to get your own writing off in the direction that you want
    to take it in with all the Urban Fantasy elements and such.

    Good Luck! You got this, so write this damn thing Like a Boss!:supersmile::cheerleader:
     
  9. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    I suppose when you put it that way, it seems as if it can't be too hard. Still worries me, though, as I have trouble thinking of potential evidence (subtle or not) for more complex, grander mysteries.
     
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't actually have to be. Just because the criminals and sleuths use different tools (divinations, curses...) than they do in the real world doesn't have to mean that the crimes themselves have to be fundamentally different.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel that this might work just fine for fantasy readers, and less well for mystery readers. I think that you're right that the average mystery reader prefers reality-based stories rather than those based in a fantasy world.

    A less extreme case is a real-world-based mystery with some supernatural woven into it. I'm a mystery reader and I'm fine with those, as long as the supernatural is very carefully done. Barbara Michaels has done several that fit that description--her Georgetown trilogy, Witch, and various others. (Actually, I'm not even sure I'd call those mysteries, but the bookstores shelve them there.)

    I do read the Dresden Files books, but I consider those to be flat-out fantasy rather than real-world based, because the world is so packed with fantasy elements.
     
  12. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    As someone writing a murder mystery set in a low fantasy setting, I know the thought of "is there really an audience for this?" Then I thought, if it's good enough, it'll make an audience.
     
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  13. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, you can definitely do this - and I think it would be particularly fun to do with a High Fantasy setting. I don't think there's an issue with the victim dying in a way that doesn't quite suit the glory of the genre - the victim in a murder mystery is, by definition, almost always dead or almost dead at the beginning of the book. If you're looking for a big grand fantasy death as part of your plot - kill off a supporting character.

    The other thing to do is look up resources on mystery plotting (as I always I'll recommend Writing Excuses), and decide on exactly what type of Mystery plot you're stirring into your Fantasy here. I can think of at least three different (overlapping) types:

    1) The Cozy Mystery - These are your classic, Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes stuff. Cozies are, as the label suggests, books you want to curl up with by a fire with some hot cocoa. They're going to be slower paced, deal with a parade of suspects and focus on the puzzle itself without a lot of blood. (I'm guessing you're not writing this).

    2) The Thriller with an Embedded Mystery - First and foremost a Thriller premise - which means your characters are being chased or under some other pressure to speed up the pace. But you have a Mystery with clues that they're trying to solve while they're at it - protagonist usually NOT a trained detective.

    3) The Modern Crime Novel/Police Procedural - A true mystery rather than a thriller, but more visceral and disturbing, not as comforting as a cozy, a bit faster paced - definitely no hot cocoa. Here your protagonist is often a hardened cop, often supported by a team of other cops, confronting the darkest parts of society through the lens of the police department that's stuck cleaning up the mess.

    So, I'd look at what you want out of your story and then go look at a good non-fantasy example of how those things are written (For a cozy, maybe look to Agatha Christie - if you want a really dark Modern Procedural, I love Arnaldur Indridason's Jar City.)
     
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  14. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    2 is the absolute closest to what I'd like to go for. I find it adds a dab of some more suspense if the character's skillsets can assist them in the mystery, but it is an unconventional skillset for, well, solving/surviving a murder mystery scenario. That, and, thrillers are indeed fun to read -- especially Psychological Thriller.

    Somewhat on a tangent...

    A bit ago, I started looking to "Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria" for some minor inspiration. The second highest rated printed work -- manga, Visual Novels, Light Novels, etc. -- on MyAnimeList, Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria is a translated light novel by Eiji Mikage.

    MAL's Synopsis:

    "Kazuki Hoshino values his everyday life above all else. He spends the days carefree with his friends at school, until the uneventful bliss suddenly comes to a halt with the transfer of the aloof beauty Aya Otonashi into his class and her cold, dramatic statement to him immediately upon arrival:

    "I'm here to break you. This is my 13,118th school transfer, and even I can't help but reach the end of my tether after so many iterations. So for a change of pace, I'll declare war this time."

    And with those puzzling words, the ordinary days that Kazuki loved so dearly become a cycle of turmoil and fear—Aya's sudden appearance signals the unraveling of unseen mysteries surrounding Kazuki's seemingly normal friends, including the discovery of mysterious devices known as "boxes.""

    Essentially, boxes are like "genies..." in a box... in box form... in that, the wish can usually come back to bite them in the ass. "Boxes" can operate internally or externally.

    SPOILERS ONWARD:

    An internal box arises if an owner considers his wish to be impossible in the real world. For example, the owner of the Rejecting Classroom didn't believe that it was possible to relive the past. The Rejecting Classroom is the Box of the first volume, and caused the same day to repeat on and on, forever. There were special conditions required for memories to cross over to the "next day," but all in all, they were forgotten. The basis of Aya and Kazuki's first conflict. As such, even though its called an "Internal Box," the box itself isn't internal, but rather its happenings -- the occurrences within an Internal Box are within a realm separated from conventional reality, where this all happens.

    An external box arises when an owner believes that his wish can occur in the real world. The owner of the Sevennight in Mud in the Second Volune seems to believe that his wish can be granted through the power of the box. Indeed, taking over a body may seem somewhat plausible(albeit far-fetched) in real life through some incomprehensible means, which means that there's no need to create a special space outside of reality.





    I was thinking of creating a wish-based fantasy-Type-2(as Commandante Lemming put it)-mystery using UHZM as light inspiration.
     
  15. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So - my first question here is "where's the dead body?"

    Is the murder mystery your main plot or a subplot (you can do either, I'm just trying to figure out how this thing works. The premise itself seems solid. If you want it to read a bit like a mystery, I would recommend reading a non-fantasy straight-up mystery to get a feel for the tricks of that trade (using description for pacing, not going too fast, when to drop clues, using the surrounding landscape to make things feel threatening or bleak, etc.).

    I can only recommend out of what I've read - and right now I'm on a Scandinavian Crime Novel kick, so my recommendations would come from there. But right now I'm in the middle of a Danish mystery-thriller call Smilla's Sense of Snow that was really popular in the 1990s (and kind of a predecessor to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - which is in the same wheelhouse). I'd definitely recommend that one - it's a bit long, but it does all the things a good crime novel needs to do, with a non-police protagonist (Smilla is an out-of-work academic expert on ice crystal formation), that's starting to morph into a straight up thriller about a third of the way in. Basically she's unsatisfied with the police ruling that the death of a little boy next door is an accident, starts poking around the case, and ends up being a target herself.
     

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