1. Shlockmaster

    Shlockmaster New Member

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    Crime fiction help

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Shlockmaster, Jan 6, 2018.

    I'm pretty new here [i think i forgot to add an introduction thread] and i need some help with some crime stories.
    I've been working hard on an ambitious project since 2016 [having re-written it repeatedly] and I've only just noticed some major mistakes.
    The things that are bothering me the most is that:
    1: i've graphically portrayed a multiple homicide happening. Should i have done that? It is suppose to be a mystery after all
    2: I've realized there's a drastic shift in tone between chapters. While the policeman protagonist is investigating crimes, his teenage sons are getting into slapstick riddled mischief. Is it ok to have kids mucking about while homicides are being committed?
    3: One of the antagonists is named after two of the worst serial killers in modern times [i wasn't very creative with his name]. Should i change his name? Anyone over the age of 30 will figure out who dun it after seeing his name.
    4: Diversity without being an SJW. The oafish policeman protagonist has an ethnic, female officer on his team who is much more observant and tends to notice clues and evidence faster than he does. Should i change this?
    Any feedback would be appreciated
     
  2. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    1. I've read plenty of crime novels where the murders are pretty graphic. As long as you just give out the right amount of clues while writing them, I'd say it's okay. Depending on the tone, of course. There are nice and cozy murder mysteries and there are those who only seems to have been written for the shock value - and everything in between.

    2. While I'd say it's good that different pow chapters have different tones - to throw in teens an slapstick sounds like a bad idea. I'd throw the book across the room at the sight of the first chapter like that. So from the information you've given I'd say just cut them - but that would of course depend on the actual result.

    3. If you feel like it's a bad choice now afterwards - just change it.

    4. Have you written a well rounded character - then don't change her.
    I think you're making it a thing - which makes it hard for an outsider (who hasn't read anything) to know if you've written her well or if it feels like you've tried to shoehorn in gender and ethnicity.
     
  3. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    1. The mystery is a "whodunit" not a guess on how he did it. Many serial killers are very graphic yet leave behind little to no forensic evidence.
    2. And that is a problem. I question what is even the point of including his teenage sons? That doesn't seem to have anything to do with the story.
    3. Right. So change it.
    4. Yes. For the soul reason that whole concept is stupid. If this is supposed to be a serious story, then an oafish police officer will just create another tonal shift.
     
  4. Shlockmaster

    Shlockmaster New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback and straightforward answers. I've asked some authoritative people on the subject similar questions and they just responded with nonsensical hyperbole. I've decided to drop the whole project as now that i look at it. It was pretty bad.
     
  5. Odile_Blud

    Odile_Blud Active Member

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    1) I don't see anything wrong with that, personally.

    2) Most stories have some sort of comedic relief in one fashion or another. I guess I'd have to read it to see what you mean, but having a comedic moment in a serious piece in and of itself doesn't sound bad.

    3) Yeah. You should probably change the name if that is the case.

    4) I don't see anything wrong with having a black female officer who is competent at her job or even better at it than the MC. If she is thrown in there for the sake of diversity and it constantly points out, "Hey, she's a black woman and she can do this job too," then it may very well come off as preachy and PC, but having an intelligent black woman as a cop won't hurt the story by itself, so I don't see any reason to change it. Maybe take out the "oafish" part, but other than that, I see no reason to change it.
     
  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    1) It would be a "Who done it" and "it" could be a graphic murder, but like Lemie said, leave some clues that can be discovered as your story moves along.
    2) I'm not sure what you mean by tone (my fault) , but your MC needs to keep his voice throughout.
    3) The fact that she is a woman gives me the clue that she is more intuitive then your MC. I'm not sure how you would use her ethnicity in the story but if you don' then don''t. It would distract me, as I would be looking at how that would help or hurt her.
     
  7. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The crime genre has a lot of sub-genres, and the dividing lines are sometimes fuzzy. Assuming you are writing this with commercial publishing in mind, you may want to pay attention to "the done thing" in whatever your sub-genre is - clearly not a cozy, but perhaps a police procedural or a thriller? - because your readers are going to come to your work with certain expectations. Mysteries traditionally begin after the deed has been done - the dead body on the floor. The hero then follows the clues and tracks down the killer. Procedurals often do the same, although not always. Bruce Robert Coffin's (is that a great name for a crime fiction writer or what?!) Among the Shadows begins with the killing, although it is not especially graphic. Neither are any of the other killings depicted in the novel. However, the crime scene the sleuth comes upon can and often is fairly graphically depicted - Lisa Gardner's Right Behind You is a great example. I do this, myself, in my current WIP, describing a scene in which several people in a bar have been killed in a drive-by shooting. But the really graphic stuff is often found in the thriller sub-genre, in which the main element is to catch the killer or terrorist (or other sundry bad guy) before the truly horrific act is done. So, the answer to your first question lies in whatever you think your novel is going to be.

    There are two things you want to make sure your story is about. One is, obviously, the solving of the crime. But the other is the growth arc of your sleuth hero(ine). You may also have some other minor character with a story arc of his/her own. So, do the kids mucking about contribute to the sleuth character's growth arc? But I'd also have a concern about what the comic relief segments do to the tension in your story. That's not to say you can't have light moments, but generally, you want to have those moments disrupted at some point by the crime story - there is a sudden threat against the sons, or some such. But if the light segments don't ultimately serve the story 0r cost you tension, I would cut them.

    The fact that you thought to ask the question suggests that you know the answer.

    I don't know what an SJW is. I can't answer your question because I don't know how you intend their partnership to play out. For example, I don't know if you want to make a statement by having the male cop getting credit for solving the crime when it's the female cop who does the work, or if you want it to appear that she's a step ahead of him all the way until pulling it all together when he figures it out and she doesn't (the sly old dog), or if this just happens to be the way your characters have developed as you've written the story. Again, you need you decide how you want your characters to be, what your protag's growth arc is, then go with it.

    Crime fiction is fun to write. Good luck with yours.
     
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  8. Shlockmaster

    Shlockmaster New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. As of yesterday, i have started rewriting the whole thing as i had come to realize i was making too many stupid mistakes.
     
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  9. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Mistakes in writing are not stupid. They are opportunities to learn.
     
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  10. GrammarJedi

    GrammarJedi New Member

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    1) TV crime shows frequently start with showing the leadup to the crime and the crime itself. As long as you're giving clues, rather than simply handing the ending to the reader, I don't see why you can't do the same.

    2) Well, since teenagers actually do engage in slapstick-riddled mischief while homicides are taking place elsewhere in real life, I see no reason why it can't happen in your book. Just make sure it's woven in to the book thematically, so it doesn't end up being a jarring one-off.

    3) Yes. Change his name. If he actually did it, then for the love of God, do NOT name him after any serial killers or anything else obvious. Remember the wisdom of Wednesday Addams: I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.

    4) Is there a particular reason why she's ethnic, or female, or both? Is there a reason why the oaf has to be a white male? It's your story. You tell us whether or not those characters must be any particular way. If you just think that ethnic women are more observant and less oafish than white men - or you want to pander to people who think so - then I'd change it. Otherwise, people are people. Some oafs are white men, and some smart people are ethnic females, so whatever.

    Write to serve the story. If you write to serve the audience, you will serve neither the story NOR the audience.
     
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  11. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes and no. Write to serve the story, certainly. But if you are writing genre fiction with a view towards traditional publishing, you ignore the expectations of your target audience at your own risk.
     
  12. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    Social Justice Warrior.

    As more diverse people make headway into more of the arts, more diversity is what we consume.
     
  13. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks. Not sure if "consume" is the correct verb, here.
     
  14. GrammarJedi

    GrammarJedi New Member

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    I think if your story is good, then you will have an audience. I also think if you are writing with your mind on pleasing an audience instead of on making a good story, you're neither going to have a good story OR please the audience.

    In addition to this being my own view and attitude, it is also a quote from Stephen King, who definitely knows about getting published, meeting audience expectations, AND writing good stories. So . . .
     
  15. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    Most welcome. I use consume because that is how I see it. I stay away from social media so I see a lot of things (concepts, etc) as being consumed and shat out.
     
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  16. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is a difference between writing solely to please an audience and writing with the expectations of a target audience in mind. Mr. King's success shows that he understands both.
     

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