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Archive for February, 2013

Okay.  I’ve begun actually working on my mystery and I have discovered, as I mentioned below, that it’s not just about imagining and writing.  There is actual hard work involved.  That’s spelled W-O-R-K! with an exclamation point.   What kind of work could there possibly be, you ask?  Here’s a sample:

Crime scene:  What does it look like?  No, what does it really look like?  Not a bare sketch, but a complete painting, so the reader will see the same picture I have in my mind.   Weather, surroundings, day or night?  The considerations are almost endless.  I do not, though, want to over-describe.  Nothing bugs me more than trying to read a promising book and getting bogged down in too much description. (I have actually stopped reading books like this.)  If the precise pattern of the curtains is not germane to the story, I need to consider if it’s even necessary.

Victim:  First time through, it was just something like “a girl.”  Like the scene, that won’t do.  Appearance, position, (again) immediate surroundings, and anything else necessary for the reader to see what I’m seeing.  If I’m not seeing fully, then I need to work on that.

Technicals:  For the locale, how are the cops dressed?   The forensics folks?  Do they have a Medical Examiner?  Where are autopsies performed?  How far is one site from another?

Action:  The action has to be described.  Sure, I see the detectives walk over to the Medical Examiner, but why, and what transpires?

Dialogue:  Who says what, and to whom?  Why?  Do I need to keep identifying the speakers, or will the reader “get it” until I insert action, “Jack said, slapping Bob on the back.”

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I began reading before I entered elementary school.  By the time I advanced to junior high and seventh grade, I had read all the Perry Mason books by Earl Stanley Gardiner, every Hardy Boys book, The Mike Shayne series by Brett Halliday, The Saint series by Leslie Charteris, and (note the genre?) countless other books.  Even back then, there were the stirrings of, “I want to do that!  I want people to read something I write and like it as much as I like reading!”

Then came spy novels – Eric Ambler, Ian Fleming, John Le Carre, Graham Greene, Len Deighton, and others, and science fiction.  Not fantasy, but pure science fiction, where technology brought amazing things and happenings – many of which have since come to pass. The desire to write, however, stayed firmly in the mystery field.

I can’t say how  often I started to write something, thinking it was only a matter of imagining and writing, which I have since learned is only part of the labor involved.  Using a typewriter was frustrating.  When I wanted to do over a chapter, it had to be completely re-typed.  Bummer!  I am very thankful for PCs and word processing software!

Now that I am retired, I have purposed to begin writing that murder mystery.  This category in my blog will detail, within limits, the steps I am taking toward that goal.

First, I am dedicating two hours per weekday to the task.  (UPDATE:  Sometimes I’m faithful, sometimes not.  Sometimes, I ricky-ticky along for hours!)

Second, I am actually going to make use of the fabulous “den,” or office Mary had custom built for me some years back, but which has remained, sorrowfully, mostly only a repository for my collections of books, not all of which are mysteries, by the way.

Next, having worked with two published authors as a reader, I took some lessons I learned from them, plus some critiques of my early (nay, juvenile) attempts and some helpful hints from a score of websites devoted to such things – including the “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories” by S. S. Van Dine, plus some actual forensics sites to help my “CSI” details pass muster.

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Strive for the Mastery

Much of what is in the Old Testament is a precursor to, an example of, what we see in our New Testament relationship with Jesus and each other.  Of priests, it is said, “They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God” (Leviticus 21:7 NKJV).  The requirements in this area is even stricter for the High Priest, who “… shall take a wife in her virginity” (Leviticus 21:13 NKJV).  This shows us that the church is to “…be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22 NKJV).    Why?  “that He our High Priest (Hebrews, Chapters 4-10) might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27 NKJV).  So, it is not simply about “making it across the threshold” into Heaven, but using the power and grace afforded us by the indwelling Holy Spirit to walk as He walked—not to earn our salvation, which He purchased with His own blood, but to please Him.

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Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.   (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)

I feared my natural father.  Not in a bad way, but I respected that he ruled the household.  I feared him on one level when I thought to do something which I knew was “against the rules,” whether spoken or simply understood.  I feared him on another level when I broke the rules and knew I would face him for it, even if it was only a lecture.  I thought differently when I was in his presence than when I wasn’t.

I really feared him if I had openly disobeyed or even spoken wrongly to someone else in authority, whether it was my mom, a teacher, or even a store manager.  Every adult was an authority over me.  There was no, “You’re not my father!  You can’t tell me what to do!”  In such cases, even if I was right I was wrong.  My insubordination was not excused just because their view of a situation may have been in error.

So it is with my Heavenly Father, in a way.  If I can remain conscious of His presence I’m less likely even to think of doing wrong, and if I transgress, I’m quick to repent to Him – I hope I do so not solely that I may remain in His good graces.  That’s not the Spirit’s way to relate to God.  Sin’s not just an act of commission or even desire; there’s omission: choosing not to do something you know God would want you to do.

If I love God, I will keep His commandments – not to earn salvation, but to demonstrate it.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the SpiritThat the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1,4 KJV)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 KJV)

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