Keeping A Mystery A Mystery
Like any other genre, writing a mystery has its own peculiar challenges. For most writers, once they conceive the idea of the story, they can see the beginning and the end, but that forty-thousand words in the middle can be frustrating. The first chapter is full of action, lights flashing in the reader’s mind and the development of the plot drawing them to the next page. The last chapter has that can’t-miss, dramatic turn of events that brings everything together. So, how does an author, especially an aspiring author, build those middle chapters? Well, here are my thoughts.
A few years ago, I attended a weekend writing conference and had the pleasure of sitting at the feet of Elizabeth Cox, a published author and professor at Wofford University. She talked about those times when you hit that bump in the road, and you just don’t know what to write next. She gave two pieces of advice that I think are worth sharing now. First, she said to ask your characters. Does that sound strange? It really isn’t when you think about what she meant. As the author, you create characters, your give them backgrounds and personalities, and you put them into situations. Why would you expect those characters to deal with those situations as you would deal with them? Look at the scene as that character would look at it. If he is a forty-year-old man who just left an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and then ran over a pedestrian, how would he react? You may not know the answer, and that is what research is for.
The second gem from Elizabeth Cox was to get into the mind of the character. If you’re writing a scene from the point of view of a killer, then go to that dark place where the killer lives. Experience the raw emotions of what it means to take another life. Pound the knife in, rip the flesh, and do it without regret. Go to that dark place, but don’t stay too long. There is a price to pay if you stay too long.
Writing a mystery is not a process of simply getting from a beginning to an end. The adventure is in writing the things that even you don’t know are going to happen. When you do that and go back to proofread your manuscript, you find things you don’t remember writing. I’ve done it, and it’s a strange, but rewarding feeling when you see what your character told you.
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Jack Harden is a modern-day Texas Ranger haunted by his wife's death a year ago.
But when a murderer strikes, he is called into duty. Now he must battle the urge to kill the drunk driver responsible for her death and the hunger to kill himself as he hunts for a serial killer who wants him dead.
Elsie Rodriguez is assigned to report on the murders for her newspaper and ordered to stay with Jack Harden. He's old school, tough, and doesn't want her there, but, despite his gruff manner, the big Ranger triggers something inside her. Something more than just her Latin temper.
Can she pull him back from the edge of sanity? Or will death win again?
David Huffstetler's Bio:
Educated in Dallas, North Carolina, David Huffstetler holds degrees in Engineering and Business Administration. He has worked in the area of human relations and spent fourteen years weaving through the maze of politics, including participating in a Federal Law suit as Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, with a sitting governor over issues of separation of powers. David has served on Boards of Directors for numerous professional organizations including Crime Stoppers, SC Workers’ Compensation Educational Association, SC Safety Council, the SC Fire Academy, and the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Workers’ Compensation. He has advised governors and legislators on matters of public policy and legislation. His wealth of experience is broad and brings deep insight to his writing.
David’s work as a senior manager with a major industrial concern took him to international venues and exposures that helped feed his urge to write Disposable People, a dramatic expose of the working conditions and politics that engulf undocumented workers. Disposable People is a top-ten “Suggested Book” at Tufts University in Boston, MA.
He turned the frustrations and rejection that plagues thousands of yet-to-be-published authors into the heralded mystery/thriller Blood on the Pen, with a serial killer disposing of literary agents. David, an avid history buff, led him to write Dead in Utah, the story of Joe Hill, the controversial musician and union organizer accused of a double murder in 1914.
His books receive praise from mystery readers across the globe.
As an editor, David edited a treatise on the South Carolina workers’ compensation laws, as well as, Shannon Faulkner’s novel Fire and Ice. Shannon was the first female cadet at the Citadel. She received national publicity for her federal lawsuit and was a guest on Good Morning America.
As an editor, public speaker, and seasoned professional, David has appeared on television and radio, and has lectured on the East Coast, California, Canada and Mexico.
David currently lives in Lexington, South Carolina with his wife, Trudy.
Amazon ASIN: B0041G6JC2
BN ID: 2940012599278
Release: August 2010
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