Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Back to Writing, Thinking about Writing, and Querying

Notes from a mini-workshop by agent/writer Donald Maass at the 2010 Edgar's symposium in NYC last week.  Sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. 
What are  breakout mystery novelists doing differently?
 Following the “rules” is not that important.  Look outside the form for more BIG characters. 
 Find a mythic milieu and create multiple points of view.  Make your antagonist three dimensional.  The story should have a high purpose and employ all literary devices. 
 Think about your main characters.  At what stage of life are they?  What is their main problem?  How does the problem get worse?  Create more complications:  acute, painful, urgent.  Keep twisting your plot. Do not make it easy for your protagonist.  Make it very, very hard.  Make the worst happen.  The main character should experience defeat.
 Create extra plot layers with subplots, and weave them into the story.  Bombard the protagonist with worse and more difficult to solve problems.
 Your story contains unique setting.  Set some of the extra plot layers in one of your settings.     Cross story lines with your sub-plots.  Make several key events to the story occur in the same place, the “magical place.”  
 Maass believes in multiple points of view.  Maybe three.  Make one of them a young person’s.  Give your antagonist plenty of page time. 
 Opening up your story gives it even bigger potential.  Make sure that your character’s experiences mirror your readers’ universal experiences.  Put one prominent object that is present in the beginning of the story in its end.  Keep mentioning this object.  Create symbols. Think about the world of your story.  It should be special. 

I read Havana Lunar, because the author was an Edgar's  panelist and I liked what he said about dialogue.  This is a great book.   

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