For the past month, I have been plotting my latest novel, Strange Sights. I've had it as an idea for the past year or so, and it has been driving me crazy to not be able to write it! I assumed that as soon as I got to immerse myself into the marvelous world that I wanted to create, I would be happy. Well, it turns out that it's still driving me crazy, but in a different way. Less of a picturesque "oh no, I'm a writer who just has too many things to write. Woe is me." but more of a "HOW THE ACTUAL HECK AM I GOING TO PULL THIS OFF?"
This learning process (Learning Process: the phrase that I use to describe why I'm crying over math or have my foot stuck in the oven after trying to cook dinner) has changed how I see the mystery genre.
Expectation vs. Reality: Plotting a Mystery
(because boy, did I have expectations...)
Reality: Actually, you delusional pancake, mysteries are exactly that, A MYSTERY.
I doubt that any writer has the perfect formula to writing (unless you are a writing god like Maggie Stiefvater), and I doubt that any mystery writer knows exactly what they're doing, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, was this a learning experience. Each genre comes with its own challenges.
- Fantasy can be difficult for those with a limited imagination.
- Sci-Fi can be hard for those who don't like space or shooty things (usually sci-fi includes shooty things that go pew-pew. #hardfacts).
- Comedy can be hard for those who have as much humor and wit as a dried apricot.
- Romance can be hard for those whose soulmate is 5 cats.
- Horror can be difficult for those who are afraid of shadows. And light (because light creates shadows, so...that's scary, too).
- Historical Fiction can be hard for those who fell asleep in class and aren't actually sure whether World War I was a zombie invasion or if the moon landing was faked by an alien named Neil Armstrong.
- A series can be hard for those with commitment issues.
- BUT MOST OF ALL: the mystery. A beast that lurks in the shadows, waiting for the unsuspecting writer who thinks they can Pants this.
Expectation: I can Pants this.
It is totally within my power to write this by the seat of my pants. I'll just let the story go where it goes, like the other novels I've written.
Reality: giRL, listen to a thing.
Murders take planning, schedules, and a reasonable motive (I promise I'm a writer. Please don't call the cops). Murders take multiple suspects that have to all have probable suspicion yet still be as innocent as a butterfly. Murders have to have a little flair that makes them interesting. THESE THINGS TAKE PLANNING.
Expectation: Writing a Fantasy-Contemporary-Mystery will be a piece of cake.
If I take these three genres and mash them together, that means 1/3 of the work for me!! Because if I can just combine a few things here and there, I won't have to come up with my own original ideas. It's a win-win for everyone.
Reality: Genre x 3 = MORE WORK, YOU CRACKED WALNUT.
What did you think it would be? A walk in the park? No. The parks closed: you get to walk in the cactus-filled desert (not to be confused with cactus-filled dessert. I will not be making that mistake twice...). It's 3x the work trying to find the right way to get all three genres to mix perfectly without being too busy or insane.
Expectation: I will never use math in life.
Well of course I would never need addition or subtraction. I don't need to know how many apples Johnny has. All that matters is how many apples I have, which better be more than Johnny, otherwise Johnny is going down.
It turns out my villain is very much so into using math and percentages for his evil schemes. What is with that? That leaves me trying to accommodate his shenanigans by doing said math. I suppose I could hire someone to do the math for me, but then I'd have to do math to figure out how much I had to pay them if they worked for x hours. MATH IS EVERYWHERE.
Like all crazy things, this novel is taking place in Portland (also a little in Ireland, but we won't talk about that). Since I myself have been to Portland many times, I don't have to research much. I know the vibe, the businesses, and the terrain well enough to be able to rely on my own brain over Google for this one.
Reality: Just kidding, I have the memory of a goldfish, and I also have to create a whole other community and tie it in with the residing one.
So it turns out that magical communities are very different from normal ones, what with their wings and floating cats...
Expectation: Detectiving will be simple.
I'm a relatively intelligent human. I can Sherlock my way out of any situation. I can find proper evidence and clues at the click of a key.
Reality: I am as intelligent as Anderson.
Expectation: I'm smart enough to write all this. Totally.
Reality: To be decided.
What genre is your favorite (to write or read)? For all my writer peeps: What is the hardest thing about plotting? Did I miss any Expectations vs. Realities?Toodlepip