The round-robin blog starts on June 22. The first topic is what type of book do I prefer to read? While writing the blog post it got me thinking: what type of book do I prefer to write? I’ve written three books now and all three are different. The first one, In The Sticks, is an all out mystery. The second, Graves of His Personal Liking, is a western saga. The third, County Ops, is a mystery but more of a whydunit that a whodunit, because from the first chapter the reader knows who did it–although a lot of mystery still remains to be discovered.
I think I liked writing the western best–maybe because the first book took place in a period of about a week. The third book takes place in about two weeks while the western is a little over a two- year time span. A week isn’t enough time to develop minor characters. I always have a back story with my characters—all my characters, even the minor ones who play waitresses and busboys in the books. They need to be real to me by existing before the book and having a life after the book. With the two-year time span of the western, I could develop the characters and use more characters and different locations. Also mysteries can be a pain to put together. They say reading a mystery is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Whoever they are should write one. It’s like putting together a puzzle where all the pieces are the same size and shape. The writer gets to cut the pieces out, but they still all have to fit.
I worry about making the pieces fit in the mysteries I write. When the Rubik’s Cube first came out, I worked at it for days and couldn’t get it back to where all the different colors were on the same sides. One day my little sister brought it to me put back together the way it was supposed to be. I was amazed. When I asked her how she did it, she said she had peeled off the colored squares and pasted them back the way they were supposed to be. That is what I hate about mysteries: the little cheats and tricks that have to be used to make mysteries work. Every writer uses them, but to get them to flow seamlessly and unnoticed is the trick. It has always bothered me when the tricks show. I did a previous post on some of the glaring examples of tricks and cheats in books and movies that show.
With the western I never had to worry about it. I just kept writing. I never had to refer back to make sure the previous clue I had inserted still fit if the story had changed. I will say I felt a greater sense of satisfaction when I had finished the mysteries and everything fit into place. The western has better characters. The mysteries are better stories.
Read an excerpt from my soon to be published novel Graves of His Personal Liking