Writing Rules by Christine Duncan

I was a mystery reader well before I was a writer. When I first started attending critique groups and reading more to learn more about the craft of writing, there were various rules that were put forward, as though they were written in stone.

And by and large, they were logical rules.

Get the body on the floor as quickly as possible, I was told. The reader wants to know what is at stake.

Don’t do things that interfere with the suspension of disbelief, like changing the rules of the game mid-stream. Make sure that your story world makes sense.

And never ever kill a child or an animal. Readers don’t want to read about that.

Best selling writers could violate those rules, I was told, but it was best for writers to adhere.

But those rules are increasingly old fashioned, or so it seems. I have read plenty of novels where the author took her time showing the murder, spending the first chapters showing the reader the story world and the hero/heroine. Sometimes, it was to get the reader to know and feel something for the victim. Sometimes it was to introduce a very cozy world, about to turn upside down. I hung on many times, because I liked that world, but I won’t say I didn’t get impatient.

I am currently in the middle of reading a paranormal mystery where several children were killed and it was described in detail.

I have to say, I don’t like it. I don’t think I could write this, because to me, to write it, is in a way, to experience it.

I don’t know if I will finish the book and this is from an author that I have followed for years. I may not read another of her books.

Sensationalism and unexplicable violence are everywhere these days. But I read, and many times I write to escape this world. I don’t read or write Noire and I don’t want the lines to cross. So I guess I am old fashioned.


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