25
Jul

Why Are All Mystery Novels So Similar?

Avid mystery readers, whatever version of mystery they prefer, whether Thriller or Cozy mysteries, read multiple books each year. They acquire their reading material through book sales, garage sales, the library, borrowed from a friend and sometimes, though rarely, actually purchased from the author. At least there is a demand, so there is a need for supply.

Let’s pretend for a minute, we’re an author desirous of launching a new mystery series.

After careful analysis of a number of mysteries, we see a tried and true template; apparently we must follow to guarantee success.
Our story needs a female sleuth, preferably blonde and beautiful. She has a German Shepard in order to capture the animal lovers out there. The dog doesn’t have to help solve the crime, but if he can, so much the better. Now she needs an unusual job or hobby so she can encounter the crime which the inept police force can’t solve. Don’t forget the sweetheart somehow connected to the police department, otherwise how could she access the official information generally withheld from the public?

Sadly, most of the best jobs or hobbies have been taken by other mystery series’. We already have book store owners, catering services, coffee houses, writers, and private detectives, to name just a few. We need a career that hasn’t been done to death, but one that will give our sleuth access to plenty of material. It is going to be a series, after all.septic tank px

How about a lady sewer technician who pumps out septic tanks? She’d be in plenty of back yards spotting nefarious going’s-on, or how about the Jehovah’s Witness that goes door to door handing out literature. Plenty of opportunities to look beyond the screen door and see someone bound and gagged…

Maybe not. Let’s stick with the 'sewer-pumper-outer'.

So let’s see…to follow the template formula. The plumber and her quirky sidekick (did I forget the quirky friend?) find a body in the pump house. Proceed to red herrings, a romantic interlude, unrequited love, and suspicious characters, all with alibis. Lots of flavor of plumbing tossed in, stopped up toilets, overflowing bathtubs, (a humorous scene or two), and move right on to the climax where our heroine goes alone to meet the villain in a warehouse, but doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She is captured, strung up by her thumbs to the rafters, death being imminent until her detective boyfriend and her dog burst down the door and save her life. The murderer is revealed, every toilet is unstopped, every drain unplugged and the heroine and detective ride off into the sunset in the sewer-truck. The end.

That’s the template. Lots of ways to change up the various topics; hobbies, quirky friend, red herrings, suspects, romantic interludes, murder, theft, kidnapping, contraband, illegal alien housekeeper, secret message or what-have-you that begins the mystery, identity of villain (always the most unexpected member of the cast) and final climax, etc. This is the formulaic template, with assorted variations, that most mysteries novels follow.

When will a brave author be willing to break the mold, or at least one who dares to write a mystery that doesn’t end with the heroine strung up in the barn (figuratively speaking)? Sadly, as long as the public is willing to buy these trite storylines, mystery books will continue to follow the same template.

What are your thoughts about books with similar storylines?

13
Aug

What Can We Learn From A Rainbow?

What is a rainbow? rainbow

Rainbows can be observed whenever there are water drops in the air and sunlight shining from behind at a low altitude angle. Rainbows can also be seen near waterfalls or fountains. A rainbow is caused by light refracting through water droplets (rain/water) in the atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light.  The rainbow appears when you are between the droplets and the sun is behind you. The light from the sun is refracted as it enters the surface of the raindrop, refracts off the back of the drop and again refracts as it leaves the drop, resulting in a multicolored arc.

What Makes the Colors?

The amount of light refracted affects the color. Blue has a shorter wavelength and is refracted at a greater angle, thus it is seen as the smallest arc on the inside of the rainbow and red, due to a longer wavelength, is seen as the most dominant color and a wider arc, on the outside.

What Causes a Double Rainbow?

When there is a double reflection of sunlight inside the raindrop, a secondary rainbow may be seen, but the colors will be inverted compared to the first, with blue on the outside and red on the inside.

What About Rainbows in Literature? I found several beautiful references to rainbows:

And the bow shall be in the clouds…And God said to Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. Genesis 9:17 (KJV)

 

Through gloom and shadow look we

On beyond the years!

The soul would have no rainbows

If the eyes had no tears. John Vance Cheney, in “Tears” in the Century - 1892

 

We, of many cultures, languages and races are become one nation. We are the Rainbow People of God.Desmond Tutu, in speech before the National Assembly of South Africa, - 1994

 What is the rainbow? Sunlight turned back to our eye, through drops of falling rain. What sign could be more simple? And yet what sign could be more perfect? Charles Kingsley, in “God’s Covenants” from the Works of Charles Kingsley, - 1885

God put the rainbow in the clouds, not just in the skyIt is wise to realize we already have rainbows in our clouds, or we wouldn't be here. …in the worst of time, there is the possibility of seeing hope. We can say "I can be a rainbow in the cloud for someone yet to be." That may be our calling. Maya Angelou – Harrisburg Forum – 2001

 

Author’s Corner:  Do we write to create a rainbow for our readers? Do your characters, themes and plots engage and edify the reader? When someone buys your book, they’ve placed their confidence in your ability to entertain or enlighten them in some way. You have an opportunity. Make your words count for something worthwhile.

Everyone Else: You have a choice. When you encounter others who project anger, sadness, or a mean spirit, don’t withhold the light and reflect only the blue aura of yourself. Let the sun shine through your spirit. Reflect the widest angle of red in your rainbow and be a friend to those you meet!

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