My Month - June 2017

Hello and thanks for dropping by. Winter has arrived here on the Sunny Coast and we are just back from having our morning coffee by the beach. School holidays are on again and what a perfect beginning for them. It is such a joy to see families making the most of their time together and I couldn’t help comparing it with some of my holidays growing up in England. It was in the 1940s before people had discovered the delights of affordable holidays in Europe. Working families (as we were) had to book well ahead to make sure of accommodation at one of the seaside towns if they wanted to make the most of their week off work. Usually it was a Bed and Breakfast establishment and going through some old photographs I came across this one taken by one of those street photographers who made a good living in the days prior to digital cameras. It was at Morecambe as I recall and we were heading back after a day on the sea front. Yes it was summer and we did need those raincoats, it was a cold and blustery day. What a cheery picture it is! Hardly one to hang on the wall as a memory shot. It is difficult to imagine this was the highlight of our year.

My plan to take presentations to various groups around the coast is coming together nicely with two firm dates booked and another two firm commitments just awaiting dates. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and meeting a variety of people. Exciting times ahead! The first one is in August so there will be more to report then.

I mentioned a couple of months ago I had discovered the genre of cosy crime. Running around in my head now is the idea of trying to write one as my next book. Planning a novel is complex enough – remembering the details about each of the characters and making sure the scenes flow in the right order. The more examples of cosy crime I read, the more I realise there is so much more to planning a mystery!

Where to put the red herrings; when and how much of the plot to reveal to the reader; being careful not to give too much away too soon. How much should the protagonist know? How should he/she discover clues? If I go down this road I can see the walls in my work room will be surrounded by time lines, character charts, plot arcs and all the other paraphernalia that goes with researching and putting together a novel. It won’t be a work that will be done in a hurry. For someone like me who likes organising things it should be enjoyable and very different to what I have done before.

One of the best mystery writers I know is P D James and this month I re-read one of her books, The Murder Room. What could be a better location for a murder mystery than a rambling old museum devoted to real life murders that took place between the two world wars? Relics of old cases provide the gruesome exhibits. The three siblings who inherit the museum after the death of their father are divided in their opinions as to whether to keep the museum operating or close it down and take the proceeds. When the one with the casting vote is found burned to death in his sports car in the garage of the museum, it then becomes the crime scene in a real life murder investigation.

This book is a great example of how to write a story, especially a mystery. One could see the author planning the book in great detail before commencing to write. Characters pictured, images chosen and described – a separate page for each one – and the same with the locations - the plot carefully planned with sub plots outlined. It is a book written with almost mathematical precision to ensure that nothing is contradictory. Having said that, one warmed to the characters and both they and the plot were very believable. This is a book that is good to analysis for a beginning writer.

That’s all for now – see you next month.

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