January 13th, 2012


Making Mysteries Magical

If I'm really, really good and don't have any major distractions this afternoon, I might actually finish this draft of The Book That Would Not Die, and this might actually be the nearly final draft, aside from another round of proofreading to make sure all the changes flow together and then maybe some revisions after I give it to some beta readers. I only have about 30 pages left, but then these are the 30 pages that are the wall I seem to hit every time, where I can't quite get the book to end the right way. I think the changes I've made in this round will help an ending come together, and this morning when I was doing my awake-but-not-up daydreaming I think I came up with the solution to part of my problem.

Unfortunately, it seems when the writing is going well, everything else falls by the wayside. I totally stalled on the organizing project. I think part of it was I hit a task I wasn't very motivated to do, in addition to being more focused on the writing. I may put that task back in the jar, then pick something else and move on. I'm bad about starting with great enthusiasm and then stalling out, but this time I'm going to just pick myself up and get started again. At least I've maintained what I've already done.

It turns out I was right that the book I was reading would be one where I was left wanting to see what happened next for the characters. It still may not be my absolute ideal, but it is a paranormal mystery where I may be somewhat hooked on the series because of wanting to see where it goes from here.

However, now I'm curious as to just how paranormal you can get with these things. Most of them seem to be in the realm of "paranormal" rather than going all the way into fantasy. The paranormal element mostly seems to involve the heroine having some level of psychic ability. There's the one where she's a full-on psychic who can read things about people's past and future, but most of them seem to have a very specific, limited skill, like the ability to get information from certain kinds of objects or the ability to find lost things. A lot of them have the ability to communicate with or at least hear ghosts -- in fact, that often comes along with the other specific skill. There is one series about a woman recruited and helped by angels to right wrongs. The closest we get to magic seems to be "new age"-style witches, who mostly have the general psychic abilities and intuition that come with the psychic characters in addition to talking about herbs and throwing in the occasional "goddess" reference.

Though some of this may be a selection bias, as I started my reading list based on books that were in the "people who bought this also bought these" list for my books on Amazon and then branched out from there via lists with those books. That might weed out the vampire detectives and stuff like that. A bookstore visit may be in order to really peruse the available titles.

The trick seems to be to give it enough "other" to make it paranormal without it being enough power to make solving the mystery too easy. The idea I have has a lot more worldbuilding than I've seen so far, where a lot of the paranormal element is inherent in the setting and makes it more difficult to gather viable evidence of a sort that will hold up in court. Most of the mysteries I've seen are about using paranormal abilities to solve ordinary crimes, but what I've been thinking of is paranormal abilities being used to commit crimes, and the sleuths having to work around that to solve them and bring the perpetrators to justice. The fact that it is weird means the cops may have to rely on the civilian sleuth (who may or may not also have abilities) to help work around that while the cops stick with due process. I wonder if that would fly.

But first, I must finish the current book. And then it's a good TV weekend. We've got new Grimm tonight, new Once Upon a Time and the next installment of Downton Abbey.