Friday, March 20, 2015

Mystery readers: how much violence, blood & sex do you want?

So tell me, mystery readers, does everyone want blood and gore, gunplay, sex, and multiple slayings, and serial car chases and crashes in EVERY mystery novel? Or, is that what constitutes a thriller? My personal preference these days, James Bond being a prime exception, is fewer of these devices rather than more. I am thinking here or John le CarrĂ©’s books, Robert B. Parker’s Jess Stone series, or Stuart Woods’ Stone Barrington novels. Sure, there is some violence and danger but not throughout the stories.

I am working with a character who is an aging investigative reporter. He is not inclined to be in non-stop physical danger. In fact, as he unravels mysteries (murders), he does it as a reporter would, and reporters plod through hunches, documents, and interviews to get to the story. My challenge is to make each story element intriguing enough to keep the reader turning pages. I also try to impart a little bit of information about the underlying theme, not too much though. There are elements of danger in each story, but strategically placed – not every other chapter.

I know many readers like the adrenaline charged story elements, but a number of readers I have spoken to say they get tired of it. I get tired of it too. So I write stories I would like to read – not necessarily the “write to your market” approach heaped on you at most writers conferences and let-me-tell-you-how-to-write-your-bestseller websites. I think if there is anything I want to do with future books is make them shorter. They seem to be ending up around 90,000-95,000 words. My first draft goals are always 75,000.

As a mystery reader, what are your thoughts on this issue? I would really like to know. Email me any old time you see this posting. or