Saturday, 9 March 2013

Musings on Crime Drama and a little more...

Sometimes I have to wonder at how cynical about TV plots I have become. I just saw about 30 seconds of an ep of New Tricks (not something I watch regularly), but within that time, I picked the villain and the plot device used by him to get away with his crime. It's a combination of recognising actors, since TV casting directors are rarely original, and spotting the drop-in plot points that are the hints of what is going on.

Rizzoli and Isles is another one where I can usually pick the villain on first sight, and that one's just to do with plot devices, since most of the bit-part actors are unknown to me. CSI too, although this week it was the actor who gave it away, he was the only famous face among the extras and he normally plays low-lifes ;P.

I think I must watch far too many crime dramas, but they're one of my favourite types of TV show and there are still some that can keep me wondering. Lewis was one (it's a pity that it's finished for good, I loved that show and I can watch them over and over again, they don't get boring, even when I do know who did it). It's the same with Agatha Christie. I own all the Joan Hickson Miss Marples, and the ITV Agatha Christie's Marple, and I often give them an airing. The characters are just so well honed and interesting, it doesn't matter that I can quote the script :). I also like David Suchet as Poirot, although there are some of those I can give a miss (his version of Murder on the Orient Express is a travesty both to the character of Poirot and to the tone of the original book). I don't own them on DVD yet, because I'm waiting for him to finish filming all of them and then I'll buy the set - there are only a few to go, including Poirot's last case, which I have never seen filmed.

I've only written one crime drama, Sacrifice of An Angel, and it has given me appreciation for the skill of authors like Agatha Christie. She must have had a mind like a razor to keep everything straight and know when and where to drop in clues and glimpses of character. Tash and I had to plan Sacrifice very carefully, and even then, sometimes we had to rethink what clues we would drop into the story and when. It's really difficult to balance giving the reader a chance to work out who did what while not giving too much away. To be honest, when you're looking from inside the plot outwards, as the writer, it is very, very difficult to judge. I'd be happy if folks told me they had a pretty good idea who 'done it' by 2/3 of the way through the book, but they couldn't be sure - then I'd think I'd done my job.

Certainly, like any type of writing, mysteries take practice and soon, I shall be getting some more. A little later than I wanted to, due to halving my writing time by getting a half-time job and needing to finish the sequel to Death In The Family first, I and Tash will be starting on the sequel to Sacrifice, where Theo and Remy launch into another investigation whilst dealing with the fallout from Francis' death. We have the book outlined, but we're going to need to sit down together to work through it again, since it's been a good year since we developed the outline. It's a very different challenge working with a writing partner, even if she is my twin; I find I have to be much more disciplined about the whole thing, but since I am having to be stricter with myself and my time planning due to working as a project manager as well, I hope the routine of writing with Tash will help.

First though, Heritage is Deadly 2 needs finishing, and I'm glad I walked away from it for a while, because I knew it was missing something, or rather I was missing something when writing it, and, with a little reread of #1, I've actually made note of some points that will make it a much more gripping read and progress some of the plot points from #1 more fully than the current draft does. That will have to wait until Tuesday, though, since tomorrow is Mothering Sunday, so Tash and I are cooking lunch for the family and it'll be a day with my mama, and Monday is a full day of work due to time commitments of the project manager I'm taking over from at university.

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