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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Mistakes Mystery Writers Make

alt text at the Blood and Tea mystery writers' conference, L-R D.E. Johnson, Aaron Stander, Elizabeth Buzzelli, Lev Raphael (photo by jhy)

There was lots to take in and think about at the recent Blood and Tea mystery writers' conference in Ludington. Four Michigan mystery writers led workshops, and participated in two panel discussions.

The writers were D.E. Johnson, Aaron Stander, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, and Lev Raphael, seen left to right in the picture.

The conference was nearly over by the time this discussion was held, and we'd all become friends, so there was a fair amount of joking and teasing going on.

But, when things settled down, here are the mistakes these successful mystery writers noted:

D.E. Johnson- If you want to make money (as opposed to writing for yourself out of a need to do so), you have to pay attention to the market, and know what is selling.

Aaron Stander- Not being careful about details. If there is too much suspension of disbelief it will stop the reader cold. Make sure that you haven't said something totally ridiculous.

Elizabeth Buzzelli- Not having the courage to confront a major dramatic scene. Don't avoid including a good conflict where one naturally seems to fit.

Lev Raphael- In mysteries, deaths often don't have enough emotional impact on the protagonist or other characters, or just expressing the impact in cliches (they throw up).

Over the next few days, I'll try to share some of the other things from workshops that had an impact on me. It won't be comprehensive. Most of my notes are focused on things that caught my attention, rather than an overview or class-notes as if there were going to be a test.

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