Friday, July 31, 2009

Murder Hunt

No, Big Brother, you can go elsewhere. My murders are fictional. I'm not hunting for real victims, I'm in search of ideas.

The hunt for good ideas is never-ending. I have all kinds of rough general ideas. Fleshing them out into something that a reader will like--and believe--is something else again.

Today I've been searching through the archives of the NY Times. (I think they could use a better search engine, but it's still a wonderful source.) Arsenic was a common cause of poisoning in the 20s and 30s, partly because it was so prevalent in pesticides sold over the counter. That's something I already knew, thanks to our huge collection of vintage magazines and the collection of mystery books cluttering up my house, but it is drawn from real life happenings.

How-to is something else. I start writing, and my characters want to ramble on, but I have to give them something reasonably intelligent to say, or I'm just wasting time and cyber ink.

Working on this has confirmed my appreciation of Helene Hanff's writings. In one she talks about her difficulty with play writing, saying, "I specialized in plotless charm." and she also mentions that for the most part, she had little appreciation for non-fiction. (It's not "I was there", as she put it.)

I like fiction. Not the "best sellers", as a rule, but I love mysteries and authors like Jane Austen and E.M. Forster.

I only hope that the idea of me coming up with a viable plot and characters doesn't fall under the heading of "fiction" too.

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