Here's a little exercise, in keeping with my quest a few weeks ago. I was searching for a 15-word description of my new book, one which I could use at Malice Domestic at the end of April.
I think it's a valid task to try every now and then, particularly if you lose focus while writing. It helps to hone in on the most vital ingredients of that work. I'm going to challenge myself more regularly to find the one liners in my writing -- describing a character, a setting, the plot for starters.
That came to mind yesterday while reading the TV schedule for the upcoming week, something I like to do while enjoying an espresso Sunday mornings. I plan my TV week, such as it is. I have a few shows I enjoy watching and we seem to be getting close to season's end with some of them. Most often, the description doesn't clue me in to this, which is too bad because I can't always rely on my memory.
New Tricks, one of my favourites, is described as: "The team re-investigates the murder of an unidentified man." Okay, the 'unidentified man' is the clue here because what they do each week is re-investigate murders. While this week on Castle, "Martha and Castle are held hostage". Very specific.
Then I looked at Midsomer Murders. Tonight's description states, "A body is discovered in the cemetery". Aside from all the flip comments that brings to mind, I'm thinking...huh, sounds familiar. In fact, I think many shows have used that line.
Okay, how about Body of Proof on Tuesday -- "A lottery winner is found dead"? Now, I know I've seen that one...but which show was it on? Could this be the dreaded repeat?
This is the best one, for Republic of Doyle -- "Jake must investigate". Uh, I think that's what the entire series is about, isn't it? The same can be said for The Closer this week -- "The LAPD and the FBI investigate a case". As if that's not happened before!
I shouldn't pick on these examples. Actually, now that I think of it, I used to write the one-liners for our local newspaper as part of a summer reporting job in high school. I hope I was more creative...but somehow, I doubt it. That gives me something to aspire to these days -- short, catchy descriptions.
Like for this blog -- News, reviews and schmooze by and about Canadian mystery writers. I think that works!
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime