Pennames Lia Farrell and Lyn Farrell
Plausibility and Feedback
One of the major issues faced by novelists, and particularly mystery writers, is plausibility. Everything in your story from your characters, to your dialogue, to the technical details of the plot must be plausible. In my mind, this is one of the most important reasons to join writing groups and critique groups. Other readers’ reactions can immediately tell you whether or not a scene or a character is plausible. Like Jiminy Cricket, readers can tell when you are telling selling wild improbable tales.
When you have the privilege of reading your material to the members of a writing group, one of the common things they will say is, “I don’t get it. Why is she doing this? Why did he say that?” This is the point where most authors, even experienced writers, get their backs up. A given scene, or piece of dialogue invariably seems credible to the person who wrote it, so it’s natural to feel defensive, but try to consider the speaker’s point of view. One of the rules for writing groups that works well is to prevent the author from commenting on his/her work until all the members of the group have had their say. Then the author can react. This pause gives the writer time to remember-feedback is always helpful.
I recently read part of a chapter from “The Blind Split” to my writing group. In the reading, my detective, Wayne Nichols, is entering a deserted house in the dark. Because the mafia has been suspected of abducting a woman and child, he is armed. The members of my writing group are mostly older, well-educated white women. One of them said she hated guns and didn’t want to hear anything about weapons in the story. I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from saying, “For goodness sakes, the Detective is in law enforcement! Of course he has a gun.” However, when I re-wrote the chapter I removed some of the description of the type of weapon and simply said he had come armed.
Perhaps the most important way of achieving plausibility in your story is doing your research. There are two ways of doing this. One way is to have someone you can consult who is an expert in the field. I am fortunate to have an emergency room physician in my family and he is the person I always consult on medical details. In addition to his broad knowledge of medicine, he has made a sub-specialty of testifying as an expert witness. I have another person in my extended family, who is a police officer. Early in his career, he was a narc and so is able to help with confidential informants, drug usage and jurisdiction, just to name a few issues. One of my dearest friends is a clinical psychologist and has been enormously helpful with such issues as sibling rivalry, grief, and abuse.
The second way of doing your research is by reading or consulting the internet. The Net is the quickest way to find information, but you have to be careful. Some of the stuff on the Net is just plain wrong! I like Wikipedia, although I am careful to consult other sources about a given topic because anyone can contribute to articles on Wikipedia. I also like government sites. These were especially helpful in writing “The Blind Split.” The book takes place in 2020 and I felt it was unethical not to deal with the pandemic. The State Health Department sites were terrific sources of data.
Bottom line: if you are writing a novel of a mystery, keep in mind that it is NOT a Memoir. Your own experiences are not enough. Don’t hide your head in the sand! Remember what Grandma said, “You have two ears and only one mouth,” so listen more than talk, do your research, and keep writing!
The Blind Switch (A Rosedale Investigations Mystery)
by Lyn Farrell
About The Blind Switch
The Blind Switch (A Rosedale Investigations Mystery)
1st in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (January 12, 2021)
Paperback: 230 pages
Digital ASIN: B08QBH2BHH
The first book in the Rosedale Investigations series finds Wayne Nichols, our doggedly determined Detective, and his sassy and irreverent partner, Dory Clarkson, starting new jobs as private investigators. Their first client, Cara Summerfield, comes with what appears to be a missing person’s case. Cara got pregnant in high school and baby Danny was adopted. Her husband, Grant, an up-and-coming politician has never been told about the pregnancy. Their only clue is an unreadable return address on a letter sent to Cara from Danny’s girlfriend. Danny is now a racehorse trainer and has been assaulted for non-payment of gambling debts. Cara charges Rosedale Investigations to find Danny and keep his existence completely confidential. When Danny is found, he’s in the ICU and not expected to live. When he passes away, it appears to the pathologist to be natural causes, but Detective Nichols doesn’t buy it. It looks like murder to him.
About Lyn Farrell
Lynda J. Farquhar (penname Lyn Farrell) holds a master’s degree in English and a Ph.D. in Higher Education/Administration from Michigan State University. Prior to her retirement from MSU, she was a professor in the College of Human Medicine where she worked for 30+ years. When she retired, she returned to her first love, writing, and self-published a YA Trilogy, “Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom.” Subsequently, she and her daughter, Lisa Fitzsimmons, wrote a 7-book mystery series, “The Mae December Mysteries,” published by Camel Press under their joint penname, Lia Farrell. Marketing efforts for the Mae December mysteries, as well as much work by Camel on subsidiary rights, deal with Harlequin, have resulted in sales of 22,000+ (to date) for the series. She is now writing a new mystery series, “Rosedale Investigations.” The first is titled, “The Blind Switch” and was released in January 2021.
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