Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting Involved

Niki is such a different character from Bo. One of the big differences is that Bo's hired to do her investigations. In the NaNo novel I'm writing with Niki as the star, she's dragged into the investigation because it very much involves her. After this, I'm giong to have get more creative in how to put Niki on the case. How do writers keep the amatuer sleuth involved in all sorts of dangerous, harrowing investigations, without ending up like Jessica Fletcher. (Now if she ever showed up on my town, I'd be heading North, and fast!)

I suppose I could run through Niki's friends and family for investigations. Ora friend of a friend needs help. I'm interested in keeping Niki around for a while. But I worry about how many times Niki can get involved in some sort of mystery without it seeming cliched.

Any ideas for how to involve the amatuer sleuth in different sorts of cases without it seeming just a little to coicidental that she's involved *again*?


James Bennett said...

Involving amateur sleuths in ongoing investigations is a problem that has faced the Call of Cthulhu gaming community for quite a while now. (Call of Cthulhu being a game of horror detective stories, even more unlikely to be sought out again once the "personal case" is finished.)

Its become a cliche to have one uncle or grandparent after another drop off and leave the poor character a pack of trouble and some unpaid utility bills, but there have been some excellent ideas to come out of the community.

My personal favorite is proposed by Trail of Cthulhu: Drives. The amateur really shouldn't keep getting involved...but something in them drives them toward. It could be an insatiable curiousity, an urge for adventure, a sort of spiritual catharsis, etc. Now, tying this personal drive into paying detective work is a little harder, particularly in a non-scifi/horror reality.

Nevertheless, most of the suggestions in this thread could be applied to an amateur detective, if you wanted to keep her in the running.

sandra seamans said...

Don't know if you've caught Mystery Woman on the Hallmark Channel but the lead character inherited a mystery book store where all sorts of things happen, her best friend is the DA so she has access to information about the cases and her partner in the store is an ex-cia guy who has "friends" and the sheriff hates when she sticks her nose in his business. It's a nice mix so it never seems too odd when she bumps up against a crime. And that's probably the hardest trick of amateur sleuths, combining the right ingredients to make it seem plausible. Also, all crimes don't have to involve a dead body. Everyday people are apt to run into a robbery, a scam, some kind of cover-up. Sometimes we mystery writers tend to get hung up on putting dead bodies in books.