Go to Homepage   Carolyn Wheat: How to Write Killer Fiction


Crescent Blues Book ViewsPerseverance Press (Trade Paperback), ISBN 1880284626

Every writer wants to pen a novel. Amid all of the studious, non-fiction treatises, the scholarly journals, the lowbrow service magazines, and the reams of corporate documents, the novel stands out as Real Literature. To see one's name on something on the New and Noteworthy table at Barnes and Noble -- that's making it in literary America. It takes more hubris than most writers can muster to embark upon the Great American Novel, but the mystery genre offers hope of an accessible format in which to break into book length print.

Book: Carolyn Wheat, how to write killer fiction
Carolyn Wheat's How to Write Killer Fiction provides the tentative novelist with a blueprint. She draws a distinction between the genres of mystery (think Miss Marple) and suspense (think John Grisham); and painstakingly details the plot elements and story structure inherent in each. Wheat explains exactly when in the story things should get bad, when they should get worse, and how to pull off a slam bang ending just when things look hopeless. With references to numerous well-known or classical mystery authors and special props to Ellery Queen, Wheat reveals the secrets of constructing a baffling whodunnit. Paying homage to mythologist Joseph Campbell, she relates the hero's journey to the suspense plot, clearly demonstrating the path always and necessarily taken by our favorite death-defying protagonists.

The shelves of your local bookstore contain many works in sub-genres of mystery (cozy, historical, police procedural, and more), and an equal number of suspense sub-genres (romantic suspense, spy fiction, techno-thriller, legal thriller, and so on). Wheat delineates the common factors among these book types and relates them all to the basic four-arc story structure. Endings get a chapter of their own, and Wheat breaks them down into categories. The writer can mix and match plot elements, choose their favorite type of ending, and then customize it to fit their characters.

Wheat includes a nuts and bolts discussion of the writing process for the beginner. To outline or to "blank page," that is the question. Creating a scene receives extensive consideration, and Wheat caters to both outliners and blank pagers by giving suggestions and tools for each writing style.

How to Write Killer Fiction ends with a step-by-step guide to finding an agent or publisher. Invaluable in its simplicity, the epilogue cleared up a number of questions for this budding novelist. Wheat's popular Cass Jameson mystery series testifies to the success of her methods. Pick up How to Write Killer Fiction and become inspired to commit murder on paper, and get it published.

Jodi Forschmiedt

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