Saturday, January 12, 2013

Not In My Story!

So - I am just sitting here on a cold and snowy Saturday watching a terrible Lifetime Channel movie and reminding myself of all the kinds of things I never want to see happen in the stories I write. Not only is there absolutely no police involvement or concern over the kidnapped child that started the story, a woman just ran through several hallways of a hospital that apparently was empty because no one saw her or the man who was chasing her with a giant black handgun and silencer who had just shot another man in a hallway. After moving down a few floors they finally run past an orderly folding towels who watches the man with the gun run by in silence and no one calls for help! No one finds the dead guy in the hall or the knocked out cop until the scared nurse manages to kill the bad guy and his body is discovered at the bottom of a flight of stairs. But by the time that has happened she has already stolen his keys, gun and cell phone (left her phone at the scene), ran through a parking garage, frantic and crying with a gun in her hand!, clicking his remote until she manages to find his car and makes it out before they find the dead guy with the scalpel in his shoulder. Really?? 

Who has ever been to a hospital where hall after hall are empty, rooms are empty, nursing stations are empty? Who in a hospital wouldn't notice a nurse crying and running for her life while the bad guy chases behind her with gun drawn and not done something about it?? I get that you want your heroine to be the one to confront and take down the bad guy because you want to show she's strong and capable BUT COME ON! Oh, and of course the cop is the bad guy...Those are really the kind of things I try avoid when I write. I have no intention of writing True Crime, I know my stories are fiction and I know that I push the envelope of reality sometimes just like everyone else who writes fiction does, but I don't want to write thinking my readers or my characters are stupid. That's how I feel when I watch scenes like that. Like the writer thinks were to dumb to put together that none of that would ever happen. Ever.

So watching all of this unfold and telling myself that this not only reminded me that this is all stuff I never want to see happen in any of my police drama stories, it also reminded me that I needed to do a book club blog! I have decided to blog book reviews for the next year of book club. Last night was a different kind of book club for me because the book we read was the not-yet-published book called The Myth Maker, which was written by me. My mom hosted the evening and even though crazy snow fall cancelled the trip for a few of the ladies we had a good turn out and one out-of-stater who Skyped in. I was a little more than giddy about the idea of getting feedback from a group of actual readers - even if I was related to half of them. If you haven't read the book you might not want to continue because whether or not any spoilers will be typed out is unknown yet.

It took me forever to write the small synopsis for the back of the book copy I had created for the ladies of the book club, so I'm going to use it here..."After eight years with the Metro Police Department, Kathryn Lang is enjoying her role as the new girl on the Violent Crimes Unit. Kat has almost mastered balancing life as a detective, the craziness of her close knit family and the growing expectations of her long-time boyfriend Nicky. But when a carefree dance teacher is murdered in her own home, Portland's newest detective is assigned to the biggest case of her career. Working with her partner and close friend, Bryan Ramirez, Kat finds herself with unwanted suspects, a growing body count, and clues that seem to only compound the mystery. After the case takes an urgent turn, can Kat and her team put together the pieces before it's too late?"

My goal was to make a police story with characters you wanted to read about, female leads who were comfortable being women and also with their career choices and men who were comfortable with them as women. I wanted to write a story that could portray an investigation in a real enough way without losing sight of the idea that it was still a story of fiction. I wanted people to not just like, but care about the people they were reading about. And I wanted to do all of this without any of the regular cliches that tend to be worked in over and over again from one detective novel to the next. I think I succeeded at least in that last bit by the fact that more than one person was surprised by the fact that SPOILER ALERT, neither the partner or the boyfriend were the bad guy and ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT, the little sister doesn't end up targeted as a victim. I figured long ago that that had been done enough.

People had some good recommendations on how to improve on the story - different things they think they would have liked to see - and some of those are definitely going to be added before I declare this first story done. I got an idea of where it worked and where things might be a little slow. I was elated to hear that at least some of the readers found themselves emotionally invested in the people they were reading about and were concerned about where the plot was taking them. Most importantly, people wanted to read more, which makes me more determined than ever to finish the second story.

I know that doesn't count too much as a "review" of the book - I don't know it's possible for me to actually write a review about what I've written. The next reviews will be more along those lines, starting with February's book - The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom. Gotta love Book Club!