We All Need a Little Mystery
A good friend of mine writes cozy mysteries, and when she first started reading my fantasies (novels, not the other kind) she remarked that she’d never be able to make up an entire world like I did. I found it incredible that she could write in the “real world” and not have the luxury of making stuff up when she needed it. Two totally different writers approaching their stories from two totally different perspectives, but what we both agreed on, was that all stories need a sense of wonder. Without mystery, stories just weren’t any fun.
I’ll read just about any genre out there, but I’ve always been drawn to science fiction and fantasy when I write. I think it’s the wonder that draws me in. Not only do I get to follow the plot mystery (how will this turn out?), but I get to create a world with its own mysteries and complexities. Every time I turn a corner, something new and amazing has to be figured out.
How do these people make a living? How did this culture evolve? Where did this magic come from? When did these problems begin? Each world-building exercise is a mystery to be solved for me, and figuring out that mystery is as much fun as writing the actual story. But it doesn’t just end with what I write. These are also questions that fill my mind as I read or watch a story, regardless of what genre.
Any time a story can surprise me it’s a win. Surprising a writer is hard work, because we plot all the time and can usually spot a twist coming a mile away. But when it happens, it’s such a thrill, and I enjoy the story all the more because it took me someplace new and unexpected. It’s the little joys I remember.
Better still, is when you’re not sure how all the pieces fit together, but you start figuring the plot out and seeing the truth under the misdirection. You have to know what happens next because you need to know if you’re right. Were you smart enough to solve those puzzles? Were you really one step ahead or did they fool you, too? Figuring out the twist of a movie to TV show before my husband is a major victory at my house, and one I revel in when it happens.
It’s even better when it happens in my own work.
I outline my novels, but I never plan how my characters are going to achieve the goals I’ve set for them. It would spoil the mystery to know how they were going to solve this delicious puzzle I’ve concocted. I write myself into corners (not recommended unless you enjoy a challenge and a bit of hair ripping) and put my characters into situations that take me days to find a way out of. The moment when the solution comes to me is one of the best in world.
Because I’ve solved the mystery.
And with luck, my readers will wonder what on earth can happen next because that’s what I felt as I was writing it. If I had no clue how to get out of things, it should be just as unpredictable for my readers. Maintaining that sense of wonder keeps the wonder going. It keeps the mystery alive.
And who doesn’t love a good mystery?
Blue Fire Blurb
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.
Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.
Janice Hardy Bio
A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.
Link to Blue Fire Online Retailers
The Other Side of the Story Blog
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 1:30 AM