Daily Archives: March 26, 2012

Murder Mystery

With a murder mystery, you have to know the end first. You have to know who did it, why they did it, how they tried to cover it up, who they are scared will find out, and what their plans are for the future.

This is why I will never be a murder mystery writer. you have to plan. You have to be meticulous. You have to drop clues that aren’t obvious on first reading but totally obvious on second reading.

One time I wrote a murder mystery. It was an accident. A big fat accident and when I was done I thought to myself, no way in a million years would that have happened if it wasn’t an accident.

So what are your murder mystery tips? Do you write out an outline? Get a feel for the characters first? Start with the dead body and branch out from there? Do character sketches?

You have very few words to do a lot a lot of work.

In other news, I have started eating dates stuffed with pecans. I am scared I am approaching old age. Also, I am horrible at Zumba.

I think that is all.


Filed under Project Writeway

And This Week We Have Mette!

Our judge the week is Mette Ivie Harrison, one of my most favorite people.
Mette and I used to be in the same writer’s group many years ago, and I have NEVER seen anyone work harder than she did then. It just so happens that she still works hard. She a fast writer and an inventive writer. Her first novel, THE MONSTER IN ME, brought me to tears. It wasn’t long after the publication of TMIM, Mette started publishing her own original fairy tales and working on retellings. We’re lucky enough to have her at the conference this year (www.wifyr.com) where she will be the expert in fairy tale retellings, science fiction and fantasy writing.

Here’s her bio.
Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of THE MONSTER IN ME (2002, Holiday House), MIRA, MIRROR (2004, Viking), THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND (2007, HarperEos), THE PRINCESS AND THE BEAR (2009, HarperEos), THE PRINCESS AND THE SNOWBIRD (HarperTeen 2010) and TRIS AND IZZIE (Egmont, Octover 2011). She is a competitive triathlete who has completed 3 Ironmans, multiple marathons and ultramarathons, is nationally ranked “Honorable Mention” in her age group, and who was invited to the National Championships for the Olympic Distance in 2011. Mette also has a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University (1995) where she wrote about male and female Bildungsromane in the 18th century and conceptions of gender during that time period. She taught German for some years at Brigham Young University, but in 1997, turned to writing full-time. She has five children (four of them teens) and lives in Layton, Utah where airplanes are always overhead, interrupting phone calls and just about everything but writing trances. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, quilting, and is learning to play the piano as an adult. She also loves Dr. Who, JMW Turner, Amish quilts, chocolate, visiting London, and Jane Austen everything. Her website is http://www.metteivieharrison.com. You can also find her as “metteharrison” on twitter, facebook, tumblr, and livejournal.

Here’s what she says about retellings . . .
I have written fairy tale retellings like Mira, Mirror, which began as a challenge to write an entire novel from the viewpoint of an inanimate object, tricky since the mirror can’t move. It also is about what happens before and after the Snow White fairy tale, and Snow White never appears in the story. So my idea of a fairy tale retelling can be stretched quite a bit. My book The Princess and the Hound began as a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and morphed into Beauty and the Beast, which is probably the most common fairy tale retold. I think that all writers are, in the end, retelling one story or another. Some admit it and some don’t. The book that will come out next in 2013 is The Rose Throne, and is a retelling of the story of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I, but with magic. And I’m working on a book that is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a male sleeping beauty.

And now, the writer one step closer to winning . . .

Winner: Storyteller!!! 

In my tree high above the forest floor, a fluff of snow drifts through the barren branches and settles on my hand, soft as a swan’s feather, cold as loneliness.
I sew and wish I was playing at hide-and-seek with my brothers.
They would count. I would run until my breath tore at my chest, then climb a tree until the branches were no thicker than my finger. With my cheek pressed against the rough bark, I waited to hear their song.
“Six brothers catch little sister.”
I would shriek when a brother climbed and caught my ankle.
“Did you see me? How long did it take? Let’s play again,” I said as my brothers covered their ears.
If only I could sing now.
Cold drives through the branches I’ve lodged as a roof between the limbs. The slanted floor is a shingle from the robber’s den where I found my brothers before they flew away.
I huddle over my precious shirts.
Ice bites at my neck, burning with its cold cruelty.
If I could laugh, I would repeat my brothers’ joke.
“Why did the swan cross the road?”
“To peck off your head.”
That was a good one. I keep the laugh in my belly.
If I could speak, I would count aloud my stitches. Three shirts are done. Half of what is needed to free all my brothers. Half plus the ultimate sacrifice for a chatty sister.
I stitch the seven petals using Poppa’s reel of thread. With the end knotted, the blood-red stitches transform to the pure white of the star flower.
A limb whips across my back and flies away.
Where do my brothers fly? Surely they do not miss my chatter.
Chase never said, “Stop talking.”
He found me in a tree where I’d fallen asleep, my legs swinging off a limb.
“Are you all right?”
I shrieked, a high piercing pitch with a drop like the scream of an eagle.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said.
I didn’t know what he would or would not do.
He waited below and whistled, mimicking my scream. I stayed until my legs and bottom were numb. As I descended, my gown caught on a jagged limb and tore.
“I’m Chase.” The young man stood and bowed.
“Your dress is torn.”
“It is.”
“You don’t say much.”
My laugh burst out of my mouth.
After that, when I hid from my brothers, I whistled and if Chase answered back, we met and talked until I heard my brothers’ song.
If only I could laugh now.
Hiss. Crack. Roar. Wind flies down in a fury and seizes the shirts. I snatch at a sleeve, a collar. One flies over my shelter.
I can’t lose it. A shirt takes an entire year to sew. I stuff the two shirts, star flowers, and reel into my bodice.
With one foot, I search for a foot hold. I hear a whistle: high and sustained with a drop.
I must not answer.
I slip, my bodice catching on a twig. The last two shirts fall out.
I clutch at the tree.
“I hope this is not all you were wearing.”
I must not speak.
“Anice? Is that you? You know I won’t hurt you.”
The reel of thread bruises my chest. Of course. A way to stay silent.
I pull myself back onto the floor of my shelter and with shaking fingers, thread the needle. I pierce my flesh. The bottom lip. Then the top. The stitches disappear as I tie the knot at the corner of my mouth.
I descend.

Mette’s comments:
This is a subjective choice, of course, but I liked the simplicity of the language and the lyricism. There was a sense of rhythm and poetry in it. It was a traditional retelling, which I actually tend to expect more from because if it doesn’t twist, I really want the language to make it worth my while to read. But this one lived up to that.

The writer who moves to the Play at Home side: Ladybird Grimm
NOTE–There is NO IMMUNITY for the rest of the contest!



Imagine this is the opening of your ‘book,’ the start, and that means we need to find out what will set up the entire novel.

In mystery, most times, it’s good to know the end before the beginning. We don’t expect that since we are allowing only 750 words. But we do want to know what is at stake, who is involved and what the risks are. To make it a little harder, 250 of your words must show–or set up– the murder. Give us a few moments in the murderer’s head. The next 500 words should be the beginning of the novel when we meet the main character and see what s/he is all about and learn what s/he wants in life and get a sense of who is who and what is what.

Don’t forget RULES:
Use a new name, but don’t tell anyone that name until after the judging is over.
The contest closes at five (5) pm on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

Remember, the old standards–You may vote for two (2) people.
Judging will be on Thursday and Friday and will close at midnight.

Next week will be our final challenge. We will have three writers left and, just like in Project Runway Allstars, much will be required. So do your best, Everyone.

Speaking of Project Runway Allstars–My star did not win. 😦


Filed under Uncategorized