My short story Grieving in Reverse is featured in the new book Walk Hand and Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective.
This paperback is filled with macabre mysteries inspired by the existential themes of the first season of True Detective and the work of gothic literature that inspired it: Robert W. Chambers The King in Yellow.
My contribution to this collection is a modern noir with a dash of cosmic horror. It’s about a private eye who’s hired to look into the apparent suicide of a script reader. He learns the terrifying truth about a screenplay that drives anyone who reads it to madness. I dare you to read it. Continue reading Walk Hand and Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective
How the Lost School of Storytelling Blurred the Line Between Intriguing and Confusing
I love writing mysteries with vast casts, layered subplots, and dozens of twists. My favorite mysteries contain elements of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. They’re the everything and the kitchen sink approach to storytelling. The TV show Lost inspired much of my love, and apprehension, for this facet of the mystery genre.
Lost has taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do when writing mysteries. It featured emotionally involving character arcs with themes like regret, the wages of sin, and crisises of faith. It set up intriguing plot lines about psychological manipulation, international conspiracies, and time travel. Lost successfully followed through on its character arcs, but fell short of bringing its plot lines to completion. Continue reading How to Make Sure Your Mystery is Satisfying
The Case Against Editing as You Go
When I first started writing I scrutinized every paragraph the moment after typing. I counted the syllables so I could adjust for rhythm and flow. I checked my metaphors to see if they mixed wrong, I ran every verb through the thesaurus, and I dialed all my hyperboles back.
By the end of the day my word count hovered around the same number I’d started at. Sometimes it was in the negative. My effort to fine tune the perfect page kept me from finishing my stories. Continue reading How to Fix Your Story Without Going Back to the Drawing Board
An author tries to solve a mystery from inside the pitch of his own story.
My story’s pitch starts in the parking lot. The lot is empty apart from a lone convertible, a rusty old stepladder, and a thick layer of slush from last night’s snow.
The convertible is a classic, fully restored to its original mint green. Too bad someone thought to wheel it out in this nasty weather. The fenders are caked with black slush. There’s an awful mess in the interior. The windshield does little to hide the line of cocaine on the dashboard. There’s nothing but powder from the wheel to the glovebox. It looks like last night’s blizzard happened on the upholstery. A log sits on the passenger seat, too small for a support beam, too large for kindling. It leans forward. Its bark is nose deep in the fresh fallen blow.
I pace around the vehicle and wonder why the log was staged to look like it overdosed. This is the weirdest damn crime scene that I’ve ever seen. What business does a log have with such an epic line? Then it occurs to me. This is a terrible pun. It’s a “log-line.” Every pitch has got one.
A logline is the main idea sentence of a story’s pitch. It’s the bait that get’s the audience on the hook. I must have staged this mobile drug den to remind myself to lead with my logline. Continue reading The Memory Palace Mystery
At first, it was hard to find your watch. It had wandered off the end table and fallen into a pile of laundry. Then it was buried in the sock drawer. A week later, you found it tucked beneath a lamp shade wrapped around the light bulb.
You’d type your story into all hours of the night, look to your wrist and see only skin. Your hero traversed the ends of his world by the time you thought to check the clock on the monitor. It was frozen at twelve. You stumbled through a forum that said something about resetting “LOCATIONS SERVICES.” You gave up about three steps in. You said you would get around to it once you’d capped off the chapter. Continue reading Self-Sabotage