When I invited author Sandra Dailey to be a guest on my blog I had no idea what she wanted to talk about, but as always, she is interesting, educational and insightful. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.
Mystery, Suspense, or some of each
Thanks so much for making room on your blog for me today, Marlow. I have a little something on my mind I wanted to discuss.
We all write romance, but often need something extra in our story. I like crime. There are several types of crime to write about; murder, kidnapping, burglary, etc… But, there’s one decision to make from the beginning – will it be a mystery or suspense. It amazes me how many people don’t know the difference between the two.
Yes, I’ve seen many people label a book without ever reading it, but I’ve also seen reviewers and book sellers, people you trust for accurate information, get this wrong. It’s a thing you’d expect any true reader to know. Am I right?
For me it boils down to the question – Is it a ‘who-done-it’ or a ‘what’s-going to happen’?
I’ll use two great books as an example ~
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane:
In this book Jimmy Marcus, an ex-con, is determined to find out who killed his daughter. Sean Devine, his former friend, is the detective in charge of the case. The third member in their childhood trio, Dave Boyle, is one of the suspects. Both wonder if the crime may be related to an incident that tore their friendship apart twenty-five years earlier. However, the murder could have been committed by someone connected to the daughter or a complete stranger. We have to find out who-done-it. It’s a mystery.
Misery by Steven King:
Here we have a bestselling novelist, Paul Sheldon, who has suffered serious injuries after an accident. He finds himself at the mercy of Annie Wilkes, his number-one fan. She’s determined to use any torture necessary to make him write the next book in his popular series her way. And, she’s not letting him go until he does. Scary for us writers, I must say. But, we know who the villain is. What we don’t know is ‘what’s going to happen’ to poor Paul. Suspense.
When I wrote Common Enemy, it was clearly suspense. You know from the beginning that the villain is Bobby Ray Butler, the ex-husband. What you don’t know is how much damage he’ll do to the hero, heroine and public at large before he’s caught.
I wrote Close Enemy with the intention of making it suspense as well. Bogdan Petrov is determined to use any means necessary to get what he wants from my heroine, Leah Fletcher. What he doesn’t count on is the protective nature of my hero, Caleb McCrae. Not far into the book, I decided that Petrov needed more of a challenge. Soon, while he stalks Leah, he discovers he has a stalker of his own. Who could it be and how are they doing it? Now, we also have a mystery. Wow, two for the price of one!
Here’s my question: