Tag Archives: detective

May of Mystery is Back: A Month of Mystery Posts

Hello Writer Bees,

Exciting news! May of Mystery is coming back to the blog!

For all the new readers, allow me to explain.  

Every year, I dedicate the entire month of May to all things detective fiction. I call it May of Mystery. Each post will have a mystery theme to them. This includes the Prompts of the Week too. Perhaps you will be inspired to write your own murder mystery. Truly, I’m just looking forward to shining a spotlight on fictional whodunits.

How well did your inner sleuth solve the cases in these books? | Detective  books, Detective gif, Book series

Interested in reading some previous May of Mystery posts? Check out these articles below.

I genuinely do love this genre. Foggy, cobblestone streets. Sleuths searching for clues. The big reveal at the end. What’s not to love? And I know I’m not the only one who likes to cuddle up with a cozy mystery from time to time.

After all, my WIP novel is a 1920’s murder mystery for a reason. There’s a part of my brain designated for crime scenes and clues only. Maybe I’ll share some of my experience writing a mystery, or an excerpt from my WIP, if you guys are interested. Which reminds me….

Calling All Mystery Fans and Amateur Sleuths!

While I do have some ideas in mind, I want to hear from you guys. What do you want to know about mystery writing? What interests you about detective fiction as a genre? Since I’m writing a mystery, is there anything you want to know about my experience? Now’s the time to ask! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on my Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.

Dust off your magnifying glass and put on your detective caps, ’cause writer bees, we have a mystery on our hands.


Hope you all are staying safe and staying creative. Keep writing and enjoying the springtime weather.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

How and When to Cut Unnecessary Characters From Your WIP

Hello writer bees!

Today, I’m sharing some tips on removing unnecessary characters from the narrative. No, I’m not talking about killing off a character, I’m talking about not giving life to begin with. While you are in the drafting phase, know that some fictional folks don’t always make it into the finished product. And that’s fine. How do you know a character is useless? When do you “kill your darlings”, as they say? Let’s figure that out together, shall we?

everything is trash, except for these books!; 9.26.18

My Personal Experience

This dilemma has actually happened to me before. Hopefully, you can learn something from my personal experience as a writer.

A couple months back, I decided to remove one of my suspects from my murder mystery WIP. I thought about it for quite sometime. He wasn’t a poorly constructed character, far from it. However, I realized, the story could survive without him, that his presence wouldn’t be missed if he was gone. And that was a problem. If Also, part of the reason I kept him around was because I wanted five suspects total. Bad idea. Now, I realize four suspects is enough. And perhaps this rejected suspect idea can be reused in another story someday. You never know.

A bit of change had to be done. For consistency sake, scenes needed to be rearranged and edited, plot threads knitted together. Relationships between characters shifted a smidge. An aspect of their nature transferred to another character, adding complexity to their personality. Very quickly, I learned an existing character could do the work of an unnecessary character. Because I removed this suspect, I feel like my story is much stronger without him than with him. I believe like I made the right decision.

Function over Beauty

At the end of the day, every character needs a function. Why is this character in the story? What purpose do they serve? What role do they play? How do they move the plot along? If you can’t answer these simple questions, that’s a real problem. Try to put each character under the microscope and really consider what function they serve in the grand scheme of the story. Then, you can start weeding out the undesirables and letting the true stars of the show shine. And listen, just because one character doesn’t fit one narrative, that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle that character idea in another story. Maybe they’ll be a better fit somewhere else instead. Save ’em for the sequel, I say.

Plot Hole in One

No matter how useless the character, when you do decided to remove them, there will be an empty space. And you don’t want your reader to know or notice a missing piece in the narrative. Think of it like hiding a hole in the wall by putting a picture frame over it, if that makes sense. Be certain all plot holes are covered and tied up any loose threads. That all the relationships and personalities of the existing characters are solid. It might take some rewriting, but don’t be afraid of a little extra drafting. The end result may be even better after these rewrites.

No Tropes Welcomed

Look, frankly speaking, I don’t think “trope-free literature” is a thing. Don’t be surprised if you find a cliché or two in your work. Keep in mind, too many tropes and clichés will drag the narrative down into total boredom. If the character is considered an overused stereotype, they probably fall in the “cut” category. Insist on keeping this extra character? Okay. Trust in your instinct as a writer. Nothing a little reworking can’t fix. Be creative and original and break the mold of a trope. Flush out a character’s personality and motivation, giving their real depth and complexity.


Bottom line, every character needs a function. No one wants dead weight in their story. Really consider what purpose a character holds in your narrative. Weed out unoriginal characters. And if you do decide to remove the character, the changes should make the plot stronger.

Have you ever had to cut a character from your story? Are you considering it? Talk about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep writing and stay safe, writer bees.

— Lady Jabberwocky

Celebrating 600 Followers – Excerpt from Mystery WIP

Hello Writer Bees!

It looks like I’ve reached 600 Followers on WordPress! What a great present!

Thank you for all of your kindness and support. Every sweet comment makes me smile. Between my new job, preparing for the holidays, writing a novel and updating this blog, I’ve been juggling a lot lately. Knowing I have such wonderful readers out there keeps me afloat.

So, to celebrate this milestone, I’m doing something I rarely do. I’m sharing an excerpt from my WIP, as terrifying as that sounds. Usually, I don’t like others reading my unfinished drafts, but tis the season for exceptions. You’ve all been so lovely to me, I wanted to share a piece of my NaNoWriMo project with you all. Be gentle, I’m still drafting. Enjoy!


 This is my story just as much as it is his story. Fifty-fifty. And I’m going to tell it to you straight.

If he didn’t have his morning paper and cup of coffee by eight o’clock sharp, then he claimed to have a headache for the rest of the day. This meant that I too would have a headache for the rest of the day.

As I left our shoebox apartments, a brick of humidity hit me square in the chest. The Summer of 1924 was unbearably hot. A gift, perhaps, to make up for the blizzard filled Winter we had. Sure, I could go on and on about the smell of rotten garbage and livestock sweat, but I’ll spare you from that cruel and unusual punishment. 

Welcome to Brooklyn. More specifically, Coney Island. Even more specifically, Mermaid avenue. You will find the irony in this street name later on. Trust me. 

You know, some fools out there think that the streets here are paved with gold. That opportunity is dripping out of leaky faucets. Some will even cross oceans just to touch their nose to the sidewalk. What a bunch of suckers.

Forget about those glossy postcards, dispensing pictures of an unspoiled city. Of course, you’ve got those classic landmarks swarmed by tourists, like Central park, Empire State building, that place on Houston street that sells the best bagels. Don’t be too impressed. Let me tell you about the real monuments, the kind I strolled through every morning. We got monuments not found in brochures.  Those are the ones you should be looking at. 

Like the guy who digs through garbage cans named Mister Thumbs.  No one knows his real name. Everyone calls him Mister Thumbs. Each day, he smiles at passers by and jabs his thumb to the sky, happy as a clam. Rumor has it that he lives in a mansion.

Off Neptune street, a dewdropper fished for spare change. An exhausted mother, with raccoon eyes pushed a wailing bundle of colic in a carriage. And let’s not forget the string of Mrs. Popov’s unmentionables being hung in an alleyway. Those are the real genuine landmarks.  

My usual trek through the jungle wasn’t too complicated. Any fool with half a brain could follow the route. Cross Mermaid Avenue, pass the church, walk all the way to the hardware store. Jazz music  poured out of the windows overhead. Church bells clashed with a rebellious trumpet. I weaved through the bustle. You can’t help but find yourself marching to a beat. It’s an insistent, impatient cluster of bees settled under your rib cage. And if you stop, you get trampled over without a second thought. 

They call New York the great melting pot. And it is, really. But they never tell you what’s in the pot. What’s cooking for dinner? Ma called it a big stew, use whatever leftovers from last night’s supper that you’ve got. It will all taste fine, just the same. Gravy is gravy. 

You know, this may be the biggest city in the world, but there are these tight knit pockets no one ever hears about. Makeshift families of neighbors that relied on each other. Where everybody knows you, your mother, and those distant relatives. I always liked that about the city.  Every borough, every street is a home town. The patchwork of this quilt is top notch.


Hope you enjoyed this snippet from chapter one. That was my narrator, Oscar Fitzgerald, showing off his side of Brooklyn, 1924.

I’m opening the floor to you guys. What do you want to see more of on the blog? More on my personal experience as a writer? More creative writing tips? More short stories? Let me know in the comments. I’m really interested in what you all have to say.

Once again, thank you all for the support. Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky

NaNoWriMo 2020 (Week 4)

Hello everyone!

There’s only a few days left on National Novel Writing Month. We’re in the home stretch. Keep writing everyone, the finish line is in sight!

Sorry, this update will be short. Recently, I’ve been starting to get wrapped up with holiday preparations. I’m spending time with family and doing some Christmas shopping.

For those wondering, I had a small, relaxing thanksgiving with my family. We watched March of the Wooden Soldiers, our holiday tradition. It’s a classic Laurel and Hardy film. I cooked a dairy free meal and stayed in sweatpants all day. A lovely dinner, indeed.

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Onto my NaNoWriMo progress! Unfortunately, I haven’t written much this week. What with the holidays and all. I’m still hovering around 10,000 words, halfway to my goal. Although, I haven’t made much progress word count wise, I’ve gained a new perspective on my story. There’s been some tinkering with the outline and characters.

Suspects are developing and growing more complex. New scenes and setting are being added and explored. Clues in my mystery are being more thought out and carefully placed. Despite the word count total staying the same, my WIP has grown/evolved this month. And that, I will celebrate.

Also, I’m acknowledging my weaknesses as a writer. Setting and character descriptions don’t come easily to me. It’s something I’m actively working on. I’m trying to take the time to imagine something in vivid details. Man, this Nano experience is becoming a real eye opener for me, huh?

Still, I’m inspired to keep writing even after the end of November. NaNoWriMo in December anyone?


Thanks for stopping by this blog! I appreciate all the support and positive vibes. How’s your NaNoWriMo project going? Did you reach your goals? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you all.

Stay safe and keep writing

—- Lady Jabberwocky

NaNoWriMo 2020 – Week 3

Hello everyone,

We are on week three of National Novel Writing Month. How’s everyone hanging in there? Hope your projects are going well and your plans are on track.

I’m nearing the 10,000 word mark, which is halfway to my goal. I’ve been writing a little bit everyday, mostly during my lunch break at work, when I’m hiding in my cubicle. Will I reach 20,000 words by the end of the month? The pessimist in me says probably not. However, I’m writing and actually making good progress. For once, I don’t feel stuck in my WIP anymore. And that was my main goal for NaNoWriMo, to get unstuck with my story. Can you believe it? It took two slow weeks of writing to finally kick in to high gear.

Write Animated Gif

But I will admit, I fudged up a bit. Another goal for the month was to not delete anything I had written. And I did. Believe me, I had to. Those unnecessary junk words were getting in my way. It was like pulling weeds out of a garden. Still, I’m trying not to delete any more sentences, at least for the rest of November. December will be a complete slaughter of words when I start editing, I can assure you.  

Remember last week? When I told you guys I was having trouble figuring out a single clue in my murder mystery? The story needed a piece of evidence connecting a suspect to the victim. This missing puzzle piece had been bothering me for weeks. Well, I might’ve cracked the case, no pun intended. I’m in the middle of workshopping an idea for a clue that might be what I’m looking for, what my plot needs. Although, I’m not sure yet if this clue will make the final draft, I still want to test it out. NaNo is all about trying new things in writing, right?

Image result for light bulb moment gif | Funny reaction gifs,  Vulnerability, Creative process

I think opening up about my writer struggles to you guys opened up my brain to a sprig of inspiration. Good thing this blog is like the empty void I yell my writer frustrations into.  Creative endeavors are hard work. Us writer need to stick together and support one another. The writing community is absolutely amazing that way. So, thank you very much, my lovely readers, for all your kind words and support during NaNoWriMo. You really have no idea how much I appreciate your encouragement and sweetness.

For now, I’ll continue writing this murder mystery while preparing for the holidays. Sounds reasonable enough.


Talk to me in the comments. Let me know how your NaNoWriMo projects are going. And honest question, what frustrates you about writing? This empty void is big enough for everyone to yell into. As always, I love to hear from you writer bees. Best of luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo!

Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky

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NaNoWriMo 2020 (Week 2)

Hello everyone!

November is flying by. We’re almost at the halfway point for National Novel Writing Month. Hope everyone’s NaNoWriMo projects are going well.

Good news, I’ve been writing. Not much, but words had been added to my WIP. I’ve written a little over 5,000ish words total, which is about 25% of my NaNoWriMo goal. Actually, I’m taking my own advice and reading my old posts on building suspense in fiction. Surprised some of my writing tips are actually helpful. The inklings of new scenes have been introduced to the outline. Funny enough, I resurrected a scene from my original draft from years ago. I guess having 1,000 drafts comes in handy, now and then.

Since my WIP is set in the 1920s, I’ve hit some bumps in the road with historical accuracy this week. Which happens. Coincidently, It’s happened quite a bit this week. Three or four things I thought about incorporating into the story were not around in 1924. Bummer. Still, it keeps me on my toes, and it forces me to think outside the box. Sure, my MC can’t take his date to a “talkie”, but what else could they do for fun during the roaring 20’s? Drinks at a speakeasy, anyone?

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When writing “historical fiction”, continuity and accuracy with every little detail is critical. So, if talking films or televisions or flashlights were not created yet, it can’t be in the story. That’s why researching your setting is important. And you actually learn a tidbit of trivia along the way.

Down side to NaNoWriMo, writer’s block and self doubt returned at the beginning of this week. However, I’ve rebounded and am pushing through. I’m starting to worry I won’t reach my goal for the month. I wish I could write more words each day. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. All we have to do is keep writing. We must keep in mind that progress is progress, no matter how small.

Stay Positive Good Vibes GIF by Positively Present

Y’know, this blog is about sharing my honest experience as a writer while helping other writers. And lots of you have commented in the past about how hard writing a mystery must be. I’ve encountered this exact challenge this week. Frankly, one single clue in my murder mystery is holding up the entire operation. Snagged on a small detail. Can you believe that? Like a missing puzzle piece that’s driving me nuts.

Sometimes, a mystery story is a mystery to the author behind the mystery. Even I’m still untangling things with my outline. Mystery writing is all about balance, juggling clues and suspects is the trickiest part. How and when to present a clue to the audience is like a game. That’s why I’m using my time with NaNoWriMo to sort clues and suspects in the story.

Detective GIFs | Tenor

I’ll figure it out. I’ll keep on writing. Just cross your fingers for me, writer bees.


How’s your NaNoWriMo project going? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you all.

Stay safe and keep writing

—- Lady Jabberwocky

NaNoWriMo 2020 – A Slow Start (Week One)

Hello writer bees!

Hope everyone has had a productive start to National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been following a bunch of amazing writers on Twitter, reading their excerpts and praising their impressive word counts. Seriously, some of you are incredibly talented and really crushing November. Hats off to you folks. You are doing great!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a slow beginning to NaNoWriMo.

Of course I got super sick the first weekend of November. Of course I did. While everyone else got a jumpstart on writing, I was curled up with cramps all weekend. And then, when I started to feel better, the election happened. (And kept happening.)

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been a bundle of stress and anxiety for the past couple days. Between NaNo and this seemingly never-ending election alone, my brain is fried.

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However, I’m trying to make up for lost time. Writing during lunch breaks at work and after hours. I’ve added a few thousand to my overall wordcount. Maybe about 3,000 words this week? Not a big leap, but hey, progress is progress. Sticking with my untraditional goals, nothing has been deleted, no matter how badly I want to. Plus, that twinkle of motivation is returning to my work, which is what NaNoWriMo is all about, right?

Yes, It’s been a slow start for me. I have not given up yet. Slowly but surely, this WIP will get finished. Eventually. Shout out to my lovely boyfriend for being supportive and providing snacks during this crazy time. I plan to spend this weekend doing some writing sprints, boost my word count up and workshop some new ideas for scenes. That’s the hope anyway. Cross your fingers for me.

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To all those participating in National Novel Writing Month, best of luck in your writing endeavors. No matter how many words you write, celebrate every victory.

How is your NaNoWriMo journey going? What is your project? What are your goals for the month? And seriously, how are you feeling, you know, emotionally? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you.

Safe safe and keep writing, writer bees!

— Lady Jabberwocky

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Skeleton in the Closet (Mystery Short Story)

“You sure you’re sure about this one, boss? She just a sweet old lady.”

His wrinkled face pinched into a scowl as he glared at the muggy March sky. “Dreadful weather today.” He grumbled, fastening his coat. Cold and rainy, my mother would call this ‘soup weather’. Clutching the handle of his cane, he teetered down the pathway of the Madam’s estate.

Keeping with his turtle slow pace, I held an umbrella over both of our heads. “Are you even listening?”

“Of course.” Mister Barnaby assured me. I had worked with him long enough to know he was certainly not listening.

It was an awfully big house, far too ritzy for my taste. May as well live at the Plaza. Upon entering the sprawling mansion, a church mouse dressed as a maid met us at the door. Glancing behind her, she presented us with a simple key, the last piece of the puzzle. As we were led into the living room, I stuffed the skeleton key into my vest pocket.

“Detective Barnaby, come in. Come in!” A gracious greeting offered by the lady of the house. Mrs. Matilda Pierce, a well kept woman, with pristine makeup and not a hair out of place. Trust me, this broad didn’t look a day over 50. Perched by the fireplace, she sat in her antique rocking chair, wearing a dressing gown embroidered with orchids.

“Fiona, dear,” Mrs. Pierce beckoned for her timid maid. “Bring some more tea for the detective and his assistant.” The maid scurried off. After sipping her cup of tea, her lips curled “Did you find him?”

Three months Franklin Pierce had been missing. His shiny automobile still parked in the driveway. Most of his personal possessions were still in the home. And none of the staff members saw him leave either. An odd case, wouldn’t you say?

Tipping his tweed cap like a proper English gentleman, Mister Barnaby eased into the chair opposite her. “Unfortunately, your husband is still missing. We are still investigating. Your granddaughter is quite concerned, last we spoke to her.”

Her hand waved dismissingly. “Oh she worries too much. Franklin probably went on another fishing trip.”

“One of your maids said that you were arguing with you husband before his disappearance.”

“Couples have disagreements. Couples take breaks,” She patted my cheek like a long lost grandmother. “You’re young, sweetie. You will learn soon enough.”

“I see.” Mister Barnaby gave me a measured nod, a signal that meant ‘fetch, dog, fetch’. Oh, the joys of being a detective’s right hand man. I excused myself to go to the restroom, leaving my employer and the madam alone by the fire.


Last night, the detective lectured me on old homes with their various hiding places. How he suspected Mr. Pierce was still on the property, one way or another. How the maid promised to give us the skeleton key when we arrived tomorrow.

“Check behind every door, every closet.” Mister Barnaby instructed. “Mr. Pierce is still in that house.”


I searched anything that had a hinge. Cupboards with hidden compartments. Closets within closets. What kind of maniac built this house? Then, I checked a closet in one of the guestrooms. Behind fur coats and cardboard boxes of leftover Christmas decorations was a narrow wooden door. A secret passage, if you will. The door led to stairs, and the stairs led to a basement.

I found Franklin Pierce. Strangled to death and left to rot in a cement room under his home. A kiss of red lipstick stamped on his cheek. Early stages of decomposing. Poor fella had seen better days. When I returned to the detective’s side, Mrs. Pierce was reapplying her red lipstick in the mirror. And she began to laugh. “Oscar, darling, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“More like a skeleton in a closet, boss.” I muttered to Mister Barnaby, lighting a ciggy in my mouth. The mad madam continued to laugh.


To end May of Mystery, here’s a story based on a prompt of the week, featuring characters from my WIP, Detective Barnaby and his assistant Oscar. Enjoy!

– Lady Jabberwocky

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Writer On: May Writing Goals (Recap)

Hello Writer Bees!

Did I reach my writing goals for May? Keep reading to find out!


Writing Plans

  • Write mystery/detective themed blog posts for the entire month. – Done! I’ve had a blast writing posts dedicated to sleuths and murder mysteries this month. And you guys seem to be loving it too, which makes me so happy. Be sure to check out all the posts from May of Mystery right here!
  • Give characters from WIP some TLC. – You know, it’s interesting to see my characters evolve the more I write and flush them out. I asked myself, “How do I make these characters feel more realistic?” Characters should be well rounded, with strengths and flaws and personalities. This is something I keep in mind as I write.
  • Try to write a little bit everyday. – I’ve actually been writing more lately, taking advantage of our time on lockdown. Feel like creative juices are flowing again after a serious drought, and it’s beautiful.

Reading Goals

  • Choose a new book to read for lockdown. – Still looking through my TBR books. I’m in the mood to read a story with NYC vibes. Recommendations anyone?
  • Read more blog posts from other writers. – In an effort to support other writers during this time, I’ve read, liked and followed a bunch of new blogs recently. Seriously, you guys are posting some amazing content! Connecting with other creators in the blogging and writing community has kept me afloat.

How did your writing endeavors for the month go? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Get a Clue: The 3 Types of Evidence In Mysteries

Hello writer bugs!

What’s a whodunit without some hard hitting evidence? Clues in mysteries can lead the detective and the reader down either the right path or the wrong path. I’m breaking down the three types of clues a sleuth will find during their investigation.

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Physical Evidence

Probably the most likely of evidence, these are the tangible clues. The kind of evidence the detective can physically hold, feel and smell. And remember, this item can be planted to frame someone else.

Examples:

  • Forensic evidence – Hair, fingerprints, blood etc. If you are writing a historical mystery, research how detectives used science to solve cases during that time period. You’ll be surprised.
  • Personal items – This could be anything, from jewelry to hand written notes to photographs. Whatever the object, it connects the culprit to the scene of the crime or connects the killer to the victim.
  • Murder weapon – Possibly the most important piece of evidence in a case. A bloody knife or a smoking gun can tip the balance of any investigation. Really consider where the weapon is found. Was it found near the dead body or was it disposed of?

Thematic Evidence

Here’s where the creative in creative writing comes in. As writers, we often use subtle nuances as hints to the reader. Think about how the audience experiences the story, the surrounding atmosphere of a scene.

Examples:

  • Weather can set the vibe of a scene. Tense situations tend to happen during dark and stormy nights.
  • Villains, especially Femme Fatales, wear light colored clothing then gradually transitions to a darker appearance.
  • That “invisible” character that is just too quiet and too innocent. Like the shifty looking butler or maid ducking in the background. You know who I’m talking about.

Verbal Evidence

Sometimes, mysteries are simply a game of questions and answers. Not only is who said what important, but what is not being said too, meaning body language and social cues.

Examples:

  • Verbal – How do suspects answer the inspector’s questions? How do they talk about the victim or the crime itself? Consider the tone of their voice. Do they sound abrasive? Defensive? Anxious?
  • Secrets – Everyone has their secrets. Who is gossiping about who? What lies are being told? What happens when secrets get exposed?
  • Body language – This is the “show, don’t tell” rule comes into play. Instead of writing “He was acting nervous”, describe how the body moves when someone is nervous.

With all three types of clues mixed into the plot, you will definitely had one solid mystery on you hands. What’s your favorite detective story? Lemme know in the comments!

Keep writing and stay safe!

Lady Jabberwocky

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