Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Investigator


Shifting gears this week! Looking through the list of topics I wrote down for the A-Z Blogging Challenge Saturday, I felt a bit underwhelmed. Nothing jumped out at me, and my inspiration decided to take the day off when I went to write. While I read through the thousands of blogs I came across two posts discussing different aspects of writing: character and genre. The bloggers opened my eyes to problems my novel faced.

My weak grasp on fiction writing left me with a tremendous amount of revision and rewriting once I finished my WIP. Most of my experience came from writing nonfiction, and character development proved harder than expected. So, I took the easy way out, basing the main character, Lexi, on me. Once I finished, I realized personality dictates action (lack of action in my case), and all my characters felt two-dimensional. The blogger I read subjected her character to a personality test. Brilliant! But before I could do so, I needed to connect Lexi to the mystery genre and determine her character type.

Thinking about my genre and how my novel fit into the category made it clear to me I needed to do more research. Of course, I read enough mysteries to keep authors in business, but I needed to take a more in-depth look at my genre. What better way then to use the specific topics related to my novel for the rest of the challenge?

So…today’s post discusses investigators.

A mystery novel focuses on a character investigating a crime, an Investigator. An author can employ three different types of investigators: police detective, private investigator and an amateur sleuth. Two characters from my novel fall into one of these categories: Lexi Andrews (amateur) and Detective Roberts (police). Now, I need a better understanding of what kind of person takes on the role of an investigator so I can describe their actions to create a three-dimensional character.

Number One: An investigator looks for information, asks questions and analyzes information in an attempt to connect the evidence and clues to uncover facts to help them solve a crime or a puzzle. Their curiosity and need to test assumptions puts them in danger because the villain will stop at nothing to hide the truth. An investigator will possess these characteristics with everything they do in their life, not just the crime at hand. 

Number Two: An investigator’s spends a tremendous amount of time in their head, rearranging the clues until they fit, leading them to the answer. They spend time, in varying degrees, isolated from others. On the lower end of the spectrum, an investigator will spend time alone long enough to put their thoughts together and create theories. An investigator  in the middle of the spectrum lashes out at people as a result of their poor communication skills from extended periods of isolation. On the higher end of the spectrum, an investigator's isolation can lead to self-destructive behavior and even suicide. 

Now, with this information I can better develop the Lexi and Detective Roberts, especially their behavioral characteristics. Where does each one land on the isolation spectrum? Then, I can take them through a personality test, hopefully, creating more round and realistic characters. I can’t wait to make the changes in the novel. 

How are you doing with idea generation? 


Áine Tierney said...

There is so much to learn. I'm trying to knock a first draft into shape, for me,used to writing shorter pieces, the difficulty is in learning to handle something so large and unwieldy as a novel. Best of luck with your WIP and the A-Z.

Josh Hoyt said...

Great post and intriguing. I find that as I set at the computer and listen to my music thoughts just come in and Im able to type as fast as they come. I do wonder often what I will write before sitting down. I also look at things around me and imagine what would happen or what could happen.

Michael Offutt said...

You should make Lexi's last name "Con". I think that'd be really funny.

Amy Brantley said...

Great post. Ideas can be tricky. Sometimes they hit me out of the blue and other times I sit here scratching my head for what seems like hours.

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