Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Help! Help!

I'm at the end of my rope. I mean that literally. I might end up hanging a character.

It's that time in the writing of the third book of my new Miniature Mystery series when my crime-solving protagonist, Geraldine, needs a threat to her life. What can I use that I or a dozen other traditional mystery writers haven't already worked to death, so to speak.

A note under her windshield? Slashed tires? A vandalized apartment? A dead animal on her doorstep? A tailgating SUV on a windy mountain road? Her brake lines cut?

Done, done, done.

And there's that final confrontation scene between Geraldine and the killer. Geraldine is not going to die; we know that. Not in this subgenre. But that doesn't relieve me of the obligation to make the scene suspenseful.

Where should the scene take place? In an underground parking garage? (No, no, don't go there alone at night!) In her own home? (No, no, don't switch on the lights and stand in front of the window!) In a deserted office building after hours? (No, no, don't refuse the security guard's offer of an escort!) On a jogging trail in the park? (No, no, --- see "underground parking garage"!)

After ten books, it's hard to come up with something fresh. I think my personal best for a confrontation scene was at a hazardous waste pit, which fit the story very well. That's the ideal, to have the last scene the likely outcome of the story.

I can't help wondering what readers think of these devices. It's certainly worth an ARC and a set my books to the person who comes up something I can use next time around. Any ideas?


Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I just walked past my miniature crime scene. What if someone mails her a miniature crime scene with a death certificate that's got her name on it?

Not very active, though. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

I have a couple of ideas for you - things that have happened to me that were very scary. May I email them to you, please?

Thank you, Allison

Camille Minichino said...

Love that Joanna, goes beyond the CSI thread. Book four here we come!

And Allison, please do email me.

Anonymous said...

Good questions; I'm sure they'll reap good results - if not now, down the road. I like the death certificate idea - great for a morgue scene. Where have I seen something similar? xoxoxoxo

Kathryn Lilley said...

Okay, it's very early in the morning, so this is probably a silly idea--what if the person who is interested in miniatures loves to visit a "Story Land"-type miniature ride at an amusement park, or a miniaturized exhibition at a park or some such place, and the final confrontation takes place there? It would be fun to see the bad guy and your protagonist brawling their way through tiny villages, miniature Matterhorns, etc. (grin).

Camille Minichino said...

Wow, that's great Kathryn. Though it pains me to see miniatures flying every which way, I think it would make an excellent scene.
Now I hope everyone forgets where the ideas on this page really came from so I'll get credit when I use them!

Monica Ferris said...

Oh, Kathryn, what a wonderful scene that would make! Terrific idea! OTOH, Camille's pain at wrecking a gorgeous miniature layout is real. Too real to use? Maybe it should be saved and used as a motive. The reader thinks the fight that destroyed the layout is the motive, when it's the pain of the creator that brings a death penalty.

Kathryn Lilley said...

That's even better, Monica! It takes a village to write a confrontation scene, lol!

Camille Minichino said...

I finished the scenes, and therefore the first draft of book three ... and I can honestly say I used all your ideas in one way or another
You are the best ...

Anonymous said...

Cut her brake lines! Its not done enough anymore, especially in mysteries on tv!