Day 1: MDC3 Con: Creatures, Crimes & Creativity Conference

Friday, September 30, 2016 — At the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, Columbia, MD

Website: http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/

PANEL: Writing Outside the Box: Crossing Genre Lines to Tell Your Story

Panelists: Dana King (moderator), Bruce Kingsolver and Sandra Webster

Sandra’s salient points:

  • Write for the art of writing, OR write for the business of writing — you cannot do both and do them well
  • She ignores “genres.”  She allows others to put the genre(s) to her books (after the books are written).  Instead (of writing to market), she strives to tell a story that pulls you in, and the story she wants to write.
  • Question from audience: If she sees an opportunity to add a genre trope to the story will she go with it?  Yes, she will if it will not take away from the story.  She will do it, if possible, in order give that particular group of readers what they are expecting.
  • Some people write their endings first and then write the rest of the book

Bruce’s salient points:

  • When you cross genre, you can do anything you want.  But, there are certain tropes you must have, within the book, if you claim that genre.  If you miss a trope of that genre (you claim) it’s unforgivable.
  • He analyzes his work and will decide its genre after reviewing what’s in the book (after it has been written).  If the tropes of a specific genre are not there, or not strong enough, he will refrain from using that genre category in his marketing efforts.
  • Question about where do writers get ideas from.  Ideas are not the problem.  It’s the implementation and the expression of the idea that is the issue.
  • Question about how to keep a story moving throughout the middle.  He remembers a quote but cannot recall who said it, “In the middle, make sure no one has time to sit down.”

Dana’s salient points:

  • He does a simple chart of the book and writes a sentence for each chapter of the book.  Then, when he sits down to write, he knows what has to happen for the chapter — but doe not know how it will all come to pass.  He has to write it to find out.
  • Ideas are everywhere.  We trip over ideas, but which one will we write.  And, more importantly, which idea(s) do we have the expertise to write?

PANEL: Mysterys – Noir, Cozy, Police Procedural, Detective, etc.  What makes them so different?

mdc3con_mystery-panel_9-30-2016

Panelists: Allan Ansorge (moderator), Dana King, Donna Andrews and Millie Mack

Donna’s salient points:

  • In complete battle with the term “cozy”; her books do not contain recipes, nor tips on a craft.  She feels that a sub-genre has colored the entire term and therefore, many expect organizational tips, recipes, and step-by-step how-to’s within a book in the genre “cozy”.  She feels this expectation should not be the case.
  • Any subject can be used (within a story/genre) if you handle it properly.  She had pornography in her first cozy book but she did not tell the reader about the images seen.  She instead described the character’s reactions to what she was seeing on the computer screen — multiple screens popping open, the character’s facial expressions, etc.
  • Definition/distinction — Mystery: Is a Whodunit and then solve it.  Thriller: Something bag is going to happen but what, and where will this bad thing happen is unknown.  This is what the hero must figure out.
  • Show your detective character and how they can assist cops in seeing what the cops cannot/will not see

Dana’s salient points:

  • Writes hard-boiled cop procedurals
  • A typical police procedural = Barney Miller
  • A typical classic mystery = Agatha Christie
  • An awesome line of detective mystery are the Mickey Spillane books [Mike Hammer]
  • Current forensics are currently changing constantly. It’s always being upgraded.  So, if you write about a specific forensics test in your book, by the time it’s published it could be out of date and no longer utilized.  This is why his books are set in a small town with limited forensic resources.
  • 90% of the crimes that take place today are solved by cops talking to people; not by forensics.
  • Forensics rarely solves a case; forensics come more into play for the court case if the results come back in time.
  • DNA testing results take 16 – 18 months to come back, if it comes back at all.
  • Important to take note of: In most states, there are no medical qualifications are necessary to become a coroner.  A coroner is an appointed position.  So it becomes very difficult to label a murder, a murder, if the coroner doesn’t say it is.  There’s no leverage for anyone to say, do an autopsy because the corner has no medical knowledge!
  • The biggest asset to cops in the solving of cases is TIME and the changes wrought in the people involved in the cases.  In cold cases, a man now with a daughter approaching the age of a girl murdered, may have a change of heart and spill his guts about his doubts/observations of what he knows of xyz during the time(s) in question.  Thereby giving the detective new pieces to add to the puzzle of the long cold case possibly enough to solve it.

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