Monday, April 4, 2011

Do You See A Mystery?

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How do you interrupt the world around you? Can you tell who is a mystery lover and who isn’t just by talking to them?

Your first thought is probably, ‘of course not.’ But think about it a minute and you may change your mind.

I know if you talk to an author, you can quickly tell whether or not they write mysteries if you’re talking about writing. But what if you’re talking about life in general or nothing in particular?

I think this is where the writer and the reader can be a lot alike. Mystery lovers (authors and readers) tend to look at the world slightly different from other. We can’t help ourselves. We can image a mystery about almost everything.

Here’s an example: An elderly-looking man sits on a park bench everyday feeding the ducks. No one ever stops and talks with him. A young co-ed jogs by him each day never seeing him. She listens to her iPod and plans how she’ll spend the trust fund she’ll soon inherit. A few days later, the co-ed isn’t jogging through the park and the ducks are going hungry as there’s no one feeding them.

Non-mystery lovers may read this and think the young co-ed is off spending her trust fund and the elderly man is either sick or has died.

But, if you’re a mystery lover what do you read it as? Was the co-ed kidnapped for her money? Did the elderly man do it? Was he really an elderly man? Was he a former lover she ran away with? Did she just take off to get away from her family who would want her money? Was the old man hiding from the mob and they finally found him?

Do you have as many questions about this as I do? Share your version of the story with us.

* This post was inspired by the Little Things Mean A Lot post by the talented author/blogger Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.... Be sure to check out Margot’s post and blog. You won’t be disappointed.

Now what’s your take on the co-ed and the elderly man? Do you agree mystery lovers see a mystery everywhere we look?


  1. I absolutely think that the mystery reader and writer share a way of looking at the world.'s just not there with folks who don't read them.

    I had lunch with a friend a few months ago and she mentioned another friend who was having major issues with someone. "Sounds like a good motive for murder!" I said. My friend just looked at me like I'd lost my mind... :)

  2. Mason - First, thanks so much for mentioning my blog and post :-). That's awfully kind of you!!

    And I agree, mystery fans and writers do think in a unique way. Now, my take on the missing jogger and old man sitting on the park bench? The jogger saw a murder being committed, and the killer noticed her. The elderly man saw the killer take the jogger away, and is now afraid to go back to that place. Instead, he's going to tell the police about it...

  3. Like you, I see mysteries everywhere. I laughed at Elizabeth's comment because I see mysteries and motives everywhere.

    In your example, both your characters could be undercover officers. I doubt the old man was really an old man, but he could have been there for good or bad. Lots of possibilities.

  4. Elizabeth, your comment made a laugh. That would be the typical reaction from a mystery reader (writer). You can't help but see motives and mysteries.

    Margot, you're welcome. I always enjoy dropping by your blog. I find such wonderful information. You had a different take on the jogger I hadn't thought of.

    Carol, like your different take on the characters too. To me that's the fun part. Our imaginations can go in so many different directions with mysteries.

  5. I think you're right. Mystery writers will see mystery everywhere. Me, not so much.

  6. I love Margot's blog!

    Hmm, as for the man on the bench, he took her (Suzy) into the woods and strangled her. They'll eventually find her body and they'll eventually find him. However, he'll not talk because he's dead. He shot himself because he's in the last months of his fight with lung cancer. He regrets having to give up his serial killing days but eventually even Jack the Rippers get old. Suzy was his last conquest! (copyright pending ;))

  7. I agree. As a writer, I definitely use real-life situations as a springboard for my stories. I see something, or experience an event, and the questions that I ask of it can so open a book ...

  8. How about this...The girl's trust fund was set up by her grandfather but included a clause by which the trust could be revoked if the granddaughter failed a few simple tests of character. The old man was a friend of the grandfather, a test of the girl's compassion toward the elderly. She failed. The old gentleman went home and the girl, sans trust fund, had to get a job.

  9. YES, we do!

    She thought she was going to inherit the money - until it dawned on her the old man was her uncle who went AWOL many years ago. She drowned him in the duck pond, and now she has to stay clear of the park.

    One of my latest flash fiction stories practically wrote itself when I moved some firewood in our shed and found an old glove beneath it.

  10. My first thought was conspiracy. Something happened in the park one and to cover it up the bad guys up snatch all the people in the park.

  11. I know I do. When I see someone or an incident, I wonder how it came to be.

  12. I can usually tell what someone writes by talking to them. I can also usually tell if someone writes at all by talking to them. There was one kid who came to one of my book signings and I knew he was a writer from the first sentence out of my life. When I asked him about his writing he denied it because he was afraid to be thought of as a geek. I told him it was ok to deny it to me, but he should never deny who he is to himself.



I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.