Thinkin’ on Thursday: How can it be a mystery if you know who the killer is?

As easy as A, B, C . . . from HA (Yes, HA, not BB… he can think, too, ya know.)

In the first couple of minutes of “Motive“, a summer replacement show, we are introduced to the two main characters: the killer and the victim. It even identifies them with a tag under their still shot.

An interesting, if bizarre way of presenting things.

I bring it because John Sanford’s Prey novels start out in much the same manner. Both killer and intended victims are introduced in the first few pages, as well as the killer’s methods and attitudes.

This got me to thinking: neither of these venues lose any of their suspense or tension. The big question is: if it’s a “mystery” with no mystery, how does it draw us in? By building characters. We get inside not only the good guy’s thoughts, but the bad guy’s as well. Welcome to the world of some truly evil bad guys in some of these.

Characters are what make good reading and good crime procedural dramas.

As you write, be aware of your characters; your readers certainly will be. Are they three dimensional? Do they have genuine feelings which fit their personalities? Do they do anything out of character that can’t be explained? Readers will pick up on inconsistencies.

It’s important that you know your characters. Understand the antagonist doesn’t, necessarily, think of himself/herself as a bad person but as someone who believes what s/he is doing will be for the betterment of mankind. Or s/he is just bat-crap crazy. Your call, but keep it consistent.

See you next time for Spellbinder Saturday.

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