Monday, November 17, 2008

It's called fiction for a reason

Vicki offering congratulations to Donis for that nice review. I, on the other hand, just got the worst review I’ve received in all my career. And from a big review source as well, so everyone will see it. Oh, well, I know you can’t let one person’s opinion get you down, but to make matters worse they gave away the entire plot right to the climax and let what supposed to be sort of a secret until about three-quarters of the way through out of the bag.

Let’s change the subject, shall we?

I read somewhere that studies show that the more TV people watch, the more likely they are to be fearful of crime and to think that crime is worse than it is. This might explain why, although crime rates in Canada, including murder, have gone steadily down since the 1970s, many people think the rate is up, considerably, and politicians ride that ‘get tough on crime’ bandwagon all the way to the polls.
Which is apropos of nothing, except that I read the police report for Prince Edward County, Ontario, where I live, which is published in the local paper. This is a weekly paper, so I assume the report is for the week. Here is the sum total of the report:

1. A couple of parked cars broken into in the downtown

2. Police observed a man attacking a parking meter and gave chase but the man got away

3. A man reported that someone stole 2 18 litre bottles of water off his front step. He saw the thief put the water into his car (the thief’s car, not the water-owner’s) and phoned police. The thief was arrested and charged.

4. Several cars hit deer on the road and police are warning people to drive with care, particularly at night.

And that’s it.

Kinda thin fodder for the crime writer, isn’t it? And so we must embellish. If Molly Smith was answering the call about the water bottles, she’d find evidence of a kidnapped child being confined in the cellar or a observe a dog digging up the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

Are we, as mystery writers, making our living (as miserable as that may be) by exploiting crime? Crime happens, even in Prince Edward County (which had its first murder in 20 years a few weeks ago, so all is not completely rosy here). A good crime novel, IMHO, isn’t really about the crime, it’s about people and how people act in a time of great trauma.

It’s called fiction for a reason.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all."

Mark Twain

Vicki Delany said...

Thank you, anon, for that reminder.

NL Gassert said...

Individually the happenings around town don’t sound like much, but what if the same person broke into those cars, accosted the parking meter and stole the water? That’s the makings on an international conspiracy. Clearly, it’s something environmental, which is why the local deer population is spooked.

Vicki Delany said...

The makings of a real thriller!

Charles benoit said...

One of the first reviews I got for Relative Danger panned the shit out of it- didn't give away the plot as much as telling people there was no plot to give away. RD went on to be nominated for the Edgar. May the same happen to you