Monday, October 18, 2010

Whodunit?

A few days ago I finished reading A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. I recommended it to a friend who promptly asked, Did you figure out who dunit?
Answer? Yes. I did.

For some mystery lovers it’s important to maintain the element of surprise. They really get annoyed if they figure out the perpetrator of the crime before the final moments in the book. Trust me; I’ve got the emailed fan mail to prove it LOL!

When I write a mystery, I personally don’t even know who committed the crime until I’m at least ¾ of the way through the first draft. It’s in the 2nd draft that I go back and weave clues, drop in red herrings and make sure the perpetrator is true to the story. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to truly pull one over on avid mystery fans. Let’s face it, it’s going to end up being one of the characters within the book itself so that alone narrows down the search considerably. It’s not like we’re looking for a murderer within a city wide population of possibilities.

Okay, so I did figure out the criminal in Field of Darkness early on but it didn’t dieter me one iota from my enjoyment of the story. For me, the journey an author weaves in the telling of any tale is more important than the end revelation. I thrive in the little nuggets of storytelling along the way and, in this case, found Cornelia’s literary bend mixed with humor to be something to be savored.

So, how about you? Do you get ticked off if you know in advance who dunit?

8 comments:

Dru said...

I love figuring out who the killer is and seeing if my guess is true when I get to the end.

Tori Lennox said...

I love playing detective but I don't like figuring out whodunit TOO early in the book.

Wendy Roberts said...

Dru & Tori, I'm glad you're both mystery fans :)

Alayna Raquelle said...

I hate figuring out who did it really early (like when they're first introduced), but if it's a good story, I'll read it and probably like it anyway. I've also found that paranormal mysteries are a bit harder for me to figure out as fast. I love that about them!

Cornelia Read said...

I didn't know whodunit until I was about halfway through writing it. In the first draft I thought it was going to be about neo-Nazis, but then got pretty near the end and that was ridiculous. I did kind of think the murderer was going to be Egon for a while but then it just wasn't. My sister figured everyone would know who it was from the get go, but I kept saying "but I TOLD you who it was going to be, so it's not like you actually figured it out..."

But basically I think it was about Madeline not wanting to believe, and how she fools herself until it's almost too late...

Thank you for writing about it, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it even though you figured it out!

Wendy Roberts said...

Alayna, yes, with paranormal you really are adding another dimension :)

Cornelia, I love how you told Madeline's story! It really was about her and her journey. I'm sooo looking forward to Invisible Boy! I was doing a signing at Seattle Mystery Bookshop when Fran told me I just HAD to read your stuff and, like usual, she was right! Thanks for dropping by.

B.E. Sanderson said...

If the whodunit is really obvious, sometimes I get mad, but even then, if the writing is good, I want to see the MC figuring it out. =o) What I really hate is never knowing whodunit - like the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Dickens. Of course, Charles gets a pass because he died before he wrote the end, but seriously, never knowing is awful.

Wendy Roberts said...

Oh B.E. it's been a looong time since I thought about Dickens' Edwin Drood! You're right...you need an ending! Although, certainly, everything doesn't need to be tied up in a bow.