This week: Mystery of Romantic PersuasionEdited by: Kate of House Targaryen
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All that I see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
Edgar Alan Poe
A mystery is an answer in search of a question; knowing what's been done and journey to discovering the how and why of it. It deals with something unknown to the reader, which the writer reveals in bits and pieces with both subtle and overt clues, drawing the reader into the puzzle. Welcome to this week's edition of the WDC Mystery Newletter, where we enter and explore the puzzle for ourselves and our readers.
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Any woman can fool a man if she wants to
and if he's in love with her.
Greetings, fellow weavers and un-ravellers of puzzles.
Consider today the similarities in a mystery and a romance ~
In a mystery, intrigue and tension is crafted of interwoven facts, miscues, heightened suspense and action. In a romance, the love story is woven step by step on emotions, needs, doubts and personalities.
A romantic mystery blends the two. There's a mystery, a puzzle that needs to be solved, clues uncovered and resolved to release the mounting tension or alleviate a growing danger. There's also an internal tension among two or more of the characters that needs to be resolved in order to release the emotional and internal tension. See the similarity? T
The mystery draws characters into the puzzle who, while finding and solving external clues and resolving red herrings uncover and explore the rising tension of personal and emotional bonds and mis-cues as they also are brought to resolution.
In a romantic mystery, there's first an unknown that needs to be solved, a puzzle, consisting of a crime or danger that must be resolved while a romantic relationship is either revealed or develops in the act of solving the mystery puzzle. The tension is both external and internal, interacting to effect the believable and satisfying resolution of the mystery and the increasing depth of the interpersonal relationship. We uncover and solve clues both external (the crime or external danger) and interpersonal (among and between the characters).
Blending a bit of romance with a mystery is as versatile as the mystery genre itself. Consider the hint of romance in the classic puzzles crafted by Agatha Christie. Wilkie Collins crafted the hunt for the Moonstone with internal and interpersonal puzzles. Dashiell Hammett, master of the noir detective, showed Sam Spade falling for the mystery woman he later spurns in the Maltese Falcon. Fast forward in time to Carol Kilgore, whose novels and short stories are foremost mysteries, but interwoven with overt or subtle romantic puzzles. And on the softer side, check out Nancy Picard's mysteries.
Now, add another element that brings the romantic mystery to the present, and perhaps future. Yes, the internet. We show our true, or illusory, selves, on the web, and it is worldwide, maybe even seen on some far distant galaxy - but that's for another exploration. Most of the folks on the web are decent honest folk, but there are some who conceal their true intentions, that they might prey on unsuspecting honest folk. Consider the 'spam' emails asking for help to emigrate, or to secure funds in a lost account and, yes, even those that say you've won a lottery prize you've never entered in another country, all you have to do to secure the funds is send a little money for the transfer. Check out PJ Tracy's Monkeewrench for an internet-based puzzler.
Although each of these schemes, and others we as writers can concoct, can and do lead to some intriguing puzzlers, the most nefarious are the online romantic interchanges. Just Google online dating, and you'll see a plethora of potential 'connections' offering romance, connection, interchange, up to and including life partnering and marriage. Then think about a news story you heard or read of a 'black widow' or 'lothario' who created an identity and used it to create mayhem (or worse) for an unsuspecting person via an initial on-line encounter.
How did these people get to 'know' each other? Were they both creating illusions? What did they want? How did they get together? What brought them to the keyboard to search for affection, or did they each want something else? There are so many twists available in this maze of the web. Did they play each other false? What drives them to engage each other, what clues or herrings do they offer to lead or mislead each other?
The two puzzles are interwoven, with revealing details drawing the reader into the puzzle and the 'lives' of the characters on their journey to solve the why and how of the mystery and the why and how of each other's need to solve said mystery.
Most romantic mysteries are written in third-person, affording the reader an opportunity to explore the multiple images and impressions of the characters as they uncover and resolve clues both external and intrinsic to themselves.
The characters' reactions to the clues, and to each other's reaction to both finding and solving the clues, are part of the story/poem's essence and the atmosphere that creates the ebb and flow of tension in the unfolding mystery.
Each piece of the puzzle interlinks and, as it is uncovered and set in place, it affects the puzzle as a whole. At each new stage of the puzzle, the bonds of relationship grow either closer or farther apart as they draw from and build upon discovery. Your readers also get more involved in the story and want to solve the mystery and understand the characters and their reasons for pursuing the quest, perhaps forging a common bond (relationship(s)) or not - it's your puzzle!
Now, fellow writers, I know you're ready for some good reads as you each
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Kate of House Targaryen
Check out these creative puzzles that engage with a twist (or illusion) the mind and heart of the characters, and reader
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Engage the muse creative and weave a mystery, a puzzle of illusory romance and mayhem. Why not, something different for your
Until we next meet,
on the highways and byways of the web,
Kate of House Targaryen
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