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:~: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 :~:

Keeping It Fresh

Monday, E talked about writing cops, which got me thinking about something that’s been niggling at me for a while now—keeping my work fresh. Fresh, I suppose, might not be the correct term. Unique would be more accurate.

Look at any RS book and what do you find? Cops. Whether that be city, county, state, federal, you find cops. It makes sense. Law enforcement is an inherent part of meaningful conflict and tension when we’re writing about murder, rape, drugs, assault, theft, conspiracy, etc

I suppose there doesn’t have to be a strong LE presence in such situations—Elisabeth does a fine job of creating suspense using these elements with no cop in sight.

For me, the cop always takes the lead, elbowing their way into the spotlight. Hence, I write a lot of cops.

To keep things fresh, I’ve stretched into different rolls for my cops—sheriff, F.B.I., C.I.A. (I know—C.I.A. aren’t really cops, but you know what I mean.) I also do tweak my characters to make the story unique—or at least I try.

One of my detectives is a people reader. He has the highest case closure rate in the department because he’s studied body language, honed his intuition and used it to gather and uncover information.

In my current WIP, I’ve pitted the F.B.I. against the C.I.A. with my F.B.I. heroine dedicated to rules, regulations, step by step investigative techniques, never coloring outside the lines, and my C.I.A. hero entrenched in lies and aliases and manipulation as a way of life. How will they ever solve a case? How will they ever fall in love? How will they find a way to live together? I don’t know. I’m still waiting for them to tell me.

Of course this has all been done before. Jeffrey Deaver has a new novel out where the heroine interrogator is a kinesics specialist, and the way he depicts his heroine reading people through the story is both educational and entertaining. And pitting the hero against the heroine is surely nothing new—it’s called conflict.

Something I’ve been toying with lately is switching roles—take the male role and put it on the female—not all that difficult, but taking the female roll and placing it on the hero? When I attempt that, I’ll be taking on another challenge in my writing.

I’m coming to realize freshness is more a combination of elements rather than just one—character afflictions, conflict depth and origination, plot complexities and, of course, voice.

How do you keep the freshness and originality in your writing? What have you seen other writers do to attain their uniqueness? Which writers do you feel do this well?



Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Well, I tend to go against the grain because I like RS that's not the typical cop RS - though I do enjoy those as well. Roxanne St. Claire writes non-cop RS, and I've always enjoyed Nora's non-cop RS's.

That said, cop-RS is great when done well. ;)

9:45 PM  

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