You may be aware that I run an online crime fiction course and one student writing a novel asked me a couple of questions about his main character, the protagonist. The answers may interest those writers who are wrestling with similar problems.
One question was ‘Is there a formula to crime writing e.g. how would the protagonist start his investigation?’ I answered ‘Not really, although crime writers like to set things up fairly early; the murder, the mystery needs to come in fairly early. In a short story that tends to be in the first page, in a novel by the end of the first chapter as long as what goes before grabs the reader’.
I was also asked ‘Is there a general set of question the protagonist need to ask?’
I replied ‘The danger is asking too many. A good writer cuts it back to key ones, each line of dialogue taking the plot on. However, key ones include establishing information that the reader needs such as where was a suspect, what is their alibi, what was their relationship to the victim, what is the investigator thinking?’
After that, the story will evolve naturally.
If you wish to find out more about our online crime fiction course, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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