Thursday, October 27, 2011

Presumed Innocent

A great thriller/mystery is “Presumed Innocent”.

Harrison Ford's character is set-up to take the fall for the rape and murder of his former mistress. (Minor Spoiler Alert) The real murderer is in most of the scenes. The motive, opportunity, and ability is shown, but it is a shock at the end as the murderer is “Presumed Innocent” by the cops and audience. If you watch it twice you can see how they set it up so the murderer is obvious if you don't presume they're innocent.

With “Mind Thief” I wrote myself a bit of a problem. It is told in first person limited point of view from Howie the victim. Doing it in that point of view gave me what I feel is a great ending. However it left me in a bind as Howie can't figure out what is happening to him too soon, but the reader needs to figure it out in order to see the peril he is in.

I had thought the title and the tagline, “Howie has a problem, someone is stealing his mind and the only one who can save him is a girl who has already lost hers”, would give the reader a clue that Howie didn't have as to who the people in the book are.

Howie is obvious, there is only one Howie.

The girl who already lost her mind is pretty obvious by the second time she shows up. A little obvious the first time as well.

That means the other character that is showing up in Howie's dreams must be the title character, the “Mind Thief”.

Sigh, None of my beta readers have caught that.

On the one hand it shows that having beta readers is a good thing. Going 20,000 words without catching the main theme of the book would turn most readers off.

On the other hand I have to go back through and point out everything the bad guy is doing to steal Howie's mind and have Howie rationalize a reason not to be concerned. It's not like when something strange happens your first thought is “Gee, someone must be stealing my mind.”

While I'm plugging away at that I've got a new challenge for myself.

So far all my novels had tightly woven, interlinked plots. A small thing in Chapter 3 might effect Chapters 7, 10, 15 … I've decided I've been relying to heavily on that and I'll try writing a very straight forward novel. A leads to B leads to C.

I've banged out a chapter each morning, for the last 5 days, of between 800 to 1,500 words. Each one with a slight puzzle to solve in the next chapter. So the chapters build on each other but not necessarily the chapter after that one. It is more like the old serials in the pulp magazines that were turned into novels.

It is actually a pretty fun way to write.

Back to the novel I'm editing. I was wondering, when you read a novel how much attention do you pay to the title and the tagline?

Do you figure it is just there to make you pick up, or click on the purchase button, or do you treat it as part of the novel?

1 comment:

  1. I don't much care about titles and I've read some great books with "meh" or even crappy titles.

    Having said that, a great title can stick in your brain and be icing on a great cake (if the book itself is great). It won't help a crappy book, but it can tie together a great one.