Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Crime Stories

Okay, okay... one post tonight. But only because I'm having trouble finding a plot for a crime story.

Yes, crime stories are a part of speculative fiction. You can think of this as a mix of subcategories: Mystery is probably the most well-known of these, whereas genres such as the Whodunit and the Noir have each had their day in the sun. Historically, crime stories have been mostly marginalized and accused of having no redeemable artistic value. That gives them a background that is similar to the fantasy and science fiction that we know and love, and is probably why these genres all get lumped together when it comes to "speculative fiction."

Nevertheless, I'm still having trouble finding a plot for a crime story. Just because one can deal with magic and robots on a regular basis doesn't mean that he can take the sight of a bullet-ridden body in the dead of night.

Seriously, however... I think that my mode of thought is off whack right now. Crime stories need a certain mentality to understand them and outline the resulting plots. Given that my method of plotting stories lies somewhere along the lines of "Ooooh, oooh, what if you had a call center run by vampires?", you can probably see my problem there.

I also have a habit of injecting a lot of needless detail into my work. I've always figured that it helps the atmosphere, but with crime stories it's another issue altogether. The genre always seems to be a lot more complex than it looks at first glance -- packing a lot of detail into its stories therefore isn't as effective as choosing your elements carefully. Mind you, I suspect that I see a lot of mystery novelists on the bookshelves simply because it's difficult to concentrate all their thoughts into a mere two thousand words.

There's also the issue of what crime to choose. I figure that such things as murder, robbery and fraud are old standbys... but they might be too overused for me. If I've seen a scheme executed on TV in some form, then I figure that it's been long done... and unfortunately, I've seen too many episodes of CSI. Or NCIS. Or Law and Order. Or Matlock, of all things.

Of course, the easiest way out would be to simply mix crime fiction with the more fantastic genres... but it's the easiest way out for a reason: it's too easy. Besides, the editors probably wouldn't fly with my adulterating their beloved crime genre with my constantly-flitting ideas.

Then there's always the possibility of sitting back and letting the perfect crime come to me. I don't mean that I'd like to get mugged in the middle of the night sometime, of course. I mean that, at some point in time, the perfect crime encased in the perfect intractable situation with the perfect cast of characters will come to me. Maybe it'll happen before the deadline, or maybe it'll come a little too late. Whatever the case, I'll be thinking about it a little more.

That's it for tonight. I'll go and have a few nightmares to cheer me up.


Ida said...

Wait, you mean, call centers aren't run by vampires? /:)

Sean said...

Ida: Of course not. I was merely referencing a plot that was stuck in my mind for the longest time, only for me to discard it once I found that it had already been written.

No, call centers are run by werewolves. That's why the people there tend to be all snippy when it comes to a full moon. :)

jeff reiji said...

crime stories? hmmm... I think I know where you're planning to send them...

on another note, you've been sort of a witness of my college life and you told me that five years from now, I'll be laughing whenever I look back.

two years after college, I'm editing my archived blog entries to sanitize it and make it compliant to blogging's rule of common courtesy. my, I'm such a teenager back then. =)

I'm not laughing. I'm embarrassed of myself that you read my angsty-so-teenager-like blog entries.

Sean said...

Reiji: Yup... I was just too lazy to produce the link last night. Hopefully Kyu won't mind.

As for your earlier posts, I still say that you'll be laughing at some point. It might feel embarrassing now, but sooner or later you'll realize that it was all really a part of developing yourself. (And hey... you should have seen my earliest stuff.)

Ida said...

Werewolves? Hmm... Did you find this out from first-hand experience? :P

Sean said...

Ida: I must point out that I govern an IT helpdesk and support service in my day job. :)

Seriously, though - I don't see direct involvement by vampires and werewolves when it comes to call centers. The last great impression I got from my contacts there, however, got immortalized in "Tech Support", a story that was once on this blog and has since gone on to (*ahem*) "better" things. (Which reminds me... I still have to check if it's ever going to be published.)

Ida said...

Oh yeah, I remember, that was the short story I didn't get to read because you said that a publisher was interested in it so you took it down. Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see. :) In the meantime, I'll be watching my back whenever I pass by call centers. You can never be too careful, right? Hehe. :P

Sean said...

Ida: Having just gone through "Tech Support" again, I'll have to agree with you. Heh. :)