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How long should I go before dropping bodies? (1 Viewer)

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Joker

Senior Member
I've written an outline for approximately a third of the detective novel I'm working on. It doesn't start out as a murder mystery, but rather a missing persons case. It's not until the detective realizes a local mafia is tied into the case that it's knives out.

Is this too long? I know readers have short attention spans and want stakes right off the bat. I could find a way to speed it up if possible.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
The first thing I'd say is don't write for people with short attention spans. I don't think most readers are like that. If your writing is interesting, your scenes are engaging and your characters are captivating, people will read on. The kidnap should be the central thrust of the story earlier on. It's conflict enough to keep readers reading. I wouldn't worry that you crank it up later or when that later comes. Just build the tension around a kidnap. Think of the murder as a double whammy.
 
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Joker

Senior Member
The first thing I'd say is don't write for people with short attention spans. I don't think most readers are like that. If your writing is interesting, your scenes are engaging and your characters are captivating, people will read on. The kidnap should be the central thrust of the story earlier on. It's conflict enough to keep readers reading. I wouldn't worry that you crank it up later or when that later comes. Just build the tension around a kidnap. Think of the murder as a double whammy.

Well, it'll be more of a change in goals. The detective realizes that the missing woman has gotten tangled up in an organized crime scheme, and when the lights get turned on so to speak, the roaches scatter and start attacking each other.

Poor bastard thought it would be a routine case, not realizing he's the protagonist of a neo noir. Silly guy.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Well, it'll be more of a change in goals. The detective realizes that the missing woman has gotten tangled up in an organized crime scheme, and when the lights get turned on so to speak, the roaches scatter and start attacking each other.

Poor bastard thought it would be a routine case, not realizing he's the protagonist of a neo noir. Silly guy.
You can still run with the original conflict until that point. Build the tension around the kidnap, even perhaps throw in hints that she may well survive, making the next turn of the screw her death. What I'm saying is, a kidnap is more than enough to carry the story, regardless of the outcome. She could walk free at the end of the novel and the reader would still be satisfied as long as you've created tension throughout. Plenty of stories have done that. I'd personally hold it off as long as I could and squeeze as much out of the kidnap as I could.
 

Joker

Senior Member
You can still run with the original conflict until that point. Build the tension around the kidnap, even perhaps throw in hints that she may well survive, making the next turn of the screw her death. What I'm saying is, a kidnap is more than enough to carry the story, regardless of the outcome. She could walk free at the end of the novel and the reader would still be satisfied as long as you've created tension throughout. Plenty of stories have done that. I'd personally hold it off as long as I could and squeeze as much out of the kidnap as I could.

Oh no, she wasn't kidnapped. It's fairly clear to the detective from the get go that she's left her cushy life and went to this crummy planet where it rains too much of her own free will. The obvious why being the driving question, at first.

And she doesn't end up murdered. I don't know who all will, but I know she survives until the end.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Oh no, she wasn't kidnapped. It's fairly clear to the detective from the get go that she's left her cushy life and went to this crummy planet where it rains too much of her own free will. The obvious why being the driving question, at first.

And she doesn't end up murdered. I don't know who all will, but I know she survives until the end.
I still wouldn't worry about 'when to start dropping' bodies. If it was an out and out murder case, then you'd probably drop the body in the first scene. The motive for the detective pulling on the loose threads should be enough to carry you to the point of dropping bodies. That's what I'm saying. Don't think 'no one has died yet and this is a detective story'. If it's not explicitly a murder mystery, go with your instincts and drop them when you feel fit.
 

Joker

Senior Member
I still wouldn't worry about 'when to start dropping' bodies. If it was an out and out murder case, then you'd probably drop the body in the first scene. The motive for the detective pulling on the loose threads should be enough to carry you to the point of dropping bodies. That's what I'm saying. Don't think 'no one has died yet and this is a detective story'. If it's not explicitly a murder mystery, go with your instincts and drop them when you feel fit.

Thanks, you've helped give me the confidence to stick with my current outline.

And when that first body does drop, it's gonna be a doozy.
 
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