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Feedback on a new story

Thinking of making a sequel to Bell, Book, and Bullets, and breaking out the roles of Jake and Bryly, so that it is less of an ensemble story and more about this particular crime-solving pair. So far, I've only gotten an opening, and I'm still thinking of a plot for the story.

But while the plot stews in my mind, here's a teaser:
_________________________________ snip _____________________
Chapter One

    “But one piece remains, and I shall have it on the morrow.” The inspector turned about the Vicar’s rose garden, his finger pointing to the air. The assembled villagers stared expectantly, awaiting his next word. “Those were his last words, and it is now clear to me what they mean.”
    “The postal chess match,” breathed the Grandmaster. “He would checkmate when he posted his next move!”
    “The rhubarb pie,” gasped the Cook.“ ‘E meant to ‘ave the last slice for ‘is breakfast, ‘e did!”
   
    Bryly Jacobs put down the book. She turned to her husband, beside her on the couch. He sensed that she was looking at him, and lowered volume four of Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
    “Have you ever heard of the debate between Dorothy Sayers and Raymond Chandler?”
    “Something of a literary duel, as I recall,” said Jake.
    “Well, it started with Chandler. He wrote an essay for Atlantic magazine, and he ripped one of her books. He said that murder in mysteries should happen for a real reason, and not merely to provide the detective with a corpse.”
    “And it shouldn’t be done with curare or tropical fish. Though I’m not sure Sayers ever killed anyone with a tropical fish.”
    “I suppose we could ask those detectives if they’ve ever seen a case where someone was killed with a tropical fish.”
    “I’m not even sure how that might work.”
    “I suppose that if you shot one out of a cannon, maybe… But that wasn’t my point. Sayers responded, you know.”
   “A preface of one of her works. I used to have the book, I think.”
   “You might still. There are boxes and boxes of them in storage.”
   “But that wasn’t your point,” he said, hoping that she didn’t divert into a request that he reduce the size of his library.
    “She argued that the vicar’s rose garden was an appropriate place for a murder to take place, so that it would remove it from reality. Insulation, so to speak.”
    “And Chandler argued that murder belongs on the mean streets, where it really happens.”
    “So that’s the question,” said Bryly.
    “Sorry,” said Jake. “Which question?”
    “Should writers – thinking here of Christian writers, like Sayers – should they write stories with real people who commit real sins – Chandler’s kinds of books – or should they write books in the Vicar’s rose garden? Like Lord Peter Wimsey, or like Chesterton’s books.”
    “I’ve always enjoyed Father Brown,” said Jake. “But Chesterton does make it sound like only murders that happen in remote English villages are likely to be solved.”
    “Not so much solved, but absolved.”
    They sat in silence for a moment, each in their own thoughts but sharing the idea.
    “I suppose it depends on why it was written,” said Jake. “You can only really judge if something served its purpose when you know what its purpose was in the first place.”
    “Good answer,” she said, closing her book. She got up and put it back into the bookcase.
    “You’re not going to finish that?”
    “Well it’s obvious what happened,” she said. “The letter said that the killer threw a shoe at the victim. Clearly, the blacksmith did it, but by accident. In the last chapter, the inspector will discover that the pony has a chipped hoof.”
    “You should have been a detective.”
    “My skills are limited to fiction. I don’t have to figure out the crime; I just have to figure out the writer. There’s a slice of cheesecake left. Want to split it?”
    Jake thought for a moment. It was great cheesecake, but he couldn’t justify the calories. “No, help yourself,” he said with a sigh, as he turned back to the commentary.


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Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Not my sort of thing, but so far so good.
  • Thank you both. Now I just need a story that goes with the introduction...
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I often know where I want a story to end up. Then I start to get there. The story reveals itself to me as I progress. It's almost like reading a book.   :)
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    That’s pretty much what I do, too. I have an ending in mind and work toward it.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Indeed, and with many small side 'adventures' along the way that occur while writing along.

    Very often the story is developing in my head when nowhere near anything to write it on. (Daydreaming some may call that, but so what? I have not run anyone over, yet!) And currently there's also other stories creating themselves in my mind. Two right now, and I am about to start on one of them.

    It's as if the stories take on a life of their own and create themselves. Anyone else find that?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    I sure do. While I may have a pretty good idea of where I want things to end up, the path taken to get there is usually not at all what I expected.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • My role, as the author, is often more of mediation, to make sure that the characters do what they are supposed to and don't do what they shouldn't. I guide them along the path and help them reach the destination.

    The problem is that I have to have a destination. This one, being a "Pastor Jake," will need to have a spiritual context. I know that not all of my readers are "down with that" but I'll do my best to keep it moving.

    I am thinking that, following a sermon on Matthew 5:21-26ff., a mystery arrives in the prayer box: A prayer request seems to contain a confession of murder. At about this time, a prominent parishioner goes missing, leading to the conclusion that he has met with foul play.

    Pastor Jake is bound by penitent privilege, but his wife Bryly, who as a LMFT and LCSW is under a different set of canons, feels that the "penitent" may pose a danger to himself or others, and reports the matter to the police.

    Jake is bound to search out the missing man, and to uncover the truth. I have a solution in mind, and it might hinge on the phrases, "Murder needn't provide a corpse at all" and "Hatred kills as surely as poison."

    Think that's enough for a plot, or do I need another thread to interweave? What think ye?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Sounds pretty cool to me.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    I'm going to default to the magnet on my toolbox for my answer. I know you'll pull together a great story, but the topic is out of my league.
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    My role, as the author, is often more of mediation, to make sure that the characters do what they are supposed to and don't do what they shouldn't. I guide them along the path and help them reach the destination.

    Indeed. The modernish idea of even killing off 'heroes'  who have been in a story for a long time is strange to me. I get attached to them, they seem like friends. I am sure some writers are closet psychopaths.

    The problem is that I have to have a destination. This one, being a "Pastor Jake," will need to have a spiritual context. I know that not all of my readers are "down with that" but I'll do my best to keep it moving.

    It's not unusual, as this one example shows >>   https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5kypmr

    I am thinking that, following a sermon on Matthew 5:21-26ff., a mystery arrives in the prayer box: A prayer request seems to contain a confession of murder. At about this time, a prominent parishioner goes missing, leading to the conclusion that he has met with foul play.

    Pastor Jake is bound by penitent privilege, but his wife Bryly, who as a LMFT and LCSW is under a different set of canons,

    Is a what?

     feels that the "penitent" may pose a danger to himself or others, and reports the matter to the police.

    Jake is bound to search out the missing man, and to uncover the truth. I have a solution in mind, and it might hinge on the phrases, "Murder needn't provide a corpse at all" and "Hatred kills as surely as poison."

    Think that's enough for a plot, or do I need another thread to interweave? What think ye?


    Red herrings can work well.
  • LMFT = Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a license she has acquired since Bell, Book, and Bullets.

    She is also certified as a Crisis Intervention Specialist, but hasn't been doing as much of that lately. One typically assigns licensed clinicians to oversee unlicensed interns.
  • Seamus said:
    I'm going to default to the magnet on my toolbox for my answer. I know you'll pull together a great story, but the topic is out of my league.
    It's not unheard of for one man's confusion to be another man's enlightenment.

    (so, why is the guy in the top left being shocked by a trebuchet?)
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    electric trebuchet, very dangerous when not properly grounded
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    LMFT = Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a license she has acquired since Bell, Book, and Bullets.

    She is also certified as a Crisis Intervention Specialist, but hasn't been doing as much of that lately. One typically assigns licensed clinicians to oversee unlicensed interns. 

    Ah, okay. It's common practice to begin mention of such things like so >>  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) then continue with the latter, then people will know what it means.
  • In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Hardly that common to the many who don't know of them or have never sought out their services, but it would have been polite to just post in the long version so those who don't know don't have to ask.  :)
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
    Skoob how much of the first book do you explain in the sequel? When writing my sequel to "Stolen", I think I told the reader so much about the characters in the first volume who were reappearing in the second in the series. I guess I felt that I couldn't presume that they had read the initial book. It's even harder with the third in the series and I have temporarily abandoned it. (I'm still working on revisions)

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    But what about those reading this thread that have never read Bell, Book and Bullets?

    Many writers do not always assume that people have read part 1 (or whatever) of a series, so in each part they have short 'reminders' throughout the story, which is handy for me when I buy a book from a second-hand shop to then discover it's part three of a series!
  • Larika said:
    In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
    Skoob how much of the first book do you explain in the sequel? When writing my sequel to "Stolen", I think I told the reader so much about the characters in the first volume who were reappearing in the second in the series. I guess I felt that I couldn't presume that they had read the initial book. It's even harder with the third in the series and I have temporarily abandoned it. (I'm still working on revisions)

    I try to write each book as a stand alone. For example, when it comes to arguing over whether she should or should not have notified the police, it will become clear to the reader that she works in the behavioral health bureau, and that her profession requires her to report (under California law) anything that is reasonably construed as a threat to third parties (Tarasoff v. Board of Regents of the University of California).

    On the other hand, I will not revisit the adventures she had in B, B, and B, unless it is mentioned in passing: "Remember that killer who tried to blow you up in that garage?"

    You don't have to retell the entire backstory. Suggestion, implication, and vague allusions are your friends. For example, an anti-tank cannon used in B, B, and B will be destroyed (or so it appears) by the authorities in another (unrelated) book that I'm working on. I'm not going to go back and say that it was used to shoot at a hotel, an old adobe house, and an SUV, all in hopes of killing a governor and stopping a bullet train project.

    Instead it's mentioned as "That cannon you guys captured last year." The reader can go back and guess that it's mentioned in B, B, and B, or they can take my word for it, or they can go fish. Vague allusion.

    Minimal backstory -- the bare minimum to keep the reader from saying, "What?"

    Imagine a reader who is smart, has read your prior books, and knows most of the things you know. Write for that reader. You can also assume a reader who doesn't get anything and doesn't know anything, and whose last reading effort was an Archie and Veronica comic. But those readers don't read books anyway.

    My Tuppence.
  • But what about those reading this thread that have never read Bell, Book and Bullets?

    Many writers do not always assume that people have read part 1 (or whatever) of a series, so in each part they have short 'reminders' throughout the story, which is handy for me when I buy a book from a second-hand shop to then discover it's part three of a series!
    If the books are well-written, they can be read individually or in sequence. For example, if you were to pick up and read Steig Larsson's [i]The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest[/i] you would find it a complete novel in itself. References to backstory -- well, everyone's got one. But those parts are retold from a new perspective, blending them into the trilogy, while providing the data to fill in the blanks as a stand-alone.

    One might use it as a textbook for stand-alones in a series. Note: The millenium trilogy is not appropriate for all ages. contains nudity, sexual situations, violence, more violence, violent sexual situations, and lots of journalism.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Skoob_ym said:
    Larika said:
    In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
    Skoob how much of the first book do you explain in the sequel? When writing my sequel to "Stolen", I think I told the reader so much about the characters in the first volume who were reappearing in the second in the series. I guess I felt that I couldn't presume that they had read the initial book. It's even harder with the third in the series and I have temporarily abandoned it. (I'm still working on revisions)

    I try to write each book as a stand alone. For example, when it comes to arguing over whether she should or should not have notified the police, it will become clear to the reader that she works in the behavioral health bureau, and that her profession requires her to report (under California law) anything that is reasonably construed as a threat to third parties (Tarasoff v. Board of Regents of the University of California).

    Is it not only Catholics who have confessional boxes? But  I would hope that if a person confesses to murder in one, the priest does not keep that a secret, and nowadays I don't think they do.

    On the other hand, I will not revisit the adventures she had in B, B, and B, unless it is mentioned in passing: "Remember that killer who tried to blow you up in that garage?"

    Indeed. When people are talking they do often talk about experiences from the past.

    You don't have to retell the entire backstory. Suggestion, implication, and vague allusions are your friends. For example, an anti-tank cannon used in B, B, and B will be destroyed (or so it appears) by the authorities in another (unrelated) book that I'm working on. I'm not going to go back and say that it was used to shoot at a hotel, an old adobe house, and an SUV, all in hopes of killing a governor and stopping a bullet train project.

    Why not? if it's the same weapon? Otherwise, why bother with it being the same device?

    Instead it's mentioned as "That cannon you guys captured last year." The reader can go back and guess that it's mentioned in B, B, and B, or they can take my word for it, or they can go fish. Vague allusion.


    I guess if they care that much, they may buy the previous books to see what it alludes to, if they haven't already. 

    Minimal backstory -- the bare minimum to keep the reader from saying, "What?"

    Imagine a reader who is smart, has read your prior books, and knows most of the things you know. Write for that reader.


    What about the smart reader who has not read your previous books? Are you not expecting to sell to new readers?

     You can also assume a reader who doesn't get anything and doesn't know anything, and whose last reading effort was an Archie and Veronica comic. But those readers don't read books anyway.


    That's a terrible thing to say. While it's true that many people do not read books, that does not mean they are all thick.

    My Tuppence.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Skoob_ym said:
    But what about those reading this thread that have never read Bell, Book and Bullets?

    Many writers do not always assume that people have read part 1 (or whatever) of a series, so in each part they have short 'reminders' throughout the story, which is handy for me when I buy a book from a second-hand shop to then discover it's part three of a series!
    If the books are well-written, they can be read individually or in sequence.

    Indeed they can.

     For example, if you were to pick up and read Steig Larsson's [i]The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest[/i] you would find it a complete novel in itself. References to backstory -- well, everyone's got one. But those parts are retold from a new perspective, blending them into the trilogy, while providing the data to fill in the blanks as a stand-alone.

    Is that not what I said? Gosh are you agreeing with me?!

    One might use it as a textbook for stand-alones in a series. Note: The millenium trilogy is not appropriate for all ages. contains nudity, sexual situations, violence, more violence, violent sexual situations, and lots of journalism.

    Is it SF or F?

    I have just read a long Terry Brooks series and the main characters are eventually decedents of those in the previous parts. But when they mention parts of the previous stories, they are not accurate. Either  Terry does not keep notes, or he's deliberately showing how 'history' changes in the telling over time?  No one writes anything down in his world it seems.


  • Is it not only Catholics who have confessional boxes? But  I would hope that if a person confesses to murder in one, the priest does not keep that a secret, and nowadays I don't think they do.

    Since you asked:

    The Church of Rome and the Church of Canterbury both have confessionals. If someone were to confess to murder and show repentance, the clergy of either stripe are forbidden to reveal it to anyone for any reason. The American courts have upheld this as Penitent Privilege, the broadest of the three types of privilege. No priest may be compelled to tell what has been confessed to him.

    If someone were to state, in a confessional, that he or she intended to commit murder, the priest would still be bound, and the priest's sole recourse would be to withhold absolution. The priest might take action to prevent the crime -- telling the prospective victim to lock all the doors, or sending the penitent to China as penance -- but could never explain why.

    In my own faith, the Church of Nashville, we have a doctrine called "The individual priesthood of the believer." That is, each person makes his or her own confession to God, and receives absolution directly from God. The clergy is merely a facilitator of that exchange. Still, a clergyman may not be compelled under American law to reveal anything said in the furtherance of the spiritual improvement of a soul. If a protestant clergyman were to tell the penitent before counseling that if he intends to hurt himself or others, that the clergyman cannot maintain silence, then the clergyman could justifiably say, "X intends to kill Y."

    By contrast, Doctor-client privilege, while strongly protected, does not permit withholding of an imminent threat. For example, the Tarasoff case, cited above.

    Weakest of the three is spousal privilege. In spousal privilege, a spouse cannot testify to "marital conversation" which includes intimate actions, but can and must testify to overt criminal acts which are not part of the "marital conversation." Conversation, here, is used very loosely, you understand.

    I am not a lawyer, solicitor, or barrister. This is not advice.



  • Larika said:
    In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
    Skoob how much of the first book do you explain in the sequel? When writing my sequel to "Stolen", I think I told the reader so much about the characters in the first volume who were reappearing in the second in the series. I guess I felt that I couldn't presume that they had read the initial book. It's even harder with the third in the series and I have temporarily abandoned it. (I'm still working on revisions)

    Larika makes a good point. You should not count too much on someone having read the first book in a series. 

    And regarding the use of acronyms, I have a prejudice against parenthetical explanations---i.e., "Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)"---since that smacks too much of speaking directly to the reader. I think a better course would be to mention the full title when it first appears and then latter refer to it by its acronym.

    Do not assume that any phrase---especially one associated with some sort of specialty, such a medical or military term---is common knowledge. Neither would I recommend requiring your readers to turn away from your story to Google unfamiliar terms.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited January 16
    [I decided to delete this post since I thought it might be too contentious.]
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Since you asked:

    The Church of Rome and the Church of Canterbury both have confessionals.

    Do you mean Canterbury Cathedral? It's the seat of the Church of England, who don't have confessionals.

     Well, anyway, in further reply to the rest of your posting, in theory the priest should not know who is in the confession box, so it would be hard to turn anyone in. One would hope that he tells the person to hand themselves over to the cops as penitance. Saying 10 hail Mary's just don't cut it.



  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Larika makes a good point. You should not count too much on someone having read the first book in a series.


    A point I also made.  :) Not mentioning anything at all about what happened in a previous part of a series is a bit like coming in to a conversation half way through, but I guess it would encourage you to buy the previous books

    And regarding the use of acronyms, I have a prejudice against parenthetical explanations---i.e., "Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)"---since that smacks too much of speaking directly to the reader. I think a better course would be to mention the full title when it first appears and then latter refer to it by its acronym.

    Hopefully, one would only have to mention it once, if at all. But copy and paste is great for repetitive things  :)

    Do not assume that any phrase---especially one associated with some sort of specialty, such a medical or military term---is common knowledge.

    Indeed. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/words-acronyms_n_6147354?ec_carp=4294998966987399240&guccounter=1

     Neither would I recommend requiring your readers to turn away from your story to Google unfamiliar terms.


    Indeed (part 2.) 
  • Larika said:
    In Bell, Book, and Bullets, Bryly's qualifications are spelled out very well, both in the text and in an extensive end-note covering titles and those letters that follow certain names. Here, for brevity, I used the fairly common and easily googled abbreviation.
    Skoob how much of the first book do you explain in the sequel? When writing my sequel to "Stolen", I think I told the reader so much about the characters in the first volume who were reappearing in the second in the series. I guess I felt that I couldn't presume that they had read the initial book. It's even harder with the third in the series and I have temporarily abandoned it. (I'm still working on revisions)

    Larika makes a good point. You should not count too much on someone having read the first book in a series. 

    And regarding the use of acronyms, I have a prejudice against parenthetical explanations---i.e., "Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)"---since that smacks too much of speaking directly to the reader. I think a better course would be to mention the full title when it first appears and then latter refer to it by its acronym.

    Do not assume that any phrase---especially one associated with some sort of specialty, such a medical or military term---is common knowledge. Neither would I recommend requiring your readers to turn away from your story to Google unfamiliar terms.
    A good point. We do get away with it somewhat in medical and military terms since people expect these to be a bit technical. A surgeon can say that he "scrubbed in" and we make an assumption about what this means. Or a doctor says that a patient had a sub-arachnoid bleed and we know that the patient is bleeding internally; if the given context is his brain, we know that the bleed is in the brain. We don't expect to have the structures of the brain explained to us, though a merciful character might explain to another character that "Doc says he's bleeding in his brain" thus giving us the final clue.

    But yes, we should let the reader in on the technical terms, but I would argue, without directly explaining them if possible. In BB&B, now that I think about it, the first explanation of LMFT is through what Bryly does (performing psychotherapy) and under whom she works (a psychologist). I don't believe that, as presented in the book, it jars the reader and sends them to google. At least, no reader has said so.

    One reader did ask if LMFT should have been LSMFT (Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco), but that was tongue in cheek.
  • Since you asked:

    The Church of Rome and the Church of Canterbury both have confessionals.

    Do you mean Canterbury Cathedral? It's the seat of the Church of England, who don't have confessionals.

     Well, anyway, in further reply to the rest of your posting, in theory the priest should not know who is in the confession box, so it would be hard to turn anyone in. One would hope that he tells the person to hand themselves over to the cops as penitance. Saying 10 hail Mary's just don't cut it.

    True, the liturgical denominations go for anonymity. We do not.

    "Church of Canterbury" was a poetic way of saying CoE. "Church of Nashville" is a poetic way of saying SBC. &c.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile

    Skoob you mentioned that you belong to the Church of Nashville which is evangelical. So are Pastor Jake and Bryly evangelicals too? This could become a series like GK Chesterton’s Father Brown books. They were extremely popular. Good Luck with your sequel.

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