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SANDRA CAREY CODY: ON MYSTERIES

May 18, 2009

Sandra Carey CodyI’m the mystery writer of the group. Why do I choose to write mysteries? One of the cliches of writing is write what you know. Good advice, but I think even better is write what you love. I’ve always loved stories where an ordinary person wins against extraordinary odds and that, at its core, is what a mystery is.

 You have the elements of any good story: suspense and the classic struggle between good and evil. I find satisfaction, both as a writer and a reader, inhabiting a world where I know justice will be served. I’m not talking about true crime, but fictional mysteries – where the bad guy always gets what’s coming to him and the good guy always emerges victorious – usually a little banged up, but bearing her (or his) scars proudly because she has righted a wrong.

 Creating those good and bad guys is the part of writing I most enjoy and it’s where I start a story. A mystery provides the perfect format to present a variety of characters and to see how they react under stress. What are the hopes and dreams of these people? What are they afraid of?

 As a writer, I have a chance to look into the heart of that ordinary person and to show what pushes her to overcome those extraordinary odds. I can also peek into the psyche of the bad guy and try to find the tipping point, that moment that makes an extreme act seem necessary. There’s nothing I would rather do. I’m not interested in world peace?  Of course, but since that’s beyond my scope, I’ll do what for me is the next best thing; I’ll write stories that acknowledge the existence of evil, but show that it can be overcome.

 

 

What Sandy’s reading now:

BETWEEN GEORGIA by Joshilyn Jackson 

 

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2009 1:59 PM

    I really like what you say about your joy in getting to the heart of your characters and what makes them tick. One thing I’ve learned is that to be a good writer you really need to understand a lot about psychology. You don’t need a PhD in it, but you need to be the kind of person who NOTICES things. After all, fiction is all about the human condition. I can tell by how you build your characters in your novels that you are just that kind of person!

  2. May 18, 2009 5:23 PM

    Sandy,
    Great post. I like the ‘writing what you love’. I love mysteries…never had the courage to try writing one. Your post is encouraging.

    Also like the ‘knowing people/characters’ comment.

    Thanks for reminding the Avaloners you were here!

  3. May 18, 2009 7:14 PM

    Thanks, Gretchen and Carol, for your comments. I think NOTICING the little things is what makes any story come alive.

  4. May 18, 2009 7:34 PM

    Sandy, great post. Write what you love is great advice. Also, finding what works for you as a writer as far as a routine goes is important too. If you’re not an outliner, but write character driven novels, relish your own style. And I agree with you…though at times the process is frustrating, remember to have fun!

  5. May 19, 2009 12:16 AM

    the bad guy always gets what’s coming to him and the good guy always emerges victorious – usually a little banged up, but bearing her (or his) scars proudly because she has righted a wrong.
    I totally agree with you Cody. One of the great joys of writing for me too is to be able to create a world in which the bad guy is punished and the good guy emerges victorious. I love happy endings even if I know I made them up.
    Happy writing

    Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
    Author of Two Moon Princess
    http://www.carmenferreiroesteban.com

  6. May 19, 2009 1:42 AM

    Thanks, Kelly and Carmen, for adding your two cents. The common thread in all of the comments seems to be how, as writers, we all have to find our own way to the joy in writing.

  7. May 19, 2009 11:30 PM

    I totally agree on ‘finding your own way.’ We could spend all day reading about how other writers do it, but in the end, we need to write what we love. I love reading mysteries, but will leave the writing to you who do it so well. Me, I’m working on a plain old novel without too many red herrings and loose ends (I hope!).

    • May 20, 2009 12:43 PM

      Thanks for stopping by and for your good words. I’ll look forward to your “plain old novel”. Having read your other writing, I expect great things. Let us know when it’s ready.

  8. May 20, 2009 12:20 PM

    You’re certainly right about every writer needing to WRITE, and find her/his own way of doing it. There’s a lot of debate among writers re: “plotters” vs. “pantzers” – whether it’s better to plot first, or just fly by the seat of your pants when writing a book. I’ve known wonderful writers in both categories!

    Joy Nash
    http://www.joynash.com
    A Little Light Magic – A Jersey Shore romance!
    coming May 26

  9. Helen Wolf permalink
    May 24, 2009 8:49 PM

    Noticing things is the secret to writing good descriptions. You have to see what you want your readers to see. Incorporating your observations into a story is the mark of a good writer. And you do it well.

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