Anatomy of a Good Mystery – Isthmus


press release: David Benjamin, author of 12 books, including Many Mysteries and Wisconsin-Based Books, offers insight into this popular genre when discussing “Anatomy of a Good Mystery” at Literatus Books, Watertown, Saturday October 16 at 10 o ‘clock

Author and editor David Benjamin, whose lectures and book workshops include writing mysteries, says: “Writing a good story is like solving a series of problems, in which language, science, geography, law, imagination and the unexpected are all mixed up. “

During his lecture at Literatus Books on October 16, he will use examples from the work of other writers, as well as his own mysteries, to explore what elements go into writing and remember a good one that has it. did. (

Lifetime of narration

Benjamin began writing his first novel in elementary school reading chapters aloud at St. Mary’s School in Tomah, Wisconsin. He adapted some of these experiences in his memoir, The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked (Random House, 2002) as well as the updated version of the book published last year.

His books have won numerous awards, including the recent Top Prize from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. His novel, They Shot Kennedy, was named winner in the prestigious Literary / Contemporary / Historical Fiction category. The book is a fictional snapshot of “microhistory” taking place in November 1963.

The author draws inspiration from his travels around the world as well as collecting stories from his own backyard. Some of his well-drawn characters can be found in his Wisconsin Mysteries.

In Paris, where he lives part of the year, he held a writing discussion with the British National Union of Journalists and a writing workshop at the American Library in Pars.

What makes a mystery memorable?

“You can write a mystery without murder, but the following three elements – those three M’s should be in place,” he said.

Maguffin – Created by Alfred Hitchcock, a maguffin is an object that motivates characters, creates

conflict and propels the plot.

Moriarty— The elusive, brilliant and dangerous brain.

Marlowe — A flawed but stubborn detective who won’t let go. Think Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. James Fallows, of The Atlantic magazine, calls Benjamin’s thriller Black Dragon, “A real page-turner, full of enough action, suspense, sneaky humor and sharp cultural hints … a book pleasant and provocative. “

Dissect what works

During discussions of the books, Benjamin discusses the intrigue, structure, and process behind the creation of mysteries, including his own award-winning books. He is currently in production on his thirteenth title from Last Kid Books, Woman Trouble.

“There is an irony to this idea of ​​reducing the mystery of the three-point murder, as he noted that the elements of maguffin, moriarty, and marlowe are just the basis for an endless array of variations. “Reading should be fun. And thinking about it – talking about it – after that should prolong the fun, ”he said.

Looking back, he noted, “I still do what I discovered, as a kind of vocation, in elementary school. Since that moment, I have always believed that stories are the clues to solving the puzzles of life.

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