Watching Brandon Inge play over the weekend, along with reading a few more traditional mystery stories gave me some insights into my plotting troubles. I don't know why exactly, perhaps it was my age, or limited exposure to all of the genres tropes and stocks in trade, but when I first started writing mystery stories and until I gave them up a year or so ago, I thought every mystery story I wrote needed to be a home run, every twist amazing, every ending a huge whamo surprise ending. And while I never hit that home run, I struck out quite a bit. Just like Brandon Inge.
Inge is a guy who has had some huge hits in his career for the Tigers. Well-timed home runs or grand slams to win the game. But when he's not winning the game, he also strikes out a lot at very inopportune times and I think it's because he's always hitting for that big hit. He doesn't quite get the value of a single or double just to get on base. In my reading, I came across several stories that were more "small ball" if you will. The stories succeeded on a string of well-timed singles and doubles, and even a few triples, which made for entertaining and memorable stories. None of them blew me out of the water, but they didn't have to. So this is how I need to start plotting my stories.
I've talked in the past I've talked about how much I like stories that turn on small stakes as opposed to massive, world-altering, stakes and I think this sort of follows the same lines. When you're constantly hitting homers, eventually people become bored with them. This has happened to two of the few thriller writers I was ever able to read consistently, Harlan Coben and Jeffery Deaver. The first few books I read I was shocked and awed by the twists. But as I read more of their books, I started seeing patterns and began spotting the twists way ahead of the game. With Coben I was still able to enjoy the books because I like his characters, but with Deaver, who relies almost entirely on plotting to sustain his books, once that formula is cracked the books lose their energy.
So that's what I'm doing with my novella, trying to get a couple of good singles and maybe an RBI double and give the fans something to see. Anybody else have a way to cram an awkward baseball metaphor into a writing blog?