How to Write a Murderously Good Mystery

On her excellent writer’s blog, writer Karen Woodward has written and put together a fantastic collection of articles on writing mysteries that anyone wanting to move into the genre should definitely check out. She covers setting, victims, making sufficiently intriguing murders, and even delves into the techniques used by Agatha Christie in order to explore how to write the perfect mystery story. Check it out! And while you’re there, read some of her other excellent articles on writing as well, Karen really knows her stuff!


Why don’t I like Heist stories?

So here’s something I’ve been puzzling over.

I like Mystery stories- ones where a clever character tries to puzzle through a challenge and then put all the pieces together to solve a problem. (Murder, Puzzle, whatever.) And you would think that I would like Heist stories (Ocean’s 11, Leverage, Lupin III, etc) just as much, if not more, because they’re just the flipside of mysteries. Heck, they’re even better than mysteries in theory because the characters are hyper-proactive, usually very smart and capable, and everything is working toward a clear goal. It’s a total recipe for successful storytelling!

But, they leave me as cold as the gold they steal.

I don’t hate them. I don’t even dislike them. It’s just on the whole they just hold nearly zero interest for me, and I’m actually puzzled myself as to why. Heck, I’ve even written one or two of them for KFAT over the years (the most obvious being the second season premier of Twin Stars) but when it comes to reading/viewing/listening to other people do them it just doesn’t click.

I can also think of a few recent heist-esque movies I liked, like MI: Ghost Protocol (didn’t like the ones before it, though) and Fast Five wasn’t bad either. (Not great, but fun.) Although I have to think hard to find Heist stories I liked, and these came to mind because they were recent.

Maybe it’s one of those things you either like or you don’t, and I just don’t. Not sure.

Anyone else out there feel the same way?


Gun Control Revisited

I’m for gun control. I have been for a long time, it’s probably just a natural part of being Canadian. I don’t think we need to carry around handguns to be safe in our country, and I have been all for the idea of restricting access to firearms as much as humanly possible because I believe it’s a heck of a lot harder to kill 40 people with a kitchen knife.

That is, until I listened to the most recent episode of Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast. (Which is one of the best shows Dan has ever done.) After which, an odd thing happened. I realized that my outlook on gun control has very likely been completely wrong. I mean, I try to keep an open mind about things, but Dan actually really changed my perspective, at least in regards to the United States. I still think gun control in Canada is a good idea but as far as gun control in the United States, it’s a lost cause and there are much better ways for anti-gun people to spend their time and resources. Guns are here to stay, and trying to take them away is stupid and unproductive for the most part.

So, what should be done?

The answer, as Dan rightly points out, is social programs.

Is it any co-incidence that Switzerland (4th most guns per person in the world), has 68 firearm crimes a year, in comparison with 9,369 in the USA (Number 1 in gun ownership)? I have always said I don’t mind the idea of paying more tax for people to be on welfare because I know that guaranteeing those people a minimum level of income reduces the crime in Canada quite a bit. In fact, the current government’s focus on cutting welfare/health has been one of the most worrying things about its policies.

I think if we take care of each other properly, the amount of crime (and the need for guns) naturally takes care of itself. I believe that the countries with the most social programs tend to have the least amount of violent crime because there are less desperate/alienated/sick people without options who commit those crimes.

As Dan says in the show, and I think even the most hardened pro-gun supporter could agree with, America needs to stop wasting time on anti-gun law, and start pushing for better mental health care for its people. There are a lot of poor, sick, desperate people out there afflicted with problems that can be solved (or at least alliviated) by modern medicine and treatments, and letting them and guns mix is a bad idea. Since guns are here to stay, people should focus on what they can change- helping their fellow man.

Then maybe there won’t be such a need for guns after all.


Ghost Ends

I just finished watching the final episode of the Korean Drama called Ghost that I previously reviewed on the blog. The ending was a week late because of the Olympics, but was totally worth the wait. It was a great roller-coaster of a series, and now that it’s finished I have to say it’s one of the best Korean dramas I’ve watched to date.

One thing that impressed me about the ending was that despite all the twists, turns and tricks the producers have used over the twenty episodes to keep the show unpredictable, they actually didn’t go for any gimmicks in the end. No twist ending, no double-fakes, just a solid little end with a proper epilogue that wasn’t crammed into the last five minutes of the show (or the end credits background!) like many shows do.

Bravo to the producers and writers of this fine show! Thanks for a great ride!


Excellent Interview on Cybercrime with Misha Glenny

If you get the chance, absolutely watch/listen to TVO’s interviews with Misha Glenny on cybercrime. They’re really fascinating stuff, even to someone like me who already knows a bit about the topic. Glenny covers not only how it’s done, but who does it, and how they get involved with this shadowy underworld. He also talks about the most vulnerable place for cybercrime in the world- North America. Why? Give them a watch.


If Ian Fleming – author of the James Bond spy novels – were alive today, and wanted to write a non-fiction book about the burgeoning cybercrime industry and the ingenious characters involved in it, he’d be too late. British journalist Misha Glenny, former Central Europe correspondent for the BBC World Service, has already written that book. Drawing on over 200 hours of interviews with players on both sides of the law, Glenny, in DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia, weaves the shadowy, expansive global network of cyber criminals and the police that track them into a terse crime thriller.

via Misha Glenny: In Detail | The Agenda.