Monday, March 12, 2012

Trust Never Sleeps

By Reece Hirsch

As an attorney, my clients place their trust in me.  If I were to violate that trust, I could face a malpractice lawsuit or loss of my license.  As a thriller writer, I ask my readers to trust me, but they know that they really can’t – and that’s because mystery/thriller writers and their readers have always had trust issues.

Anyone who has read a few mysteries knows better than to completely trust that seemingly innocuous supporting character introduced in the early chapters, the one who  keeps showing up at crucial moments.  And the more funny and harmless that character seems, the more suspicious some readers will become.

Of course, writers know that savvy readers are on the lookout for the villain in disguise or the last act twist.  That’s when the real head games begin.  When is a plot twist so obvious that the reader dismisses it as a red herring?  When does a writer use so much misdirection that it achieves the opposite effect?  And when can a writer use the savvy readers’ expectations against them (in a good way)?

I think the favorite blurb that I received for The Insider was from Tim Maleeny, who wrote, "Only a lawyer could have written a novel with so much deception and betrayal."  I’ll be the first to admit that lawyers are slippery characters – but they have nothing on mystery writers and readers.


Joshua Corin said...

That's a terrific blurb. I wish I worked in a profession so ripe for teasing. Alas, we college professors are merely pitied (and rightfully so).

Meredith Cole said...

Great post, Reece. I love to be surprised when I read, and I really hate when I guess the killer way too soon... Takes a slippery writer mind to pull it off, though.

Michael Wiley said...

I'm with Josh on this: a great blurb -- one that non-lawyer writers can only aspire to.

Great post, Reece.

Reece said...

Josh -- Be careful what you wish for. Just be glad that there's not a whole genre of humor devoted to your profession.

Thanks, Meredith. There's nothing I hate more than hearing a reader say that they saw the ending coming. I'm sure you keep them guessing.

Michael -- Tim Maleeny is a very funny writer and he gives good blurb.