From JT: I'm in Chicago for my very first Love is Murder convention today. I haven't made it to a con since Thrillerfest last year, so I'm excited to spend some time with good friends, and hopefully make some new ones. If you're coming to LIM, please stop me and say hello – I'll be around the hotel in all the usual places. I'll be back next week with a scintillating wrap up of the JK tour, and a little bit about the new writing methods – what's worked and what hasn't. (Promise!)
I'm so excited to have Camille Minichino with us today! Camille is a non-traditional cozy writer, and she's awfully clever, as you'll see, so ENJOY!
I'm a big fan of Steven Wright. This one-liner is one of my favorites:
I went to the museum
where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the
Now, my mind works in
strange ways, so it may not be clear how that line inspired my next
project: I'm going to write a crime drama using all the sentences
and phrases from all the other crime dramas.
I figure all I need to
do is take the following must-have elements of dialogue and throw in
a few "characters welcome."
0. "Are you okay?"
Standard question after a nuclear holocaust or removing a splinter.
1. "I never meant
for this to happen." Can be used for explaining an affair, a
murder, or binge drinking.
2. "Let's go.
Let's go. Let's go." Must be said three times; most apt for law
enforcement types about to storm a warehouse, but also useful for Mom
waving a briefcase and rushing kids to the carpool, or for thugs
waiting behind a tree to steal a bike.
3."I didn't see
anything." Appropriate from any suspect, any time.
4. "No one was
supposed to get hurt." Useful in a morgue scene.
5. "She was alive
when I left her," or its corollary, "He was already dead
when I got there." The easy way to establish a timeline for the
6. "I loved him.
I'd never hurt him." (or the reverse) spoken by one who usually
is not the killer.
7. "… so I
can move on with my life." Rationale for a transfer of
ex-spouse's funds to an off-shore account.
8. "What's that's
supposed to mean?" Acceptable even though the one asking the
question is the only one who doesn't know exactly what it's supposed
There are so many
more—those points in a drama when you and whoever is watching
with you say the line two seconds before the actor does. But for now,
I'm going to
9. "Get some
I'm always looking for
lines that are so specific that they can be used in only one context,
Remember this scene in
"Mrs. Henderson Presents" — theater manager Bob Hoskins is
walking away from Judi Dench, not interested in working with her.
Until she lifts her chin and says the line that turns the movie on
its heels: "I have a theater."
I wrote that line on a
card above my computer. I don't have a theater and I don't want one,
but someday I'm going write a line that good, a line that provides
unquestionable motivation for a character's actions, reveals the
dynamics of a relationship, and gives the story its momentum.
I'm sure you have your
own list. From one cop to another:
10. "What do you
* Technical note on my
numbering system: the first in the list has been numbered 0, for a
reason similar to that for the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics—because
the need to state it explicitly was not understood until after the
First, Second, and Third Laws had been named and become commonplace.
The zeroth law: If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a
third system, they are in thermal equilibrium with each other.
You can see the obvious
You can also see why
I'm having trouble writing that one extraordinary line.
Camille Minichino (aka Margaret Grace)'s taste runs to the dark (think
Natsuo Kirino and Jeff Lindsay).
She doesn't like any of the
hallmarks of cozy mysteries: pets, kids, cooking, and light humor.
And yet, she has written twelve cozy mystery novels, the latest three
releases featuring a ten-year-old. This in itself is a mystery. She's
on the Board of NorCal Sisters in Crime, past president of NorCal
SinC and NorCal MWA, past physicist, past nun, a minister, and a
miniaturist. She's married to her webmaster, loves writing, but
misses her He-Ne laser. Visit Camille at www.minichino.com