Going Deeper for 2017

Welcome, 2017! So glad to see you. This year promises to be the best writing yet.

In that vein, I’d like to discuss a problem I’ve been having and hopefully you’ll have advice. Because, that’s what writer’s groups like RMFW are all about. Asking questions of your tribe. And mocking them when they give you bad advice…

So tribe, here’s my dilemma. I’ve been working on a cozy mystery. I sent it to my agent to read, and she suggested we make it more of a general mystery instead of a cozy. Her suggestion for doing so is, to go deeper.

Now that sounds easy enough.

Blinking at the blank page…

What the heck does go deeper even mean? I understand it in the general sense. But how do I make it happen? Does anyone have ideas or tools they use to create more depth and emotion?

So far, I’ve added some additional backstory and description of surroundings. Gotten more graphic in terms of the murder itself.

Most of that advice came from the internet, so you know it’s true.

What say you? How do you make your stories more complex? I promise not to laugh and point.

 

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer on Email
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. When she isn't looking for a place to hide the bodies, she spends her time with a pup named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants. She spent a few years as a bartender and then wasted another few years stalking people while working as a private investigator before transitioning to the moniker of WRITER and penning over 15 titles. Visit her website at jakazimer.com.

12 thoughts on “Going Deeper for 2017

  1. My writing mentor likened it to beefing up the “B” plot–the “other stuff” that impacts your character rather than having the book revolve solely around your mystery. You don’t need to add more POV characters, but try adding more “real life” stuff for your protag. It’s hard to answer specifically since I haven’t read your WIP.

    Of course, you could do what I would have done in your situation, which would have been to ask your agent for a few specifics about what she meant.

  2. Given the rather ridged structures for a well-written cozy, it seems to me the task of changing one into a more graphic crime story would be harder work than starting over.

  3. I second the suggestion to pin down your agent and ask if she’s talking about going deeper into character, plot, or both. It’s not just about adding the cozy no-nos like blood and gore, sex, and colorful language. She might want you to dig deeper into the crime itself, elevate the story from cozy to thriller which changes the story arc and the character motivation, or something else.

    • Maybe “go deeper” means adding additional, intense, emotions within and between characters. In most of the cozies I have read this is generally not the case; the chief emotion people in cozies feel is generally great annoyance at the inconvenience of being a suspect. 🙂 Very few, if any, characters care about the murder victim(s). There may be petty jealousies but the reader tends to see them as shallow, surface emotions.

      “Go deeper” doesn’t actually mean anything (unless, you’re writing erotica; hee!).

  4. Nebulous. But I agree with Terry. When I hear go deeper, I think broaden your character. Include her relationship to the world. What never seems to change? What is suddenly in flux? Where in her life is that happening: home, neighborhood, relationships (romance, divorce, births, deaths, illness, empty nest), politics in her neighborhood and outside, How is that change forcing her to question, reevaluate, give up, and resist? And how is the culmination of her actions impacting her case & procedures?

  5. Coming in from the thriller angle, where I live, my take would be much like what Patricia said; the crime itself could have darker, deeper implications. Something from your protagonist’s background could get drawn into the arc, creating a richer storyline? Or, I could have screwed up what your agent really meant….

  6. The possibilities are endless. I agree with Pat’s note about a crime with deeper implications and broader impact. Higher stakes. Inject a strong Inner Story for the sleuth that causes conflict with her Outer Story goals regarding the mystery. Even solving the mystery could be complicated–in solving the mystery, innocents will die — Moral Dilemma.

    Pat has it right. Dig deeper — with the agent. 🙂

  7. I of course have no idea what going deeper means in agent speak but what it make me think about is showing more of the interior of your POV character. What details do they notice, why do they notice them, what’s the backstory that drives their decisions. Take a look at Lisa Cron’s Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel. Donald Maass also has a new book entitled: The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface. I haven’t read the book but you have to admit the title looks promising.

    Let us know how it plays out.

  8. That’s a helpful suggestion (she said with sarcasm). That’s incredibly vague, isn’t it? Yet, I’ve heard it said. Maybe you should press her on what she means. There is a new book out called “Deep Work,” written by a writer, and a lot of writers I know are picking it up and finding it helpful in “deepening” their work. I saw a copy of it last night at the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America’s monthly meeting. Donnell Bell was reading it. You might check it out.

  9. A few minutes ago I asked my agent what “going deeper” might mean in this context. She said she hasn’t a clue. 🙂 She suggested it might mean “Needs more emotional commitment by and within the main characters.”

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