View Full Version : Getting Started

02-22-2006, 04:33 AM
I am seriously considering starting a series of P.I. novels. In this series, the Private Investigator has been working for nearly ten years and is thinking of calling it quits. My questions are: When or should you introduce the character? How or should you explain what's taken place (in a few paragraphs) up to this point?

My story will be told in 1st person (there is some debate on this) But I prefer this way of writing--i've read many Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell books... Anyway, any help will be greatly appreciated either private message or e-mail (which is in my profile) Thanks.

02-22-2006, 10:06 AM
Rather than thinking of it as a series of novels, try to concentrate on the first novel alone. Less pressure. Create a character that readers want to get to know, give him or her a case that's interesting and dramatic, and bring it to a satisfying conclusion. Readers have to love the first book in order to invest in a series.

That said, begin at the last possible moment. It's advice I've heard time and again about starting novels. It's the reason so many first (and second) chapters get tossed. The novel starts too late.

So s/he is considering quitting their day job as a PI? Great. Conflict right up front. We don't need to necessarily know *why* s/he is quitting right away. Dangle that carrot, work it into the story, rather than in a reflective infodump at the start.

I assume that the case dumped onto his/her desk is important enough to prevent him/her from retiring. Let that speak for itself. Something in the character's personality made them become a PI. Something else in their personality will keep them at it, even after they've made the decision to quit. I keep thinking of Morgan Freeman's character in the movie "Se7en." He was about to retire, was showing Brad Pitt the ropes, but by the end of the week, he changed his mind.

I don't normally read mystery series novels, but your idea caught me and now I'm intrigued. Good luck with it. :D

Wesley Smith
02-22-2006, 09:53 PM
I agree with just about everything ChaosTitan mentioned. Establish that she wants to quit, but drop hints as to why she's thinking about giving up the life throughout. In fact, if you like, you could make that a sub-plot. In addition to whatever the actual mystery is, have the protagonist confront and deal with whatever issues are making her think about quitting.

And a question: If this novel is to be in the first-person, wouldn't you have to introduce the character in the first paragraph?