I don’t remember when I first read a Hardy Boys book, but it must have been early. My family couldn’t afford to buy books very often, so I took advantage of the library or school or anywhere I could borrow them. When I did find a new one, I’d plop down and read it through in one sitting, ignoring other parts of life, like chores and responsibilities; my parents were tolerant of my obsession, so I was left alone to enjoy all that I could. I was, in that blessed way, captivated by books. I still remember being surprised by The Mystery of the Two Towers (Hardy Boys #1), finding that the towers of the house were not the tower referred to in the riddle. How clever was that!
Likewise, reading Nancy Drew and other similar series were just as enthralling.
When I considered writing my own mystery stories for young people, I set out to imitate what I thought were these types of books’ prime elements: 1) the characters never got older, so the allure of who they were and what they were capable of, especially as they related to me, never changed; 2) the characters had access, either through themselves or through their families’ friends, to cars, boats, airplanes, trains, busses, and basically any other thing they needed made them seem oh-so mature and grown-up, but yet I knew they weren’t; 3) the trust of their parents was complete, which enabled them to be involved in an amazing variety of experiences and locations; and 4) each book was devoted to only one mystery, had easily recognizable bad people, had surprisingly interesting mysteries, had lots of clues that had me attempting to solve the mysteries on my own, and lots of action.
And the good people always won in the end.
Over the last few posts, I’ve talked specifically about the writing of the Mogi Franklin Mystery Series. I hate being so obvious in using ideas, principles, and structures of story creation from people like Frank Dixon, Tony Hillerman, and Clive Cussler, but I can’t help but to want to recapture what it was like for me to find myself captivated by their words and story. Those literary devices give richness and depth to stories that it’s much like listening to a good speaker or story teller and realizing that it is not only the story that captures the heart and mind, but the methods used in their presentations.
There is more to say regarding my writing processes, and I will, but I think this series of comments has run its course. Thanks for tuning in.
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Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.