The Experimental Mystery

Spoiler Alert! This posts talks in a very general way about plot points for Descendants #62! If you do not want to know anything about the issue before it starts coming out, stop reading now! In payment for this lack of your Friday does of author ramblings, here’s a link to two awesome and free games you can play. (If you sign up for KoL, remember to add Raast to your contacts and I’ll hit you up with some free items to get you started)

For those of you not worried about spoilers, on with the show.

It’s no secret that I enjoy experimenting with stories: #39 was an ‘Imaginary Story’, #50 focused on the bad guys, and #52 was composed entirely of vignettes. It’s fun for me and lets me stretch the old write muscles.

#62 is another one of those issues; one where I mess with the genre. Instead of an action story with soap elements, I’m going to give Police Procedural/Mystery writing a try. I’ve been binging on my CSI and Castle DVD collections recently and thought it might be a nice change of pace.

It’s a lot different than my normal writing process, where I start with a scene somewhere in the middle and fill in the blanks. To write a proper mystery, you need to start from the end and work backwards so that the characters have or find all the clues they need to get to the proper conclusion. Also, the mysteries in a police procedural aren’t ‘proper’ mysteries that a reader could figure out early with enough knowledge. Instead, they leave out important pieces and strew them throughout the story for the characters to find and figure out.

Watching my favorite shows of the genre, I also saw that a strong B plot is also invaluable to most of these stories. In CSI, this is usually another case, usually a lighter-hearted, or at least stranger one. In Castle, the B stories are usually personal and take full advantage of the snappy humor of the writers. #62’s B plot will probably be what everyone remembers in the grand scheme of the series, tying into one of the story arcs that’s been left open and bringing together two characters many readers will have wanted to have a nice, long talk for quite a while now.

I think it’s interesting because in this case, the readers already know (almost) everything there is to know about what the characters are about to learn, and so will be able to see just what they’re still holding back. It’s also a scene that couldn’t have happened at all without the situation set up in order to enable the mystery aspect.

And on the other side of this, we’ll be seeing some characters working together we haven’t already, establishing more of the interpersonal relationships that I think are core to The Descendants.

This is also one of those issues that wasn’t planned far in advance. I knew the conversation I alluded to earlier had to happen, but I toyed with how it would happen for a while. At different times, it occurred during Inexorable’s attack, in Faerie, or even inside a Tome facility. What I ended up hitting on works well, I think because it allows it to be its own story, explaining in action certain ideas that so far are only revealed explicitly on the forums or the blog.

Everything related to the mystery was born mostly from coming up with a very similar plot and realizing that it was very, very similar to Descendants #54, only stretching #54’s first half to fill an issue. I always wished that the ‘search’ portion there had lasted longer and showcased the methods more, but that issue was meant to bring the DU’s Japan into the events of the series and I couldn’t spare the time.

The first chapter, by the way, is already written and it was a blast to do. It’s almost 100% chatter and talk about superheroics from the point of view of a ‘real’ person. Plus, there’s some foreshadowing (FINALLY!) for the Game of Kings event I’ve been abortively building up to.

But that’s all coming up later. This weekend, keep an eye out for Descendants #61: Higher Education Chapter 1!

Until next time, folks.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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