Saturday, April 28, 2012

Every Writer Needs a Castle--and Beckett

Maggie here. It wasn’t until recently that I became hooked on ABC’s Castle. If you don’t know the premise, a crime novel writer tags along with a police officer on cases. How neat would it be if we all could follow the inspiration for our novels around and experience first hand what they experience? Too bad we would need a time machine and a portal into another dimension.

As I was watching the latest episode of Castle (Headhunters), I noticed something that seemed to stand out more than usual. It was how Castle and Beckett work together to solve the crimes.

(warning, there is some talk of... dead bodies and stuff).

She has the questions.

He has the answers. But he can’t come up with the answers unless she asks the right questions.

Julie: I watch Castle too, and Maggie and I both independently realized this is literally how we work. Well, except when Maggie interrogates me, instead of giving snappy answers like Castle, I just blink at the screen. Or whistle innocently. Or point at something shiny. Or, yes, get annoyed, even though I know Maggie is just trying to solve the plot problem with me.

We often get to the point where we frustrate each other and ourselves during our “theory building” sessions. I don’t know how many times I thought I had all the answers and a plot neatly constructed only to later discover a question I didn’t know needed asking. And when that question arises, it will often throw a curveball into my nicely-laid plans.

But we need to find the right questions to ask to ensure that our ideas make sense.

Julie: For what it’s worth, I understand TV writers actually write collaboratively. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Castle/Beckett exchange wasn’t quite a bit like how they hash out the plots for this show.

I wouldn’t be surprised either. 

I think it’s taken me until book 2 to really realize how important it is to ask a lot of questions. And even when those questions seem obnoxious or tear a hole in a plotline, when you come up with the right answer, your story will be much stronger.

I believe that my understanding of things becomes a lot clearer after we’ve played our Q&A routine.

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