Mystery 1A

1A. Disclose the crime and mystery to be solved. The crime must capture the imagination. It should be committed in an extraordinary way and either the victim, the perpetrator, or both, must be unusual. Provide the reader enough information about the victim to make them truly care that the perpetrator is found and justice served.

Destruction of an historic building by fire in the Chicago Loop. The structural failure was complete due to the deformation of the iron (steel later?) beams and columns by fire. An historic building with cultural significance–it was one of the first skyscrapers and has persisted through the growth and development of the downtown area.

  • Entering emotional state of the point-of-view character
    • Jessica walked up South Dearborn on a crisp, clear day into the Loop. She weighed whether to take the L, but it was just too nice to ride the elevated conveyance. So, she crossed the street, now walking with the flow of traffic to Harrison and stopped for a latte at the Starbucks. Although she would need to hoof it to get to work before nine, the weather made it feel like there was no reason to hurry, and the streets invited her to amble up while experiencing the city and its continuous whooshing and honking, laughs from the nearby stores and restaurants, and the birds and wind moving between the buildings.
  • Character objective: What do they want?
    • It has been a few years, but Jess went into a steady insurance job right out of college. The money is good enough to stay in the job, but not enough to stave off the eventual desire to try something more interesting, at least to some who grew bored with the ins and outs of a business that protected its clients in the future but grew healthily on their payments in the present. The goal for the business is to keep the population safe and continue to take in the money so no one would try to take it later. The goal of the less zealous employees is to make enough money so each could go to do something exotic and interesting in the future. The workers have colorful dreams in work that wants a colorless future.
  • Conflict: What impedes them from what they want?
    • With too much fear about what would happen away from the insurance office and too much worry about having to make less money, Jessica stayed steady and continued her path in the insurance industry, insuring she can be comfortable, but wanting enough to question whether she were happy. Surely, a job could not change a person, but she hadn’t smiled much lately, and she worried if her employment affected her more than the old sayings told her. But, was this position more valuable than her dreams as a kid to be a writer and a painter? She went to a journaling group and did drinking and painting evening classes with her friends from time to time. Was this enough to keep her going? She told herself that she was fulfilled, but a nice car and comfortable balance at her nationwide, always similar bank with eager employees in the neighborhood branch but empty of a soul at the ATMs and the small satellite locations.
  • Motive for antagonism: Some understanding of the other characters’ motivations
    • Jess is heading toward thirty, but there are still four or so years buffering her so that she could avoid the inevitable blandness of adulting. She went to the neighborhood bar after work and dated enough to keep people from thinking she would be totally alone as she stepped through the fading halls of life and toward loneliness. But, the guys she dated were usually nice and kind, and they were well employed, so that the part of her mind that focused on value found that they were safe. Safe is good, and it will not force you to walk home alone or have to get out of the car in the rain. Safe means you don’t have to feel, unless you want to feel. So, when you do you make it complicated for all of the others by making things worse.
  • Character’s worldview: What belief system is he/she operating in?
  • Tactic: What actions the character takes in the scene to achieve their objective (remember, dialogue is action)
  • Turn: Does the character get what they want in the scene? What comes out of the conflict? What causes their emotions to change?
  • Objective achieved: Yes or no?
  • Exiting emotional state: If not the opposite of the entering emotional state, it must at least be different

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