NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

JUSTIFIED questions

I think any good suspense or mystery novel is riddled with questions. Figuring out the answers is what makes them interesting reads.

I've been thinking about the power of questions to build suspense as I watch each episode of the television show JUSTIFIED (Warning: Small Spoilers Included In This Post).

Despite the fact I think this is the program's weakest season, I keep tuning in because I want answers to the questions they've raised.

(Questions other than: What the hell has Raylan EVER seen in Winona? and Why isn't the best bromance ever (between Raylan and Boyd) not getting any screen time this season?)


This season I've particularly admired the use of "The Room". "The Room" where this season's biggest baddie, Robert Quarles, does his Very Bad Things, is brilliant in its simplicity. We got one glimpse inside it early on, and then "the room" has never been seen again.

We've heard terrible sounds coming from it, we've listened to Quarles talking about cleaning it and getting it painted (to cover up the evidence of the very bad things) and we've held our breath waiting to see if Raylan or a deputy would stumble in and discover the atrocities committed there. At this point "The Room" is practically a character.

And yet we don't REALLY know much about it. The writers have left it an open question and as viewers we try to fill in the disturbing answers. It is, in my opinion, a brilliant device.

I'm also loving the character of Ellstin Limehouse (played with sublime perfection by Mykelti Williamson). He reminds me of an older and wiser Boyd. We KNOW he's not a good guy, but he's so clever and charming that it's hard to root against him. Plus, he's been providing shelter to abused women for decades, so he does have his redeeming qualities. I love the way the writers have played with the question of just what was his relationship with Raylan's mother, way back when? And why on Earth would that crafty Mags Bennett do her banking with him? All the questions surrounding this man is what makes him an interesting character!

Even though my books THE FIRST VICTIM and CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN are very different styles, they both revolve around the central question: How far would you go for someone you love?

If you're a fan of JUSTIFIED, what do you think is the central question of the series?

If you're not a fan of the show, what kinds of questions do you like to see characters struggle with?

Do you prefer stories that leave questions open-ended or do you demand answers?

8 comments:

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, JB. I have to agree that answering the story questions is what keeps me reading. That's why it's so important to open to story with a question. It can be something as obvious as 'why is that man trying to break into the character's house?' to subtle: 'why is that woman so sad?'

I like being strung along with open questions, but after a while, I want answers!

Maureen A. Miller said...

I believe that proved to be the demise of "LOST". After awhile the viewers/readers get so frustrated waiting for answers, they end up just leaving.

It's an art (one that you master, JB) to give them enough information that they are sitting on the edge of their seat.

MJFredrick said...

I love this show, and I'm with you--MORE RAYLAN AND BOYD together!

The question that brings me back is the same thing the keeps me writing: what makes Raylan the man he is? Is it having the abusive criminal father? Escaping Harlan? Did he have a death wish before Winona got pregnant? WHY DID THEY MAKE WINONA PREGNANT if they're breaking them up? Just let her ride into the sunset, already.

My husband is saying he doesn't like how big the story's gotten, and I agree--I liked it better when it was Raylan in Harlan, but I guess he can't do that all the time without some Big Bad threatening things.

JB Lynn said...

Marcelle -- I get annoyed when answers aren't provided too!

Maureen -- You're too kind, Maureen. Thank you! Yes, LOST lost me after a couple of seasons for that very reason.

MJ -- I happen to agree with your hubby in that I really don't like how much they've increased the scope of JUSTIFIED. And speaking of questions, I thought they made a mistake letting the audience know right away whether or not Boyd had bombed the car.

Cathy Perkins said...

I confess, I'm one of three people in the universe not watching this show.

Okay, books - now that's a different subject :) I love getting caught up in the story, the characters.

I want a story question up front, not 50 pages of ‘is there a point to this and can we please get on with it.’ With a mystery/suspense, the central question most likely will involve the crime, but there can be sub-plots, smaller, more subtle story questions. I actually find those stories the most interesting.

Marsha Sigman said...

I am obsessed with this show.ha

I have so many questions!!! I like a little mystery and I don't need every single thing wrapped up with a bow but I also think they should have kept the story smaller.

They might have realized we all want Raylan single so they took Winona out of the picture too.

And who doesn't love them some Boyd? I also think there is something more to the relationship between Boyd and Limehouse.

That's my 2 cents.

Rita said...

HA Cathy I'm one not watching.Maureen i agree with you about Lost. i gave up on it forever ago. It's the conflict in any story/show that keeps me going back.The HBO series Game of Thronws is back and doubt I'll watch because there are to many questions. Color me hard to please.

JB Lynn said...

Cathy -- You're right! Sometimes the sub-plot questions ARE more interesting.

Marsha -- I was CONVINCED they were going to say the baby was Gary's...obviously Winona has no trouble cheating on her men...

Rita -- You've officially been colored hard to please! ;-)

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