Shameful Cutbacks For Libraries
Last Friday, I was shocked to learn my local council intends to close two of the three libraries in my region. That will mean I’ll have to travel thirty minutes to the remaining one, which is something I won’t do, even though I love reading. It’s just not practical for me to travel so far. Instead, I’ll be forced to buy every book that I want to read, which will severely limit what I choose because I don’t have an infinite budget. I won’t discover any new authors by casually browsing until I find something new and exciting. I won’t learn obscure facts from giant reference books. I won’t try something different because it was free to borrow. Instead, my reading will be limited to only those books I can afford to buy.
Unfortunately, libraries are closing all over the country – in vast numbers. The government are slashing the number to save cash – allegedly.
When I was little, my dad used to take me to the local library so I could borrow loads of books on every subject under the sun. I love books today because I was exposed to so many when I was younger. If those books had not been free to read, I would not have read them and learnt to expand my imagination.
It’s incomprehensible to me any civilised society would close libraries when the benefits of keeping them open are so obvious. Libraries are a vital resource. Reading books develops critical thinking. It educates children. It provides pleasure and stimulates the mind.
Without libraries, future generations will be less educated than the current one, creating more problems than it solves, so it makes no sense to close them, no matter how bad the state of the economy. Employers always complain about the poor level of education of graduates unable to spell basic words and form grammatical sentences. Investing more in libraries will help solve that problem. The government needs to invest more in libraries – much, much more – if they want to reduce crime and poverty and improve society. Cutting back the number of libraries to save money costs more money in the long term. It’s insane. No libraries should be closed to “save” money.
It’s a false economy.
A big, ugly lie.
Closing libraries closes minds.
Does anyone want that?
We need to keep libraries OPEN.
We’ll be far worse off if they close.
Ten Rules For Writing a Traditional Murder Mystery
1) There must be a murder. (Suicides and accidents won’t do.)
2) A detective – amateur or pro – must solve it.
3) The detective can’t be the killer.
4) The murderer can’t be a total stranger.
5) There must be only one killer – with perhaps an assistant helping out with an alibi.
6) The reader should be able to guess the killer’s identity if they spot the clues.
7) The identity of the killer is revealed only at the end of the story.
8) The detective solves the case with little help from anyone else.
9) The murderer must have a strong motive.
10) The murderer conveniently confesses when faced with the evidence, making a conviction guaranteed.
A large number of very good stories have been written by obeying these ‘rules’, but the danger of sticking to the rules is you can produce formulaic fiction.
I loved reading Agatha Christie novels when I was at school, but I lost interest once I started solving them too quickly. After reading about thirty novels, I just knew the character with the unshakeable alibi was the killer. And I just knew the character with no motive had one hidden. It started to feel like I was reading the same book over and over.
Agatha Christie’s most memorable stories were the ones where she broke her own readers’ expectations by making the murderer the detective or the narrator or a character supposedly killed earlier in the story. Everyone remembers The Murder on the Orient Express for its unique resolution – while other more formulaic novels are forgotten.
A writing formula can be a useful tool if used as a framework for a solid plot – but if it is too strictly followed nothing new will be produced and readers will become bored.
I’ve never understood why a writer would want to write the same story again and again. If you want to do that, you might as well just change the names in a book and republish that. It’s the literary equivalent of remaking a successful movie.
Writing should be like a science experiment. Try something different each time to see what works best for you. A new formula might result in a breakthrough.
You might have some failures along the way – but at least you will not repeat yourself.
There should only be one unbreakable rule for writing.
Never write the same story twice.
Over a hundred comic strips in this series are now in an ebook called Inside the Writer’s Mind, available on Amazon.
If you are interested in creating your own digital comic as an ebook, a related post is here – Using Kindle Comic Creator.