What I’ve learned from watching Criminal Minds
And how they’ve made my writing better.
In case you don’t know Criminal Minds is a television show about a group of FBI agents who profile serial killers. Now that I’ve explained that to you I should also tell you that you should crawl out from the rock you’ve been living under.
I mean who doesn’t know what Criminal Minds is? I mean it’s on syndication and on like ten different cable/satellite channels any given time any given day of the week. So look it up ladies and gentleman you have no idea what you are missing. And here is why…
- Things can always be worse.
- Always, I mean ALWAYS double check the locks.
- It doesn’t always end with a happy ending.
- When there’s a twist… The evidence (the smallest pieces) are all there. You have to be able to follow the bread crumbs back.
- The bad guys have to have a purpose and a reason.
- And last but not least… anyone can be a bad guy so watch the f*&^ out.
What I’ve learned in the years I have watched Criminal Minds
Do you have a favorite show, or do you watch Criminal Minds? And if so has it influenced your writing in anyway? Let me know below.
And watch out because like #6 says anyone can be the bad guy… you might just be in one of my novels as the one who did it, in the study with the lead pipe. Please tell me you got that reference…
Where you can find me
How author Marianne Spitzer finds inspiration
First of all, I love to write. There isn’t much that is more exciting for me than to sit down at my laptop and see a blank document in front of me. I know that soon the words will flow and the page will be filled. Then a second and a third will be filled and my story is on the run. I love to write. Watching my thoughts turn into a story is exciting.
I find my inspirations in many places and things. I have a folder full of ideas that may become books one day. I wish I could write them faster, but as it is, I have six stories in different phases of completion now.
I can look at a picture of an old abandoned castle or house and see the story within. Since I write supernatural mystery, I will see ghosts in every window and horrors behind each door. It depends on which horror or ghost’s tale I imagine most vividly that becomes the story. I may imagine many ideas and the ones I don’t use immediately are written down in the ever expanding idea folder.
I also pull inspiration from events in my life or an idea that just pops into my mind. My life is not full of ghosts and I don’t live in a haunted mansion, but inspiration can come from an everyday experience. Having an open mind to what might be is where I get ideas. There are times when I have no idea where the inspiration comes from. Personally, I think it’s my muse. I don’t have any other explanation.
As an example, I do live in an apartment building. We have a huge room for special events or our annual Christmas dinner. At night, the doors are left open, but the lights are off. If I forgot to get my mail before dark or am leaving via the front door, I need to walk down the hallway which leads to the meeting room. It looks like a black void. The hall is bright and then you see a huge black hole. My mind can run amok and think of a dozen things that could be going on in that room from a ghost party to the hiding place of an evil spirit.
My family often wonders about how my mind works when I can come up with a story on the spot on any subject they choose. Maybe my mind is wired differently or my imagination is wilder. Whatever it is, I love it and it leads me to write which is my passion.
About the author: Marianne I was born in Milwaukee, and lived there until I was eighteen. Then I spent eight years in Washington state and California before returning to Wisconsin. I love eerie places and books. I began with a love of Nancy Drew books and as I grew I found H.P Lovecraft, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among others. When I am not writing, I am reading or watching sunsets. I have been writing short stories since I was in grade school. Most were in the form of essays relating real life events. Many were purely imaginary trips to magical places and times. I enjoy making up stories about people I meet or see on the street. I can see a story in a picture, especially if the picture is eerie. My imagination runs wild and free. I have self-published a book of essays and a book of children’s stories for my granddaughter, Brittney. Gypsy Spirits is my debut novel and the first in the series of three “spirit” books. I have self-published the second “spirit” book, Annamarie and Magdalena. I also self-published a supernatural mystery, THE LETTER. I plan to have the sequel to THE LETTER out this year and the third “spirit” book available winter 2013/14. From there I am sure my muse will guide me into another story plot.
This book also contains the supernatural/mystery short story “MEGAN’S FEAR.”
a Rafflecopter giveaway
It’s going to be a sweltering July with exciting and fun thing happening. I’m going to be doing give-a-ways, live interviews, I can’t wait for all the great stuff. Stay tuned here on my blog and my youtube channel. And if you haven’t already done so, like me on facebook to stay up to date with everything going on.
**Don’t miss my live interview with Heather Lyons on Sunday July 7th at 11am MST
Goodread links for my to be reads for July 2013.
Glitter by: Mona Darling
Dark Connections by: Rebecca Graf
Uprising by: Dawn Jayne
Shadow and Bone by: Leigh Bardugo
Eleanor and Park by: Rainbow Rowell
Clockwork Angel by: Cassandra Clare
The Immortal Rules by: Julie Kagawa
Shatter Me by: Tahareh Mafi
The Letter by: Marianne Spitzer
Deep Connections by: Rebecca Graf
Links for books I’ll be reading for the July Booktube Read-A-Thon
- Read 150 Pages a day
- Read a classic
- Read a book over 500 pages!
- Re-read a book from your bookcase
- Read a book that has been on your bookshelf the longest
- Listen to a book on tape (audible)
- Complete a series
It’s A Book Thing Book Club
Wow, that’s no simple question! And yet, like writing, the answer is pretty
direct. How does one write? You just do it. Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. The answers are simple. It’s the act that’s difficult.
What I believe inspires me is music and life. I’d like to say that I sit at my desk and listen to my iTunes on random and voila! I have a story plot! But it takes some serious mojo for the elements to align and beam their creativity.
The alchemy of inspiration is a tad unpredictable and there’s no recipe to follow. Sometimes an image pops into my head–we’ll call that the Athena Affect. I have this moment or this essence that I want to convey and I start asking questions: how did we arrive here? Why is this significant? Is this the impetus or conclusion?
So what causes this brain snap?
The problem with the Athena Affect (images born fully formed) is that such scenes are often cut from the draft pretty early. They spawn a story but remain unincorporated, an elusive wisp of possibility. With Strong Enough I was itching to write something, ANYTHING, and kept pulling at feelings, settings, notions until I made cloth with which to weave. However, the first image/scene didn’t survive. It fell away as the story came together. Now it resides in my idea box (brain), waiting to be satisfied.
On the other hand, I’m in the middle of a dystopian novel–I have a draft courtesy of a NaNoWriMo challenge–and the initial image persists while the draft is to be scrapped because the first approach didn’t work.
Another story, this time a paranormal comedy, jumped from a blog of a delightful writer. It leapt up and chest bumped some arcane knowledge of mythology that’s always rolling around in my head, and they blended and reformed right before my eyes. The execution has been less dynamic but finally recognizing the comedic potential helped. A little inspiration infusion happened this past weekend when I finally, FINALLY, watched Warm Bodies. Loved it as much as Zombieland and it confirmed the desired style for my story.
Which brings us to life. It wasn’t my experience that confirmed my paranormal story but it was me living my life, allowing in other creativity–creativity for my personal enjoyment. It was reading other books, blogs, or even listening to music. However, life is a huge mountain waiting to be mined for experience gold. Once Strong Enough took shape, I used interviews and research to bring the characters’ worlds into focus.
Inspiration isn’t just the first AH HA moment. It happens continuously throughout a project. It can be a song traveling through your headphones to dance with your intention, crafting a new complexity. It can be a silly commercial on TV or bizarre dream that spins into the solution. All AH HA moments are essential whether they come at the beginning, middle, or end. Inspiration is life and life is inspiration. It is constant and energetic.
The great thing about these interview questions is that I’m discovering (and REdiscovering) some interesting things. Thank you!
Ellen Harger was born at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. As a military brat, she moved often during her childhood–something she never resented and continued as an adult. The constant starting over influenced her first published novel, “Strong Enough.”
At 14, her family settled in Missouri as civilians, permitting Ellen to attend one high school. She stayed in the Midwest to attend a small liberal arts college, studying creative writing and art. After 11 years, she moved to Boston. While there, she continued to study creative writing in Cambridge. Ever willing to explore new places, she moved next to the San Francisco Bay area. After 11 years away, and loving the symmetry, she returned to the Midwest to finish “Strong Enough.” She has published a poem, “Guidelines,” and released her novel as an e-book. You can find her at:
Ellen Harger’s Website