(An ongoing series of blog posts from member Lexa Mack, to spark your writing imagination. And she keeps a blog of her own, here.)
Part One – JAPANESE BORO
“Derived from the Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired, boro refers to the practice of reworking and repairing textiles (often clothes or bedding) through piecing, patching and stitching, in order to extend their use.”
Especially during and after WWII it was very difficult for Japanese farmers to obtain new fabric for garments. It became common to patch clothing so often and with so many different patches that the it was difficult to determine where the old garment ended and the patches began. In modern Japan there is a renewed appreciation for the tradition. In fact, there are entire new clothing lines based on re-creating the boro look.
Part Two – Kurt Vonnegut
According to a University of Chicago rejected thesis by Kurt Vonnegut there are only six basic “shapes” for all the stories we tell (they are now using computers to show that UC was a bit hasty in their rejection of his theory).
The Greater Whole
If all stories can be categorized into 6 shapes (or 106) then all the stories we write are really boro jackets of infinite variety. We take a worn story and begin the process of cutting patches from our own experience and imagination and carefully hand-stitching them over the shabby parts. We don’t need to use new cloth; in fact, it may be better if we use pieces from other worn stories. If we can come up with a completely new bit, that is good, as well.
One modern example is the popularity of pastiche. In this case the form or style of the story is used as basis and great care and reverence is taken to enhance and build on the original by creating a new and sturdy garment.
If this is done carefully you only see the form of the old story, with the best bits shining through, and really end up with something no one else in the world could piece together in exactly the same way.
MWA NorCal’s members-only page (here) has loads of things for NorCal members. Such as a pdf of “Accurate Sources of CSI and Forensic Information” from June’s Finding Evidence workshop. It was compiled by Julie Jaecksch, long-time CSI with the Oakland Police Department, and makes for a valuable resource when you want to GET IT RIGHT!
(Forgotten your password? Send MWA NorCal a note, and we’ll remind you.)
(An ongoing series of blog posts from member Lexa Mack, to spark your writing imagination. What do you think?)
Tell – Noun – (especially in poker) an unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception.
Red Herring – Noun – Something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.
In mystery fiction, or anyplace where the culprit is unknown, there may be unintentional clues left that could help identify, or eliminate, suspects. For example, watching Dr. Blake Mysteries last week, the murder victim was kind of OCD about things, but his clothes had been stuffed in a locker. So, it was likely he didn’t do the stuffing.
I am wondering about other habits or traits that could provide clues. What type of personal attributes might leave subtle messages? Can age, height, weight, left-handedness, or gender provide fodder for solving fictional crimes? What other tendencies might unconsciously leave evidence behind?
In movies and TV (and real life, too) investigators use height, direction of blow, and other clues to identify suspects. How old or weak a suspect is might eliminate them from consideration. I think of these as physical alibis.
My husband observed that many right-handed people stub out a cigarette by grinding it to the right. That made me wonder if left-handed people stub them out by grinding to the left. Can any of you left-handed former smokers answer that for us?
These examples are unintentional clues, but there are always the intentional red herrings that a criminal might use to derail the investigation.
How might someone overcome their physical identifiers to mislead someone? How might a small woman overcome her physical traits in order to commit a crime that would seemingly be impossible for her?
Someone could spray perfume at the crime scene, wear a disguise, leave large shoe footprints outside windows. I read that moonshiners would wear shoes with hoof shaped wooden blocks attached to them to fool the authorities (check it out on the internet).
Most of these examples are standard, but I know that any MWA Member worth their salt can come up with much trickier ones with very little effort.
Playing your cards “close to your chest” (yet another poker reference) is generally considered wise, but I’d love to see what our conniving collective consciousness can come up with.