Friday, January 06, 2006

Where Next?

I've been reading the Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. It covers the history of the genre from its beginnings in the 18th century to the modern thriller, with every category in between. At least that's what I believe, because I'm still a wide-eyed lunatic when it comes to crime. It started me thinking about the different types of crime story and where crime was heading.

One side of crime fiction is detective and police fiction, where the good tries to catch the bad, even if the border between blurs. The other side is that of the criminal. In these stories, we learn to empathise with someone that we'd normally have nothing to do with. A serial killer, a stand-over man, a shylock, a robber, a rapist. You can break it down into sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, but to me this is the core of it. Two sides of the same crooked coin.

So how do you write a new type of crime fiction? What else is there?

My brain was powered by lack of sleep and an excess of caffeine in the form of black liquid with bubbles. It worked away at the connections between police, detectives, criminals, spies, sleuths and the like.

And I came up with an idea.

Instead of trying to solve a crime or commit it, I could have a character that just wanted to be part of it. A crime chaser.

A man with a lack of social skills. An observer in life: too gutless to steal or kill; just as unlikely to become a hero. He wants to find a way to live, to feel the rush of something, anything, through his veins. Isn't that why we read crime?

But what kind of person would chase crime, without being a criminal or a hunter of criminals? A taxi driver or a journalist maybe, but I think I prefer the idea of someone who doesn't chase crime in a professional sense. Something more along the lines of an obsession.

Not sure if there's anything concrete here, but I'll see where the idea takes me.

2 comments:

Tribe said...

Not a bad idea...there are plenty of potential characters who are just thrill seekers for some reason or another. But if you make them too nihilistic it gets boring. Straight, traditional crime never grabs as much as stuff that's off the beaten path.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I keep having this feeling that a story needs two ideas to rub against each other, the irritation creating a pearl.

I've got some notes down on this one, but I'll have to wait for the next idea to come along to join it.