Bruce Robert Coffin here, with my monthly Murder Books contribution. Funny things often happen while I’m writing the scenes in my Detective Byron novels. Flashbacks. Not in the storied sense, although I avail myself to them, but in the historical. My own work history. My plots and characters are fictional but as I write I find memories and experiences from my 28 years on the job popping to the surface every now and again. Memories that want to insert themselves into my books. I liken it to rototilling through the fodder inside my head until a worthwhile nugget is unearthed. Some of these nuggets are historical gold, helping me to flesh out a scene or a character. Others are simply memories, plucked like weeds but never discarded. Carefully, I set them aside as there is always the possibility they might work in a future story. And they run the gamut, these memories, from pleasant, to comical, to horrific. Unlike baggage, which can be set down and left behind, my memories from the job are more like scars. They’re always with me, affecting how I see the world and how the world sees me. I use these memories to add realism to my scenes and dimension to all of my characters.

When writing my Detective Byron Mysteries I try and recall how I felt when searching a building, chasing a suspect, finding a body, making a next of kin death notification, conducting a felony stop, handcuffing a murderer. Sometimes I’ll use my memory of those events to create a scene, setting the table if you will. Other times, I stand those memories on their heads, taking the the story or characters in an entirely different direction. 

Are you an avid mystery reader, or writer? What do you like to see in your stories?

6 thoughts on “Flashbacks

  1. The same happens to me when I write. I should wear my fitness heartrate monitor when I write an action scene. When my heartrate hits 130+ when I’m sitting in my chair, it’s probably a good indication I’m reliving a past event from my police days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have enjoyed your book. The details of the City of Portland elicit images and memories. After completing your book I have recommended it to others who I know would appreciate your writing style. Thank you and eagerly waiting for publication of your next.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Bruce. When I started writing, my assumption was that I would have to intentionally seek out certain memories to add the level of unique and authentic detail I was trying for. I was kind of surprised at how some little things sneaked up on me without my trying. Thanks for sharing.


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