I make mistakes every single day. Touch the hot pan that just came out of the oven. Knock over a glass from the kitchen counter and break it. forget to turn in the library books. Make error in reversing directions to get home and turn left instead of turning right. These types of mistakes cause little problems (burned fingers, broken glass, unexpected fees, extra time to get un-lost), but not major inconveniences. Most of these mistakes are utterly forgettable. And, unfortunately, repeatable, too.
It’s harder to look at the bigger picture and identify mistakes. Sure, there are things I wish I hadn’t done, situations that I’ve been in that I regret, and parts of my life that I’d just as soon forget, but to call them mistakes would be to deny who I am. Every single thing that has happened has brought me to this moment, and truthfully, I’m happy. So, were those regrettable choices mistakes? Or were they necessary for my own personal growth?
When I write, I think about these things. Amateur sleuths make mistakes. They must. Former fashion buyers, interior decorators, and sewing workroom managers do not know how to investigate crimes. They can be armed with a healthy dose of curiosity coupled with a life-altering need to know whodunit, but, without proper training, their investigative attempts won’t be perfect. Their mistakes put them behind the eight ball. Their mistakes also allow for character growth. We accept the mistakes because we know they’re part of the process. We can cheer on the character after she makes a mistake because we expect her to have learned something. We can relate.
In life, and in mysteries, mistakes are necessary. But make the same mistake over and over, and the novelty goes away. Because, face it, even mice in a maze eventually find their way out after repeated encounters with dead ends!
Diane Vallere | @dianevallere