Families in Chaos

I like to write about families in chaos.  That chaos ranges from the lighter side–such as teen angst and mischief from the pet ferret–to the darker side, such as kidnapping and betrayal.

None of this means that my own family is in chaos!  Trouble always adds spice to fictional life, when real life is–thankfully–less “spicy.”

Sometimes we have to extrapolate to put drama into our stories.

I’ve written about overworked moms, which is something I know firsthand.  But when I fictionalize my overworked moms, I take them to the extreme to see what could happen when their dedication to their different jobs costs them precious family time.  And oops!  Kidnapping and maybe a murder or two have happened.  My heroines get their villains in the end, and order is restored.  But that order doesn’t come only in the form of justice to society.  Order is also restored to the family.

And speaking of villains…

Last month I posted about how I was trying to identify the villain of the story I was working on.  This month I’m happy to report that I’ve found the villain, and wouldn’t you know?  It’s a family connection.

Which leads me to wonder why families are so powerful to use in mysteries?  Maybe because…

  1. They provide a strong motivation for the sleuth to sleuth when a family member is threatened.
  2. Families will provide terrific inside information, if they’re in a position to do so.
  3. Families hide skeletons in their closets (personally, I love this one!)
  4. Domestic violence provides crime fodder (although I personally don’t write this dark).

Can you add more reasons?  Do you have a favorite?

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9 thoughts on “Families in Chaos”

  1. My favorite family is The Gallaghers on Shameless. There’s a lot of dysfunction there, and also a lot of resiliency and love. I also love patchwork families — people not related by blood but who love and protect like blood — Buffy’s gang comes to mind. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post, Sue. Yet, many sleuths have no family or only distant relatives: Miss Marple, Poirot, Sherlock…I wonder if those authors wanted sleuths who weren’t bogged down with the daily demands of family so they could devote themselves to the investigation. I also note that Agatha Christie made great fodder of dysfunctional families.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post, Sue! Very astute list; the only thing I can think of to add is family as a tool to further torture the MC to help her/him along on their arc. As Liz said, no one knows how to push our buttons quite like family 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

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