"Morning Glory" and Knox's Decalogue

Today was the third meeting of the writing workshop group I’m now in. It’s a wonderfully varied group, with everyone writing very different pieces and yet still managing to provide what seems like useful feedback. I can’t wait for one of the pieces we workshop to get published somewhere.

So far the only thing I’ve brought to the group myself is “Years Later” from 2015, but I’d really love to figure out how to bring Morning Glory—not because I want to publish it, but because I think writing at length is where I’m most interested in improving right now. I’m not quite sure how to bring a novel to a biweekly writing group, though.

Unfortunately, between that meetup, a following lunch, and Japanese homework, I didn’t really do anything creative today besides a bit of work on the “character switch chapter” in Morning Glory. It pulls a subtle bit of plot forward in a way I wouldn’t have chosen, but it’s also making me investigate the relevant character’s thoughts in a different way. So it’s not all bad.

Umineko episode 5 has reached a point where being genre-savvy is plot-relevant, and so the characters start referencing Knox’s Decalogue, a set of “rules” for detective novels from the early 20th century:

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernaural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story. (As near as I can tell, this means “no shadowy mastermind only revealed at the end”, but it might also be “no one who’s evil just because they’re part of a specific group”.)
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

For Umineko this list is very relevant because its predecessor, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, breaks several of these rules in service of its ultimate aims. (My friends have called Umineko a “deconstruction of Higurashi”, partly for this reason.) For Morning Glory I was relieved to discover that I had followed most of the rules, but at least one of them is necessarily broken by the plot I picked. Ah well. (To explain further would be a spoiler.)

As with other days where I don’t have much directly creative to show, I’ll turn to haiku:

Fate has brought you here
Lady of Morning Glory
Come to claim your debts

Relevant to my story? Perhaps! Guess you’ll just have to wait to find out.

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