the baby doesn’t stay in the picture

So, I’ve been working on a new story (not the nursing home one) for a while, and it just wasn’t coming together.

I think the problem is the baby. I’ve never written a story with a baby before, and maybe there was a good reason for that.

I had a bunch of scenes with the baby, all the way through from its first appearance (crying, annoying some other characters in a somewhat amusing way), to the end, where it was revealed…

Well, anyway.

The problem has turned out to be that, particularly in an Agatha Christie type mystery where the characters are all stuck in one place together, you have to account for the baby at all times. You can’t have it go outside for a smoke during a scene where it would be in the way. It could doze off for a while, but I understand that’s very temporary, especially during a storm with thunder and lightning.

Plus, in a mystery story, a baby has very limited usefulness. It can’t commit a murder, and it can’t solve one. You certainly wouldn’t want it to be the victim, and babies make very unreliable witnesses (unless you do a “what the dog did in the night-time” thing, but that’s way overused at this point).

So, the baby is out. Sometimes you have to kill your little darlings, or at least boot them out of your story.

As W. C. Fields said, “Never work with animals or children.”

(Daphne growled at me when she read that, so I had to reassure her that of course I wasn’t referring to her.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to the baby doesn’t stay in the picture

  1. SB Roberts says:

    That is tricky. Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve written many stories with babies in them. Certainly none that I can think of in which they played any major role. Just like in real life, they do require a lot of monitoring, like you mentioned. And I can’t speak from experience quite yet, but I’m thinking storms would be problematic. Booting the baby from the story is probably a good move. 🙂

  2. I tried to think of a myatery story that I’ve read that had a baby in it, and only one came to mind. It was one of the Violet Strange mysteries that I talked about here. The baby died during an act of violence, and the whole thing was pretty grim.

    As I said in the blog post, the Violet Strange stories, despite being about a teenage debutante detective, went to some dark places. Maybe that’s because “YA” hadn’t been invented yet, so the assumption was that the audience was adults, even with a teenage protag,

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.