Writing a mystery series is a challenge, but it gets harder when there are two main characters working together.
When I was a teenager, I was told that Yin and Yang meant opposites, but in college I took a Tae Kwon Do class. My master was Korean born and raised. He spoke of complements. That the two sides lean on each other. They don’t compete or dominate, but rather balance each other. Their combination forms a complete circle. A smooth edge that is continuous. Unbreakable.
When writing both characters, there needs to be balance for the team, not an individual, to reach a successful conclusion and unmask the murderer. But how? Incorporating the elements of yin and yang.
Right brain and left brain. Soft and hard. Light and dark. Loud and quiet. I’ve spent a great deal of time with both characters, so that their voice is strong and distinguishable from the other. They’re a police detective and a civilian. Male and female. Husband and wife. Analytical and Intuitive. Together an unstoppable murder solving unit. Having been married to each for a long time, they’ve come to appreciate each other’s varying talents and strengths.
Yin and yang allow for each to be safe when speculating on motive, suspects, or murderer. In any situation both characters can look at the same scene, suspect, or piece of evidence, yet have different opinions on its relevance. They don’t keep score on who’s right or who’s wrong in any situation but incorporate the other’s opinion and weigh the validity of it. It’s the team that wins when the murderer is caught, not an individual.
Mystery and thriller writers pose yin and yang elements in each of their novels. There is always a crime committed and someone to reveal the perpetrator. Good and evil. Both characters can be strong, talented, and intelligent, yet move the story along with very different ideologies.
However, the biggest secret of yin and yang symbol is that small piece of one that resides in the other. That piece, I think, is respect. Each side of the symbol is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Respect allows each half to be their best self, let their strengths shine, and provide stability together. The complete package.
Writers spend hours on believable plots, red herrings, and character development because we know our readers are smart and bring their unique gifts and observations to the situation. The yin and yang of what the writer gives the reader and the reader gives the writer. We lean on each other, appreciate each other. There is a thrill when a reader says, “I just finished your last book. When is the next one coming out?” Authors work to get the next book into the hands of the reader. It’s the never-ending circle of complementary elements.