Friday, December 3, 2010

"How to write a Robert Langdon murder mystery in the great DAN BROWN style"

"How to write a Robert Langdon murder mystery in the great DAN BROWN style"

By M. Khalil ur Rahman

"Dan Brown's conspiracy- theory thriller is the pulp must read of the season...An ingenious mixture of paranoid thriller, art history lesson, chase story, religious symbology lecture and anti- clerical screed, and it's the most fun you can have between the sort of covers that aren’t 300-count Egyptian cotton."

I read Dan Brown's "the Da Vinci Code", and I read Dan Brown's " Angels and Demons" and then it hit me, a brain wave with the speed of summer lightening. What if some one wishes to write a Robert Langdon murder mystery? What if great Dan Brown himself wishes to write another murder mystery? ( This time on freemasons, perhaps). Does he have something to go by? Can he muster some help from internet, books or even junk emails? Probably not. These days the 'How to' books are very much 'in', right from the very first HOW TO book, namely,'' How to win friends and influence people'', by Dale Carnegie, up to the present day how to's / Do it yourself manuals/ an idiot's guides. But does one find any hint, any help, any reference, on how to write a Robert Langdon murder Mystery in the great Dan Brown tradition and style? Most definitely not. Hence the idea of an article on this very subject. Today its a mere article, tomorrow some real writer, some entrepreneur, may convert this idea into a nice looking hard cover with pictures, and full blown diagrams and lists and tables and with pop-ups and notes on every page.( An annotated version, perhaps). Let's keep our fingers crossed.

What you need:
There are certain things, articles, books, archives you need to have in your possession before you undertake to write such a "highly graded piece of Literature."

1. Books on history, theology, archaeology, fine arts and painting, and philosophy.
2. A couple of books on Riddles
3. Google/ yahoo search engine/ wikipedia on line encyclopedia to search for "secret societies brotherhoods and Cabalas.
4. Guide maps of London/ Paris/ Rome/ Madrid/ Rio de Jenero
5. A few books on religious norms, practices and rituals.


When a world renowned is found dead, brutally murdered, a Harvard Professor, Robert Langdon, receives a phone call/ an SMS / an email.( Gone are the days of Sherlock Holmes who used to receive letters and telegrams). Robert is summoned to identify the mysterious symbol seared onto the dead man's chest. His conclusion: it is the work of a secret society, sect, brotherhood, presumed extinct for nearly umpteen hundred years -- now reborn to continue their bitter vendetta against their sworn enemy, the catholic church. Thus begins a who-done-it.

Who is who 

Robert Langdon: a Harvard university professor, a religious symbologist who happens to be in a habit of popping up whenever there is a murder of a symbolic sort, meaning a weird symbol is scratched either on or near the dead body.

A dead Body: It better be male. It better be dead and it better be naked. It better be twisted in an unnatural manner, and it better have a weird symbol tattooed over his body.

Heroine: in order to give this character a sort of sensual exuberance, and in order to finally make a two hour movie out of this story, it better be a female, and mysteriously connected to the dead body. An expert of the sort. Robert Langdon, only being a symbologist, _naive in other worldly matters, must seek her help, _once knowing that she is somehow connected and there, _to stay for the rest of the story.

Murderer: must be an albino/ an Arab and a masochist. Must be dumb. Must be obeying his master's voice.

Master: must be the hidden master/ mentor of the maniac killer on the loose. The very identity can be saved till last, the grand finale.

Police/ authorities: must be dumb. Must be after the Hero and Heroine instead of the real culprit.


Robert Langdon wakes up from deep sleep only to find the phone ringing/ his hand held device flashing for an SMS/ email with high priority set. He is being summoned to a place, he doesn't know why but he arrives there only to find a dead body. The dead do tell tales. This one tells Robert a lot with a strange symbol inscribed on his body/ near his body. Robert instantly recognizes this symbol as the ancient symbol, a deadly icon from a deadly brotherhood. He thinks it is only a part of history and nothing to do with the present, but the heroine who is a relation of the deceased and a very talented lady, tells him otherwise. Thus starts a double treat for the reader in the form of a wild goose chase and the who-done-it mystery, with a lot of riddles spread all over the plot.

Back Ground. the book must also have a "sensational"/ scandalous aspect by embroiling people's existing norms, beliefs and views on religion. In other words, the writer must be able to fan the religious controversy to such an extent that he can shake and jolt the very foundation of their religious beliefs.

How and Where to Publish the Book
After all said and done, if the reader is able to benefit from this article, and actually write such a masterpiece, he must put the manuscript in a casket and forget all about it for at least a hundred years, otherwise if he succeeds in publishing it, he is bound to face One Hundred Years of Solitude or Instant Death, courtesy Blasphemy Law.

Never trust Dan Brown. All the time while reading his adventures, you must be thinking that it is FUN, but in actual practice, he was teaching you ancient history / some diabolic aspects of some esoteric rituals of some secret brotherhood, or cabala. Just to give your religious believes a good thrashing. BE WARE.

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