Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

The lost outlines of "Carolyn" "Keene"

You guys, I think I have distilled Nancy Drew books down to their essential formula. I was taking notes for the purpose of outlining my own YA mystery, and... this kind of happened.


I. Titles

A. The…
1. Mystery of/at
2. Secret of/in
3. Clue in/of
B. … the [Adjective] [Noun]
II. Friends and Family
A. Nancy’s lawyer father has
1. a deep voice
2. a handsome countenance
3. a sterling legal reputation
4. a borderline inappropriate chumminess with his daughter
B. George likes
1. adventure
2. boys
3. having a boy's name. Even though she's a girl. With a boy's name. And boy hair. Did you know? It's true.
C. Bess likes
1. pretty dresses
2. boys
3. cake
D. Bess is afraid of
1. ghosts
2. starving to death in the next fifteen minutes
E. Other friends include
1. Hannah Gruen, housekeeper/surrogate mother/origin of all tasty things
2. Helen Corning and
a. Helen’s “special friend” Buck Rodman, who may or may not be from the 24-1/2th century (old version)
b. Helen’s husband Jim Archer, who must never know about Buck Rodman (new version)
2. a judge who saves Nancy’s ass when convenient
3. a banker who lets her pry into other people’s deposit boxes
4. friendly cops who are more than happy to let Nancy do all their work
5. some school friend you’ve never heard of before and will never hear of again
6. Togo the Wonder Dog
III. Enemies
Nancy’s enemies are
A. crooks of the deepest dye
B. incompetent
C. both
IV. Plot Points
A. Please, Nancy, won’t you help us? We’re
1. orphans
2. widows
3. spinsters
4. spinsters or widows raising orphans
5. crusty but avuncular old men
6. hot
B. Nancy’s father also has a case!
1. Nancy’s father is too busy to pursue his own case!
2. Nancy’s father’s case is totally the solution to Nancy’s!
C. Romance!
1. Each girl has a “special [boy]friend,” with whom she does absolutely nothing you could not do with your brother, your grandmother, or someone you met five minutes ago.
2. Ned flirts with Nancy.
3. Nancy flirts with Hot Guy.
4. Ned sulks and/or pines.
5. Nancy can never so much as kiss Ned, because
a. that would mean she’s a SLUT who FLIRTS with OTHER BOYS!
b. then she would have to MARRY Ned and MOVE OUT of her father’s house and QUIT DETECTING!
D. Local Color
1. Nancy can travel anywhere she wants, no matter how dangerous, including but not limited to
a. New York
b. Mexico
c. South America
d. South Africa
e. the middle of nowhere
f. the wrong side of the tracks
g. Canada
2. so long as she
a. asks her father first and
b. takes two (2) other teenage girls with her.
3. Nancy will then encounter someone who
a. is expert at skiing/ice-skating/rodeo riding/"skin-diving"
b. has a disturbing amount of knowledge on dolls/keys/masks/minks/clay deposits
c. stands to inherit a metric shitload of money
d. is suspicious but hot
e. is patently the actual villain
e2. not that anyone else will notice this for another 100 pages
4. …and, if she has time, she will
a. go sight-seeing
b. stop by a quaint tearoom
c. attend a dance and/or football game at Emerson College
d. befriend an extra orphan and/or widow
e. win a competition involving mastery of some skill we didn’t know she had, like
1. gardening
2. ice-skating
3. fashion modeling
4. "skin-diving"
E. Stop meddling, Nancy Drew! We’re so dangerous that we
1. made a threatening call to your house!
2. left a threatening letter in your mailbox!
3. ran you off the road!
4. broke into your bedroom!
5. drugged and kidnapped you!
6. left you
a. tied up in a closet!
b. rolled up in a blanket! A really dangerous blanket!
c. locked up someplace where NO ONE WILL EVER FIND YOU!
1. (except that George totally does)
2. (except that Bess totally does)
3. (except that Ned totally does)
3b. (not that you’re going to get frisky, even so)
7. tried to kill you with spiders/lizards/poison gas!
8. didn’t bother to snap your neck when we had the chance!
F. Oh no! Mr. Drew has gone missing! He’s…
1. being held for ransom
2. stuffed in a secret tunnel somewhere
3. drugged and tied up in one of those hotels where they steal your kidneys
4. back at the hotel and totally fine, dumbass
G. If 4), are you sure he’s back at the hotel, Nancy? This telegram says he wants to meet you in the middle of nowhere, by yourself—oh, and bring the [Adjective] [Noun].
1. Duh, it’s a fake telegram from the villain(s), dumbass.
2. OH NOES! DADDY!
Note: Whether Nancy falls for the telegram this time is completely independent of whether she fell for the fake telegram in previous books.

H. But that’s okay! The villains can just
1. randomly kidnap all the girls, but then get caught by the police!
2. randomly get caught by all the girls, who then call the police!
I. The case is solved and you’ve been caught, you dirty villain, because
1. your third accomplice is a stoolie and a wimp
2. Nancy has, like, a frickin’ graduate degree in secret compartments
3. you just had to sit and explain your entire nefarious scheme instead of twisting her head off like a bottlecap and making a run for the border
J. But all’s well that ends well, and
1. Nancy’s client gives her a tastefully expensive memento of the adventure.
2. Nancy’s next case is already a twinkle in her eye...
2b. ... and teased in the final paragraph. Wouldn't you like to read it? It's called The Clue/Mystery/Secret of the [Adjective] [Noun].
3. No one is getting laid, regardless. Woe.



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