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Writing a Mystery
Transcript of Writing a Mystery
Clues & Red Herrings
Police Detective or other Crime Professional
investigative process is central
works with a group
often multiple crimes
Private Investigator; often male
Private Investigator; often female
Violent crimes but not overly graphic
Plot and character driven
Amateur sleuth; usually female
Police Procedural or Hard Boiled
+ Bleak Despair
Personal Motivation beyond $$
*Type of mystery and audience will influence what type of detective you put into your book.
First 50 pages
Character: with a secret, guilty of something other than the bigger crime, with a motive, with opportunity = could be the killer.
Diversion from the true villain
Provides a clue toward the truth
Force the Hero to think
Combine together into larger clues
"By George, I've got it!"
"By George, I've got it"
You're hero has to put the pieces together
Use the hero's special abilities
Unanswered questions are answered
Good has conquered evil
Happily Ever After vs. "We set out to save the Shire, Sam, and it has been saved - but not for me."
Keep it short
Start with your main character; develop their backstory, reason for initial involvement, and setting. Outlining is optional. Add a murder within 3 chapters or 50 pages, whichever comes first.
1) Gather your supplies:
2) Combine ingredients:
Establish their reason to pursue this, take them inside. Sift through clues, distract with Red Herrings, explore a theme, and continue to mix well.
3) Mix well:
As Red Herrings are revealed, raise the stakes and increase pressure on main character to solve the crime or else.
Main character connects the dots and solves the mystery via a climactic scene where their special skill is revealed/utilized.
Tie up all loose ends and reassure the reader that the world is now a better place (except if writing a Noir, then there is no need)
*Different audiences like different types of storylines, fit your genre to who you expect to read your book.
6) Revise, revise, revise
Mystery that matters = Threat to happiness
Not too scary a threat.