Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction-Writing Techniques to Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.
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Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction-Writing Techniques to Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  17 reviews
-Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction Book
-Finalist for the Anthony and the Macavity awards
Paperback, 293 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Bella Rosa Books
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This is a great book for would-be writers of any genre, though Roerden focuses on mysteries in particular. Roerden has been an editor for some three decades (or something like that) and it shows. The tone is light and lively, and the examples of good and bad writing are excellent. It's a great reference, and highlights a lot of cringeworthy writing habits.

Something to note: this may not be the best book for someone with an unfinished draft. The advice is meant for those who are in the middle of...more
Pamela Cable
Although I love the way Chris Roerden has written this book, her tips, clues, and examples are not just for the Mystery writer. Every writer will benefit from her years of expertise. When I study the craft, I don't want to spend hours trying to figure out what the book is really trying to say. Roerden's book is easy to understand and grasp. You can skip around. She talks about aspects of writing that not all books on writing discuss. I suppose it's her experience showing again. I have marked up,...more
Richard Risch
There are books that are pure trash (see my review on "Crush It"), and then there are books that are pure gold. "Don't Murder Your Mystery" is pure gold! What this book is about and very well demonstrates is how to vastly improve your fictional writing skills. For both the novice wanna-be writer as well-recognized and published author, it will improve and enhance your manuscript. This book reaps my highest accolades with clean-cut examples of both bad and good writing techniques along with detai...more
The first 3/4 of this book was interesting and then it bogged down. It read a bit like a spiced up textbook.
A lot of this book was skimmable for me, but I found parts really helpful. Roerden enlivens the dry material with an entertaining style and chooses great examples from published novels. A word of warning: the book isn't much about 'How to Write a Mystery'. It's about 'How to Write'. It's clearly geared toward genre writers, but I expected it to focus on that a bit more.
Gale Borger
Nice job, Chris! Anyone who says you can't learn new tricks, or be reminded about what's really important about writing had better get new reading glasses because they missed the point of this book.

Though geared toward the mystery genre, good writing is good writing, and Roerden speaks to everyone in this book.
This is a very well put together guide for writing mysteries. It has a lot of good information that would be applicable to any fiction writing. I found the quotes and literary references from other mystery writers to be very helpful - plus it gave me a bunch of new authors to explore.
Some really good writing advice from a seasoned editor. Don't let the "mystery" part scare you off if you're writing in a different genre, most of the techniques apply to any kind of fiction writing.

Most helpful if you've finished your manuscript and start self-editing.

Oct 05, 2008 Kathryn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all mystery writers
This is quickly becoming a bible of do's and don'ts for the mystery writer. The dreaded "information dump"--egad!--of which I am often guilty of writing. I'm reading this book and going back through my manuscript and stomping out all of (well, most of) the offending sections!
I checked this out from the library twice before deciding I will need a copy on my bookshelf. The short chapters give you rapid-fire advice with plenty of examples. This is the sort of how-to-write book you can go back to again and again.
Jordan McCollum
Obviously some of these issues are a little basic, and none of them are handled extensively, great treatment of 24 classic problems even experienced writers can have--and some unique solutions that really work.
This "how-to" book is designed for mystery writers and wannabes, but contains useful information for any writer of fiction.
Rereading this very helpful editing book. This is the book that helped me move from the passive to the active voice.
Good guide to any fiction writing with a couple of things more useful to the mystery writer.
This is a great book. I'll add more to the review during daylight hours.
Diane Lewis
This is an excellent resource for a beginning fiction writer.
Kym McNabney
Good read, packed with information for new writers.
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Insider information from Agatha Award-winning author and book editor Chris Roerden (44 years in publishing) about getting your manuscript past the important gatekeepers. Chris is also a former university instructor of writing (U of So. Maine, U of Wisc-Milwaukee), past president of a trade association of 250 commercial and university presses, and editor for authors published by St. Martin's Press,...more
More about Chris Roerden...
Don't Sabotage Your Submission: Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A. Give This Man a Hand: A True Story of Losing a Hand & Regaining It Open Gate: Teaching in a Foreign Country - A Personal Account What Two Can Do : Sam & Mandy Stellman's Crusade for Social Justice Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology

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