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You Can Write a Mystery
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You Can Write a Mystery

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  102 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Award-winning author Gillian Roberts takes the mystery out of writing for the stable and profitable whodunit market. In Part One, she defines the genre, concentrating on core elements of the category, from developing ideas and building character profiles to researching crimes and selecting point of view. Following her examples and exercises, readers will begin to create th ...more
Paperback, 124 pages
Published August 15th 1999 by Writer's Digest Books
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In You Can Write a Mystery, award-winning author Gillian Roberts gives aspiring crime writers practical advice on how to produce a marketable mystery novel. Included is everything from "The 15 commandments for mystery writers" to instructions on how to pick your detective and how to decide which kind of story is for you--a cozy or police procedural; a spy thriller or romantic suspense? There are also the seven Cs that good books should never do without--characters, conflict, causality, complicat ...more
Jun 20, 2015 M rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, writing
This is a fair introduction to the subject, but I'm glad I have a few other books that go more in-depth. The writing here is easy to read and understand, and there are some pretty good tips. The thing is that much of this reads more like a general introduction to novel writing rather than something focused specifically on writing mysteries. I wish there had been a bit more specific advice and less general stuff - I don't really feel that the brief chapter on writer's groups was needed, for examp ...more
Rachel Pollock
Dec 10, 2014 Rachel Pollock rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
What i really read this book for was the chapters on plot structure and clue deployment, as i'm working on something with a mystery element to the plotting. There are also many other chapters on more general writing advice (how to create complex characters, setting development, finding an agent once you're done, etc) which would be helpful to a beginner but weren't aimed at me as a reader. It's concise and a quick read, and i'd recommend it to aspiring mystery writers, sure.
Jun 17, 2014 Rebekah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This book was wonderful! My only problem with it is that I don't have time to sit down and let my mystery novel pour out of me, the story in my head made better with the knowledge I have gained from Gillian Roberts.

I've read many inspiring writing books. I've read some terrible writing books. I've read books that made me want to sit down and write. This is one of the best "technique" books I've ever read. It inspired, it challenged, it clarified. It is everything one should hope for in a text s
Sep 17, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I'll preface this review that I am already a writer of science fiction and picked it up to learn a different genre.

This book has lots of excellent advice and even better it is under 200 pages. I have found that books over 200 pages either are full of filler or have too much information to assimilate in one reading.

The book is very different from other books on writing written for the writers' workshop crowd. It is not for the person who wants to write "literature." It is about writing for publi
Misha Gericke
Not a bad writing book. But it does focus a lot on the basics of writing in general rather than what's useful to know for writing a mystery in particular.
This book basically jumped off the shelf when I was volunteering at a local library this week. It's not something I would normally pick up, and perhaps none of the suggestions are particularly earth-shattering, but it strikes a nice balance between fuzzy encouragements and step-by-step instructions. It does well by removing the mystique around the writing process (at least, the mystery writing process) and draws your attention to the formulaic aspects that are present in any good mystery. The ch ...more
Adam Graham
Apr 28, 2013 Adam Graham rated it really liked it
Good for what it's worth: It's a great book that covers essential material on writing mysteries (though most of it applies to other forms of writing as well.) Loved the examples and suggestions. Only negative is that sometimes the short length can over-simplify issues such as a 3-page chapter on marketing.
Papayamariah Whurr
Oct 27, 2009 Papayamariah Whurr rated it really liked it
I grabbed this one from the library to use as a reference for this year's NaNoWriMo and read it from cover to cover in two days. I'd give this book 5 stars just for the 15 Commandments for Mystery Writers Who Want to be Published listed at the beginning, but the rest of the book is just as informational.
Aug 01, 2009 Nathaniel rated it really liked it
This book, in general, repeats general fiction writing advice, thus it is not a five star book. However, the chapter on hiding clues is quite useful for anyone interested in writing a mystery or crime novel and the author pulls great quotes from other authors on their process as well.
May 23, 2009 Thomas rated it really liked it
One of those Writer Digest Books guides; a straightforward, thought-provoking guide. Books like this can't teach you how to write, but they can jog your thoughts and help you develop your ideas. I got a lot of benefit out of it.
Sep 15, 2010 Peggy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was an easy read, but couldn't hold my attention. Maybe I've read too many "how to" books. She did offer a couple of lists of things to consider when writing a mystery. On the whole, it was same-old, same-old.
Meghan O'Connor
Sep 27, 2012 Meghan O'Connor rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books-i-own
Very useful steps and examples. My only other comment is that she has a lot of tables for the exercises, and they don't format right for the Nook, making each table span several pages unreadably.
Jun 17, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
This book is filled with practical, easy to follow advice about writing in this genre. I like that the author uses concrete examples to support what she's saying.
Dec 05, 2012 A.J. rated it really liked it
Concise, easy read that reinforced a lot of things I already knew and posed great suggestions that shall hopefully prove useful.
Jun 24, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing-craft
Doesn't help with plotting, but give you an idea on plot points to include. I would borrow this book.
Oct 18, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, 2012
This book is pretty basic, but it contains a lot of good info. Great as a refresher.
Feb 16, 2009 SmarterLilac rated it really liked it
No, I can't. But this is a good step-by-step guide for those would might be able to.
Oct 08, 2012 Homerun2 rated it really liked it
Informative, succinct, highly readable. Packed with information and tips.
Kathryn Johnson
Oct 16, 2011 Kathryn Johnson rated it it was amazing
Excellent reference book.
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