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Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock 'em Dead with Style

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  222 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Solve the MYSTERY of how to write and sell a KILLER story!

With the help of interactive exercises, mystery author and crime fiction critic Hallie Ephron gives you the momentum you need to turn a kernel of an idea into an intriguing mystery novel. You'll learn to capitalize on your writing strengths and shore up your weaknesses.

This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of
Paperback, 248 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Balle  Millner (Blogger, Freelance Writer, Aspiring Autho
“Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truely detect the crimes presented to them, using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo-Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or the Act of God?”
-Membership Oath of the Detection Club, formed in 1930 by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and other mystery writers.

Click below for my review.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I like reading how-to books, although I don’t read them voraciously. After listening to journalist and mystery author Hallie Ephron give a workshop on point of view three years ago, I bought a copy of her book, Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. I prefer to read these books while working on a new novel and this was the perfect opportunity.

I’m writing my sixth mystery and was amazed by the amount of useful information Ephron provides, including the all-important editing and selling component
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, new writers
Recommended to Sarai by: Amazon
Shelves: howto-research, own
This is an EXCELLENT reference source for mystery writers. I would go so far to say that any writer that incorporates a myster in their story should look at this book. Not only does it walk you through questions to ask and plot twist. But it also gives you a blueprint of the basics. I plan to use this blueprint for all stories not just mystery based ones. If every genre had a how to book like this it would make my life a whole lot easier.
Chris Bauer
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Exceptionally useful book for authors of ALL genres. This work was recommended to me by an award winning mystery writer as a means to start exploring the mystery genre and I'm grateful she did.

Hallie Ephron provides a factual, straightforward perspective of the WORK behind crafting a good mystery novel. As an established author in other genres, I'll admit I was fascinated by both the similarities and differences in the work.

The organization and construction of the book is just perfect, IMHO. St
J.F. Duncan
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pride-of-place
I couldn't be without this book. My copy is up on the 'Pride of Place' shelf of my library, tattered, broken spined, ink spattered and well-thumbed and whenever I feel afraid, it provides comfort and reassurance! Hallie Ephron gives sensible, realistic, astute advice with good humour and the wisdom of experience. Her section on re-drafting is particularly excellent. I've read a lot of books about writing crime novels and, out of them all, this is the one that really works for me!
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent road map for producing a sound and polished mystery! One of two books I certainly hope to acknowledge should I be persistent and lucky enough to be published. It will remain on my go-to bookshelf for continued guidance!
S.E. Shurtleff
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a great nuts and bolts book. Plus, just reading it has helped me figure out some of my plot problems in my middle grade WIP. Wa-hoo!

This book is right up there with Carolyn Wheat's "How to Write Killer Fiction."
Lee Thompson
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great how-to book that hits some broad topics in writing and selling Mysteries. It also features a lot of writing exercises and examples that are fun and interesting.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One word describes this book: excellent.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a must-read for anyone who wants to take on writing a mystery novel. Loved it.
Most of it was...okay, a typical how-to book on writing written by someone who rigorously plans everything with multiple character sheets, an outline, a synopsis, a plot summary and graphs. I have tried this in the past, and I know from experience that while this method works for many people, it does not work for me; in fact, it kills the story dead for me. Once I know the entire story, I don't have to tell it to myself. So I don't.

Unfortunately, while Ephron paid lip service to people who don'
Elizabeth Crowens
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Bit dated.
Tim Suddeth
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVE this book. Does a good job of explaining how to develop your plot. Will keep nearby as for reference.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nemucon-research
Pros: Really good at explaining what makes a mystery novel differ from books of other genres and how to keep the suspense flowing.
The little snippets from well known mystery novels help a lot in bringing the points across.

Cons: A bit formulaic at times.
Somewhat outdated when it comes to recommending how to do/use research.
The references at the back are quite useless if you plan to publish outside USA or self-publish/only publish in an online format.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Book Highlights:

Basics Covered- This book does a great job discussing the basics of writing a mystery novel. I feel like a lot of the information could be useful for writing a novel in general, not just a mystery. However, the book is especially great at introducing the mystery novel for those new to the genre.

Great Reading Suggestions- My favorite part of the book was the many references to well written and successful mystery novels. In one of the early chapters there is a whole list of no
Nanci Pattenden
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful resource regardless of the genre you write in. Yes, some chapters are mostly for mysteries, but a very large portion of the book is general. There are chapters on POV, story line, editing, planning, revising, and selling. Each chapter starts with a quote from a famous author and there are lots of examples pulled from works of fiction.

She talks about how to end one chapter and start the next. Do you use a cliff hanger or not? She covers that. Hallie also goes over characters, from namin
Misha Jordan
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had just finished my manuscript and was taking a break while test readers had it when I bought this book. I felt the information contained in it was so valuable, I'm going back to tweak my own book with some of the suggestions. I re-contacted a test reader afterwards with a sample chapter of rewrite and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in writing Mysteries or Thrillers.
Tori Montes
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is great as a tool for writers. As a person I learn from examples and there are plenty here. I especially love the example by Robert Parker and his character Spencer. I loved the way Parker introduces Spencer with the dialog and give his attitude to us on the first page.
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Much more practical and comprehensive than "Writing a damn good mystery" by Frey. I especially liked the advice on false suspects and giving them secrets that either cast suspicion on them or remove suspicion from them. The selling part looks very dated but the writing part is fine.
Donna Glaser
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I still use it as a refernce.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a great help in developing my murder mystery.
Elizabeth Esse
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great writing resource, no matter the genre.
R. Brooks
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking to pen a mystery this is one of the best books to assist you.
rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2010
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Mar 14, 2017
Jennifer Woodward
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Oct 08, 2017
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Nov 26, 2013
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Sep 20, 2011
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Hallie Ephron ( is the author of suspense novels. Her last three have all been Mary Higgins Clark Award finalists.

Her newest, There Was an Old Woman is set in the Bronx. In it, a young woman and a very old woman connect across generations in spite of, or perhaps because, they are not related. Tess Gerritsen on TWAOL: “Superb suspense and unforgettable characters!” Washingt

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