Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery” as Want to Read:
The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Like Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler, Sara Paretsky and Thomas Harris, you, too, can learn the trade secrets of quality detective fiction.

It's true.  Just one year from now, you can deliver a completed mystery novel to a publisher--by writing only on weekends.  Authors Robert J.  Ray and Jack Remick guide you through the entire mystery-writing process, from creating a
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 6th 1998 by Dell (first published 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  122 ratings  ·  11 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
As a writer, you should pick this up and have it close as you face a mystery for the first time. Or maybe for the first serious time. You will be glad you chose this book. It has a comfortable feel even as it was a little odd about that thong that kept cropping up. But even as there were silly accessories and creepy reasons for them, there was learning.

I was learning things I did not know before. I learned about an authorial intrusion. I have probably intruded with one since I did not know it wa
May 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
More suitable title: The weekend novelist writes a really generic mystery.

This book offers some decent enough pointers, that might allow a beginning novelist to tighten up their plotting skills, but most of the advice given is problematic to say the least. First, the book supposes that you are writing the most stereotypical of crime novels, and that supposition acts like a strait jacket. It’s Agatha Christie/Dashiell Hammett or bust. There’s no sense that the authors realize that not all writers
Kate Johnston
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a gift, from one writer to another. I was thrilled to have it. I've read it in bits and pieces, not because it hasn't held my interest, but because it is full of great information that I want to thoroughly digest. I'm not a mystery writer, per se, but what I have found in this book is a unique perspective on "How To" write a book, like uncovering clues as I move along my writing quest. I especially love the flow charts and the outlined lists to help me visualize how parts ...more
Meghan O'Connor
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books-i-own
The concept of scene cards has been tremendously helpful for me so far. I'll be buying this in hard-copy as well just so I can highlight things. ...more
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-books
Practical help on plotting a first novel. I found it works well in conjunction with mythic cycles to lay out the plot curve for events that slowly escalate a story to its conclusion. The mystery is more challenging to write then other stories since all the clues have to be placed innocuously prior to the realization by the investigator about what happened. Robert Ray is an effective teacher of the methods he uses in this book.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
This book has a number of really helpful tips that will be quite useful as I beat my NaNo's into shape. However, this book is focused on what I'd describe as a classic murder mystery: body found, sleuth investigates, all is revealed, and all ends are tied up. Nothing's wrong with this approach, but it won't translate 1:1 for mysteries that stray off the classic path. ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
Excellent! First book to teach me how to write a mystery in a step by step approach that appeals to the outliner.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased Ray's The Weekend Novelist back in the late 90s and it changed my life and the way that I approach the craft of writing. So when I saw this book, as a mystery/thriller/suspense author, I knew I needed to take a look and see how he applies his techniques to my own genre. I wasn't disappointed.
Ray uses classic novels (The Body in the Library, The Big Sleep) as well as more modern fare (F is for Fugitive, The Silence of the Lambs) to demonstrate the development of the plot, character, a
May 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I always wondered exactly how mystery writers structured their writing. Did they plan everything out in advance? How exactly should clues be revealed? Do you just start writing and see where the mystery leads? I was pleasantly surprised to find a real life mystery writer recommending a systematic approach. This book covers most of what would be needed to lay out a mystery over the course of one year. It made the process seem very approachable to anyone.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Okay book if you want to explore writing according to a structure.

But I don't agree to all of it. For instance the statement: "In mystery writing, you simplify the problem of motive by creating a visible resource base." From the examples, it seems the resource base is something like money or some property that the killer wants or wants to protect. But what about a killer that kills for revenge (and gains nothing, but the knowledge the victim won't be a pest anymore)? Or a killer that kills accid
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
I'm not sure where to begin; I'll put it bluntly, in regards of writing a novel its average.

Though some parts are overwhelming, it provides you with systematic approach of novel writing. In a way, it discourages one from writing a novel. It suggests that you should initially, do A then B; you cannot do B smoothly without A. I.e. writing a novel is linear, which I deem to be false. However, yes, there is some logic to this, but I strongly believe that as you write you tend to 'sense' your charact
Auster McEwan
rated it it was amazing
Mar 24, 2015
Wayne  Harvey
rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2016
Michele Garcia
rated it liked it
Jan 30, 2015
Arleen Williams
rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2013
Kel Harris
rated it really liked it
Feb 11, 2019
Diane Lopez
rated it really liked it
Aug 31, 2014
Darlene Lynch
rated it it was amazing
May 14, 2014
Jason Loeffler
rated it liked it
Feb 28, 2011
rated it liked it
Mar 25, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Nov 30, 2015
Gary D.
rated it liked it
Sep 07, 2011
Jonathan Farley
rated it liked it
Oct 28, 2014
Andrew Shaffer
rated it it was amazing
Jan 09, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2018
Janet Porter
rated it liked it
May 10, 2015
rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2014
N.C. Patterson
rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2015
L.A. Croft
rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
  • Peach Clobbered (Georgia B&B, #1)
  • Tulips and Trouble (Port Danby Cozy Mystery #5)
  • All Adults Here
  • To Kill a Mocking Girl (Bookbinding Mystery, #1)
  • Sprinkles of Suspicion (Cupcake Catering Mystery, #1)
  • Death by Chowdah
  • A Study in Murder (A Victorian Book Club Mystery #1)
  • Crime and Nourishment (Angie Prouty Nantucket Mysteries Book 1)
  • Murder on the Flying Scotsman (Lady Thea's Mysteries #1)
  • Terrier Transgressions (Pet Whisperer P.I. #2)
  • Deadman's Float (Crime á la Mode, #1)
  • Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies (Romaine Wilder #1)
  • Bed & Breakfast Bedlam (Logan Dickerson #1)
  • Guilt by Association (Murder in the Mountains #3)
  • Trial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains #2)
  • Marvels, Mochas, and Murder (Comics and Coffee Case Files, #1)
  • Do Unto Others
See similar books…
Robert J. Ray is the author of the writing guide The Weekend Novelist and eight Matt Murdock mysteries, including Murdock Cracks Ice.

He has taught college literature, writing, and tennis. He lives in Seattle.

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
56 likes · 9 comments