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Mystery > Question for mystery writers

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message 1: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 57 comments I'm getting ready to start working on my first mystery. Having written 2 books already and working on 2 more, I'm not unfamiliar with the writing process, but I'm finding a mystery to be a completely different animal.
In this case, I feel like I have to know the entire story inside and out before I write a single sentence.
I've got the murder act, I've got motivation, means, opportunity, characters that are well built (in my head, at least), so tell me, before I wreck it, what's your advice on getting started?


message 2: by Simi (new)

Simi Sunny | 185 comments Do what I usually do before I write: plan things out. I brainstorm in my book before typing it up on word or google docs. And you know what a good mystery needs? A plot twist! That way, your readers won't get bored.

Usually, when I need to write good mystery, I read mystery books like Stalking Jack the Ripper series and The Electric Empire series to help me which, thus, helped me create my first mystery novel, The White Sirens. I even do research, considering that it has to be realistic.

And after typing up your work, make sure to edit and polish as much as you can before you can have an editor and beta readers to take a look at your work before publishing. They ca give you insight. Does this help? :)


message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Rebecca Shaw | 4 comments Pretty much the same as you would any book. Namely, write it out and see if it works for you and then reread and edit it so that it works for the reader. You may want to make an outline of the mystery so that you can hit all of the points that you want but make sure that you don't make it too easy to deduce the culprit. Readers want to be a bit surprised by the solution.


message 4: by Jenna (last edited Mar 21, 2018 09:47AM) (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 57 comments Thanks. I'm trying to have it a little like Agatha Christie - a murder occurs, but the best way for the reader to solve it is to consider each of the suspects from a psychological/character analysis point of view. That of course makes every little detail important. I have a feeling I'm going to need a lot more beta readers this time. :)


message 5: by Simi (new)

Simi Sunny | 185 comments You're welcome :) Wishing you the best of luck, Jenna.


message 6: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 29 comments Jenna wrote: "I'm getting ready to start working on my first mystery. Having written 2 books already and working on 2 more, I'm not unfamiliar with the writing process, but I'm finding a mystery to be a complete..."

I found with twisting turning mystery plots, it helps to write it all out in a few different forms - using post-its, timelines and spider charts - otherwise it's difficult to keep track of what event leads to what clue and where everybody is, plus to make sure there's always a clear question that the reader is asking. (i found this make a massive difference to how engaging the story is).

Also, I found it really useful to write the synopsis early, it makes it easier to see if there are any areas where the story lags.

Good luck with it, it sounds interesting!


message 7: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 57 comments Thanks - having a 'murder board' sounds like it might work well for me. If any of you (or any other mystery authors) know any good sources for a morgue attendant/doctor or detective - a website would work just as well if it's reliable of course. Thanks!


message 8: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) | 90 comments If you have the components - characters, victim, means, motivation, suspects, as well as a sense of the investigation and resolution - then it might be best to outline. However, if there are particular scenes that are very clear in your head, you should write them down, even if they are isolated passages. (It's called writing in scenes - a lot of authors do it.)

Whatever gets the writing process started is what you should do - if you can't get Chapter 1 started, but you can write a few passages, or a chapter outline or a synopsis, do that.


message 9: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 489 comments However well you plan it, one of the characters will probably hijack it anyway! You seem to have it pretty well planned, Jenna, so you're ready to go.

One of the best tips I received was to run a spreadsheet on the characters, dates etc so you don't have to keep going back to find out what they look like or how much time has passed.


message 10: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 57 comments Rita wrote: "However well you plan it, one of the characters will probably hijack it anyway! You seem to have it pretty well planned, Jenna, so you're ready to go.

One of the best tips I received was to run a..."


Oh, I like that idea.
J, I absolutely do that. Most of my books start out with a random scene I thought up and then expand from there.
I'm not sure why I feel like mystery is harder to write. Hopefully these tips help me organize things better.


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