Any good tips for writing mystery fiction?

Discussion in 'Fiction Writing' started by cozhart, May 18, 2019.

  1. cozhart

    cozhart New Member

    I've been struggling to write this type of fiction even though the ideas come easily to me... I just couldn't write good mystery fiction.
  2. Warren1967

    Warren1967 Well-Known Member

    Well you can start with organizing your thoughts and ideas and build from that.
    1 person likes this.
  3. ohevit

    ohevit Member

    To be an effective mystery fiction writer, you must be able to know the techniques to build or create suspense and mystery. The basic tool to use is the first-person point of view in which the character who tells the story does not know what will happen next and the writer should preserve "the innocence" of that narrator. The reader would just discover things as he goes along. Then the events would just be the ones to tell the story. The suspense must be built through well-planned setting including atmosphere or climate, characterization and plot that suspends the revealing of the mystery. A logical sequence must be observed, but if there is a need for flashbacks, they can be used. The narrator or the writer should not reveal everything. Let the readers decide for themselves regarding the resolution. But don't mislead your readers. Give them leads or clues to the correct guesses. The conclusion must be clear without being vulgar or too revealing. Specific, simple and colorful words should be used. The sentences must also be grammatically and logically correct.
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  4. Wow. You sure decided to tackle one of the most difficult genres out there. Why do I consider it to be difficult? I've written mysteries myself and, to be honest, if you want to have a standard Cozy mystery protagonist like Poirot, you'll simply have to be smarter than him in order to make him solve a certain mystery.

    But before you get started, you must understand that there are two usual subgenres of a mystery novel:
    1. Cozy ( Famous writer: Agatha Christie)
    2. Hardboiled (Famous writer: Raymond Chandler)

    I would advise you to read at least one book from both of the aforementioned writers to see the difference in their approach. Only then will you be able to realize what kind of a mystery you want to tell and in which way. A good mystery must have a protagonist that will be flawed but also able to solve it.

    Make sure to place red herrings and to give a plausible solution to the reader. While we're at it: always make sure that the reader is always one step behind. Only give information on a need-to-know basis and provide hooks at the end of each chapter. Also, you should never use deus-ex-machina to solve problems and plot points. Such solutions are bad, anti-climatic, and will make the readers close your novel for good. They'll feel cheated. So, always provide reasonable answers and clues to make readers think that they are able to solve the mystery by themselves. (But they won't be, because you'll provide that well thought out plot twist near the end ;) ).

    Finally, I'll give you an example of a short mystery with red herrings and a real clue. I'll put the red herrings in italics.

    The police found the body of a decapitated woman on Wednesday at 9 am at the beach just outside of town, however, her head was missing. Near the body, there was a cellphone and a small blue button. One of the policemen argued that it belonged to the killer. The other one took the cellphone and called the husband of the deceased to let him know that his wife was murdered. He wasn't too sympathetic during the phone call; he simply said to the poor man: '' This is the police. Unfortunately, your wife was found dead this morning. Please come to the crime scene as soon as possible. ''

    When the husband came, the policeman who talked to him on the phone arrested him immediately. ''Why?! I'm innocent! I didn't kill my wife! '' The husband screamed. The policeman gazed into his eyes and answered with great satisfaction: '' And I didn't tell you the location of the crime scene, yet you're here. '' Then he lit up a cigarette as he turned to the sea. '' Take him away boys. We have our man. ''

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