Friday, April 1, 2011

Random Thoughts on Mystery Writing and Reading

blog5 I thought I’d do a post on mystery writing, since I haven’t for a while. If you’re a mystery writer, be sure to add your own random thoughts on mystery writing below. If you’re not, maybe you’ll consider reading a mystery (or writing one yourself?) :)

The structure of the books is really appealing to me, as both a reader and a writer. I think I like the comfort of having the victim and suspects introduced, motives uncovered, and red herrings and clues sprinkled throughout.

Petty motives for murder are sometimes more interesting than the big motives. And more believable. It’s eye-opening to read the local paper and discover what small things resulted in murder.

I love sidekicks. They keep my sleuth from having boring internal monologues mulling over whodunit.

I always seem to start my story with the victim. Who they were is what shapes the story.

I love, as a reader, being able to solve the mystery alongside the sleuth. I work hard to make sure that my readers are kept in the loop as the crime(s) are being investigated.

Suspects get confusing if there are too many of them or if there is more than one suspect with the same grievance against the victim. It’s also confusing if suspect names are too similar.

I’ve heard people say that it’s not as important that an amateur sleuth has a reason to investigate the crime. But, to me, their involvement needs to be plausible or else the reader is already feeling doubtful about the plot being credible. It's so important to have the readers on board!

Having friends and family suspected of the murder, being a suspect themselves, and being a close friend of the victim are all believable reasons for a sleuth to be involved in the investigation.

Being surprised by the ending is incredibly satisfying as a reader. I try to make that happen for readers.

If the sleuth doesn’t already have a personal relationship with one or more of the suspects (if they’re all just guests at a resort, for instance), I think it’s nice if the sleuth develops a friendship or relationship with a suspect. It makes for great conflict.

I like the feeling of being unsure about whom to trust in a mystery—are some of the suspects lying? Are all of the suspects lying? Who is telling the truth and when?

Do you read mysteries? If you do, what do you enjoy about the genre? And—if you don’t—what’s your favorite thing about the genre that you read or write?


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