Planning Your Mystery

Before you begin, read a lot of mysteries so you know what kind you want to write.

You can read all sorts of ways to write a mystery in both books and the Internet. Many will tell you to have a dead body within 50 pages. Having a dead body on the first page is what many authors do.

In any case, you need to decide on a sleuth--will he or she be a person in law enforcement, a private detective, a lawyer, or just an innocent by stander who has an interesting job or hobby that you know enough about to add details to the story? Your sleuth needs to be interesting enough with personality and maybe some oddball traits so that mystery readers are going to want to follow along with him or her on the adventure.

Who is going to be your murder victim? Is it going to be a really bad person who several people hated and had a motive for killing? An innocent killed someone no one would suspect--but you'll be able to plant enough clues for your sleuth to follow?
You'll need to know a lot about your murder victim--even though it will come out in bits and pieces as your sleuth begins to investigate the crime.

You'll need to know who all your suspects are and how your sleuth is going to find out about them. As you're writing, think in terms of keeping your reader interested and wanting to find out what is going to happen next. Play fair, the clues need to all be there as your sleuth is finding them, the reader should be able to see them too.

As your planning, think about the ending--remember, it needs to be exciting and maybe your sleuth will find him or herself in danger. If you can plan a twist, all the better.

Once you know all the rules, have sold one or two of your mysteries, you can break some of the rules--but don't do it in the beginning.

Good luck and write a mystery that we'll all want to read.



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