You Love a Mystery? How hard could it be to write one?
You’ve read dozens, perhaps thousands, whole bookshelves full of mysteries.
Writing your first mystery won’t be easy. In fact, it’s probably harder than you thought, but there’s help. Check out these 4 inter-related e-books for pithy how to advice and inspiration.
Here’s what it takes from best-selling crime writer Mar Preston, author of five successful crime novels:
Writing Your First Mystery
- Gives you the big picture, the elements, structure, and rules or conventions,
which underlie a satisfying mystery.
- Introduces the essential characters: the sleuth, the killer, the red herrings,
the sidekick, the supporting characters.
- Helps you create a setting and decide on a time period.
This is a “meat and potatoes” kind of book that a beginning writer needs. There is no superfluous, esoteric, BS. It is straight to the point without being dry. (Just the facts mam’…) Ms. Preston also has a sense of humor that helps to keep thing in perspective. My copy has many notes in the margins and I use it to check my writing. My shelves are full of books on writing and this is the one I go back to the most.
Plotting Your First Mystery
- Techniques for getting your plot down on paper: Starting off in a feverish rush or outlining
- The elements of a plot: classic plot structures
- Laying down the clues
- The climax and resolution
- How to tell your story: deciding whether first or third person point of view
Easy to follow, to the point, and filled with practical advice. I love this writing how-to series.
Creating Killer Characters
- Thinking through and getting down on paper an intriguing detective, killer, and victim(s): the musts of any good mystery
- How to write character sketches to bring your ideas to life
- Finding what motivates characters to do what they do
- Twenty questions to help you create your detective
- Paring your characters down and finding good names for them
- Revealing character traits: showing not telling
- The big questions: So what? Really? What?
As a writer I can never pass up another good book on the mechanics of writing and I highly recommend this quick and easy tutorial written by Mar Preston. It’s a wonderful reminder/refresher that will help writers remember the basics and then some.
Finishing Your First Mystery
- You have 20 pages, 50 pages, maybe even 230 pages and you’re stuck. Now what?
- The universal enemy: self-doubt, fear of judgement, fear of failure
- Revisiting your original vision
- What may be wrong with your structure
- Maybe it’s your scene structure that’s gone wrong
- Kick starting your plot
- Writing forward: writing backward
- Writing out of sequence
- Maybe the problem is your characters
- Getting some professional help before you give up
- Networking with other writers for inspiration and helpful ideas
If a writer ever needed anyone to help champion their cause and fight off their self-doubt (don’t we all have them) they need look no further than Mar Preston. Her short how-to book, Finishing Your First Mystery, is part of a series she has written to help authors start, develop and finish their book. She’s like an author’s own private ninja, fighting for you, lighting the way and helping authors to understand while writing is a lonely process, we are never either alone or unique in our fear. Thank you, Mar, for your supportive guides and most importantly this one.