Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peacock, Study, Knife: Writing Mystery

Writing a mystery novel can be an incredible experience, especially if you are a champion for this genre. You have the ability to take the reader on a journey in their mind, and you have the choice to lead them correctly, deceive them temporarily, or simply take them along as the story unfolds. One of the most difficult tasks facing mystery writers is the fact that sometimes you just don't know how the end is going to turn out – even if you are the one writing the story.
Agatha Christie, known as the world's premier writer of mystery novels, had a secret. Quite often, it wasn't until the end of the book that she knew who committed the crime. Once she came to that realization, she often had to backwrite to add evidence. There is no shame in backwriting and if the world's best mystery writer used this technique, we can all learn from her.
The most important thing to remember when writing a mystery is that character motivation is the key to your success. If you have a character that simply kills without reason, readers will have a difficult time processing the information. If the hero just stumbles on the answer without putting any effort into the investigation, your readers will feel cheated.
Remember, your reader should also be your main character. They are trying to solve the mystery at the same time and they will be identifying with this character. In order to make it believable, you have to craft a story that the reader can follow logically from point A to point B. This is a secret that many fledgling mystery writers miss. If you can put your reader in your main character's shoes, striving to find the truth, you will have the key to success.

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