Writing mystery stories is exciting and thrilling. However, it is also as complex as creating a puzzle. Writers must plan the story carefully and present a gripping page-turner that keeps the audience engaged.
In this article, we will discuss 8 tips to write a mystery story fiction.
8 Tips to Write a Mystery Story Fiction
Read Other Mysteries Often
Works of fiction, if read carefully, can offer insightful writing lessons; mystery novels are no different. Writers must read other works of mystery fiction and pay close attention. You should also read best-selling crime fiction from new writers alongside classic mystery short stories to garner inspiring writing lessons.
The mystery is revealed at the end of each story. At this time, you should return to the first page, start over, and notice how the author has laid down clues throughout the story. Writers not only drop clues but also use misdirection to heighten the suspense and untangle the mystery.
Know Every Detail of the Crime
Whether you’re writing a tale of a bloodless crime or a murder mystery, the criminal act is the beating heart of the mystery story, pushing the narrative forward. Therefore, before you finish your first draft, outline key points about the crime.
Great mystery writers not only map out when, what, how, who, and where the crime happened, they also research the crime itself, whether it’s a stabbing, sniper shot, poisoning, or pickpocketing. They learn how the crime mechanics play out.
Open With Intrigue
Mystery readers love a story that starts with thrilling tales of diligent sleuths, cliffhangers, false clues, and bad guys. Many crime writers begin their stories with the crime itself. They then move forward and revisit the crime throughout the story as the protagonist hunts for the deceitful and elusive villain.
Construct Convincing Characters
The best mystery books, thrillers, and detective novels are character-driven. Writers should remember that they are dealing with thinking, feeling human beings, not caricatures of eccentric stereotypes.
The protagonist often acts as the eyes and ears of the reader. The main characters must unravel the mystery and, therefore, should be relatable and fallible. On the other hand, the antagonist lays down the devious plan and is meant to be cunning, complex, and motivated by clear goals.
Make a List of Suspects
Any great puzzle has a vital piece that completes the whole picture. In mystery story writing, this missing piece is typically the criminal’s identity. Good writers introduce several suspects as the story progresses.
However, the best writers introduce the culprit early on, giving readers time to doubt their suspicion. Listing potential culprits before writing is a brilliant way to shape the story and refine the narrative in a way that makes the story thrilling.
Lay Out the Setting Clearly and Use It in Your Story
Use your story’s setting wisely. Whether the story plays out in a big city like Washington DC or a small rural area, leveraging the atmosphere and attributing certain places to key events in the story enables you to intrigue the audience.
Contrasting horrific actions to a calm and peaceful atmosphere helps you showcase that danger can lurk around every corner. Likewise, leveraging locations with a history of violence allows you to draw intriguing plot points that draw links to a place’s dark past.
Let the Reader Play Along
“Show. Don’t tell!” If you are highlighting an important plot point, it isn’t necessary to explain the entire point through dialogue. A well-constructed dialogue between characters can give readers enough clues to understand what’s going on in a scene.
You can even relay key information to the reader without having your main character realize it. Instead of explaining what is going on, give readers the chance to make sense of the clues.
Misdirect Your Reader
If you give your readers clues at every point of the story, you will surely give the ending away too soon. Readers are engaged in the story only when they are unsure of what happens next. This is why many mystery genre stories are filled with false clues.
These false clues are popularly called red herrings, meaning that they divert the readers to a wrong conclusion and make the truth less obvious. Misdirecting readers helps you build suspense and makes your story far more interesting.
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