So, you’ve decided to write a mystery! That’s exciting! But how do you know what makes a great mystery if you’ve never written one? Sure, you’ve read a ton of mystery books over the years but do you know the ingredients to keep the reader flipping the pages? Here’s what you’ll need to keep your reader engaged:
- Puzzle-There’s usually a puzzle that needs solving and 9 times out of 10 it involves the death of someone. For example, “His body was cold and bloody; I looked around and wondered how he ended up in the alleyway.”
- Suspense-Will the mystery be solved and how will it be solved? For example, “We located the killer by dusting the body for prints.”
- Hero/Heroes-Who will solve the mystery? This one is pretty self explanatory…
- High stakes for the hero or victim-There must be a reason why the mystery needs to be solved, it has to involve a payoff for the hero or victim, what’s in it for them? For example, “The victim was selling drugs, he got in deep with the wrong people; turns out he started selling them because he was going to lose his house…”
- The Solution is revealed-Who did it and why? “Rocco Roselli put a bullet in the guy’s head to shut him up, the victim was shooting his mouth off about the shipping container full of cocaine he found and was gonna black mail the mafia.”
- Triumph of Good vs Evil- Mafia guy gets caught and is brought to justice by the hero/heroes.
So there you have it, the recipe for a successful mystery! Get cooking!