Posted by: nancycurteman | May 9, 2010

5 Ways to Kill a Mystery Novel

Aspiring authors need to understand and apply good techniques when they write a mystery novel. However, they also need to know what strategies to avoid. Here are 5 ways to kill a murder mystery.

1. Cram the  chapters of your novel full of poetic description. This will ensure that the reader will skip those chapters and probably the whole book.

2. Have the murder or crime take place in the middle of the story. The book will die before the novel’s victim. Mystery readers want action on the first few pages.

3. Paint the murderer as a low-down no good varmint. Make the hero perfect in every way—physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a real novel killer. Mystery readers want to read about believable characters with both good and bad traits; who have to grapple with human problems.

4. Reveal the perpetrator early in the novel. Another death sentence for your book. Mystery readers want to follow a twisting trail of clues and setbacks peppered with red herrings that finally lead to the crime’s solution.

5. Put the protagonist in a life-threatening situation, then have some unexpected event save his life like a meteor falls on the murderer or the murderer gets struck by lightning. True, the murderer will be dead, but so will the book. Mystery readers are usually cause and effect people. They want a logical solution to the protagonist’s dilemma.


  1. Well done. Consider a cross-post to UhW.


  2. #3 Is my all time pet peeve! I hate it when the main characters get stereotyped. Makes the book unreadable. Luckily most “worth reading” books don’t have this problem.


  3. Excellent list ~ #3 also applies to romance novels when the heroine is perfect in every way . . . except for her previous taste in men.


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