Posted by: nancycurteman | May 11, 2012

How to Write Gripping Mystery Novel Scenes

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Scenes are the writer’s basic building blocks for constructing a gripping mystery novel. They are mini stories that focus on one plot element.

It is important to remember there are two goals for each of your scenes. The most important is your goal as the author. What do you want to happen? Scenes help writers define characters, plot and subplots. The writer’s objective for writing the scene is the basis for everything that happens in that scene. The second goal is that of the characters involved. Character goals and their attendant struggles are really the vehicles used by authors to achieve their objectives. Let’s take a look at character goals.

Every scene must focus on the goal or goals of each character involved. Character goals that are in opposition to those of another character make the most interesting scenes. Open a scene with something that poses a question or shows action. This is the initial hook that will grab reader interest.

The middle section of the scene must present conflict as your character fights to achieve his goals. The more you torture your character with roadblocks and obstacles that seem impossible to overcome the more your readers will love your mystery story.

Scenes often end in one of two ways. 1. The point of view character meets an obstacle that prevents him from achieving his goal. 2. He meets his goal only to face an even greater problem. At the end of the scene, leave the reader waiting to find out what happens next. As the story continues conflict will build more tension until the novel reaches the climax.

In writing scenes, think about which characters are essential to meeting your goal for that scene. The correct length of the scene is also important. Consider the best setting, the one you need to achieve your goal as the writer.

Think about your scenes, write them and rewrite them over and over until they meet your standards of perfection. I guarantee the result will be gripping mystery novel scenes.

More Writing Tips:

How to Write “Killer” Scenes in a Mystery Novel


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  2. Perhaps is it a “you understood”, but I would add another need for scenes, and that is to forward the story. A scene which does not move the plot along might be considered dead weight. Not that you would suffer from that, Nancy…


  3. Richard, Good point. Scenes do need to move the story forward.


  4. Although I am not a mystery writer, these writing rules are basic to good writing. I know, because of my writing classes in college.


    • Larry,
      You are absolutely right. Thanks for pointing that out.


  5. well written. thanks for informative article.


    • Hi Rich,
      I appreciate you dropping by my blog and making a comment. You must be an author. I hope the article was useful.


      • your very welcome


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