Posted by: nancycurteman | February 10, 2015

How to Write a Realistic Mystery Novel

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Mystery stories must be realistic because in real life we are bombarded with mysteries everyday—in the media, among our friends and acquaintances, among family members and in our own lives. The trick is how to write realistic mysteries. Here are some strategies I’ve used in creating my mysteries.

I begin by introducing my characters in their usual everyday surroundings. Characters may be going to work, to a conference or on a vacation trip or they may be at home reading a good “who dunnit.”

Next, I introduce a problem that disrupts my character’s peaceful world. Since I write murder mysteries, the disrupting problem is always a murder.

Once my characters are involved in the problem, they begin to look for a solution e.g. the perpetrator of the dastardly deed. At this stage of the story I introduce one obstacle after another. I allow characters to overcome one obstacle then trip them up with another, more challenging problem. Sometimes I complicate this process by adding conflicts within their environment or within themselves. To plump out my mystery, I like to add side problems to my characters’ repertoires of misery such as relationship, personality or value issues. All these challenges continue until the climax of the story which usually involves endangering my sleuth. Overcoming this last most serious obstacle and the secondary issues ends the story. This is the basic plot line.

In summary, mystery novel writers need to show that their characters have goals and are overcoming obstacles in pursuit of those primary and secondary goals which relate either directly or indirectly to solving the murder. These strategies produce a realistic mystery novel.

More tips:

How to Write “Killer” Scenes in a Mystery Novel
How to Write Gripping Mystery Novel Scenes

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