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Question: OK, I was reading a series of detective stories called the Kindaichi Case Files and I thought, "Man, this is awesome! These are brilliant! I want to write detective stories too!" So, I made my characters, I made the settings, I came up with motives, and just when I was starting to write... I got nothin'. I'm normally a pretty capable writer (at least, I think I am), but coming up with aspects of this kind of mystery, like the classic "locked room" thing or the "whodunit" type of mystery, I'm horrible! I'm just not creative or experienced in that genre. I can come up with characters, including the murderer, and give them motives and everything, but coming up with just HOW they do what they do, and keep it mysterious... I'm terrible! Help? PLEASE? Many thanks!

Answer: So you have motives and now you need to work out the means and the opportunity?

There are some mystery writers who spend most of their time exploring the character relationships and only decide at the climax how the crime was actually done, and by whom. The relationships are the key, not the method. This fits with real life, in that many murders are crimes of passion. Few real murderers go to the elaborate lengths a fictional murderer will to stage an unsolvable crime.

But if you're writing a "locked room" puzzle mystery, that's a different type of problem.

I suggest you start by doing some research on subjects such as stage magic/illusions or escape artistry. Magicians' magazines like Genii might be a place to start.

A puzzle murder is like a magic trick with the detective and other suspects as the audience whose attention must be misdirected. Reading about how magicians create illusions should give you some good ideas.

Once you know how the murder is done, you can also plan your red herrings (false clues that look important but are there to throw the reader off the scent).

Keep in mind that your killer must be someone capable of staging such an elaborate crime, and have the premeditation to set it up.

Best of luck.

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