Mystery Novel Planning

by Vijay

Hello, Glen,
I thank you for answering my previous question about Mystery Novel Resolution.
I've purchased your novel planning workbook and written four interesting romance novels by using it.
Now, I'm trying to write a Mystery novel, but I'm not sure how to use your novel planning book. All the four throughlines you mention about (Overall, relationship, main character and impact character) can be applied very well for Romance genre, but I'm not sure how to use it for the Mystery genre. How to plan, how to place the clues, red herrings and resolve the novel?

I hope you share some useful tips so that we can apply the throughlines to Mystery genre too.



Answer: Hi Vijay,

With Mystery, a lot depends on who the impact character is. The detective is usually the main character, so the reader can be "in his shoes" and play armchair detective. (The overall throughline concerns the effort to identify or catch the murderer.)

Sometimes the impact character is the murderer. In that case, the story can be a kind of "cat and mouse" game in which the villain keeps trying to mislead the detective or get him to abandon his values long enough for the villain to escape.

Another possibility is to make the impact character a secondary character, a contagonist, who distracts and delays the detective from solving the case by making the detective doubt himself.

Either way, the arc of the main character's inner conflict comes from the way the case challenges him to reassess his values, commitment, etc.

For instance, the case might not be "black and white." In some stories someone might have committed murder for what might seem like a justifiable reason. So the detective has to figure out not just who did it but what true justice would be in this situation.

Hint: only rarely can a detective let murder go unpunished. For the most part, mystery readers want to see justice done. But there are exceptions. For example, in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, the murder seems to have been understandable if not justifiable. Our sympathies lie with the most-likely-guilty. However, there is just enough doubt about the killer's identity for Poirot to decide not to make an arrest.

This article might interest you...

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Plot Invite.