The Mysterious Mystery of Writing Mysteries

I admit it. I'm not very experienced in the art of writing mysteries. Nonetheless, I have to write a fairly short mystery for my language arts class that has red herrings, assorted suspects, the whole nine yards.

So far with my planning for writing this mystery, I've realized something: to write a mystery, it's easier to start at the end than begin at the beginning. Confused? Let me explain.

With mysteries, the author sends the readers down different paths that either lead to the correct answer, or to something that isn't even close. When you have in your head what the solution the mystery is, it's much easier to build the world around that. If you start with your crime and then write all of the red herrings, the plot bunnies, etc., you have to be extremely cautious and make sure that every single plot hole is filled in your answer. If not, then you will have very dissatisfied readers.

I've also realized that clues are huge. If your detective detects a clue in the shape of the rice pudding splatter on the kitchen wall that turns out to be false, and the real clue was in the wallaby's sushi, then it adds just a bit more to the story. But be careful how many false trails you lead your detective on. Sooner or later you will most likely become sick of how stupid your detective is, and of course that means reader will become bored as well.

Writing mysteries is difficult. Writing any genre is difficult. It takes time, patience, experimenting and lots of caffeine.

Have you ever tried writing a mystery?

Comments

  1. Ooh I'm not good with mysteries either. Like those detective novels. I never tried it but they confuse me. But if it is to add suspense to a fiction story, i have done that.

    Wish I could help. :( so sorry.

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  2. I HATE trying to come up with mysteries :P Waaaay to complicated for my taste xD

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    Replies
    1. There's so much you have to take into consideration!

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    2. Exactly. Plus, I never could figure out how I'd set the thing up, what the mystery would be, etc. :P

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    3. It's really difficult. I usually just find some random inspiration and begin building around that.

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  3. Yes, I have, but I have gone about it the opposite way. I started at the beginning, wherein someone finds the body. In that first scene, I managed to set up a few characters with reason to kill. Similarly, I set up the fact that there was a detective in town. I still have no idea who did it, because I didn't write past that first scene. (It was, after all, an animal fiction murder mystery featuring Hercule Poicrow.) But Agatha Christie, one of the greatest mystery novelists, always wrote by the seat of the pants, never knowing who did it until the very last chapter. In the meantime, she made sure every suspect could have committed the murder. I think that's a nice way to go about it.

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    Replies
    1. Ooh! I like this method. Maybe I should try it.
      Where did you hear about her writing style? Just curious. Or did you know her personally-- being immortal and all? ;)

      ~Robyn Hoode

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    2. That's good advice. :)

      I've never found myself to be good at writing mysteries, although there's sometimes a bit of mystery in my plots.

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    3. I don't know how I know, but I know that I know.

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    4. Deduction?

      ~RH

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    5. Hmm....I think I like that. I'll give it whirl and see how it goes.

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  4. Yes, I have tried and tried and I still have a shred of hope that one day I will be able to write one. I know what you mean having to start at the end and to me it seems backwards, even though I usually know how my other non-mystery stories will end.

    Any chance you will post your finished mystery? :)

    ~Robyn Hoode

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    Replies
    1. Maybe! There is a slim, slim chance! (: I suppose it depends on how much of a mystery I feel like it is.

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    2. You could always just send it to me and not let anyone else see it. *grins*

      ~Robyn

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  5. Sea! I'm dying here with they mystery assignment! My mystery is going to be so bad!

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  6. What is a plot bunny? Because they sound cute ;)

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I agree. I haven't heard of plot bunny before. What is it?

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    2. Best ask Liam. He'll know better than I. (:

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  7. Hey, Sea? What genre do you usually write? Since it's not mystery.

    ~Robyn Hoode

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    Replies
    1. I started out writing mostly realistic fiction, but now I almost always write fantasy. I've always wanted to try dystopian though. (:

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    2. That's two of us, except for the dystopian part. :)

      ~Robyn

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    3. Ever critiqued someone else's writing? Besides Liam's.

      ~RH

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    4. I've critiqued a few of my friends's stories, but other than that, I can't say I do a lot of it.

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