Eye on the Mystery Prize
Reading other authors in your genre is a sound practice. not just for emulating story strategy but for caution on what not to do in your story.
I just finished reading a mystery by an established mystery writer. As a reader, I was disappointed. As a writer, I thought about why I was disappointed. I reviewed the mystery writing elements and discovered the reason.
I liked the sleuth, a police inspector, and his team. But everytime the villain appeared he was snarky and overdone with throw-away lines. The villain intruded on the story rather than moving it forward. I kept thinking, “OK, let’s get back to the story.”
When readers, like me, get distracted they can and will stop reading. The only reason I kept reading was to see how it fit together because my interest as a reader was gone.
Organize Your Story
To keep the mystery in your mystery, all the the components must move the story forward. It’s challenging to keep the balance. Read other writers to know what to do and what not to do. Learn from their mistakes.
Keep these tips in mind as you build your story.
A disappointed reader, will not come back to give you a second chance. Focus on creating a sleuth your readers like. Make her character deep and empathic. Your sleuth’s reaction to other characters has a greater chance of keeping your reader involved than creating complicated interrelationships in other characters.
Take a look a popular mystery TV series. You’ll see that the emphasis is on the sleuth and the sleuth solving the mystery. Make sure your subplots don’t overshadow the mystery.
It doesn’t matter if you are a pantser or organize every scene of your story. A pantser may do the organization in the rewrite/editing phase. Planners can eliminate story clutter by creating a storyline and sticking with it.
Focus on the mystery.
Zara Altair, Author
The puzzle of politics, the mystery of murder in ancient Italy. After Rome, before the Middle Ages, Italy belonged to the Ostrogoths.