Thursday, December 10, 2009

Settings in mystery

I have been doing a little research on mystery novel settings. My research is mine and mileage may vary, but if you check your own library I bet you will find much the same.

I found these settings for mystery novels in my bookcase. A coffee shop, a bakery, PI offices, old lady homes, a dating service, and of course, police stations.

Why are there so many different settings for mysteries?

One reason could be the very nature of the story itself. Mystery is not contained to any single locale. You can set a murder in a lot of places. Robbery happens everywhere, and if you are clever, missing “anything” can happen anywhere and send your characters off on an adventure.

My characters of Shannon and Dwayne have a new adventure coming for you in January 2010 and I used the backdrop of a cemetery as my mystery setting. It was creepy and filled with a lot of fun possibilities.

When you mix good setting with likeable characters, you have a truly winning combination and readers will keep turning the page.

Another reason there are so many different settings could be that settings need to take on lifelike qualities. They need to be as much a character in your book as the characters themselves. Give it depth and color and let it take on emotional qualities and you will give your reader the feeling that you hope to invoke whether it be fear, love, hate etc.

Nothing says spooky like a dreary old cemetery with wind whistling through bare trees and an ominous tinkle of a graveside chime. Give your setting some “oomph” by adding sensory detail. Make them see it, hear it, smell it, and feel it, and you will have them hooked from page one to the end.


Kim Smith is the author of the zany Shannon Wallace Mysteries. The newest book in the series is Buried Angel and is coming soon at Red Rose Publishing.


s.w. vaughn said...

Ooh, I love a good cemetery setting! :-) The new Shannon Wallace book sounds like fun!

Marta Stephens said...

I'm a visual person and couldn't agree with you more. I want to not only see it but feel it, smell it, hear it. Hmmm makes a girl want to go and write!

Love your pic! ;)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Amen, Kim. This is one of the keys to attracting and keeping readers - just like you've done in Shannon's series!