Thursday, April 14, 2011

Building a Mystery

As I sat reading a great suspense novel the other day, I began thinking about how the author created the story and made me like it. Figured what the heck, I was not doing anything, so maybe I could write it down and share what I thought with you.

Here's what i found:

First, set the stage. Wrap us in the setting of the crime. This author makes me feel like I am sitting right there where the victim is. And keeps me there until the paper person croaks, even up to their last vision.

Next, insert a victim who either deserves the chopping block, or doesn't , but either way, make us interested in him or her. We have to at least be interested in him or her to care that they are a victim, we do not have to like them, however. Sometimes the best victims are ones we sort of think deseve being hurt or killed. Sure makes the killer justified, albeit horrible, but makes figuring out whodunit a whole lot harder!

Then, bring in the hero/heroine and the supporting cast of investigators of the crime. They may only be crime-scene cleaners, or security people but the interaction will give clues and feed us info that moves the plot along. Info such as info abou the seting, the victi, or the situation leading up to the crime.

Next, have them set out to unravel the how and why of the crime and maybe settle a score in the process. This heightens tension, elevates our anticipation.

Finally, bring all the various threads of story together at the end and make the ending clench our throats and make us love that character so much we go out and buy the next book.

Easy, yes? About as easy as catching a robin in the front yard with a chicken Chihuahua!image by kim smith


Anonymous said...

Great advice, Kim! I like the way you put it into "recipe" form, making it much easier for us to double-check our WIPs.
(This coming from a man who could find a way to mess up a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese.)

Kim Smith said...

Lol hey that Mac and cheese stuff can be tough!!

Marta Stephens said...

... and don't forget to pepper the plot with a few clues, the more sublte, the better!!! :)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

LOL! Love your last line, Kim. Is that your dog?