My first (and possibly only) attempt at writing a murder mystery was… educational, to say the least. Here are a few things I learnt along the way.
- You will have to plan. A lot. A LOT.
- So much will you have to plan that, after a while, you may start listing plot points on any blank surface you can find.
- So much will you have to plan that you may end up getting sick of your characters, even if they aren’t complete jerks. And especially if they are.
- You might find yourself talking about murder a lot. In a casual conversation, my dad and I found 23 ways to murder someone. Yikes.
- Clues! Must have ’em. To drop them throughout the story, you must know exactly how your killer goes about doing what s/he does. Pretending to be the killer is one method of working out the finer details. My mum and I played an interview-style game where she asked me questions about the murder and I answered from the murderer’s point of view.
- Pretending to be a killer is also a bit creepy.
- It helps to draw your plot out like a comic. Stickmen were my choice of style, but you can go in any direction you prefer (realism, cubism, pointillism, etc.)
- Drawing the plot also helps distract from the utter frustration you may find yourself experiencing.
- You might find yourself coming up with more and more outrageous ideas. Maybe the crazy long-lost ghost half-brother did it!
- If you let someone read your work, they may have a different (maybe better) idea of who the murderer should be.
- You may then have to restructure your whole plot. Back to planning!
- Readers like twists. *sob*
- The entire plot may not necessarily come into shape immediately. Or even after days of head-bashing and plotting and talking your friends’ and family’s ears off about murder.
- But the whole experience will certainly show you who your real friends are. They’ll be the ones still around after the storm.
- And when everything falls into place, it is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.
Surprisingly, despite the frustration and occasional moments of hopelessness, I actually enjoyed the experience. It was definitely worth it in the end.
Have you ever written a murder mystery, or do you plan to write one? Let me know! If you’d like to learn more about the essentials of a murder mystery, you might like this article, which really helped me.
Thank you for reading! As always, images are from Tumblr.
Until next time!
2 thoughts on “Writing The Kind-Of-Not-Quite-Perfect Murder Mystery”
One thing I’m having a hard time getting rid of while downsizing: my favorite mystery novels. I even kept the old paperbacks, bought used in the first place and some now out of print. So far I’m making a space for them. Did you finish your mystery novel?
It was actually a short story, and I did finish! A murder mystery novel would be too difficult for me on the first try… I’ve always had trouble getting rid of books, old or not.