More thoughts on writing murder mysteries.

January 31, 2013

Writing a murder mystery means getting in the minds of both murderers and detectives.

With the murderer, it is understanding what motivates them.  A good way to do this is to build up a profile for each character containing as much information about them as possible such as what they look like, where and when they were born, what they like to read, how they like to be entertained and what they like to wear.  The writer should amass as much information as possible and can keep it as a separate file but it should be used sparingly in the novel.  The reader should be able to work out most of it for themselves.

In the case of the detective, the author should investigate the murder as if it was a real crime.  A good way to do this is to draw a map showing the position of the body and each suspect at the time the killing took place.  If it is a police procedural thriller then the story should be as scientifically accurate as possible.  Here internet search engines can be helpful to gain access to forensic science websites.  Different police forces follow different procedures which change over time.  It is not necessary that they are exactly right but they must be believable.  The same is true for historical fiction where modern methods such as DNA analysis have yet to be invented.

Once these basics are followed then the various twists and turns can be wound in and around the investigative procedures to provide a narrative that entertains both reader and writer.

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Writing murder mysteries.

January 28, 2013

Writing murder mysteries must be made enjoyable.  It is important that the author entertains himself or herself as much as the reader.  Plot twist and turns are essential to keep readers and authors on their toes.

The master at this was Agatha Christie who did not know herself who the murderer was until almost the end.  Then she chose the most unlikely of her characters as the culprit then went back over the manuscript altering it so that the plot fitted the ending.  I must admit to using this style.  However, the danger is that the result can look too contrived and so the sense of realism which all narratives in this genre should maintain can suffer.

In attempt to make the story more realistic and bring about a sense of atmosphere the Peatmore Press novel, Victim of Compromise, was set in a southern English town during a drought.

To illustrate this I include some scenes from the book video trailer below

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Some say that describing the weather in a detective story should be avoided at all costs but I feel that it is up to the author and the reader to decide if he or she feels it works.