Ever since I started reading Nancy Drew as a teen, and Mary Higgins Clark later in life, I've always had a major addiction to good mystery/suspense novels. It's amazing when a novel or fan fiction story just sucks you in, and you're completely oblivious to the rest of the world as you enjoy cracking a good mystery along with the characters.
So this is the thread to ask for help on writing mystery and suspense, as well as share your own pearls of wisdom with your fellow crew mates.
"To accomplish great things, you must not only act, but also dream; not only dream, but also believe." ~Anatole France, French Novelist
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of their soul remains unawakened." ~unknown
Post by writerwriting on Oct 1, 2017 14:41:41 GMT -8
Although I tend to write flying by the seat of my pants, this is a genre where you can't really do that. You have to have the clues (including false clues) and twists and outcome in place before you ever start writing and so I do put that part down in an outline because part of the fun in reading a mystery is trying to guess who did it. If you as a writer don't even know who did it then when the ending comes out of left field because you suddenly came up with an ending, the reader is going to feel cheated even if it's a plausible ending/twist. The best mysteries, in my opinion, are when you leave enough clues to keep them guessing but when the culprit is finally revealed, the reader has an aha moment as it all clicks into place and they wonder why they didn't see it in the first place.
And as with any story, you need an interesting array of characters. That becomes especially important in a mystery when you're dealing with what should be very different suspects, who readers should be getting to know slowly.
As for the suspense part of it, you need the stakes to be high. The hero has to be dealing with life and death (and on that note the sleuth or person in jeopardy must be beloved whether the fandom gives readers that or you create it within a story) or everything hinges on the solution to the mystery. And a good and interesting villain who puts the hero in those situation is great, too. Cliffhangers work really well in fanfic, I find, to keep suspense. The trick is you don't want it at the end of every chapter, especially if it's a long story because that gets old. And you want to start off small and get bigger with the cliffhangers to build the suspense.
Just my two cents. It's not a genre I write in often, but one I have a lot of fun with when I do. And I'm a big ND fan (love the books and games). Also love Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple.