How to Write a Mystery in 21 Simple Steps
I’m not recommending this method. In fact, it probably won’t work for anyone else. But here’s what I do:
Choose a title. For the Threadville Mystery Series, I incorporate the word “thread” in a pun. For the latest book in the series, the title SEVEN THREADLY SINS popped into my head, and as soon as I stopped laughing, I knew I had to use it.
Stew around a lot. Pace. Play computer games while pretending to think about plot and characters. What plot would go with the title SEVEN THREADLY SINS?
Walk the dogs. Decide that “threadly” sins could be committed at a fashion show.
Choose a victim. How about the person who accused others of committing threadly sins?
Make a list of potential suspects. Give them possible motives, alibis, and methods.
Ask yourself if you really need to write an outline. Why can’t you just start writing?
Tell yourself that outlines can prevent lots of rewriting later.
Postpone the outline and write the first scene, now while the idea is fresh in your mind.
Mutter loudly and frequently about outlines.
Tell yourself that the original outline can be short and can be enlarged later. Start it.
Wonder why one human would murder another. Doodle. Play computer games.
Get the murderer to write you a letter telling you why he or she did it.
Rewrite the outline incorporating the murderer and his or her motives.
Write scene two. Keep writing.
stall, remind yourself that you couldn’t wait to finish that outline and simply write.
Stomp your feet when you walk the dogs. Wave your arms.
Sit down and write some more.
Jump up and cheer.
Rewrite the outline to fit the story…