How to Write a Mystery Novel

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” – Ernest Hemingway

As a writer, if you know how to write a mystery novel, you can add to the diversity of your work. Reading a lot of mysteries can help you learn how to write one because most follow a specific formula. Here are 3 major elements to include when writing a mystery novel.

 Photo Courtesy of: Karoly Czifra


Photo Courtesy of: Karoly Czifra

Writing a Mystery Novel: 3 Things to Include

  1. The Crime

Start by mapping out the crime exactly as it happened, from start to finish. Imagine the characters involved and their emotions as the crime occurred. What does the crime scene look like? What time of day is it? Exactly how was the crime committed? This will help to make it as believable as possible when you craft the story. It will also help you “show” instead of “tell” your readers, which is important when writing a mystery novel.

  1. The Detective

The detective of your story, like any other protagonist, should be a congenial character readers like to root for. The person solving the crime in the story will be doing the bulk of the action, so make this a likeable character with fewer flaws than the antagonist. This character should be intelligent, but not too smart.

  1. Play Fair

There is a “fair play” rule in writing mystery novels which means you should never hide information from the readers. You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, present everything up front, but the readers should be able to solve the puzzle by piecing together the same clues the detective and characters have access to.

Knowing how to write a mystery novel is all about crafting a compelling story that thrusts your readers into the plot.

Do you like mystery novels? The Shaman and The Mafia is a brand new novel by Elizabeth Upton. It mixes mystery with a love story and examines the conflicted emotions of the characters as they try to make sense of themselves through a stream of crime and darkness. This great example of a mystery novel is now available on Amazon.

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