Presentation on theme: "MYSTERY. Have a plan With some stories, it’s okay to just write and see where it takes you. With mysteries, however, this won’t work. You must begin by."— Presentation transcript:
Have a plan With some stories, it’s okay to just write and see where it takes you. With mysteries, however, this won’t work. You must begin by carefully thinking about the characters, plot, and setting, and how they will all work together to solve your mystery. You must start with an end in mind, and plot how you will get there! If you just begin writing and surprise yourself on every page, you will discover that in the middle of your story you've written yourself into a box, and the mystery you’ve created is nowhere near being solved.
Main Character Every mystery MUST have a main character whose job it is to figure out the mystery. Think of the classics: Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, etc. While your character doesn’t have to be a full-time mystery solving buff, for the purposes of the story their job must be clear.
Minor Characters Does your main character have a best friend who will help her sort out the clues? Are there people who don't want the main character to solve the mystery? Who are they? You must have a plan for each character you use!
Problem, meet Solution In a mystery story, the problem (conflict) has to do with the solution of the mystery. What is the mystery idea you've chosen? Is it a crime? Is it something scary? What should the main character discover? And what — or who — is going to get in the way, so the solution to the mystery won't be too easy?
Jinkies! Scooby Doo found a clue! In mysteries, you must have your main character discover clues along the way. While they don’t HAVE to be identified as clues, bits of information must be included for your readers to pick up on and your main character to use as they try to solve the mystery. One clue should be the crucial clue. This crucial clue is one piece of important information that helps the main character finally solve the mystery. The crucial clue might be something that points directly to the perpetrator of the crime. For example, maybe your character is trying to discover who stole a ring. His younger sister told him she was at the doctor at the time the ring disappeared, but then a message shows up on the answering machine from the doctor’s office to reschedule the appointment since the sister had not shown up to her scheduled appointment. That gives us the crucial information needed!
Red Herrings Red herrings are bits of information that are designed to mislead readers by making them suspect the wrong characters. Red herrings are fun to include because they make mysteries harder to solve. Maybe you want readers to suspect the main character's little brother, who has a real fondness for peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches. Suppose your main character finds smeared jelly fingerprints in a suspicious place. Readers will immediately think of the little brother's sandwiches — especially if your main character is disturbed by the jelly stains — and they won't notice if you slip in a real clue.
Keep ‘em on the edge of their seats Footsteps coming up the stairs in the dark, a doorknob silently turning, a suspect arriving when he's not expected, an unanswered question about one of the characters Allow your characters to be scared. Your readers will identify with him or her, and they'll be scared, too.
Setting Think about where you want your story to take place. Should it be at night? On a foggy morning? During a thunderstorm? Maybe the day is sunny and bright, but the character has to explore the dark passages of a deserted building.
In the beginning… Mystery stories should begin with action, with suspense, with something interesting or exciting happening—right away! Readers should meet the main characters and be introduced to the mystery right at the beginning.
Dexter Stanley was scared. More; he felt that central axle that binds us to the state we call sanity were under a greater strain than it had ever been under before. As he pulled up beside Henry Northrup’s house on North Campus Avenue that August night, he felt that if he didn’t talk to someone, he really would go crazy. – “The Crate” by Stephen King
The Cross house was twenty paces away and the proximity and sight of it made Gary Soneji’s skin prickle. It was Victorian-style, white shingled, and extremely well kept. As Soneji stared across Fifth Street, he slowly bared his teeth in a sneer that could have passed for a smile. This was perfect. He had come here to murder Alex Cross and his family. -- Cat & Mouse by James Patterson
Keep In Mind… 1. In mystery writing, plot is everything. Because readers are playing a kind of game, plot has to come first, above everything else. Make sure each plot point is plausible, and keep the action moving. Don't get bogged down in back story or tangents! Have a plan, and stick to it!
Remember… The crime should be believable. If you write about something that could never happen in real life, you will immediately lose the interest of readers. The mystery must be plausible!
No Funny Business… In mystery writing, don't try to fool your reader. It takes the fun out. Don't use improbable disguises, twins, accidental solutions, or supernatural solutions. The detective should not commit the crime. Also, don’t try to introduce real-life people into your story. Charlie Sheen shouldn’t all of the sudden be the machete-wielding culprit. Keep your plot believable! All clues should be revealed to the reader--if the reader can’t figure out what the story is, they won’t want to read it!
A Final Note… Mystery does not have to equate to violence! Don’t think that mystery=horror. Not true! Mystery is simply an unsolved situation!