3 Useful Additions for Your Mystery

It’s my distinct pleasure to welcome mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams) as guest today. She offers fabulous tips on her blog Mystery Writing Is Murder. I hope you’ll visit her there and enjoy her mystery writing advice. Thanks, Elizabeth!
3 Useful Additions for Your Mystery
By Elizabeth S. Craig
Writing a mystery can be a great experience—and sometimes a challenging one.  Here are three additions to make your mystery a faster-paced, more complex, and smoother read:
A body near the beginning of the book.  Although not an absolute must, it’s a great way to both start your book out with a bang and set a faster-pace right from the beginning.  With a body near the start of the book, your sleuth jumps right into the investigation.
A sidekick.  Sidekicks provide our sleuths with someone to bounce ideas off of.  Stories without  sidekicks frequently feature sleuths engaged in lots of internal monologue.
Lies. If our suspects both lie and tell the truth, it makes the case more challenging for our sleuth…and keeps them guessing who’s reliable.  Lies are a nice way to add red herrings (bad leads) to a mystery, as well.
As a reader or writer, what are your favorite elements in a mystery?

Elizabeth’s latest book, Knot What it Seams , released February 5 and Rubbed Out launches July 2. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

23 comments on “3 Useful Additions for Your Mystery

  1. Linda – Thanks so much for hosting Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth – Right you are about those three ingredients. It’s especially important I think that the reader get drawn into the story quickly. And that means a body (or at least suspicion of one) pretty early on in the book. And you’re right; a partner or sidekick for the sleuth gives the sleuth a sounding board and gives the author a chance to ‘show not tell’ about the sleuth.

  2. In my opinion, a story isn’t worth it’s salt if there’s not a cat in it. Combining that sage advice with one of your three suggestions, may I share that the “sidekick” in my novel IS a cat! The bad guys don’t have a chance with that combination of amateur sleuths on the job.

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