Thursday, June 6, 2013

Welcome guest blogger, Marilyn Leach

Hi Everyone! Audra here.

Marilyn Leach is my guest today. Marilyn writes cozy mysteries for Harbourlight Books. I attended her booksigning in May where she was promoting her latest release, Up From The Grave, A Berdie Elliott Advent Mystery. Isn't that a catchy title? Not one to pass up a chance, I jumped on the opportunity to invite Marilyn to Seekerville to explain her method of creating a mystery.





 How to Write a Mystery
Welcome to my tutorial that compliments the graphic organizer How to Write a Mystery.  I was invited to teach a class on how to create a mystery.  This organizer and tutorial is a result of that opportunity.  I was pleasantly pleased at the outcome the students produced in response.  From Sherlock Holmes to Nancy Drew, these are the simple “bones” on which you can hang a mystery.



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The Basic Plot:  This is in the content in the center of the page.  I’ve chosen this plot on the graphic organizer because it’s direct and simple, a good start.  Also, it’s fabrication but based on an actual case that occurred.  You can choose any plot that may have been spinning in your head that contains how the crime occurs, the bottom line solution, and the perpetrator of it.  This is the seed bed of imagination.  But for the sake of the tutorial, we’ll stick with the one presented here.

Characters:  On the left upper corner is the word characters.  Create names for the person against whom the crime is committed, the person who committed the crime, and the person who solves the crime.  Write them in that space.  For the sake of following the story, Lucy Tucker will be the sheep herder whose wool was stolen.  Gridley Cain is the perpetrator.  Detective Fitz is the sleuth.  You’ll add to this list as you move along in your story.

Witnesses:  Go to the lower left corner of the organizer.  There are essentially three kinds of witnesses: true, false, or mistaken.  Let’s say a nearby rancher to Lucy saw a man who fit Gridley Cain’s physical appearance in a vehicle that fit the description of Gridley’s red truck.  He tells Lucy and Det. Fitz what he saw (true).  But another person from Gridley’s home town says he saw Gridley in town at the time of the crime (false).  This person’s story can often be added to the false alibi section which we cover later.  Now why would this person tell a lie?  Maybe he gets a cut of the stolen profit.  Maybe Gridley did her a great favor at one time and she feels indebted to lie on his behalf.  You create the motivation.  Then there’s the waitress from the Broken Spur 24 Hour Café who says she saw Gridley’s red truck in the café parking lot at the time of the crime (mistaken).  Later in the story, usually near the end, it’s discovered that the waitress had thought the crime was committed at 11:00 PM and discovers it was actually 11:00 AM and she’s mistaken about the truck being at the cafe.  Or perhaps she realizes the red truck she saw in the lot had a right side mirror and Gridley’s right side mirror had been busted off of his truck in an accident that occurred just the day before.  And no garage in this part of Colorado can get a replacement mirror that quickly.  This can be fun to play with.  Write your witnesses names and situation in this corner and add the names to your character list.

Red Herrings:  Find this in the lower right hand corner.  This, to my thinking, can create some of the greatest interest in the story and is truly fun.  Red herrings are the people who appear to be possible suspects in the crime.  Let’s say Lucy has a jealous sister, Lila, who has always resented the fact that Lucy inherited the sheep ranch from their father.  Lila inherited a pittance of cash and has said publicly that she will get the inheritance she deserves by hook or crook.  To make it even more convincing, Det. Fitz finds some items previously stolen from Lucy’s ranch, which her sister has taken, in Lila’s back shed.  Lila has lied and stolen.  What else has she taken and lied about?  Lucy’s sister makes a great red herring that takes the reader down a “possibility” garden path.  Perhaps Lucy has a suitor, Jake, whom she considers undesirable.  He’s done everything to try to win her but she constantly snubs him until he becomes vengeful.  One day, on main street, Jake confronts her and the whole town hears it.  “You think you’re so independent Miss High and Mighty, someday when you’re down and out, you’ll come groveling to me.  Just wait and see.”  What a set up.  You want at least three red herrings if not more in your story.  Write their situations in this corner and add their names to the character list.

Alibis:  Lastly, in the upper right hand corner is the word alibis.  There are true alibis, primarily for red herrings that surface along the way in the story, most near the end.  But, a red herring may have a false alibi that makes them look even guiltier.  For instance, Lucy’s suitor, Jake, says he was gardening at home at the time of the crime.   But on close inspection, Det. Fitz finds his three dried up rose bushes, his only landscaping, testify otherwise.  The dirt around them is hard and untouched.  So you’ve been lying to us boyfriend.  What’s up?  In the end, he admits to being at a poker party with unruly sorts where, to his embarrassment, he has lost his entire month’s income.  He’d rather tell a false alibi than have Lucy find out about the truth of where he was.  So Jake has both a false and true alibi.  And then we have the perpetrator.  Any alibi the perpetrator has is, of course, a false alibi.  And anyone who upholds it is a false witness.  Write true and false alibis in this area and by whom they’re told.

There we go.  You’ve got some good bones to launch into your mystery story.  Perhaps a bit oversimplified for some, but at the same time good ground.  Try writing this short mystery as a kind of trial attempt.  Or just launch into your own plot and fill in the organizer the way that suits you.  No matter what age or personality, writing a mystery story can be inventive, imaginative, intriguing, and best of all, fun.  Happy writing.

Audra here again : ) In the past, Marilyn has used the graphic organizer but taught the tutorial verbally.  So it was interactive.  She would introduce an area -- say Witnesses -- and give maybe 10 minutes for participants split into groups, to create their witnesses for the given scenario.  Then she'd move on to the next section and so on. Let's make today interactive, too. Ask Marilyn all the questions you'd like and let's see if we can make mysteries make sense, LOL!


Marilyn is offering to give away a copy of Up From The Grave, or the first book of the series, Candle For A Corpse. Winner's choice!!


Up From The Grave (A Berdie Elliott Mystery)

A Lenten sod turning ceremony for a new water feature in the back garden of St. Aidan of the Wood Parish Church goes utterly pear-shaped when the upturned soil reveals a human skeleton. With Berdie Elliott at the helm, the whole of Aidan Kirkwood digs into the mystery. When the bones held life, just who was this person? Who is the mysterious contessa who arrives on the garden scene? And what does the young and beautiful Robin Derbyshire's wedding have to do with the grave? Unearth the answers in this fun spring romp.



At the age of nine, Marilyn wrote her first play with a childhood neighbor, “The Ghost and Mr. Giltwallet”.  It was a mystery.  And she’s been writing, whether hobby or livelihood, since.  A graduate of Colorado State University, she has worked in domestic missions and taught both English acquisition and art in underserved populations.   She’s had the opportunity to co-author several plays that have been performed on both church and secular stages, as well as two screenplays, one of which was a semi-finalist in the John Templeton Screenwriting Competition.  Marilyn’s Advent of a Mystery, was released in September of 2010, Candle for a Corpse in 2012 and Up From the Grave in 2013.  She has written numerous Biblical meditations and essays printed in various publications including Guideposts, Big Dreams in Small Spaces, and Quiet Hour.   Marilyn is a dyed-in-the-wool British enthusiast and it colors her work.  She lives lakeside in a cottage on the outskirts of Denver near the foothills.  Stop by her website:  marilynleachteaandbooks.com.

92 comments:

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

How very interesting! I've always said I could never write a mystery, but this was a really fun way to 'see' the plot.

I don't like the bubble or snowflake plotting, but this 'build your own plot' was cool.

Thanks for the post! Into the save pile it goes...

Jenny Blake said...

I love mystery and you got me with a wool mystery. Being we are in a sheep raising area and being I use to play in the woolshed.

Love Red herrings but just remember to tie up red herring threads nothing worse than a clue that the reader is sure means something only to have it not mentioned again.

Im slowly getting back to normal whatever that is. Sleeping better than I have in a long time even sleeping in slightly. The other things I realised in the past day or so is that looking at photos of me (and I normally dont like them) but I am liking them and I look happy. I think its because I have lost weight, am eating healthier and have finally be able to change my perception of my self. Looking at the photos I can see I am happy. The time away was so needed and it has really refreshed me.

Cindy W. said...

I have always known it takes a really special gift to weave a mystery. I love it when an author is so good at it, they bring me into the story captivate me and I walk away still wondering.

Thank you for the post Marilyn.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Mary Hicks said...

Starting with Nancy Drew as a young girl, my love of mystery continued with Miss Marple, and all the other Agatha Christie mysteries.

It was fun seeing how you organize the story. Thanks for an interesting post.
With a 'plan' maybe It'll give me the courage to tackle the story that's been teasing my brain for years.

Mary

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Nancy Drew.... Cherry Ames... Sue Barton, Student nurse with Les and Wade!!!

:)

I love romance and suspense from the time I found those childhood mysteries! How stinkin' fun is this, and Marilyn, your chart is amazing.

Definitely a printer/keeper because you touched the bases. And in baseball terms, that's the key! Hit the ball... round those bases.

Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple. LOVED HER!!!!

Jill Weatherholt said...

This is a terrific "How To", Marilyn. I loved Nancy Drew as a child and still enjoy a good mystery. I've never attempted to write a mystery...didn't think I was clever enough. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jill, I'm with you. You have to think differently with a mystery.

My brain tires easily. ;)

But I'm glad some folks are wired that way because a whodunit is so fun!

Debra E. Marvin said...

super. How nice to meet you Marilyn. My number one favorite reads are British Mysteries from cozies to gritty. I've plotted a few so I appreciate your thoughts. I'd love to read your story!

Sherri Shackelford said...

What a fabulous tool! Thank you for sharing your wisdom :)

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, all! I love mysteries, but really? Try to write one? I have a hard enough time trying to solve the mystery of where did I put my keys, LOL!

I love the way Marilyn connected all her dots and tied the story together. The organizer gives the outline and her analysis fleshed it out.

Hmmm, not so different from writing a Love Inspired.

Marilyn will be with us in just a little bit. I told her our friends in Seekerville were some very special peeps!

Audra Harders said...

I tried the snowflake method too, Virginia. I was okay with the nucleus, but as the little "flake crystals" expanded, my mind contracted.

Maybe I should try it again in winter when I can keep my snowflake from melting : )

Audra Harders said...

Jenny, I'm so glad your outlook is sunnier. Being able to sleep is better than all the medicine in the world. I've gone through weeks of restless sleep and now that I can sleep through the night, my whole world is happier.

Still praying for you, girlfriend!

Audra Harders said...

Cindy, I'm with you. An author has to be good at creating and following through with the mystery. I have such a hard time coming up with red herrings!!

Mary Hicks, you know never know until you try. If you have that nugget of an idea, go ahead and TRY!!

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy, I know you're a Nancy Drew fan. I'm pretty firm with ol' Nancy myself...never could get into the Hardy Boys.

Although Parker Stevenson back in the day...

Mary Connealy said...

Marilyn, I wrote one mystery series, contained in Nosy in Nebraska and it was HARD.
all the red herrings and need to tie up all the loose ends.

I found it the most complicated writing of my life.

Mary Connealy said...

I enjoyed writing the books because they were wacky and fun, but the mystery part of it was very challenging. I had a good editor who caught stuff, thank heavens.

Audra Harders said...

Jill, my "clever meter" is pretty battered. Follow Marilyn's outline and see what comes up. You never know what rabbit trails you may follow!!

Audra Harders said...

I love reading anything British, Deb! British mysteries have that extra appeal to me. Do you suppose it's the accent?? LOL!

Hi Sherry! I love the way Marilyn mapped out the process, too!

Audra Harders said...

Kids, I have to go to work. I'll pop in when I can.

Marilyn will be with us shortly. Give her a warm, Seekerville welcome!!

I'm setting up trays of bagels and assorted spreads. And a fruit tray. It's going to be warm here in Colorado today. I'll drop by with iced tea and lemonade later : )

CatMom said...

Welcome Marilyn, and thanks for all this information today!

I enjoy reading mysteries, but haven't attempted writing any (well...except for the ones I wrote as a young child--patterned after the Nancy Drew books, LOL).

But if I decide to write one, I'll refer back to this post (adding to my Keeper Files!).
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

CatMom said...

P.S. Waving at Jenny Blake!! SO glad that your trip refreshed you, sweet Aussie friend! It was wonderful meeting you in person. ~ Sending a hug from Georgia, Patti Jo

Jackie said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn.

I love your chart. What a great idea.

I love mysteries and began reading Nancy Drew in fourth grade.

Cherry Ames? I thought I was the only one who read those books.

Jenny, I'm glad you're starting to feel better.

Marilyn, thanks for sharing this with us today.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn! Your mystery plotting method is so cool and helped ease the mystery of how anyone writes these books. I'll admit I'm still in awe, but if I were to write a mystery, I'd start with this graphic to build my story.

Years ago, my editor asked me to add a Red Herring to my debut historical, which had a villian. I had fun pointing readers in the wrong direction. Though I'm not sure they fell for it. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Jenny, delighted you're feeling better and your whirlwind trip refreshed you!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Audra, thanks for breakfast and for bringing Marilyn to Seekerville!

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks so much for joining us, Marilyn! I've never even attempted to write a mystery so found this really helpful!

Missy Tippens said...

Good point, Jenny! If something is mentioned and seems like it's going to be important, then it better be! :)

Missy Tippens said...

I should have also added that I am a chart addict! LOL So I loved this. :)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thank you, Marilyn (and Audra) ~

I'm sure we can put this to good use, and quickly!

Would love to attend a class and win one of your books too. :)

Colorado is marvelous. Maybe I can work that out sometime!

Marianne Barkman said...

Hi...just poppin in to see what my friends are doing before I head out...sun is shining this morning so it will be outside until the rain chases me in to read and review books! Have a great day

marilyn leach said...

Virginia, I'm so glad this format works for you. I'm betting you have a mystery inside restless to reach the light of day. Why not try it? Cheers

Sandra Leesmith said...

Welcome to Seekerville MARILYN, Great tips on writing a mystery. Even though I don't write mysteries, you made some great points that apply to all genres.

Have fun today in Seekerville.

Thanks AUDRA for posting this. Hope you are having a great day as well.

marilyn leach said...

Jenny, you're so right about being sure loose ends are tied for the red herrings. We want an emotionally satisfied reader when we're done. And I'm so glad that you're sleeping better. You're smile is lovely!

marilyn leach said...

Cindy W., I'm pleased you enjoyed the post. Yes, as an avid reader I'm sure you know that resonance is the indicator of a very good read. Cheers.

marilyn leach said...

Mary,
Let this simple plan energize your brain tease into a spin that finds the page. What do you have to loose? Cheers.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WOW, MARILYN ... I am in AWE!!! I've told Debby Giusti before that I have a VERY high level of respect for mystery and suspense authors because it seems like a writer needs to be SOOO complicated and deep and clever to accomplish a decent story to stump his or her readers.

I was NEVER good at either Rubick's Cubes or those mind games where you had to figure the ending or even jokes where you want to stump the audience until you deliver a great punchline.

But this blog today certainly demystifies a lot of it for me, so THANK YOU for that!

Still not sure I'm confident enough to meander into the world of mystery writing anytime soon, but if and when I do ... I am now ready!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

marilyn leach said...

Ruth,
I'm so pleased you like this format. I agree about childhood mysteries. Trixie Belden was my favorite. The character of Miss Marple has inspired much of my main character, Berdie Elliot. Keep your eye on the ball and hit a homerun. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Jill,
I often think when you get organized, clever is easier to come by. Try it just for fun. Cheers.

Myra Johnson said...

Marilyn, this is a GREAT tool for wannabe mystery writers! Thanks for explaining the steps with such understandable examples!

I do love mysteries on TV. Miss Marple, Inspector Lewis, just about any of the PBS Masterpiece Mysteries. But I'm not sure I could ever aspire to writing an honest-to-goodness mystery novel.

Still, for any kind of story--because ultimately they all contain at least some element of mystery--it's good to have a basic concept of how to pull it all together.

marilyn leach said...

Debra,
My fictional village of Aidan Kirkwood is a composite of the wonderful villages I've visited in England. I've been told my Berdie Elliott books have the feel of really being there. I think you may enjoy them. They're at Amazon, Pelicanbookgroup.com. and some brick and morter stores. Maybe you'll win the one being offered today. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Shari, you are so very welcome. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Audra, you are so very right. There are very special peeps here. Love it. Cheers

Courtney Faith said...

I love a good mystery, especially if it keeps me guessing:)

Clp1777(at)aol(dot)com

marilyn leach said...

Mary, I loved your blog about a writer's never ending search for balance. That's moi. That said, I have one romance I've written that's in my novella with Frances Devine, Cinthia Hickey and Winter Peck. Now THAT was hard. I marvel at the talent to take relationship and shape it into story. In my grand attempt, I ended up with mystery bones and a relationship draped around it. But don't tell anybody.:) Cheers

Cindy Regnier said...

Next to romance, mystery is my favorite. I always admire the thought process that goes into creating a cozy mystery. Thanks for shedding some light on that, Marilyn. Very interesting post.

marilyn leach said...

Patti Jo,
Thank you for your Georgia greetings. And let me say, the mystery I'm currently writing has cats wrapped into the plot. They are key to Berdie unwrapping the 'who done it'. And they're characters unto themselves. Up from the Grave has two village dogs that play major roles in the story as well. Fritz and Snowdrop are lively little creatures. Fritz even has a character arc of sorts.:) I'm thinking about a parrot for the fourth book.:) Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Jackie, I've got my tea right next so thank you for making this cup so pleasant. I'm glad you like the organizer. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Janet, I'm delighted you've found the organizer enlightening. Is that spelled correctly? Anyway, thanks for the greeting and happy writing. Cheers

Tina Radcliffe said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, Marilyn!!!

Thank you for the tutorial.

And Cindy W is right. It does take a special talent to weave in a mystery thread.

Brava!!

marilyn leach said...

Missy, three cheers for chart addicts. As a former teacher, they made life so much simpler, especially for visual learners, of which I'm one myself. Maybe that's why I like graphic organizers? Cheers

marilyn leach said...

May and KC,
As I commented to Cat Woman, I have K9s in my book Up from the Grave that play special roles in the story. In the end, there's a chase scene and both the dogs are elemental to the goings on. And I'm glad the organizer is useful. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Sandra, thank you for the hearty greeting. So pleased the organizer has universal possibilities. May you find joy in your today. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Julie, isn't nutshell learning a gas!? One of the highest compliments you can pay a former teacher, or a current one really, is 'demystify'. Thank you for your positive perspective. There very well could be a mystery slumbering within. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Myra, I'm tickled that this organizer had examples you could hang a hat on. And thank you for the positive feedback. You're right, every story has an element of mystery to it. That's what keeps us turning the pages: what happens next? Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Courtney,
I call keeping the reader guessing a good brain-tickle. And if my brain isn't laughing out loud, it's hardly worth the read. Yeah? Cheers, Marilyn

marilyn leach said...

Cindy,
Shedding light is elemental to a mystery. Thanks for sharing. And happy reading. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Tina,
You are very welcome. It's a delight to know something you present can be of use. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

By the way, the icon I use with Google is a picture from England. It's Ely (pronounced eel-y) Cathedral in Cambridgeshire near the Norfolk border. It was established in the 600s, by a passionate woman of faith who chose to take the veil. She established the woman's cloister, but soon a male monestary sprung up and thus the cathedral. I have more pictures of England on my facebook page if interested. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

I've yet to have breakfast, or is that brunch? So, I'll be back in a bit. Cheers

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Great Great post. Thanks Audra and Marilyn. I'm tweeting and FB-ing the link!

ciao
LA

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks for the well wishes. Having a bad night cos someone over ate something last night and is paying for it badly.

I loved cherry Ames my friend and I swapped books. Also Sally Baxter Girl reporter, Donna Parker.

DebH said...

oh I LOVE this post. I'm printing this baby out and may attempt a mystery - just waiting for the idea to percolate up from my subconscious *heh*.

growing up i inhaled Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, alongside the Encyclopedia Brown series. as an adult, i've become a big Anne Perry fan of the Charlotte & Inspector Pitt series. english and historical.

thanks for sharing your awesome tool/tutorial with Seekerville!

p.s. as a Colorado native, i'm getting homesick just reading your example and bio. living in VA Beach isn't quite the same. too much humidity.

DebH said...

oh, and would love a shot at winning a book...

Helen Gray said...

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.
But I'm bringing a fresh pot of coffee.

For the 3 mysteries I have written, I used the Classic 12-Chapter Mystery Formula that I found back when I was starting the first one. I had to make adjustments to fit the longer number of chapters I was writing, but it really helped me plot and pace my stories.

Helen
Another Former Teacher

Cara Lynn James said...

Marilyn, this is great! I'd love to write a mystery and you've made it much easier and clearer. Thank you!

marilyn leach said...

Leslie,
Cheered to hear you like the post. Thanks for sharing it with others, hope they find it useful. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Deb H.
It's so fun to recognize your energy about the organizer. The simplest things can trigger amazing ideas. I was reading Ian Bradley's Book of Hymns, an anthology of the one hundred favorite hymns in England. Hardly a barn burner, but he mentioned in the history of one of the hymns that this song was used in Ascension Sunday processions long ago. Snap. My third book in the Berdie Elliott series was born. St. Aidan of the Wood Parish Church has an Ascension procession and someone who started with the procession never finishes it. They vanish "into the air." One more chapter until completion. I can imagine there are mystery ideas all round you, it's just tapping in. Oh, yes, and my dear friend in England dines on Ann Perry. Cheers

Tina Radcliffe said...

Helen, it's about time. No good mystery writer worth their salt can write without the beverage of choice.

Thank you.

I brought salted caramels as an afternoon pick me up.

This is a busy class.

marilyn leach said...

Helen,
Kudos fellow educator. Yes, my tutor for my first published mystery was Carolyn Wheat's 'How to Write Killer Fiction', the title of which brought a giggle. I had to get it. The best simple and at the same time extraordinary plan for creating mystery stories. I still refer to it often. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Cara Lynn,
I hope you have an absolute feast creating your mystery. My nephew, a writer, gave me great advise my first time out on a published mystery. "Just have fun with it." I wish the same for you. Cheers

Connie Queen said...

Hello everyone.

I would loooove to write a mystery or suspense, but I never thought I was smart enough. Marilyn, you made this sound so simple, I might give it a try sometime.

I have a story in mind, I just can't figure out who the killer is. That's a problem, isn't it?

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Marilyn! Thanks for the tutorial. I adore murder mysteries (in fact, half of my bookshelf is taken up with cozies), and have ideas for at least two series of mysteries. I have the first book pretty well plotted, but your sheet will help a lot to keep those red herrings straight!

marilyn leach said...

Connie,
Indeed, I'd say you must have a perpetrator to have a mystery. Now the perp could be an enigmatic fog or a hidden agenda, but most often it's a person. Perhaps watch one of the BBC mysteries like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. Study closely who the villian is and how he ties into the protagonist, lead character. It could give you some ideas and spur you into a new story. Vive L'imagination. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Stephanie,
How exciting that you're stepping into mystery. Plotting, in my mind, is crucial. For me, a plotter, having a solid plot gives me wings to fly as I flesh the story out. I wish the very best to you. Have fun with your Red Herrings. Cheers

Debby Giusti said...

Marilyn,
I loved reading your info about mysteries...there's always that question about the difference between mystery and suspense.

Also loved your British connection. I had a dear friend who was more Brit than the Brits! You two could be soul sisters. :)

Jenny, so glad you're feeling refreshed. As Patti Jo mentioned, we loved seeing you in Georgia!

Jeri Hoag said...

This was the perfect timing I was thinking about writing a mystery this morning. My burning question is how do you not make it seem like the standard mystery. Do you add more red herrings, plot twists etc.
Thanks
Jeri Hoag

Jeri Hoag said...

This was the perfect timing I was thinking about writing a mystery this morning. My burning question is how do you not make it seem like the standard mystery. Do you add more red herrings, plot twists etc.
Thanks
Jeri Hoag

marilyn leach said...

Debby,
You're so right, the lines between mystery and suspense blur. Someone, much more in the know than I, has written that they believe the cozy wraps a metaphysical shawl around the shoulders of the reader, happy endings and all that. Suspense, which they say descends from Charlotte Bronte, throws the protagonist into a larger place beyond their control whith no one to understand. Rhetoric really. The thing that matters is that it's a great story that keeps us turning the pages. Right? And I'd love to meet your chum.:) Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Jerri, I find it so exciting that the timing of thoughts and events came together for you. I someone once told me that if you have a particular interest, that very thing could "unstandard" your mystery. For instance, say you love music websites but you've not seen a mystery around music websites. You could write a mystery about someone who crawls music websites. Maybe a performer has been murdered and through the websites your character discovers clues and even who's committed the crime. You get the idea. Have fun. Happy writing. Cheers

Audra Harders said...

Oh how much fun have I missed! I'm glad everyone had a good mystery writing day.

And Helen showed up with the coffee!

Helen, you've written 3 mysteries?? Even after reading Marilyn's post, I still think the classic murder mystery is beyond me. Congrats to you!!

Helen Gray said...

Audra,

Yes, I've written 3 mysteries. And they're sitting on the shelf because I have no agent and no place to submit them.

But I had a great time writing them.

My daughter doesn't read a lot, but she likes mysteries. She's also a college science instructor. And I have a son who is a cop. So I have in-house consultants for the genre. Getting the kids involved made it even more fun.

marilyn leach said...

Audra, it has been great fun to chat and we missed you, too. And thanks for adding the blurb for Up from the Grave: A Berdie Elliott Lenten Mystery. I appreciate and admire all the writers who have interacted today. As Berdie would say, "It was a jolly good time." Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Blow me over Helen, three mysteries is a huge time committment to be sitting on a shelf. I hope you're purusing publisher websites to see if there are any all calls for mysteries. You never know when the opportunity could strike. I wish you the best. Cheers

marilyn leach said...

Audra, thank you so so much. I've enjoyed visiting today. And you were right. I do appreciate the women of Seekerville. God Bless You All. Cheers

Audra Harders said...

It looked like such a fun day. I'm sorry I missed it. They migrated our office from Windows xp to Windows 7 today. I couldn't spend too much time at my computer until IT uploaded all my software.

What a day. Wish I could've stayed home and played in Seekerville!!

Thank you Marilyn for a great day. I know I'll never look at mysteries the same way again : )

Check out the WE on Saturday and see who's name was drawn for their choice of Marilyn's book!!!

Chill N said...

Marilyn, sorry I didn't get here on time but enjoyed the post. I am in AWE of mystery writers.

Nancy C

Mary Preston said...

I know it would be a lot of hard work writing a mystery, but what fun too. I loved this post.

Angie Arndt said...

Another Trixie Belden fan here! I always like her just a bit more than Nancy Drew.

These days, I read a lot of Elisabeth George (American-born British mystery writer, not Christian non-fiction writer). They're long, but I love her character development.

Great visual, Marilyn. I was a teacher/trainer and charts always help. Up from the Grave sounds like a lovely mystery. I'd love to check it out!

aearndt (at) gmail (dot) com

Amanda Cabot said...

Marilyn -- What a terrific tool! I think it would help plotting many books, since even if we're not writing pure mysteries, there's always the question about how our characters are going to get from point A to point Z. Thanks so much for showing us a proven method.

Karin Kaufman said...

Great chart, Marilyn! How interesting to see it laid out like that. Thank you.

Barbara Thompson said...

Thank you for the great advice. I thought mysteries were so hard to write, but you made it seem more simple. Thank you for sharing. Please enter me in your giveaway.
Barbara Thompson
barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jo Huddleston said...

I love reading mysteries and thrillers but cannot write them. With this step-by-step from Marilyn I might just try. Thanks for the interesting article!