We're happy that Lindsey had some time to stop here on her way through her blog tour for her newest novel, Death By Chocolate. She has some wonderful advice for all of our writers out there--from novice to pro--on how to write a good mystery. So if you are already in this genre and just need a bit of insight or you're thinking about dabbling in it, you're in for a treat.
I hope you enjoy her writing pearls of wisdom as much as we have.
Thank you, Lindsey! We wish you luck on the rest of your Hop and invite you to come back anytime. (We plan to do a review of Death By Chocolate some time in the near future so be sure to come back again!)
The Elements of Writing a Good Mystery
While I am certainly not a prolific mystery writer, I am working hard to hone the craft every day. Mystery to me is in the DNA of a good novel. I find myself drawn to all sorts of movies and books, but there’s almost always a mystery going on somewhere. I think I like this because I enjoy being tested and teased and turned on my head. Mysteries are like that. You follow the clues, catch the bad guy and POW he has an alibi! OR – oh I *love* this – the one you are sure did it ends up dead. Well now. *scratches chin* I guess it wasn’t him! LOL
The sleuth in charge of a stellar mystery HAS to be loveable. Now, I don’t mean a big marshmallow, I mean the reader has to root for him or her. He should be flawed so we can relate, but he must also have some other characteristic that keeps readers turning pages. Is he fearless? A renegade cop who will stop at nothing to make the killer pay? Is she a girl with a big curiosity and no credentials who simply makes you smile? Whoever they are, readers have to love them or no one will care if the bad guy adds them to his body count.
Another thing I love about a mystery is the way the chapter ends leave you hanging. I love this so much that I now do this in my romances, young adult manuscripts – everything I write. Because it’s such a thrill to get to the end as something big arrives. Ah! I love it. Love it! Love it. This is also the element I blame for my lack of sleep.
Mystery’s need twists and turns with plenty of suspects who have means and motive so the reader can stew over who they think is the culprit only to be thrown for loop after loop. A good mystery is like a roller coaster ride to me. Thrilling, exhilarating and just good fun.
But don’t forget the humor. Okay, that part might be specific to me. I really love to smile. I try to add humor to my day anyway I can and I love when an author makes me smile. This idea is where my novel Death by Chocolate was born. I wanted a crime novel – not necessarily a mystery (which it is not) where the reader would receive the full gamut of drama with a heaping helping of laughs. I hope I delivered in this new novel. I had a great time writing it and experimenting with how much trouble a hapless housewife could get into given all the wrong circumstance.
Death by Chocolate
Ruby Russell has reached her limit. When she discovers her hipster husband has a dirty little secret, she whips him up a Viagra-infused-chocolate mousse punishment, but in the morning, her husband's a stiff. Armed with a lifetime of crime show reruns and Arsenic and Old Lace on DVD, Ruby and her best friend Charlotte try to lay low until after Ruby's son's wedding, but a nosy therapist, meddling minister and local news reporter are making it very difficult to get away with murder.
I am a mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus. Most days you'll find me online, amped up on caffeine & wielding a book.
You can find my blogging about the writer life at Musings from the Slush Pile
Tweeting my crazy at @JulieALindsey
Reading to soothe my obsession on GoodReads
And other books by me on Amazon