Five Tips for Writing a Mystery

5 tips for writing a mystery novel

Writing a mystery is very different from other kinds of fiction.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Since I was a kid I’ve been telling stories. Maybe that’s why I take it for granted sometimes. It feels very natural to step into a story and have a ‘feel’ for what needs to happen and when. I’ve spent years writing fantasy (with a bit of sci-fi on the side), so I guess starting this project had me underestimating just how different the genre of mystery was.

For a little context, after I announced last year that I would be self-publishing my first book in 2020, I began work on a near-future science fiction mystery novella that I still haven’t decided on a title for. Geek that I am, the science fiction part of it came rather naturally, but what I found to be a real challenge was the mystery.

I love a good mystery. It’s my favourite genre after fantasy and sci-fi, and I’ve been reading it since I was little. You would think that would make you well equipped to write it, but as it turns out, writing a good mystery is actually very difficult.

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NaNoWriMo Tip: It's Not About Winning

It’s the final countdown. The end of the month is upon us, and unless you happen to be a couple thousand words away, this might be where your NaNo journey ends. It’s also the last Friday of the month, so it’s time for my final NaNoWriMo tip.

This ‘tip’ is really more of a nugget of advice, and a lot of it was pulled from a post on my old Tumblog, but it still holds true, and I think it bears repeating at the end of NaNoWriMo.

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NaNoWriMo Tip: Beat the Word Count Trap

This tip is a weird one, and it’s the result of a recent discovery. Not long ago I purchased an Alphasmart after seeing other writers rave about it online. I’d always wanted to try one, but it wasn’t until this year that I decided to give it a go. I found a cheap one on Amazon, and when it arrived two days later I immediately headed to a local coffee shop to give my new toy a spin.

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NaNoWriMo Tip: Keep Up Your Momentum!

It’s the third Friday of November, which means it’s time for yet another NaNo tip! This one comes after a very rough couple of weeks for me, so you can bet that I’ll be employing some of these suggestions in the second half of the month!

Every time I’ve lost NaNoWriMo, it’s because I stopped writing for a couple of days, lost the momentum I had built up, and struggled to build it up again. You let yourself get carried away by other responsibilities, and you don’t make time for writing. And the longer you spend away from the writing, the easier it becomes to ignore and the harder it becomes to get back into it. Don’t let this happen to you. It is very hard to bounce back if you’ve let yourself slack off for the better part of the month.

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NaNoWriMo Tip: Avoiding the Empty Page

Happy Friday, Wrimos!

As I mentioned last week, every Friday of the month, I’ll be giving you one of my favourite tips to get you through NaNoWriMo. Last week I urged you to write as much as you could at the start of NaNoWriMo when passion and excitement are at their highest. I’m sure by this point some of you might be feeling the pressure. The second week is one of the most challenging – you’ve barely started, and at the same time you realize just how hard it’s going to be to reach 50k and how much more you have left to write. It’s not easy.

While this might be a bit of an odd tip, it’s one I’ve used before to great success. I think it’s particularly effective if you’re the type to be intimidated by a ‘fresh page’.

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How I Outline My Novels in 3 Simple Steps

I know I can’t be the only one out there who is intensely fascinated by someone’s creative process. It’s always so interesting to see what they need to do and how they go about doing it – how each of us has a unique spin to create the same end product. And it can be valuable information – you never know what steps someone else takes that might be just what you need to incorporate into your own process.

I just love reading blog posts and watching videos on Youtube about how someone preps for a video or a podcast, how they work out the composition of their illustration, and of course, how a writer outlines. If you’re like me, then allow me to feed your curiosity a splash by explaining the haphazard way my outlines come to be.

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