Sunday, July 13, 2014

[Link] Taking the Mystery Out of Writing Mysteries

By Dennis Palumbo

If you saw the season-ending episode of Monk, do you remember the clue that helped catch the killer?

Me, neither.

In the recent thriller Fractured, what was the mistake Anthony Hopkins made that proved he killed his wife?

You got me.

My point, and I do have one, is that often writers think the most important aspect of a good mystery is the ingenuity of the crime, the unraveling of the clues. Which is why many writers are scared to death of even trying to write a mystery or thriller.

Fear no more.

Yes, viewers of mysteries and thrillers like tightly-plotted narratives, clever red herrings, and a certain element of surprise. And you should always strive to weave as many of these aspects into your whodunit or crime story as possible.

But these factors are not what makes a mystery - any mystery - memorable. Think of TV's The Rockford Files, or The Closer. Think of films like Chinatown and Silence of the Lambs. As best-selling crime author Michael Connelly wrote, "The best mysteries are about the mystery of character."

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