1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. prettyprettyprettygood

    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Question for mystery/whodunit writers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by prettyprettyprettygood, Jan 21, 2012.

    Apologies in advance if this has been asked before, I couldn't find anything in search.

    Anyone who writes this type of mystery story/novel, I'd be interested to hear how much plotting you do in advance. My preference in general is to do a minimum amount of planning, and to just let things sort themselves out as I write, but I can't see how this will work for a mystery.

    So, how much plot do you have in mind when you start writing? Just the main details- the initial crime, the criminal and the investigator, or do you plan out all of the potential suspects, the red herrings, clues and so on?

  2. Shaezy

    Shaezy Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Sydney, Australia
    I don't write mystery but a friend of mine does, and she plots every minute detail, especially because she has so many sub-plots and red herrings etc. She swears by it and feels that it doesn't ruin her writing experience. I would think at least planning out the main mystery would be most important, and then perhaps the smaller intricacies would naturally occur? I really have no experience. Good luck!
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Coquille, Oregon
    it depends on the writer and the complexity of the mystery... some successful mystery novelists probably do write 'by the seat of their pants' but i suspect most do some plotting and planning at some stage, though not necessarily before they start writing...
  4. agentkirb

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Jul 18, 2009
    Likes Received:
    It probably depends on the "type" of mystery novel too. Because there is the type where it's closer to a suspense novel where every chapter ends with some kind of twist. And the mystery is solved by them basically "discovering" the answer rather than putting all the facts from the story together to "solve" the mystery. Those types you can probably write by the seat of your pants pretty easily, although I would almost call that a suspense story pretending to be a mystery.

    The other way is to have a crime of some kind, the MC tries to gather clues/evidence to solve it, and usually there are a couple of "tricks" to the crime that throw off the MC... and once they account for those tricks they solve the mystery. IMO it would be virtually impossible to write completely by the seat of your pants because a big part of these types of mysteries is that you'll have "mysterious" things happen in the middle of the story and then at the end everything kind of comes together in kind of an "aha" moment.

    The mystery stories I tend to write are more like the second "type"... and I'll admit, there is a lot of flexibility in what you can do. You could be in the middle of a chapter and be dealing with the character and suddenly decide to "write them in" to the plot. But I always have a basic idea of how I want it to end.

Share This Page